Practice makes perfect: recent moot court successes highlight importance of courtroom skills

Winning moot court team

From left, Joshua Hawley, Jill Moenius, Glen Norton, Eddie Penner and James Layton.

Winning moot court team

Nathan Lindsey and Chris Omlid.

You might have heard about the recent successes of the KU Law Moot Court Council in big time competitions.

Third-year law students Nathan Lindsey and Chris Omlid won first place in the John Marshall Law School International Moot Court Competition in Information Technology & Privacy Law, beating out 23 other team from across the country and around the world. Another dynamic third-year duo, Jill Moenius and Eddie Penner is headed to nationals in New York after winning regionals. They topped 15 other schools, including Arkansas, the school that had the best team in the nation two years ago.

Their wins extended a streak of achievements for KU Law moot court, including a team that advanced to nationals earlier this year, two students placing in the top ten oralists at another international competition last year, and a team that traveled to Taipei in 2009 to compete in the international finals of European Law Students’ Association Moot Court Competition.

All law students get a taste of the moot court experience with Lawyering Skills, but continuing beyond that is optional. For those who enjoy the experience, second-year students can participate in KU’s own Moot Court Competition, and the top eight teams form KU’s Moot Court Council. The Council represents KU in various national and international competitions every year.

So what does this have to do with careers? Well, some recent KU grads who were also on the Moot Court Council have found early career success. Beau Jackson, who was part of the team that traveled to Taipei and who won best oralist in the opening rounds of the competition, now works as an associate for Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg LLP in Washington, D.C. Brooke Edenfield, who won sixth-place oralist in the international competition last year, is an associate at Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan PC in Kansas City. And Lindsay Grise, a 2011 graduate who competed at nationals, is now an environmental/construction associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City.

You can chalk this up to coincidence, but it makes sense that students who were successful in moot court are also successful lawyers, since moot court mirrors a central part of the actual profession. It might seem nerve-wracking to get up and argue a brief before a judge, but consistent practice often leads to consistent success upon graduation. Participating in moot court can help you become a better lawyer and, at the very least, give you a better grasp of the skills you’ll need in the courtroom. And if you decide to participate in the Moot Court Competition, you will get some feedback from the very best in the profession, like in 2008 when Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was the judge.

If this has convinced you that moot court is worthwhile, be sure to sign up for LAW 960 Moot Court Competition and look for a partner before the spring semester starts. For more information about the program, visit the moot court section of the KU Law website, or get in touch with Pamela Keller, the faculty adviser for the program.