Texas Law’s Successful 2020 Moot Court Season

The University of Texas School of Law had a remarkably successful 2020 Moot Court Season, both before and after the novel coronavirus disrupted many competitions across the country.

The Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, widely recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent moot court competitions, took place the first weekend of March. It promotes and recognizes the finest oral and written advocacy on significant issues in bankruptcy practice. Texas Law’s team, Thomas Kagerer ’21, Cameron Kelly ’20, and Jillian Leslie ’21 took third place.

The 12th Annual National Latina/Latino Student Association Moot Court Competition took place from March 5 and 6, 2020. The Texas Law team of Madison Gaona ’21 and Aaron Lozano ’21 advanced to the quarter-finals.

From Left to Right: Michael Vance ’20, Amber Magee ’20, Marley Fraizer ’21, and Linzy Scott ’21.

The National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition took place the second weekend of March in Cincinnati, Ohio. Two Texas Law teams advanced from the regional competition to the national competition. The first team included Marley Frazier ’21 and Linzy Scott ’21, who advanced past the preliminary rounds. The second team comprised of Amber Magee ’20 and Michael Vance ’20, took first place at the national convention. Hook ’em!

From Left to Right: Miranda Morton ’20, Andrew Eckhous ’21, Madeline Stein ’20, Jason Gallant ’21, and Brandt Vernon ’21

The U.S. South Regional of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition also occurred during the weekend of March 7. Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from roughly 700 law schools from all over the world. The competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. The Texas Law team, consisting of five members, won the competition! Team members include Andrew Eckhous ’21, Jason Gallant ’21, Miranda Morton ’20, Brandt Vernon ’21, and Madeline Stein ’20. Morton was awarded the Best Oralist Award and Vernon placed ninth in the entire competition.

From Left to Right: Sarah Propst ’21 and Michael Schiller ’21

The first virtual moot court competition in which Texas Law took part was the Giles S. Rich Moot Court Competition Southern Region. The competition is sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), the most prestigious intellectual property organization in the country. The Texas Law team, Sarah Propst ’21 and Michael Schiller ’21, won first place! They edged out the second place University of Washington in St. Louis Team 1 in the final round of oral arguments. Propst was named Best Advocate by the final round panel.

The Texas Law team advanced to the Finals of the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial IP Moot Court Competition. Propst and Schiller spent at least 150 hours preparing for and performing in this virtual competition. Their hard work paid off as they were runners-up in an extremely close case. The final decision was 2 – 1, which is unusual given that this was a mock argument. In most moot competitions, a judge who believes that the runner up team should have won the mock argument decides to go along with the result reached by the majority. However, in this case, the judge seemed to be set in their decision that Texas Law deserved to win the competition, demonstrating just how close the call was.

Still from the 27th Annual Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition on Zoom.

On April 1, twenty-three teams from sixteen law schools began the four-day 27th Annual Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition over the video conferencing platform Zoom. Each year Texas Law jointly holds the national Supreme Court advocacy competition with a local host law school. This year it was Maine Law.

Professor Michael Sturley, who has run the competition for all of its 27 years worked with Mackenzie Aden ’22 and Sarah Crockett ’20 to run the virtual courtrooms with the assistance of Maine Law adjunct faculty member Bob Bocko.

“I knew we were being ambitious in trying to hold the Competition remotely on two weeks’ notice,“ said Professor Michael Sturley, “but having worked with Bob Bocko in the past, I knew that we could get it done.”

Judges from across the country gathered online to judge and score students’ arguments. All teams presented arguments in three preliminary rounds. Top teams (based on brief and oral argument scores) advanced to the quarter and then semi-final rounds. Texas Law’s team included Alex Gaudio ’21 and Elizabeth Hamilton ’21, with Hamilton winning second runner up in the final competition and third-best oralist.