KU law school’s moot court program continues top-20 national streak

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

KU Law's National NALSA Moot Court Competition team

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law’s moot court program is 17th in the nation, according to rankings published this month by the University of Houston Law Center.

Led by several top-three national performances, KU Law students accumulated enough points to break into the top 20 for the second year in a row. Pamela Keller, clinical professor of law and lawyering skills director, helped advance KU Law's moot court program two spots above last year’s No. 19 ranking.

“This year every team in our program made it to what we call the ‘knockout’ rounds – the advanced rounds – of a national or international competition,” Keller said. "This means that every team performed at a very high level, which also means our students are ready to perform at a high level in actual legal practice. To have so many teams win awards, and to have our program be nationally ranked, is icing on the cake.”

Accumulating the most points toward KU’s ranking was its performance at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition in early March. Megan Carroll, Wichita, and Bill Madden, Topeka, placed second in the NNALSA competition. Carroll won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors.

Other highlights from the 2016-2017 moot court season:

  • Ciara Malone, Overland Park, and Nikki Marcotte, Manhattan, placed second in the Wechsler First Amendment National Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
  • Ashley Billam, Olathe, and Sam LaRoque, Shawnee, won the regional round of the National Moot Court Competition in Topeka, then advanced to the Sweet 16 at the national rounds in New York City.
  • Will Easley, Overland Park, and Bill Madden, Topeka, took third place at the Federal Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall National Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
  • Chris Wolcott of Oakwood, Ohio, and Kyle Crane, Overland Park, advanced to the quarterfinals of the PACE National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in White Plains, New York.
  • CJ Boyd, Dallas, and Dalton Mott of Independence, Missouri, advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament in San Diego, and Mott received the third-best oral advocate award.
  • Erica McCabe, Emporia, and Max McGraw and Kriston Guillot, both of Shawnee, advanced to the regional quarterfinals of the National Moot Court Competition in Topeka.
  • John Truong, Wichita; Joe Uhlman, Sedgwick; Bridget Brazil, Chanute: Kyle Klucas, Silver Lake; and Cecelia Crookston, Kansas City, Kansas; advanced to the regional quarterfinals of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Denver.
  • Skyler Davenport, of Blue Springs, Missouri, and Nathan Kakazu, of Madison, Wisconsin, advanced to the regional semifinals of the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Hannah Schoeb and Cody Wood, both of Leawood, were quarterfinalists in the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition in Los Angeles.

Most KU Law students who compete in national tournaments were the top finishers in the school’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Competitions generally consist of writing an appellate brief and presenting a mock oral argument before an appellate court.


Photo: Megan Carroll, Wichita, and Bill Madden, Topeka, placed second in the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition. Carroll won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors.

KU team wins national award in business law competition

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

LAWRENCE – A team of University of Kansas law students captured the Best Draft Award at the national championship rounds of the 2017 Transactional LawMeet.

Aspiring transactional lawyers Jake Ediger of Topeka, Justine Koehle of Woodland, California, and Alison Kryzer of Wichita competed at nationals March 31 in New York City after winning a regional finalist title in Kansas City, Missouri. Their purchase agreement for the buyer’s side of the competition’s mock business transaction was deemed best in the nation. 

“I am proud of our team for our hard work and dedication, and taking home the prize for best draft was a nice reward for the countless hours spent,” Ediger said. “Transactional LawMeet is perhaps one of the most practical and useful experiences I’ve had at KU Law. The skills gained from the contract drafting and negotiations will be directly applicable in my legal career.”

Transactional LawMeet teams represented either the buyers or sellers of a business. Over the course of two months, they drafted a purchase agreement, interviewed their clients and marked up opposing teams’ drafts. In February, 84 teams met at seven regional sites to negotiate a resolution. Two teams from each region were selected to compete in the national rounds. In New York, KU competed with teams from 11 other law schools, including UCLA, Georgia, Notre Dame and San Diego.

Competition judges included partners from leading law firms, corporate general counsels and other senior practitioners. They chose finalists after evaluating which teams most adeptly combined their lawyering skills, drafting, marking-up and negotiating techniques with their knowledge of corporate and other facets of business law and business sense to develop innovative solutions to negotiate a draft agreement.

“The national rounds were a great opportunity to gain feedback from experienced practitioners,” Kryzer said. “Each judge saw something new or different, so it helped to understand the nuances of the problem.”

Adjunct law professor Ken Lynn, Class of 1981, coached the team in preparation for the competition.

“I feel very lucky that KU Law is dedicated to supporting students interested in business and transactional law,” Koehle said. “I know we wouldn’t have achieved the same success without our faculty advisers and coaches.”

Photo: Alison Kryzer, Jake Ediger and Justine Koehle, pictured with professors Ken Lynn and Webb Hecker, won the Best Draft Award at the national championship rounds of the 2017 Transactional LawMeet in New York City.

KU law team finishes 2nd in national Indian law moot court competition

Thursday, March 09, 2017

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas School of Law team brought home second place after rising to compete in the final round of the 2017 National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition.

KU law students Megan Carroll, of Wichita, and Bill Madden, of Topeka, placed second in the NNALSA competition held March 4-5 at the University of California-Los Angeles. Carroll also won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors. Two additional KU teams competed at the event, including Will Easley, of Overland Park, and Nikki Marcotte, of Manhattan, as well as Nick Hayes, of Lawrence, and Ben Stringer, of Jacksonville, Florida.

This is the third year in a row a KU team has advanced to the finals of the NNALSA competition, capturing the national title in 2016 and placing second in 2015. The competition tests students’ knowledge of Indian law by evaluating their legal writing and oral advocacy skills. Students submit written briefs and participate in a simulated courtroom experience.

“There were 64 teams at this year’s competition, making these accomplishments truly impressive,” said Professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner, team coach and director of KU’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “Megan and Bill did an exceptionally good job, and several judges and spectators remarked that they were some of the finest advocates they had ever seen.”

Teams prepared for the competition by researching and preparing their written briefs, participating in practice rounds and receiving feedback from faculty judges and teammates.

“This was an amazing experience from start to finish,” Carroll said. “Throughout the practice period, my confidence often wavered. However, at the beginning of the second day of arguments, Professor Kronk Warner told me that she had no doubt in my abilities, she was already proud of all of us, and to go have fun in the rounds. I could not imagine having a better coach at the competition.”

Jason Harmon, a 2015 KU law graduate who participated in the NNALSA competition as a student, helped Kronk Warner coach the teams, and more than a dozen faculty and staff judged practice rounds. “I’m lucky to attend a university where the faculty are so personally invested in the success of their students,” Madden said. “The NNALSA tournament was a fantastic experience, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to represent our school.”

“Given the presence of several federally recognized tribes in Kansas, participating in this competition is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” Kronk Warner said. “Students learn and improve upon their legal research, writing and oral advocacy skills while learning federal Indian law, which is so crucial to this region.”

With more than 60 teams, this year’s competition was one of the largest moot court competitions in the country. Carroll and Madden defeated two teams from Columbia University in New York City and another from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the advanced rounds. The final rounds were judged by accomplished Indian law scholars and judges.

KU students advance to national finals in transactional law competition

Thursday, March 02, 2017

LAWRENCE – A team of University of Kansas School of Law students will compete in the finals of the National Transactional LawMeet this month after winning the regional round in Kansas City.

The law school sent three teams to the regional competitions, which offer a “moot court” experience for students with aspirations to practice transactional law. Jake Ediger of Topeka, Justine Koehle of Woodland, California, and Alison Kryzer of Wichita were named finalists in Kansas City, Missouri. Craig Boyd of Dallas, Elizabeth Hanus of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, and Taylor Ray of Atchison were named regional semifinalists in Dallas, where they also won the prize for best draft agreement.

Teams were assigned to represent either the buyers or sellers of a business. Over the course of two months, they drafted a purchase agreement, interviewed their clients and marked up opposing teams’ drafts. Last Friday, 84 teams met at seven regional sites to negotiate a resolution. Two teams from each region were selected to compete in the national rounds on March 31 in New York.

“Participating in the Transactional LawMeet has been a great opportunity to experience what it really means to be a transactional attorney,” Kryzer said. “I was initially intimidated because my only experience with transactional work has been in the classroom; however, with the help of the Transactional LawMeet coaches, I gained confidence along the way with their invaluable feedback and advice.”

Competition judges included partners from leading law firms, corporate general counsels and other senior practitioners. They chose finalists after evaluating which teams most adeptly combine their lawyering skills, drafting, marking-up and negotiating techniques with their knowledge of corporate and other facets of business law and business sense to develop innovative solutions to negotiate a draft agreement.

For its Kansas City victory, KU competed with teams from Baylor, Emory, Northwestern, Notre Dame, William & Mary and Missouri. In Dallas, competitors included Baylor, Duke, Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee. With a winning team, a runner-up team and an award for best draft, KU tied for second place in regional round performance.

Centennial Teaching Professor Webb Hecker and KU law alumni and adjunct professors Ken Lynn, Class of 1981, and Kelley Sears, Class of 1974, coached the teams in preparation for the competition. Three practicing attorneys also provided expert feedback: Jeb Bayer, Class of 1980, Brian Wolf, Class of 2008, and Stan Woodworth, Class of 1978.

“We put in countless hours of work and are happy it paid off,” Koehle said. “We are honored and excited to represent KU Law at the National Meet.”

Ediger seconded Koehle’s excitement about representing the Jayhawks in New York. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us to get prepared,” he said. “Having great teammates and coaches makes it enjoyable.”Jayhawks in New York. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us to get prepared,” he said. “Having great teammates and coaches makes it enjoyable.”

PHOTOS: Top: Jake Ediger, Justine Koehle and Alison Kryzer, pictured with Professor Webb Hecker, were named regional finalists in Kansas City, Missouri. Bottom: Elizabeth Hanus, Craig Boyd and Taylor Ray, also pictured with Hecker, were named regional semifinalists in Dallas, where they also won the prize for best draft agreement.

 

KU law students capture regional title, advance in National Moot Court Competition

Thursday, December 01, 2016

KU Law students Ashley Billam and Sam LaRoque

LAWRENCE – A pair of University of Kansas School of Law students is heading to New York City after winning first place in the regional rounds of the prestigious National Moot Court Competition.

Ashley Billam, of Olathe, and Sam LaRoque, of Shawnee — both second-year law students at KU — defeated the University of Oklahoma to capture the title during the regional competition Nov. 18-19 at Washburn University School of Law. They also won the award for best petitioner brief. Billam and LaRoque will represent KU at nationals Jan. 30-Feb 2, 2017, in New York.

“We both poured a lot into preparing, and I’m very glad it paid off and we get to move on to nationals,” LaRoque said. “Arguing the final round in front of a panel that included the chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court was a real thrill.” Kansas Supreme Court Justices Lawton Nuss and Dan Biles and Kansas Appeals Court Judge Steve Leben presided over the final round. Judges do not learn which schools the teams represent until the competition concludes.

More than 120 schools compete each year in the National Moot Court Competition. Sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the New York City Bar, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious moot court tournaments in the nation.

“Competition in our region is fierce,” said team coach Pam Keller, clinical professor of law and director of KU’s Moot Court Program. “Placing first really speaks highly of our KU team’s talent. Sam and Ashley worked very hard and deserve this success.”

Third-year law students Kriston Guillot, of Shawnee, and Erica McCabe, of Emporia, also broke into the quarterfinals in Topeka. During the competition, KU students bested teams from the University of Oklahoma, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Nebraska.

Billam gained confidence from the experience.

“Moot court was an extremely challenging but fun experience that helped me overcome my fear of public speaking,” she said. “As 2Ls competing for the first time, we never expected to get past regionals.”

Photo: From left, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, KU Law students Ashley Billam and Sam LaRoque, Kansas Appeals Court Judge Steve Leben, and Kansas Supreme Court Justice Dan Biles.

Law school’s moot court program ranked among top 20 in nation

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A few of the students who participated in KU Law's nationally ranked 2015-2016 moot court program

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law’s moot court program ranks 19th in the nation, according to rankings published this month by the University of Houston Law Center.

Headlined by a national championship team, KU Law students accumulated enough points through strong showings at national competitions to break into the top 20 for the first time in the school’s history.

“What our students achieved is no small feat,” said Pamela Keller, clinical professor of law and director of KU’s lawyering skills program. “The ranking system is based on cumulative points, so larger law schools have a distinct advantage. We have fewer teams competing than many schools, so most of our teams have to be successful in order to be ranked.

“I am very proud of how all of our teams performed. It is again proof of what I see year after year – that we have tremendously bright, talented and hard-working students.”

Garnering the most points toward KU’s ranking was its performance at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition in early March. Ashley Akers, of Casper, Wyoming, and Maureen Orth, of Prairie Village, won the competition and received the best brief award. Orth was named the second-best oral advocate and received the first-ever G. William Rice Advocate Award for the highest cumulative points in the competition. Corey Adams of Wichita and Nathan Kakazu of Madison, Wisconsin, placed third and received the second-place brief award. Nick Hayes of Lawrence and Jason Vigil of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also represented KU at the competition, held in East Lansing, Michigan.

Other highlights from the 2015-2016 moot court season:

  • Bryce Langford, of Amarillo, Texas, and Luke Hangge, of Yakima, Washington, advanced to the regional finals of the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Boston, marking KU’s best finish ever in the competition.
     
  • Ashley Akers and Abby Hall, of Overland Park, made it to the regional semifinals of the National Moot Court Competition in Lawrence, missing the final round by the smallest of margins.
     
  • Adam Sokoloff, of Overland Park, and Kendall Kaut, of Olathe, advanced to the semifinal round of the Federal Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall National Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
     
  • Matthew Rogers, of Wellsville, and Bradley Thomas, of Mission Hills, made it to the quarterfinals of the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in White Plains, New York.
     
  • Nicki Rose, of Topeka, and Brendan McNeal, of Boulder, Colorado, argued their way into the quarterfinal rounds of the Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup National First Amendment Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
     
  • KU’s Jessup International Law Moot Court team made it to the quarterfinals of the Rocky Mountain Regional rounds in Denver and captured the award for third-best brief. Team members included Skyler Davenport, of Blue Springs, Missouri; Bill Madden, of Topeka; Jacque Patton and John Truong, both of Wichita; and Yarhmaan Peerbaccus, of Waukee, Iowa.

Most KU Law students who compete in national tournaments were the top finishers in the school’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Competitions generally consist of writing an appellate brief and presenting a mock oral argument before an appellate court.

Law school ranked among best in nation for practical training

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law ranks 21st in the nation for offering the best practical training for future lawyers, according to National Jurist magazine.

The rankings, which recognize “schools that go above and beyond in preparing law students for the real world,” appear in the spring 2016 issue.

“Since KU Law offered its first clinic more than 50 years ago, hands-on learning opportunities that allow students to represent real clients or practice the skills of a working lawyer have continued to grow,” said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law. “We are pleased that this ranking recognizes our ongoing efforts to expand opportunities for students to prepare for the practice of law and proud of the many ways our students have helped their clients and communities in the process.”

A few success stories:

  • Students in KU Law’s Project for Innocence helped free a man after 16 years in prison for a murder his brother eventually confessed to committing. They also earned the exoneration and release of a woman unconstitutionally convicted of murder through a coerced confession.
  • A student in KU Law’s Medical-Legal Partnership helped a victim of human trafficking obtain a T visa, providing her with a foundation to begin a new life in the United States, free from fear of retribution.
  • A student in the Legislative Clinic conducted legal research, wrote memos and presented his findings to the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee – work that contributed to the passage of legislation that increased penalties for drunk drivers whose actions injure victims.

KU Law offers 12 clinics and externships in a variety of practice areas, a robust moot court and mock trial competition program, and simulation courses that teach students the art of taking and defending depositions, examining expert witnesses and performing due diligence in business transactions. The Best Schools for Practical Training rankings measure which schools have the greatest percentage of students participating in such programs.

KU Law also rose two spots in the 2017 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools guidebook, ascending to 65th among all law schools and maintaining its 36th-place rank among public schools. KU has increased its standing for four consecutive years.

KU Law’s innovative simulation courses are also featured in the guidebook’s article on “Law Schools that are Breaking with Tradition.”

There are roughly 200 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association.

KU Law team crowned national champions at Indian law moot court competition

Monday, March 07, 2016

LAWRENCE — March Madness hasn’t even started, and KU has already won a national championship. A KU Law team brought home first-place honors from this year’s National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition.  

Ashley Akers, of Casper, Wyoming, and Maureen Orth, of Prairie Village, won the competition and received the best brief award. Orth was named the second-best oral advocate and received the first-ever G. William Rice Advocate Award for the highest cumulative points in the competition. Corey Adams of Wichita and Nathan Kakazu of Madison, Wisconsin, placed third and received the second-place brief award. Nick Hayes of Lawrence and Jason Vigil of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also represented KU at the competition, held March 5-6 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

The NNALSA competition tests students’ knowledge of Indian law by evaluating their legal writing and oral advocacy skills. Students submit written briefs and participate in a simulated courtroom experience.

“This year’s competition involved a hypothetical conflict between a state and tribe related to the growth and sale of marijuana on the tribe's reservation,” said Professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner, team coach and director of KU’s Tribal Law and Government Center. Students considered whether the state could apply laws prohibiting some forms of marijuana against the tribe. Akers and Orth argued on behalf of the state in the final round, defeating the University of Oklahoma to win first place.

Team members prepared for the competition by researching and preparing briefs and participating in practice rounds judged by KU Law faculty, alumni and peers.

“Our experience at the NNALSA competition was nothing short of amazing,” Akers said. “Nearly every professor at the law school took the time to judge one or more of our teams as we prepared for this competition. It's an honor to bring home this recognition for our school after it has provided so much time, energy and resources to help us succeed.”

“It feels amazing to win, but the best thing to come out of the competition is how much we learned from our coaches, the KU faculty and each other,” Orth said. “We had so much support from the whole team.”

The final rounds were judged by a panel of esteemed Indian law scholars and practitioners, including tribal judges, tribal law professors, a Michigan Supreme Court justice and a D.C. circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“The competition is an excellent way for students to learn federal Indian law, which is especially valuable given the close proximity of so many tribes to Kansas and the important relationship between tribes, the federal government and states,” Kronk Warner said. “Students learn and improve upon their legal research, writing and oral advocacy skills.”

This is the second year in a row that KU Law advanced to the final round of the NNALSA competition. A KU Law team brought home second place from last year’s competition at the University of Arizona.

KU Law students’ brief wins second place at national moot court competition

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas placed second in the Best Brief category at the 2015 Federal Bar Association’s Thurgood A. Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition, which was March 26-27 in Washington, D.C. Emily Barclay, third-year law student from Andover, and Gretchen Rix, third-year law student from Fremont, Nebraska, represented KU.

“We improved tremendously throughout the process of preparing for the competition,” Barclay said. “It was rewarding to see our scrupulous editing culminate in an award for our brief.” 

The FBA’s moot court competition provides a simulated courtroom experience for aspiring lawyers. This year’s competition centered on two issues: the constitutionality of a police search under the Fourth Amendment and a defendant’s right to present a defense under the Sixth Amendment. Students spent a month researching and writing their brief, then prepared for oral arguments with practice rounds coached by faculty members.

“The writing skills I learned through this process will be beneficial to my future litigation practice,” Rix said. “Our coaches, Alice Craig and Quinton Lucas, as well as many other faculty members, provided invaluable advice.”

“Our goal was that they really understand the law and issues surrounding the case,” said Craig, staff attorney for the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies. “I think they achieved that and were one of the most knowledgeable teams I saw at the competition.”

The FBA team’s success comes on the heels of the school’s strong showings at three moot court competitions earlier this year. KU students came in second and achieved a Sweet Sixteen finish at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition; won top brief and finished in the semifinals of the Transactional LawMeet Regional Competition; and brought home a top-five speaker award at the Jessup International Law Rocky Mountain Regional Competition. 

Photo: From left, Gretchen Rix and Emily Barclay.

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