KU Law's moot court program ranks in top 10 for first time

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law’s moot court program is 10th in the nation, according to rankings published recently by the University of Houston Law Center.

2023 moot court season trophiesThis is the highest KU Law has ever been ranked and the first time the school has been featured in the top 10. KU Law has finished in the top 30 nationally for the past eight years.

“We have had a strong moot court program for decades,” said Pam Keller, moot court program director. “In the last decade or so, we have had increased financial support from donors, allowing us to send more talented students to national and international competitions. I am grateful for that support.”

The continued support of donors and faculty alike contributed toward the success of this year’s season where KU Law brought home two national championship titles: the National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition and the Federal Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition.

This year marks the third year in a row that KU Law has won the NNALSA Moot Court Competition and the third year in a row that recent graduate Emily Depew was a member of the winning team. She was recognized for her advocacy skills during this year’s hooding ceremony, receiving the Polsinelli Advocacy Award. Her partner this past year, third-year student Chris Birzer, plans to continue the tradition.

“I am grateful to the coaches and faculty for their dedicated instruction and support and to Emily Depew for being an excellent partner,” Birzer said. “The NNALSA competition gave me the opportunity to learn about Indian law and to think about novel legal issues. Next year, I plan to compete in the National Moot Court Competition with third-year student Maverick Edwards. I am looking forward to another competitive year for the KU moot court program.”

Recent graduates Ally Monson and Amanda McElfresh argued against the defending national champions in the in the final round of the Federal Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition to clinch the win. McElfresh also won Best Oralist in the final round.

In fact, KU Law students performed at a high level in every competition they entered, making 2022-2023 the most successful moot court year ever.

Additional results from the competition season:

  • Karlie Bischoff and Hailey Reed progressed to the final round of the Wagner National Labor & Employment Law Moot Court Competition.
  • Emily Depew and Jessica Kinnamon made the final four of the Hunton Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship. Both students received a scholarship award for their semifinal finish, and Depew received an award for Third Best Oral Advocate in the competition.
  • Madeline Calcagno and Josh Sipp made the final four of the Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition.
  • Caleb Hanlon and Maddy Tannahill made the final four of the Prince Memorial Evidence National Moot Court Competition.
  • Kat Girod and Helen Phillips won the Regional Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, bringing home the Shapero Cup. Girod also received the award for Best Oral Advocate. They continued on to the 31st annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, where they advanced to the elite eight.
  • Rachel Henderson, Haley Koontz and Caitlin McPartland reached the quarterfinals in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.
  • Jade Kearney and Alex Valin reached the elite eight at the NNALSA competition.

Most KU Law students who competed 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.

Past KU Law rankings by the University of Houston Law Center:

  • 2022: No. 14
  • 2021: No. 13
  • 2020: No. 22
  • 2019: No. 14
  • 2018: No. 26
  • 2017: No. 17
  • 2016: No. 19.

Read this article from the KU News Service