Please join NALSA Moot Court Editors & Coaches for an information session about NALSA Moot Court Team.
The National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) has hosted a national moot court competition since 1993, offering students from all backgrounds a great opportunity to gain experience in the truly unique, multidisciplinary, and challenging field of Federal Indian Law. Recent topics in the area of Federal Indian Law include marijuana legalization, the “Baby Veronica” child custody case, the current Washington Redskins name change controversy, and casino gambling regulations.
After a few primer classes on basic Federal Indian law, participants spend part of the fall semester or winter break working with their partner to write a brief based on a problem published in November by the host school. Briefs are due in January, after which teams practice with their coaches and editors for oral argument twice each week. All participants will attend the national competition in early March 2018. Each team argues at least twice at the national competition—once on the side for which they wrote their brief and once on the opposite side. Judges consist of high-profile Native Law practitioners and academics, tribal justices, and state and federal judges. Sixteen teams are selected to advance beyond these preliminary rounds and are assigned different sides to argue for up to five additional elimination rounds. Scores at the competition combine teams’ brief scores with their scores for oral argument. Prizes are awarded for best brief, best individual oralist, and best performance.
Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona will host the competition this year. Columbia Law School teams are consistently among the top teams at the national competition. In 2017, three Columbia teams advanced to the round of sixteen, two teams advanced to the round of eight, and one team advanced to the round of four; one Columbia team member won overall best oralist. In 2016, four Columbia teams advanced to the round of sixteen, and one team advanced to the round of eight; a Columbia team member also won overall best oralist. In 2015, two Columbia teams advanced to the round of sixteen and one team finished in the top 4. In 2014, two Columbia teams advanced to the round of sixteen. In 2013, three Columbia teams advanced to the round of sixteen, one Columbia team finished 2nd place overall, and one team was awarded 2nd place best brief. In 2012, a Columbia team finished 3rd overall.
Three Important Points
- First, EVERYONE is eligible to participate and encouraged to apply. You do not have to be Native American, and most past participants have had little to no exposure to Federal Indian Law prior to joining the team.
- Second, EVERYONE who participates will compete in the national competition in Los Angeles. We do not have an elimination round at Columbia before the national competition to reduce the number of teams we send.
- Third, 1L students receive credit for the NALSA Moot Court and are exempt from the Foundation Moot Court requirement. 2L and 3L students may receive minor writing credit for their brief work.