New York, Jan. 29, 2013—The Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team at Columbia Law School triumphed last weekend at the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association Convention, winning four out of six possible awards in a field of 21 teams and 42 competitors. The three-day event was held in Cambridge, Mass.
Columbia Law School students, all first-year J.D. candidates, competed with predominantly second- and third-year students from law schools throughout the region in brief-writing and oral arguments. This year’s problem concerned the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a Fifth Amendment challenge to a compliance order issued under the Clean Water Act, and a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency under the eminent domain clause of the Fifth Amendment.
“We couldn't be more proud of this amazing group of individuals," said Dinah Manning '14, one of the team's coaches and a First Runner-Up at last year's national competition. "Each one of our 16 team members devoted themselves to becoming better legal researchers, writers, and advocates, while still maintaining a collaborative family environment in which they supported each other as friends and colleagues.”
Columbia Law School’s Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team preparing to leave Cambridge after the three-day competition
Front Row, left to right: Chisara Ezie, Madiba Dennie, Whitney Hayes, Randi Franklin, Kate Ferguson, Jocelyn Greer; (middle row) Miheer Mhatre, Mary Dohrmann, Rachel Stein; (back row) Jarrell Mitchell, Ryan Chabot, Wyatt Littles, Dinah Manning, Jeffrey Skinner, Rajan Trehan, Taylor Hartstein, John Goodwin, Arielle Reid, Paul Chander, Christopher Wilds (not picturer: Garrett Schuman)
Moot court teams compete in pairs, with each team writing a joint appellate brief in the fall and competing in oral rounds in the spring. When writing the brief, competitors divide the questions presented to the court and learn individual aspects of the problem. But by the time of the regional competition, competitors must master their partners’ issues in addition to their own, thus becoming a true appellate team.
First place went to John Goodwin ’15 and Whitney Hayes ’15, and second place to Jocelyn Greer ’15 and Garrett Schuman ’15. Madiba Dennie ’15 and Taylor Hartstein ’15 won Best Respondent Brief. Kate Ferguson ’15 won the Best Oral Advocate award. The first and second place teams will go on to compete in early March against 16 other teams at the National Black Law Students Association Convention in Atlanta, Ga.
Other members of the Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team at Columbia Law School are Mary Dohrmann ’15 and Jeffrey Skinner ’15 (who came in fourth place), Kate Ferguson ’15 and Wyatt Littles ’15, Rachel Stein ’15 and Christopher Wilds ’15, Ryan Chabot ’15 and Arielle Reid ’15, and Paul Chander ’15 and Randi Franklin ’15.
“Their outstanding results in the competition are a product of each team member's individual investment as well as their collective efforts," said Miheer Mhatre '14, who coaches the team with Manning. Mhatre won Best Respondent Brief at last year's national competition.
In addition to Mhatre and Manning, the team had three brief editors who were also part of last year's team: Chisara Ezie ’14, Jarrell Mitchell ’14, and Rajan Trehan ’14.
The Frederick Douglass Moot Court competition, held annually since 1975 by the National Black Law Students Association, focuses primarily on public law and topics of particular relevance to students of color. Columbia Law School’s participation is made possible by the generous support of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.