Joseph Alm ’13
Counsel for the appellee
Joseph Alm ’13 comes to the Harlan Fiske Stone finals armed with ample experience in the art of oral advocacy. As an undergraduate student at Patrick Henry College in Virginia, the 2012 Stone Moot Court semifinalist honed his debating skills and eventually blossomed into a nationally ranked moot court competitor.
At Columbia Law School, Alm participates in the High School Law Institute, spending his Saturday mornings coaching teenage students on the finer points of moot court strategy. And during his second year at the Law School, he competed in the American Constitution Society’s moot court league as part of a team that won a national championship.
Even after amassing such extensive oral advocacy experience, Alm says participating in the Stone Moot Court competition—a highlight of the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Moot Court Program—has been a transformative experience.
“As a result of the Stone Moot Court oral arguments, my perception of being in court, and especially how I view persuasion, has changed,” he explains. “Instead of rigidly promoting my point through a prepared speech, I listen very carefully to the judges’ questions in order to identify each judge’s point of view on an issue, and then bring them along to see my point of view.”
Alm gained valuable insight into judicial reasoning as an intern for Judge Eric G. Bruggink of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2011. “It was very helpful to be in a position where I was able to see the judge trying to figure something out, as opposed to trying to convince him of something,” he says.
Of course, understanding how judges work—and how best to persuade them—is only one element of crafting successful arguments during the Stone Moot Court competition. There is also the need to master a wide range of substantive legal issues—including, this year, many nuanced concepts in administrative law. For his efforts on that front, Alm drew from core principles he learned in Professor Peter L. Strauss’ administrative law course and Strauss’ upper-level class The Regulatory and Administrative State. “Both of those courses fed directly into the subject this year,” he says. “They were really difficult, but I think that those classes helped me so much in terms of the substantive side of preparing for the competition.”
After graduation, Alm, who serves as an executive editor of the Law School’s Science and Technology Law Review, will join Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Silicon Valley, where he will specialize in patent litigation.
This program is made possible by the generous support of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.