Justin DiGennaro ’15
Counsel for the Appellant
Justin DiGennaro firmly believes in advanced preparation when it comes to public speaking.
As an undergraduate majoring in government at Cornell University, DiGennaro debated other campus political organizations through the College Republicans and, later, participated in debates against other think tanks as an intern for the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. But he has found that moot court puts an even higher premium on airtight arguments.
“So much of moot court and oral argument is defined by the nature of what the judges want to focus on,” DiGennaro says. “You have to prepare not just to pivot, but also to fully address the shortcomings of your argument in a way that you don’t need to in debate.”
DiGennaro outlines questions he anticipates from the judges, and then prepares two to three bullet point responses to each.
“It’s essential to have something to say in response to every question—to not have to shuffle through papers, to not have to worry about trying to articulate or come up with ideas on the spot,” he says. “Preparation is key for any public speaking, and it’s especially true when it comes to moot court.”
DiGennaro was heavily involved in other moot court programs while at the Law School, serving as a student editor and student judge for the Foundation Moot Court, as well as coaching and presiding over competitions for high school students in a program called Mentoring Youth through Legal Education. Both programs have also helped him anticipate questions from the bench and apply a more critical eye to his own brief and oral presentation.
“By articulating the things I thought worked well or didn’t work well for my students, I was able to refine my own approach,” DiGennaro says. “I think that’s made me a lot better and more effective in my own moot court skills.”
DiGennaro, a James Kent Scholar, also participated in the Domestic Violence Prosecution Externship at the Queens District Attorney’s Office and served as case notes editor and notes editor for the Columbia Journal of European Law. He interned for Judge Joseph F. Bianco of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and worked as a summer associate in the employment litigation practice group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he will be working after graduation.