A student in a striped tie speaks in the Moot Court semifinals.

First-Year Moot Court

All first-year students acquire valuable advocacy skills through one of the Law School’s 10 moot court offerings. 

Students can either participate in the Foundation Moot Court (open to all students without an application process) or apply to one of the specialized domestic or international moot court programs.

Most first-year students participate in Foundation Moot Court—part of the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Moot Court Program—to fulfill their requirement.  Students are automatically enrolled in Foundation Moot Court unless they are accepted by one of the approved, specialized moot court programs listed below. 

Students can apply to individual moot courts, rank their choices, and select interview/oral tryout slots through the online moot court application system in LawNet.

Learn more about first year moot court programs below:

Domestic Teams

The Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP Moot Court Program

Gender and Sexuality Law Moot Court team 2023

The Columbia Gender and Sexuality Law Moot Court

Area of Law: Gender and Sexuality and the Law, Civil Rights, LGBTQ+ Rights

Description (from the team): The Columbia Gender and Sexuality Moot Court is dedicated to the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity law. It offers students the opportunity to analyze unique and challenging issues of constitutional law affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Previous legal topics have included a Title IX challenge to school policies affecting non-binary and transgender students, an affirmative action program based on sexual orientation in government contracting, the intersection of antidiscrimination law and religious liberty, the rights of transgender people in prisons, the intersection of Free Speech rights and a requirement of professors to use students’ gender-affirming pronouns, and a Free Speech and 14th Amendment challenge to a statute banning conversion therapy. 

Team Size: 12 first-year students are selected each year for the program. Four students of the 12 will participate in the external competition at the Williams Institute at UCLA.

Travel: Of the 12 students participating, four students (two teams of two) will be selected to compete in the national competition. This selection will take place through a “mini moot” in the fall semester. The four students on the external team will travel to Los Angeles during the spring semester to compete in the Williams Institute Gender & Sexuality Moot Court Competition at UCLA. The eight students who do not compete in the external competition will work with student editors and the Legal Practice Workshop instructor to write and refine their briefs and to conduct oral arguments before alumni judges at Columbia Law.

Time Commitment: 1 year (fall/spring of 1L year, but light programming in the fall semester)

Student group affiliation: None



The 2023 Frederick Douglass Moot Court team poses in formalwear

Frederick Douglass Moot Court

Area of Law: Civil rights, racial justice, and other legal issues identified each year by the National Black Law Students Association. 

Description (from the team): The Frederick Douglass Moot Court team competes in the National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition. In collaboration with upper-year editors and coaches, first-year students spend part of the fall semester learning the basics of brief writing and citing. In pairs, students write a legal brief on a civil rights issue that they submit to the competition late in the fall semester. At the end of winter break, students participate in a week-long bootcamp, where coaches, editors, and experts will help students learn the basics of oral advocacy. In late January or early February, students travel to the Northeast Regional round of the competition. Students who place high at the regional competition have the opportunity to participate at the national competition. Following the competition, students continue to hone their advocacy skills through practice in a supportive community of their peers at Columbia in the spring.

Team Size:  The team consists of 10-16 first-year students and five upper-year students who serve as editors and coaches.

Travel: The location of the competition varies from year to year. The 2022–2023 competition was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Students will receive excused absences if they miss a day of classes. 

Time Commitment: 1 year (fall/spring semester of 1L year) 

Affiliated student organization: Columbia’s Black Law Students Association


Students stand outside on Revson Plaza.

LaLSA Asylum and Refugee Law Moot Court

Area of law: Immigration

Description (from the team): During the fall semester, students will participate in oral advocacy and legal research training and will also be invited to social events to build relationships with team members, coaches, and editors. The competition problem will be released in mid-November, and the final draft of the brief will be due in mid-January following a three-day virtual boot camp on legal research and writing and oral advocacy. During this time, students will begin practicing their oral arguments in preparation for the internal competition, which will be judged by respected practitioners, professors, and judges in late January after returning to campus for the spring semester. 

Team Size: 16 1Ls

Travel: The four students (two teams of two) who win the internal competition will represent Columbia Law School in the national competition, which will be held at U.C. Davis School of Law during the first or second weekend of March.

Time commitment: 1 year (fall/spring of 1L year)

Affiliated student organization (if any): Latinx Law Students Association


Low Library Spring Cherry Blossoms in Foreground

America Intellectual Property Law Association Moot Court - Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition

Area of Law: Intellectual Property

Description (from the team): Students are selected for the internal team via initial tryouts. Later in the fall term, students compete in an internal competition to be considered for the external competition team.

In the fall semester and during the winter break, the four students selected for the external competition team write two briefs for participation in the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition. In the spring semester, the external team members participate in weekly oral argument training sessions, which culminates in regionals of the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition. 

The students on the internal team focus their work in the spring semester: they take the AIPLA LPW II class in place of the Foundation Moot Court LPW II, and students are paired up to write one appellate brief on an IP topic as part of the course. Later in the semester, students from the internal team present oral arguments on their briefs before panels of alumni judges. 

Team Size: At least 12 1Ls are accepted onto the team each year, four of whom are selected via an internal competition later in the fall term for the external competition team. The remaining 1Ls are accepted onto the internal Spring LPW II class. The team also consists of four 2Ls (two editors and two coaches), and one 3L advisor.

Travel: The external competition team travels to regional competitions in March. The location of the regional competition varies year to year. In 2022–2023, Columbia sent students to regional competitions in Palo Alto, California, and Chicago. If the students qualify, they may also go to a final round of the competition in Washington, D.C.

Time commitment: 1 year

Affiliated student organization (if any): None


Students from the Environmental Law Moot Court team pose in front of a blackboard

Environmental Law Moot Court

Area of Law: Environmental Law

Description (from the team): Students apply first to the Environmental Law Moot Court team and then have the option of trying out for the competition team, which requires a brief oral argument/interview. In the fall, the three-person competition team conducts legal research and writes a brief on the problem designed by the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (due before Thanksgiving). The coaches—consisting of members of last year’s competition team—support the 1Ls with check-ins, bluebooking, and administrative law training in the fall semester. The competition team begins to work more intensively with the coaches during a weekend oral argument boot camp right before spring semester starts. The competition team then participates in biweekly oral argument practices—including moots before professors and staff—until the February competition.

The internal team participates in the environmental moot court Legal Practice Workshop II course in the spring semester, working together to write a brief on the same environmental law problem assigned by the national competition. Internal team students have their own series of oral arguments before practitioners and alumni.

Team Size: The team is 12 1L students total. The internal team (which participates in the second semester class) is typically nine students. Three students are selected to be part of the competition team that competes against other schools.

Travel: The National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition is held at Pace Law School in White Plains, NY (a commuter-train ride from NYC). 

Time Commitment: 

For members of the internal team: spring semester of 1L year.

For members of the external team: a two-year commitment, including an intensive commitment during the first half of 1L fall, the first half of 1L spring, and a (less intensive) commitment to work as a coach during both semesters of 2L year.

Affiliated student organization (if applicable): None

Students from the NALSA Moot Court team pose together

Native American Law Students Association Moot Court

Area of Law:  Native American Law 

Description (from the team): The NALSA Moot Court application consists of a short written argument in response to a prompt, and then an informal in-person interview where applicants respond to questions about their submission. After acceptance onto the Moot Court, participants have the option to try out for the external competition team in the form of a 15-minute oral argument (this try-out is optional; participants can choose to join the internal competition team instead). No previous knowledge of Federal Indian Law is required. Participants are paired into teams depending on whether they are placed on the external or internal team. In the fall, the time commitment is very minimal; participants learn about the basics of Federal Indian Law and the process of brief writing. The problem, concerning various elements of Federal Indian Law, is released in November and the bulk of research and brief writing takes place over winter break. In the spring semester, participants from both the external and internal team practice oral arguments against one another twice a week. Coaches and editors work with participants throughout this process. Participants also take Legal Practice Workshop II, where they have the chance to improve upon their arguments and learn more about issues in Federal Indian Law from a professor who is a practitioner in the subject. Both the internal and external competitions take place at the end of February/beginning of March. Other than the competition weekends, there is no differentiation in training or content between the internal and external teams.

Team Size: 12–16 first-year students 

Travel: The external team travels each year for the national competition, though the location varies. In 2023, it was held at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma. In 2024, it will be hosted by the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law in Missoula.

Time Commitment: 1 year 


International Teams

The Winston & Strawn International Moot Court Program

Student biking on Amsterdam and 116th Street

European Law Moot Court

Area of Law: International Law, European Integration 

Description (from the team): 

In the fall, students start by working in pairs to conduct preliminary research on the competition case problem, and they take time to familiarize themselves with the basics of EU Law. Students are then grouped into two separate teams of four, after which they are not able to discuss the Moot Court case with the other team. Each team submits a brief to the external competition in late November. Submission of the written pleadings to the ELMC judges does not guarantee participation in the subsequent oral competition. 

In January, the teams learn the results of the written pleadings and find out whether they have qualified for one of the four ELMC Regional Finals, hosted in Europe in late February or early March. If a team qualifies for a regional final, each student is assigned to compete in oral arguments as either applicant, defendant, legal counsel, or as either advocate general or commission’s agent. If a member of the team wins in the regional finals phase, they will advance to a second/final round of the competition, hosted at the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.

Students in the ELMC moot court are automatically enrolled in a specialized section of Legal Practice Workshop II (“LPW II) designated for those participating in the specialized international law moot court programs. In the spring LPW II course, students practice their oral arguments before peers and mock panels, and also have the opportunity to meet various guest speakers who have made careers in the field of international law.

Team Size: Eight 1L competitors

Travel: If a team qualifies for the oral phase, the ELMC competition will assign the team to one of four regional finals within the EU. The location of the regional finals changes each year, and it is typically announced in January. In 2022–2023, the host locations for the regional final were Lund University in Sweden, University of Bucharest in Romania, Lille Catholic University in France, and Abat Oliba CEU University in Spain. 

Time commitment: 1 year (fall/spring) followed by the opportunity to become a 2L coach to the next set of ELMC competitors in the 2024–2025 academic year. The commitment involves 1 semester of working on the written pleadings stage, and an additional semester working on oral arguments.

Affiliated student organization: Columbia Society of International Law


The Jessup Moot Court team pose together

Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court

Area of Law: International Law

Description (from the team): In the fall, participants will research and write part of an appellate brief along with other team members. Recent topics include covert cyber operations, international trade, international criminal law, state responsibility for environmental degradation and human rights violations, legality of nuclear weapons, undersea espionage, the threat or use of force, validity of international arbitral awards, mass surveillance, the right of self-determination, and international protections for traditional knowledge and cultural property. In the spring, participants will practice and refine oral arguments in preparation for presentation in regional and international competition rounds. 

Team Size: 5 students, consisting of both 1Ls and 2Ls 

Travel: Travel locations vary in the U.S. from year to year. In 2023–2024, the initial (national) round will take place in New Orleans, LA. If the team progresses, the second (international) round will take place in Washington, D.C. 

Time Commitment: 2 years; 4 semesters. Some work will be required over winter break.

Student Group affiliation: None. 


The dome of the Columbia University chapel by an orange tree

Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot

Area of Law: International Arbitration

Description (from the team): Between October and February, 1Ls research and write claimant and respondent briefs under the guidance of their 2L coaches and international arbitration practitioners. Past topics include disputes over the international sale of palm oil to a biofuel producer and the sale of surveillance drones to a state-owned company. 1Ls participate in pre-moots throughout the spring and help prepare 2Ls for oral arguments before traveling to Vienna, Austria, for the international competition in March. Every member of the team has the opportunity to practice oral arguments in front of real lawyers and arbitrators from law firms and courts of arbitration.

Team Size: The team consists of eight students: four 1Ls and four 2Ls. 

Travel: All team members travel to Vienna, Austria, for the international competition in March. In the past, the team has also traveled to places such as Paris, France and Hamburg, Germany, for competitive pre-moots against teams from other countries.

Time commitment: 2 years

Affiliated student organization (if any): None