Law School Teams Take Top Honors at Moot Court Competitions

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New York, April 15, 2010Columbia Law School students have garnered top honors this semester at some of the world’s most prestigious moot court competitions.
At the one final yet to be contested, a Law School championship is already assured, as the winners of the regional finals were both teams from Columbia.
“I am so proud of the hard work of all of the participants,” said David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law.
The aim of the Law School’s Moot Court Program is to develop skills in legal writing, research, and advocacy through appellate or trial litigation simulations.  The program comprises the Foundation Moot Court requirement, in which first-year J.D. students participate, as well as several electives for upper-class students.
This week saw the final of the Law School’s Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition, one of the top tests of appellate advocacy at a U.S. law school. Mina Nasseri ’10 received the Lawrence S. Greenbaum Prize for Best Oralist in the competition.
Also in the finals was Geoffrey Cajigas ’11, who argued with Nasseri for the appellant in the fictional case of Madison v. Marbury Public School District. Evie Spanos ’11, and Philip Gary ’10, argued for the school district. The four survived two rounds of eliminations from the competition, which started with 49 students
Brittney Pescatore ’10, director of the Stone Moot Court, wrote the problem on which the arguments were based.
“We are fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group of upper-class students who remain committed to and involved in our Moot Court program as participants, mentors, and coaches throughout their time at Columbia, and sometimes after their graduation as well,” said Philip Genty, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Moot Court Program.
The Law School competed in the World Championship Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition held Mar. 21-27 in Washington, and finished second in the White & Case International Rounds out of 105 teams from 76 countries.
The Law School retained its title as U.S. National Champion, and also won the Alona E. Evans Prize for best written memorial in the international rounds. The Law School team of Jacob Johnston ’12, Kashiwa Kumar ’12, Kevin Lin '11, Erik Lindemann '11 and Elisabeth Page '11 advanced to the Championship Round through 14 undefeated oral rounds.
Kumar and Lin argued in the Championship Round, with Johnston serving as counsel. Lin won the Stephen M. Schwebel Prize for best oralist in the Championship round.
This year’s team was led by Lindemann and Page, who survived three elimination rounds to enable Columbia to reach the final. Lindeman received the third-place individual oralist award, and Page received the 14th-place oralist award.
Previously, Columbia has claimed three world championships–in 1963, 1965, and 2006.
The Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition team capped off a successful season with a win at the national championship.

The national competition was held in Boston, March 11-13, featuring the top three teams from each of the six regions of the National Black Law Students Association, which created and operates the competition. Columbia's top three teams from the regional competition brought home the championship trophy, a semifinalist berth, and the Best Petitioner’s Brief and Best Respondent’s Brief awards.
Mohit Gourisaria’12 and Janine Morna’12 were the national champions and also received the award for best Respondent's brief. David Stoopler’12 and David Sneed’12 were semifinalists and received the award for best Petitioner's brief. The Columbia students are all in the first year of law school, and faced more experienced competitors with previous moot court and substantive class experience.  
“The exceptional success of so many Columbia teams in Moot Court competitions this year has been extremely gratifying,” Genty said. “It is all the more noteworthy given that Columbia is virtually unique in sending first-year students to participate in many of these competitions.”
The American Constitution Society Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court teams won both regional competitions. As a result, two Columbia teams, Thomas Sprankling and Sylvia Duran and Adam Shpeen and Joshua Picker, will compete against each other for the national championship at the 2010 ACS National Convention in Washington in June.
The event, which was founded by Law School students, was first held in 2006, a year after the death of Motley ’46, an important figure in the civil rights movement.
The Law School’s team took high honors in the 2010 Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna, finishing in the top 32 out of over 250 teams from around the world. James Mufei Li ’11 and Stephanie Train ’11 each won honorable mention in the Martin Domke Award for Best Oralist.
At the National Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition in February, Alexander Hogan ’12 and Novika Ishar ’12 won for best brief, while Caitlin Smith ’12 and Courtney Smith ’12 took second in that category.
The Law School’s Moot Court program is made possible by a grant from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.