Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team Excels at Regional Competition

New York, February 3, 2014—The Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team at Columbia Law School triumphed last month at the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association Convention, winning four out of six possible awards in a field of 23 teams and 46 competitors. 

The three-day event was held in Albany, New York. 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 a Fifth Amendment challenge to the denial of a medical transfer in prison, an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, and an issue of drug classification under the Controlled Substances Act.
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 Glory Nwaugbala ’16 and Thomas Q. Swanson ’16 while Emily H. Harris ’16 and Nathaniel E. Sokol ’16 took home third. Catherine J. Djang ’16 and Kevin Opoku-Gyamfi ’16 won Best Petitioner Brief. Opoku-Gyamfi also won the Best Oral Advocate award. The first, second, and third place teams from the Northeast Region will go on to compete in mid-March against 15 other teams at the National Black Law Students Association Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Other members of the Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team at Columbia Law School include quarterfinalist pairs Abigail Lowin ’16 and Eliazar M. Chacha ’16, and Allen R. Davis ’16 and Debbie Jang ’16. Every other team made it to the elimination rounds, including Djang and Opoku-Gyamfi, Kathleen J. Coulson ’16 and Matthew B. Mahoney ’16, Jeri “Demi” Lorant ’16 and Justin C. Nowell ’16, and Archan J. Hazra ’16 and Arielle I. Littles ’16.
The team is coached by John T. Goodwin ’15 and Madiba K. Dennie ’15. Ryan M. Chabot ’15, Kate A. Ferguson ’15, and Whitney A. Hayes ’15 are the team’s brief editors.

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.


Columbia Law School's Paul, Weiss Frederick Douglass Moot Court team at the post-competition gala.  Front Row, left to right: John Goodwin '15, Madiba Dennie '15; (middle row) Matthew Mahoney '16, Whitney Hayes '15, Katie Coulson '16, Abigail Lowin '16, Debbie Jang '16, Demi Lorant '16, Catherine Djang '16, Arielle Littles '16, Kate Ferguson '15; (back row) Ryan Chabot 15, Nathaniel Sokol '16, Emily Harris '16, Eliazar Chacha '16, Allen Davis '16, Justin Nowell '16, Tom Swanson '16, Glory Nwaugbala '16, Kevin Opoku-Gyamfi '16, Archan Hazra '16.