Note: The 60th Annual Wendell F. Grimes Moot Court Competition Finals will be held at BC Law on Wednesday, March 11 at 4:00 pm in East Wing Room 120.
Television shows like Judge Judy prepare every person in the English-speaking world for what could possibly go on at a mock trial competition: there are opening statements, directs, crosses, redirects, closing arguments, and certainly tons of objections and shocking witness impeachments. These are all aimed at typically convincing a jury that your side has better evidence to prove your point, or in the alternative, that the other side simply lacks sufficient evidence to prove theirs.
While this is, I am sure, one of the many cool things about grade school, college, and yes indeed law school, I have found mock trial’s lesser known appellate sibling to be much more entertaining.
Picture this: you, your moot court partner, your opposing counsel and their partner, a panel of typically three judges (often actual judges and high powered successful attorneys), and a fascinating point of law. Your job in a fifteen minute span is to engage in an eloquent and respectful conversation with the judges about the issue at hand. Opposing counsel cannot object to your argument. In fact, the only people who can interrupt you at all are the judges who, if you’re lucky, are peppering you with questions about holes in your arguments and points raised by your opposing counsel. Or they’re asking you about circuit courts that disagree with your theory of the case. Because there’s no jury for whom you must translate the law into something a lay (read normal) person can understand, you just have a bunch of highly intelligent, legally trained people discussing the nuances of our legal system. It’s a total nerd party!
I’m pleased to host a guest blog from 3L Jenny Moore, one of the winners of last year’s Grimes Moot Court Competition, describing her experience in the competition and on a moot court team.
Around BC Law, the dawn of Spring means the annual Grimes Moot Court Competition is reaching its conclusion: two teams vying to be champion in front of three distinguished judges. Grimes is BC Law’s internal moot court competition. Pairs of 2Ls spend a month writing a brief on a hypothetical appellate dispute, and over a month facing off once a week at oral arguments. Last year, my partner, Brooke Hartley, and I took it all home.
Participating in Grimes was one of my favorite parts of law school. Preparing for argument and arguing in front of the judges was unlike anything I had ever done before. I had always enjoyed public speaking but never felt the nerves beforehand until Grimes. Each week I was incredibly nervous right before my argument, but as soon as I got going and received questions from the judges, my nerves would turn into straight adrenaline. I enjoyed the challenge of being on my toes and trying to answer difficult questions in the most effective way possible to win the argument.
Brooke and I were pretty surprised each week when we would advance, and it was always exciting to see how the next round of judges would put us to the test. The day of the finals was one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life, but it will always be a special memory that we got to argue in front of such a distinguished panel, especially Merrick Garland.
Coming into law school, I had no intention of ever stepping into a court room. I thought I wanted to do education policy work for a non-profit or government agency, hanging out behind a desk, engaging with complex issues at the highest levels, and generally avoiding an adversarial setting at all costs. But then I actually came to law school and what I thought I wanted shifted dramatically — which, spoiler alert, happens a lot!
My 2L year, my dear friend and current Law Student Association Vice President Andrea Clavijo lovingly coerced me into participating in the intra-school Moot Court competition. More on that later (and you can read about it on the BC Law web site here), but the tl;dr version is that Moot Court is basically fake appellate advocacy. Instead of making an argument to a jury, Law & Order style, you and a partner argue in front of a (fake) Supreme Court, focusing on the legal issues and advocating for what the law should be.
The experience was absolutely terrifying, and I. Absolutely. Loved It. Which is what brings me to the actual topic of the post: the best class I’ve taken in law school.
Editor’s Note: One of my very favorite parts of attending BC Law is the constant interaction with classmates who push you to be better. They motivate you to set goals that would have seemed unthinkable on the first day of 1L year, and inspire you to exceed even those heightened aspirations. Although she would never admit it herself, Lainey Sullivan is the living, breathing embodiment of this type of BC student. I reached out to Lainey and asked if she had the time to write a brief welcome letter to next year’s incoming students, and what she sent back blew me away. Per usual. Without further ado, I am very pleased to present…
Why I Will Miss BC Law and Why You Shouldn’t Miss the Chance to Be an Eagle
By Lainey Sullivan, President, Boston College Law Students Association