Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Programs Gain National Recognition

Seventeen of the LSU Law Center’s 26 Moot Court and Trial Advocacy teams received either team or individual awards in competitions held throughout the United States this school year. The teams and individual members were recognized at the April 8 annual awards banquet held in downtown Baton Rouge. 

“It was a banner year for our programs, and I am enormously proud of our students,” said Chancellor Jack Weiss.  “There is no doubt that our programs are growing—not only in the number of students who participate—but also in the role that the programs play in defining the LSU Law experience. The strength of our team and individual efforts has resulted in a growing competiveness and increasing national recognition, while our employers tell us that LSU Law continues to provide practice-ready lawyers. There’s no doubt that Moot Court and Trial Ad experience play a huge role in the positive reputation of our graduates.“

Also recognized was Assistant Professor of Professional Practice Todd Bruno, who also serves as director of Externships, Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Programs for the Law Center.  Bruno joined the Law Center in 2001 and has served as director since Fall 2005.  Professor Bruno will leave the LSU Law Center this summer for a position with the Charleston School of Law.  His personal dedication to students and his organizational abilities have been instrumental in our success, noted Chancellor Weiss. The banquet was dedicated to Professor Bruno. 

Billy Murray, Trial Advocacy Board President, called Bruno a coach, mentor, confidant, and friend.  “We applaud his vision and commitment to LSU Law’s Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Programs that under his tutelage revolutionized the Law Center’s Advocacy Programs, resulting in its #12 ranking in the nation,” noted the students in the written program.  “Through his dedication to and respect for his students, Professor Bruno not only instilled in us the skills and talents to become successful attorneys, but inspired us to be extraordinary individuals as well.”

Professor Bruno praised the teams for their success this year. “Two-thirds of our teams achieving recognition at national and state competitions is outstanding. Typically, only about a quarter to a third of teams at a competition are recognized in some way.” 

Moot Court Competition Results, 2009-2010

LSU sent 14 teams to 11 moot court competitions this year.  These competitions recognize excellence in both written and oral advocacy.  Out of the 14 teams, 11 were recognized with team or individual awards.  Nine teams advanced into the quarterfinal round or better.  At three of the competitions, LSU students placed in the top two in the individual advocate category.  And five other students placed in the top ten overall at their competition.

Trial Ad Competition Results, 2009-2010

LSU sent 12 teams to nine different competitions. Last year, LSU only sent nine teams to competitions, and in 2006, LSU had only six trial teams. We have seen the trial team program double in just four years.

The overall success of the program has remained remarkably high even while expanding opportunities; six of the 12 teams this year received team or individual recognition at their competitions.

Highlights of the Individual Teams:

Jessup International Moot Court Competition  — The Largest Moot Court Competition in the World
Southwest Superregional Champions

Eighth Best Oralist, Regional Round Meagan Messina
Top 20 International Oral Advocate, International Round Micah Fincher

Coaches:  Kristin Lundin (’09) & Jessica Orgeron (’09)

Jessup began with over 650 teams worldwide, including 144 American law schools that competed in six regions.

The LSU team of David Maples, Micah Fincher, Erin Cesta, David May and Meagan Messina were  crowned Southwest Superregional Champions and were one of 12 schools representing the United States in the International Jessup Competition.

At regional’s, LSU won first place out of 24 teams. LSU also had the 6th best oral advocate – Meagan Messina.

The 2010 White & Case International Rounds were the largest ever, with 105 competing teams and 22 exhibition teams representing 76 countries.

LSU finished 41st overall in a competition that began with over 650 law schools, placing us in the top six percent of all schools worldwide. Only five American law schools placed higher than LSU, including NYU and Columbia. In addition to the overall team finish, Micah Fincher placed 16th out of the 420 individual competitors at the international rounds.

Moot Court National Championship Team
National Quarterfinalist
Second Place, Best Oral Advocate, Charlotte Youngblood
Coaches:  Professor John Devlin & Laranda Moffett Walker (’07)

LSU Law was one of only 16 law schools to be invited to this event. We argued against Duke, Seton Hall, Miami, and William & Mary, and we advanced into the quarterfinals as the number 5 seed. Our team eventually lost to the national champions. Charlotte Youngblood was the number two individual at a competition where the best law schools in terms of advocacy sent their very best advocates.

Ms. Youngblood has participated in three moot court competitions in her law school career and finished as either the first or second place individual advocate at each (first last year and second this year at Environmental;  second at this competition).

National Pretrial Advocacy Competition
Third Place
Coach:  Professor Todd Bruno

This is only the second year that this event has been held, and entry into the event was based on selective criteria — primarily a history of excellence in advocacy. The prestigious event has included teams from law schools such as Baylor University, South Texas College of Law, Chicago-Kent, and Stetson University – all schools currently ranked in the top 10 in Trial Advocacy according to the US News & World Report.

LSU is the only law school that has placed in the top three both years of the event, winning it in 2008 and placing third in 2009. This year’s team lost its semifinal round to Chicago-Kent (a law school currently ranked #4 in trial advocacy by US News).

LSBA Mock Trial Competition
State Champions
Coach:  Professor Todd Bruno

LSU Law won First Place. This is the third year in a row that LSU Law has won the LSBA Mock Trial Competition.  Prior to 2008, LSU had won the competition twice in the 20-year history of the event that dates back to 1989. LSU Law has now won the competition three times in three years.

Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition
National Quarterfinalist runner-up, Best Oral Advocate Katherine Lee, Team I
Sixth Place, Best Oral Advocate
Jack Stanley, Team 2
  Dean Sutherland (’75) & Kelly Brian (‘07)

For the second year in a row, LSU had a team advance into the quarterfinal round.

For the third year in a row, we had an individual place in the top two at the competition.

ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition    
Regional Semifinalist, Team 1

Third Place, Best Brief in Miami Regional
Ninth Place, Best Oral Advocate in Miami Regional – Dustin Talbot

Regional Semifinalist, Team 2
Coach:  Professor Kathryn Simino (’87)

LSU first competed in this event in 2007.  This is only the second time that LSU Law has sent two teams. The LSU teams competed in the Miami regional that began with 32 teams. This was one of six regions in the country.  Both of our teams were undefeated after three preliminary rounds. We were the only school in the region that had two undefeated teams.

National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
Second Place, Best Oral Advocate – Charlotte Youngblood
Coaches:  Professor Ken Murchison, R. Charles Ellis (’91) & Michelle Marney (‘00)

Out of 84 competing teams, the LSU team had the “best oralist” in two of three preliminary rounds, and team member Charlotte Youngblood received an honorable mention award for being “second-best” individual oralist. She won first last year. 

National Taxation Moot Court Competition
National Quarterfinalist
Professor Christopher Pietruszkiewicz & Jenny Phillips (’04)

LSU has competed in this tax moot court competition every year since 2005. For the sixth year in a row, LSU advanced into the quarterfinal round or better.

LSU Law attended the following three competitions for the first time this year and we advanced into the semifinals at one and quarterfinals at the other two:

National Security Law Moot Court Competition
National Semifinalist
Coach:  Professor Edward Richards
The LSU team advanced into the semifinal round of the competition that began with 24 teams, losing to Cornell University, the ultimate winner.

Mardi Gras Invitational National Sports Law Tournament
National Quarterfinalist
Coaches:  Jordan Faircloth (’08) & Professor Todd Bruno

All of the students were 2L’s and were coached by a first-time coach, Jordan Faircloth, who participated on the ABA National Appellate Ad team when we was a student at LSU Law. After three preliminary rounds, the LSU team was ranked #1 and entered the Round of 16. LSU won that round and was narrowly defeated in the quarterfinal round by University of California at Hastings.

Ruby R. Vale Interschool Corporate Moot Court Competition
National Quarterfinalists
Fifth Place Best Oral Advocate
Brian Higginbotham
Coach:  Professor Glenn Morris

After three preliminary rounds, the LSU team was seeded third and entered in the quarterfinal round. Twenty-four teams and 57 total students participated. Brian Higginbotham placed 5th in the Oralist category.  All three LSU students finished in the top 15 overall, with a total of 57 students competing.