By: Cody McElroy
The LSU Law Center offers a multitude of appellate and trial advocacy competitions for law students, both internal and external. Professor Jeffrey Brooks, Preis PLC Director of Advocacy and Professional Practice, is involved with every aspect of these competitions, provided by the Moot Court and Trial Advocacy boards, and urges students to take advantage of any opportunity to further develop their advocacy skills. Two primary ways to compete during the fall semester include the Tullis Moot Court competition and Ira S. Flory Mock Trial competition.
The LSU Law Moot Court Board, concerned with the appellate side of advocacy, sponsors the Tullis Moot Court Competition. The competition is limited to 2L participation and consists of teams of two student partners who compete in two parts. First, the team is tasked with writing a brief based on the case file uploaded to the Law Center’s Advocacy website, www.advoacy.law.lsu.edu. The brief consists of two issues to address, with each partner responsible for one. Professor Brooks states that this year’s first issue is a confrontation clause problem concerning whether a statement made by a child to a state worker is admissible in trial without putting the child on the stand. The second issue asks whether states must offer an insanity defense to defendants. The deadline for questions about the case file is September 12th by 5:00 p.m. and the deadline for brief submission is September 19th by 5:00 p.m.
After briefs are submitted, student teams should begin to prepare an oral argument to present in front of a panel of judges. The first preliminary round of oral arguments begins on September 29th and the second preliminary round begins on October 4th. After two preliminary rounds, the top 16 teams enter a one-loss elimination bracket until a champion is determined by the judges and our own Dean Galligan. The elimination rounds begin October 10th and continue through October 19th. The final round takes place on October 24th at 6:00 p.m. in the Robinson Courtroom. The two winners will have their names inscribed on the Law Center’s Tullis plaque, located outside the Robinson Courtroom, and the highest scoring students will be appointed to the Moot Court Board for the following year. Awards are also given to the top oral advocates and the top briefs.
It is important to note that students must participate in the internal Tullis competition in order to try out for an external moot court team. Many have misunderstood this requirement in the past and lost the opportunity to compete on an external advocacy team.
The timeline for internal and external competition may be initially confusing for 2L’s, considering the schedule. For example, Tullis briefs are due September 19th. Oral arguments take place September 29th through October 24th. However, in-between that time period, moot court external team tryouts take place on September 21st and 22nd. As long as students keep track of the schedule listed on the advocacy website, preparation for both tryouts can be achieved in advance.
Second year students seeking to participate in external team tryouts must submit the Argument section of their Tullis brief as a writing sample. Third-year students planning to try out for a moot court external team may submit either the Argument section on their issue from last year’s Tullis problem or a legal writing sample of no more than 10 pages. 3Ls trying out for a moot court external team are not required to have participated in last year’s Tullis Competition. The tryout requires all participants to present two seven minute oral arguments to a panel of Moot Court coaches and returning team members. The oral argument will be based on this year’s Tullis problem.
The Law Center’s external teams have an established reputation for success. LSU Law’s Moot Court program is ranked 34th in the nation, according to the Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston. With 31 teams available, Professor Brooks states that roughly 50 to 65 percent of the applicants who try out for an external moot court team are accepted, depending on the year. Professor Brooks attributes our success not to a high volume of teams, but to our “very talented coaches and students.”
“Work hard in your second semester,” Professor Brooks said of 1L’s looking to participate in next year’s Tullis competition. He emphasizes that the brief and oral argument submitted in the 1L spring writing class translates to the same skill set used in competition.
Each year the Trial Advocacy Board sponsors the Ira S. Flory Mock Trial Competition. The competition represents a full-trial simulation where teams of two participate in either a criminal in the fall semester or civil case in the spring semester. Any 2L or 3L can participate as an attorney while any student, including 1Ls, can act as a juror or witness. The case file, State of Louisiana v. Jonathan Spencer, can be found on the advocacy website. Winners of the competition receive a trophy and points toward their Trial Advocacy Board membership. Participating in the Flory competition is also an excellent way to practice for external team tryouts.
The team registration for this year’s competition ended September 6th. Likewise, the external trial advocacy team tryouts took place last week. However, for future reference, participation in the internal Flory competition is not required in order to try out for a trial advocacy external team.
The Tullis Moot Court and Flory Mock Trial competitions are just two of the many competitions offered by LSU Law’s Advocacy Program. All competitions are designed to give students an opportunity to substantively develop advocacy skills that will be utilized in future employment. Additional information on Tullis, Flory, or other advocacy competitions can be found at https://advocacy.law.lsu.edu/.