Moot courts provide training in written and oral advocacy by giving students mock problems involving current real-world legal issues. Students then argue the cases to appellate courts, using the techniques and processes of real lawyers.
Moot courts are taught by full-time clinical faculty members with practice experience, adjunct attorneys and judges.
Students are introduced to practical writing and oral argument exercises common in modern litigation. Directors from each section nominate the best brief for the best brief tournament and the best oralist for the best oralist tournament. Competitors in the best oralist tournament argue in front of practicing attorneys and judges, and the final competitions are typically judged by Justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Only participants in the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Moot Court are eligible to try out for the Thurgood Marshall Competition team and the ABA Competition team. The University of Minnesota competes in the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court competition.
Students are introduced to the art of appellate advocacy through focus on current issues in environmental law. Students research two areas, write a summary judgment motion and appellate brief. Students also do one argument based on the summary judgment topic, then, after coaching on substantive and stylistic aspects of their oral presentation, present a final oral argument. Practicing environmental attorneys evaluate each presentation.
Students advance their research, writing, and oral advocacy skills using case problems based primarily on patent, copyright, and trademark issues. Students present oral arguments and draft appellate briefs, refining both for a final presentation in courtrooms to attorneys practicing in intellectual property law. Two student directors are chosen to participate in the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court that takes place in four regional competitions, with two top teams from each region advancing to the national championship in Washington, D.C. Students also participate in the Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association tournament, winning the “MIPLA Cup” the past two years.
The case problem presents a hypothetical lawsuit between two countries before the International Court of Justice. Each participant writes a brief and prepares an oral argument. The Law School competes in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The team competes regionally to advance to nationals at regionals advance to nationals in Washington, D.C. In recent years, Minnesota’s International Moot Court team has won a number of regional competitions, placed well at nationals, and brought home speaker and brief awards.
Students focus on constitutional and statutory law issues through writing briefs and preparing oral arguments. The Law School’s team competes with approximately 150 law schools in the National Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Young Lawyers Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The topics selected are statutory or constitutional issues of current national interest. Members compete regionally and, if successful, go on to the nationals in New York City in January. The University of Minnesota’s team has advanced to the national level in 20 of the past 34 years, including 11 of the last 14.