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Alumni help moot court competitors refine skills

January 07, 2015

MootCourtJudgeBelsome

Judge Roland Belsome (L '84) and prosecutor Kathryn Hill share feedback with students during the intraschool moot court competition.

MootCourtCarolineBordelon

Third-year student Caroline Bordelon (far left) helped recruit alumni and practitioners, including solo practitioner Matt Chenevert (L '81), to judge the intraschool competition.

  

After five nights of presentations before panels that included judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys, practitioners and professors, 11 Tulane Law third-year students and 10 second-years advanced from fall intraschool moot court rounds to compete in the spring finals.

Three students — 3L Felix Rodriguez-Cartagena and 2Ls Rann Wang and Anton Martynenko — qualified in multiple events. Students could compete in three types of argumentation: Trial, Appellate and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Dozens of members of the New Orleans legal community volunteered their time to sit as judges and provide students with immediate feedback and practical tips about how to improve their court presentations.

Examples: Tell jurors what they’re about to hear. Explain even basic terms, such as “breach” and the standard of proof. Try to humanize your client, but also call the other litigant by name instead of “this woman.”

Try to be loose, advised Kathryn Hill, an assistant district attorney in St. Tammany Parish: “I’m one of you, and I want you to understand exactly the way I feel because I want you to feel the same way.”

And don’t get clinical with legal jargon. “Words like ‘foregoing,’ you want to eliminate that from your vocabulary when you’re talking to a jury,” said Judge Roland Belsome (L ’84), who sits on Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal but was judging trial competitors.

Caroline Bordelon (L ’15), moot court administrative justice for intraschool competitions, said more than 40 judges critiqued 76 competitors. Recruiting law school alumni and practitioners to judge the intraschool rounds this year gave students vital substantive feedback from lawyers who’ve spent time in trial and appellate courtrooms and handled negotiations.

And competitors appreciated the opportunity to refine their skills.

“Any chance to go up against new people provides an opportunity to learn how to handle negotiators with different styles,” said Hamilton Wise (L ’15), an ADR  finalist. “Not only that, having the chance to compete in front of experienced practitioners adds a heightened sense of pressure that helps develop confidence. Overall, the competition was a great learning exercise.” 

Finalists:

ADR: 3Ls Drew Respess, Katie Swartout, Hamilton Wise, Felix Rodriguez-Cartagena; 2Ls Rann Wang, Liz Hout, Ben Trachman, Elizabeth Haley

Appellate: 3Ls Alexandra Fleszar, Ryan McLaren, Daniel Newman, Braden Riley; 2Ls Christopher James-Lomax, Arienne Jones, Anton Martynenko, Andy (Chris) Meyer

Trial: 3Ls Micah Zeno, John Richardson, Sarah Faris, Felix Rodriguez-Cartagena; 2Ls Thomas (Simon) Menard, Anton Martynenko, Rann Wang, Shana Wamahu

 
   


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