Elon Law hosts fifth Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition
North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark D. Martin delivered remarks before competitors at the March 28 competition banquet and presided at the final round of the competition with former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhoda Bryan Billings and NC Court of Appeals Judge John M. Tyson.
Twenty-eight teams of law students representing 20 law schools participated in the fifth annual Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition at Elon Law on March 27 and 28.
In remarks at the competition banquet, Chief Justice Martin encouraged competitors to hone their skills in reasoning, writing and public speaking, but also to develop their capacity as public citizens.
“If we go back historically, we realize the seminal role that lawyers have played in being agents of change, but more importantly being a positive catalyst in the community, to see our institutions work properly for the benefit of the public,” Martin said. “We are at a a time in this country’s history when our very institutions are being challenged. Are we going to evolve in a functional way so that the demands of the economy and health care and the environment and our infrastructure are positively impacted?”
Chief Justice Martin urged competitors to carry forward the qualities that have made the legal profession self-regulating, including independence of judgment, loyalty to current and former clients, and protection of client confidences.
“My friends I will tell you that our system is not perfect, that we have room to make improvement, but I will tell you that the rule of law that we have in this country is far preferable to what we see around the world and to what we’ve seen for most of history,” Martin said. “We all know the divisive times in which we live. We all know that as lawyers and judges we are guardians of the rule of law. Let’s not forget our status as public citizen and as officer of the court, and let’s work together to make a difference for this state and for this country.”
Each team in the competition participated in three preliminary rounds of oral argument, after which the field was narrowed for octofinal, quarterfinal, semifinal and championship rounds. Teams submitted briefs in advance of the competition, representing either the Petitioner or the Respondent in a hypothetical case before the Supreme Court of the United States that focused on a constitutional law issue currently under consideration by the Court. Competitors were judged on the quality of their appellate brief and oral arguments.
The competition champions were Sterling Spencer, Sarah Thomas and Dat Nguyen of Florida Coastal School of Law. They won a well-contested final round against the second place team comprised of Dan Menken, Joey Greener and Lauren Emer of Wake Forest University School of Law. Thomas also won the Best Oral Advocate award for the final round of the competition.
Semifinalist teams included Laura Free, Erika White and Emily Rehm of Southwestern Law School and Bruce Wilson, Palmer Hurst and James Wheeler of Regent University School of Law. In addition, Free, White and Rehm earned the Best Brief Award for Respondents’ Briefs. Wilson, Hurst and Wheeler earned the Best Brief Award for Petitioners’ Briefs. Wilson earned the Best Oral Advocate Award for the preliminary rounds. Meggan DeWitt of George Mason School of Law earned the second place Best Oral Advocate Award for preliminary rounds.
Ninety-five distinguished judges and lawyers volunteered to serve as judges for the competition. Semifinal Round Judges included: The Honorable L. Patrick Auld, Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina; The Honorable James L. Gale, Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases, North Carolina Business Court; Faith Rivers James, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Leadership, and Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law; Peter Hoffman, Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law; Michael Rich, Associate Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law; and, Melanie Crenshaw, member of the Extended Faculty, Elon University School of Law, and attorney with Barbara R. Morgenstern, P.L.L.C..
The competition honors three of North Carolina's most distinguished lawyers: Rhoda Bryan Billings, James G. Exum, Jr. and Henry E. Frye. Each has served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina and in a variety of leadership positions within the legal profession and in public life. All three justices are founding members of Elon Law’s national advisory board. More information about Chief Justices Billings, Exum and Frye is available here.
Michael Costolo, a member of the Class of 2015 and of the Moot Court Board at Elon Law, delivered welcoming remarks, thanking all those who served as judges in the competition on behalf of both the Moot Court Board and Elon University School of Law. Jordan Funke, Mark Henkle, Katie Perkins and Daniel Watts, all members of the Class of 2015 and the Moot Court Board at Elon Law, participated in the competition banquet, offering special recognitions and presenting awards.
Alan Woodlief, senior associate dean for admissions, administration, finance and student experience, associate professor of law, and director of moot court programs at Elon Law, thanked Moot Court Board members who contributed to organizing and hosting the competition.