Top oral advocates honored in Intramural Moot Court Competition

Elon Law students in the Class of 2023 made appellate arguments in a fictional lawsuit that alleged sex discrimination after a pretend university declined to establish a women’s soccer team.

Paris Williams L’23 (left) and Tamia Gaitwood L’23 worked as a team in the 2022 Intramural Moot Court Competition and both were recognized among the top 12 oral advocates in the competition.

Suppose you attend a college where women slightly outnumber the men, there’s an established men’s soccer program, and you have aspirations of playing professional women’s soccer.

At the same time, there’s no demand to create a women’s program at the university, only half the schools in your conference field a women’s team, and a balance already exists between the number of men’s and women’s sports on campus.

So when you sue the university because it declines to form a women’s soccer program but the district court judge dismisses your case based on a reading of federal case law, what do you argue on appeal?

And if you’re the university that’s been sued, how do you convince an appellate court that the district court judge made the right legal decision?

Such was the scenario in the appeal of a fictional lawsuit analyzed by first-year students this spring in their legal writing courses and later used as the problem for Elon Law’s 2022 Intramural Moot Court Competition.

The competition that ran May 23-24 marked a return to in-person oral arguments after two years of virtual programs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-eight students in the Class of 2023 signed up to compete with several Elon Law alumni, faculty members, and administrators joining local attorneys to volunteer as judges.

Each student presented two oral arguments, one for appellant and one for appellee, and was scored on preparation, speaking ability, argument structure, and responses to judges’ questions.

The Top 12 Oral Advocates in this year’s competition:

1. Jeffrey Harnden

2. Alex Amato

3. Griffin Kish

4. Tamia Gaitwood

5. Alexander Long (tie)

5. Paris Williams (tie)

6. Matthew Carter

7. Zachary Kovach (tie)

7. Hannah Mullen-Fox (tie)

8. Lauren Jones

9. Michael McCord

10. Megan Fallon

“Our pivot to virtual programs two years ago was incredibly successful, but nothing rivals the experience of standing before judges in a courtroom to present an appellate argument,” said Interim Dean Alan Woodlief, director of Elon Law’s Moot Court Program. “I’m proud of the way students performed in the intramural competition this spring – from their preparation to their ability to ‘think on their feet’ to the way they received constructive feedback from judges – and I am grateful for the leadership of our Moot Court Board members who organized the contest without the benefit of previously competing in person themselves.”

Selections for membership on the Moot Court Board will be announced this summer before the board hosts the 13th Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition in October. Moot Court Board members will also compete in a full slate of national moot court competitions during the 2022-23 academic year.

The Intramural Moot Court Competition was chaired by Emily Maggio, Morgan Stacy, and Jennifer Weigle, with committee chairs including Kevin Claussen, Kylyn Mondor, Rahwa Theodros, Molly Bitner, Amanda Couture, Amanda Wagner, Emmanuel Agyemang-Dua, Kaitlin Amalfitano, Carson Pace, Jeanna Cooper, and Alyiah Smiling – all members of the Class of 2022.

More information about the Moot Court Board, the BEF National Competition and students achievements in national events is available online.