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Students Compete in Moot Court Competition
The Moot Court Regional Competition at Fitchburg State University featured 63 teams from colleges throughout the northeast–some of whom had been competing for more than ten years.
As their first year competing, Elms College did not have the same history and experience to draw upon. What they did have was professors–Mary Gallant, J.D. and Liz Chouinard ’02, J.D. – with a great deal of moot court knowledge and the willingness to be better prepared than every team there.
“Some of the teams we spoke to had been preparing for three weeks. We were’ like ‘we’ve been doing this for three months!’” said Amanda Lafleur ’14.
The American Collegiate Moot Court Association prepares a binder at the beginning of the semester that includes 20 real Supreme Court decisions as well as a hypothetical Appeals Court decision involving two constitutional issues. The students have to be prepared to argue both sides of each case.
Practice Makes Perfect
Amanda and Shauna Zomek '14 were paired together three weeks before the competition and practiced nearly every day,sometimes going as long as six straight hours. “The more you say it the more you remember and the more repetitive it becomes,” Amanda said.
Practice included articulating their arguments from both sides –as both the petitioner and the respondent – while being interrupted with questions by other students acting as judges. At moot court, the judges pepper students with questions to see how well they respond, how they keep their composure, and how much research they have done.
The long hours and raspy voices paid off for Amanda and Shauna, who placed in the top 16 and advanced to the second day. Shauna did particularly well, coming in second in the oratory competition.
“From all the preparation, I knew the case law and the facts which I was arguing so when I got questions I would very quickly have an answer,” said Shauna. “One of the judges said I was bulletproof.”
Giving Credit Where it's Due
As hard as the students worked, they are quick to credit their professors with preparing them.
“They are absolutely amazing. They want us to figure it out on our own but they help if you need it. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did,” said Amanda.
“If we were making a really lousy point they would just hammer us,” Shauna said.
Shauna is completing her paralegal certificate and plans to work as a paralegal. Amanda, a legal studies major, has her eyes set on law school. She recently took her Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and hopes to work as an attorney in criminal defense and elder law.