Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the McBaine Honors Moot Court Competition is a beloved Berkeley Law tradition that generates abundant intensity, spirit, and gratification among students.

The competition aims to hone and test students’ written and oral advocacy skills. Following the model of U.S. Supreme Court practice, competitors represent either a petitioner appealing a lower court’s decision or a respondent arguing against that appeal. Each year’s competition problem is selected from actual appellate decisions, covering real-time issues of significant impact.

Students get the problem early in the fall semester and submit their briefs at the end of the term. While students may consult with both the student directors and the McBaine Academic Director, they receive minimal guidance and are prohibited from getting outside help on their briefs.

Chloe Pan writing at table
FULL FOCUS: 3L Chloe Pan, best advocate award winner at her 1L Bales Trial Competition, prepares for her final-round argument.
Judges Childs and Miller smiling
CELEBRATING: Judge J. Michelle Childs (D.C. Circuit) and Judge Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) share a laugh at the McBaine 60th anniversary reception.

Judges, Berkeley Law faculty, and practitioners evaluate both the briefs and the preliminary oral arguments, early in the spring semester. 

The brief counts for at least half the available points in the early rounds.

Kira Marie Nikolaides at podium
MAKING THE CASE: 3L Kira Marie Nikolaides delivers her argument during the final round.
Three judges on bench
BENCH TRIO: (From left) Federal judges Miller, Robert Bacharach (Tenth Circuit), and Childs oversee the proceedings.
Woojae Kim at podium
GEARING UP: LL.M. student Woojae Kim practices for the semifinal round.

The final round is argued before a panel of esteemed judges drawn from state and federal courts.

Besides the overall winner, prizes are given for the best oral argument and the best brief from both the petitioner and respondent side.

Kira Marie Nikolaides
ON HER WAY: Runner-up Nikolaides will begin her law career this fall as a deputy public defender in Colorado.
Group shot
GETTING HER FLOWERS: Pan, who recently served as editor-in-chief of the California Law Review, celebrates her victory with fellow students.