Gordon Johnson Appellate Advocacy Program

The Berkeley Law Appellate Team competes in six different competitions in the areas of California, constitutional, federal, environmental and intellectual property law. In four of these competitions, we send two teams for a total of ten competition teams. Berkeley Law consistently advances to the regional quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and often places in the top ten for best oralist/best advocate awards.

Each external moot court competition requires students to draft a brief (typically 25 to 30 pages) and present oral argument (typically 15 to 20 minutes for each competitor). The students earn one unit of credit for each competition in which they participate. Participants first compete in regional competitions with the opportunity to advance to statewide, national, or international rounds, depending on the scope and nature of the competition.

For information about tryouts, please click here. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Appellate Team Student Directors, at boaltappellatebranch@gmail.com. Please note that the competitions listed below are subject to change from year to year.

 

California Law

Roger J. Traynor California Appellate Moot Court Competition (Traynor), Witkin Legal Institute

The Roger J. Traynor California Appellate Moot Court Competition is organized by the Witkin Legal Institute and Thomson/West. In order to make the competition most educational and rewarding for students, the problem is drawn from a real case in the California Court of Appeal. The competition judges are limited to justices and research attorneys of the Court of Appeal and experienced appellate attorneys. The competition attempts to have each team argue before a Court of Appeal judge at least once. The topics are focused on California law.  Berkeley Law sends one team of two students to this competition. By rule, teams may be as large as three students, but in any round of oral argument, only two team members may participate. We currently limit our team to two members so that each student can participate in every round, but in the past we have sent a team of three students. The problem is released in early January with the brief typically due in late February. The oral argument is held in early April. The workload for this competition begins in January, but is most intense in February and March.

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Constitutional and Federal Law

National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC), American Bar Association

The National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC), organized by the American Bar Association Law Student Division, alternates topics between criminal and civil law each year. Competitors participate in a hypothetical appeal to the United States Supreme Court. Each team writes one brief as either respondent or petitioner and then argues for both sides before the mock court. The competition includes teams from many regions, and it is the competition that provides the most information about scores and results. We send two teams composed of two students each. By rule, each team may be as large as three competitors, but only two team members may participate in each round of oral argument. We currently limit our team to two members so that each student can participate in every round, but in the past we have sent a team of three students. The problem is released in early November with the briefs typically due in early January, sometimes during Winter Break. Regionals are held in late February or early March, with nationals held in early April. The timing of this competition can be tricky, but students are advised to front-load their work on the brief in November, so that they have some of the heavy lifting done before final exams and Winter Break. Then the work picks back up again in January and February to prepare for oral argument.

National Moot Court Competition (NMCC), New York City Bar Association

Since 1950, the New York City Bar and the American College of Trial Lawyers have sponsored this National Moot Court Competition. Every year, over 150 law schools compete in the regional rounds throughout the United States, and the winners advance to the final rounds held at the New York City Bar. This is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious moot court competition in the country. We send two teams of two students to compete in this competition. By rule, teams may be as large as three students, but only two students may argue in each round. We limit our team to two students so that each student can participate in every round. The problem is released in late September with the briefs typically due in late October. The regional competition is held in mid-November with nationals in mid-February. The workload is intense during the eight-week period from when the problem is released in September through oral argument in November. If the students advance to nationals, the work picks back up again in January. Due to the timing, this competition is usually assigned to third-year students who have already taken the Appellate Intensive or Appellate Advocacy and are prepared to tackle a problem early in the Fall semester.

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Environmental Law

National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (NELMCC), Pace Law School

The National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Pace Law School is recognized as the preeminent environmental law moot in the United States. The competition draws in excess of 200 competitors from law schools around the country and 200 attorneys who serve as judges for three days of oral arguments to create a rigorous academic experience. The competition is distinctive in that three adverse teams argue the issues, reflecting the fact that environmental litigation frequently involves multiple parties. Accordingly, each team represents a company (usually the polluter), an environmental citizens group, and the intervening government agency. Switching sides in this way provides a tremendous intellectual workout for the competitors, as they must understand the legal arguments and strategies of all three sides and be able to deliver a persuasive argument on the position assigned in the round at hand. We send one team composed of three students, which is the maximum allowed by the rules. The problem is released in early October with the briefs typically due in late November or early December. The oral argument is held in mid- to late February. The workload for this competition bridges the Fall and Spring semesters, but is most intense in October and November and then again in January and February.

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Intellectual Property Law

Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition (GSR), American Intellectual Property Law Association

The Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court competition is an annual inter-law school event sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). It comprises regional meets in various cities across the nation and a national final meet in Washington, D.C. The problems involve topics in intellectual property law. Teams submit two briefs—one for petitioner and one for respondent—and argue both sides in oral argument. We send two teams composed of two students each, which is the maximum number of participants allowed. The problem is released in November with the briefs typically due in early February. The regional competition is held in mid-March with nationals in mid-April. The most intense work on the brief is usually done in January, although it would be ideal for students to get a jump on the brief in November before exams and Winter Break. Oral argument preparation is most concentrated in February and early March and, if the students advance to nationals, late March and early April. Berkeley’s participation in the GSR competition historically has been funded by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition (Lefkowitz), International Trademark Association

The Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition is an annual competition organized by the International Trademark Association. The competition introduces law students to important issues arising in trademark and unfair competition law and helps to develop brief writing and oral advocacy skills in a mock courtroom experience. Approximately 80 teams of law students participate in the competition each year. Students write a brief and argue the case in regional and national competitions before a panel of volunteer attorneys, judges from various district and other courts, members of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and jurists from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We send two teams composed of two students each. By rule teams may be as large as four students, but only two team members may argue in each round. We limit our teams to two students so that each student can participate in every round. The problem is released in August or September with the briefs typically due in early January. The regional competition is held in early February with nationals in mid-March. As with NAAC, this competition works best if students front-load their work on the brief in November, so that they are not saddled with too much work during final exams and Winter Break. Preparation for oral argument is most intense in January and, if the students advance to nationals, February and early March. Berkeley’s participation in the Lefkowitz competition historically has been funded by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

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