On January 17th and 18th, UConn Moot Court competed in the National Tournament for the American Collegiate Moot Court Association at Florida International University College of Law in Miami Florida. Each team consists of two students who argue both sides of a Supreme Court case before a panel of judges. This year, Luke LaRosa and Snigdha Mamillapalli represented UConn at the National Tournament.
To earn a spot to the National Tournament, teams must first compete in a regional tournament. The top scoring teams from each regional competition advance to the National tournament. Nearly 400 teams competed throughout the various regional competitions. Only 80 were invited to the national tournament.
For the first day of competition, teams compete in three rounds, against three different teams. At the close of the first day of competition, UConn was one of only 6 teams undefeated. 45 teams, including UConn advanced to the second day of competition. We were, unfortunately, eliminated in the second round of competition on Saturday. Our team ranked among the top 32 teams at the tournament. I am incredibly proud of their performance and dedication throughout the entire competition season.
In addition to the two students competing, several other members of the UConn Moot Court Team traveled to Miami to help cheer on our competitors. These students were the highest scoring UConn students at the regional competition in November who did not advance to the national tournament. They were a huge help to Luke and Snigdha as they prepared for the national competition.
Looking forward to next year’s competition season!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Moot Court, look for them at the Involvement Fair or find them on UConntact!
In 2013, UConn students worked with Pre-Law advisor Dr. Edward F. Kammerer, Jr. to launch an undergraduate UConn Moot Court Competition team, and in only its second year, a team of two students has earned a spot in the national competition at Florida International University College of Law this January 2015.
Luke LaRosa ’16 (CLAS) and Snigdha Mamillapalli ’16 (BUSN) are junior Honors students and members of the Special Program in Law. They are one of five teams (of two) that UConn sent to the Eastern Regional qualifying competition this past November in Fitchburg, Mass. In addition to his place at nationals, LaRosa also earned a “Top Orator” honor, which is awarded to the top ten debaters. He placed fourth out of the 124 competitors.
Fellow UConn Moot Court team members are Santorini Rivera ’16 (CLAS), Christopher Baker ’16 (CLAS), Leon Peschel ’16 (BUSN), Katie Cavanaugh ’17 (CLAS), Danielle Ullo ’17 (CLAS), Alexander Loukellis ’17 (BUSN), Ryan Norton ’17 (CLAS), and Jared Quigley ’18 (CLAS), all Honors students. These UConn undergraduates debated against more than 120 students across the region in Fitchburg. Many of these students were also part of Moot Court in its first year, including LaRosa and Mamillapalli.
While Moot Court competitions are common in law school, they are growing in popularity at the undergraduate level. “Moot Court teaches legal reasoning, but it also stresses critical analysis, public speaking, and flexibility,” says Kammerer. “A student may have a perfectly rehearsed speech, but a judge will interrupt at any moment, even mid-sentence. A team prepares for this by thoroughly understanding every aspect of the case and the arguments. Students cannot be tied to planned arguments. The judges’ questions require students to adapt their arguments to those questions. It takes skill and quick thinking, combined with knowledge of the case and the law to succeed during Moot Court.”
Each year, the mock appellate court case alternates between civil and criminal. This year’s Moot Court issue was abortion. Cases are generally hot topics intended to pique students’ interest and keep them engaged throughout the rigorous preparation. During the tournament, each member of the two-person team debates different precedents of existing case law, as they present originally crafted arguments related to the same issue. The UConn Moot Court team practiced weekly during the semester, and almost daily in the last days leading up to the competition. During the tournament, each team member has ten minutes to present his or her argument.
“Moot Court is a lot of work, but its benefits extend well-beyond the competitions,” says LaRosa. “I’ve been able to apply the skills I’ve learned to other courses and projects, including those not legally oriented. Moot Court helps me, and I think all of us on the team, think more critically about how we construct arguments on any topic.“ LaRosa is originally from Central Vermont and has interests in regional planning, land use law, and public policy. He is majoring in Urban and Community Studies as well as Geography, and is also a member of the Master’s in Public Administration Fast-Track Program. In addition to competing with the UConn Moot Court team, LaRosa works at the UConn Writing Center, interns with the Connecticut State Data Center, and is currently engaged in research regarding urban neighborhood development in Hartford. He was also a 2013 Holster Scholar and was recently named a member of the competitive Leadership Legacy Experience program. LaRosa’s career goals include working in regional planning with an emphasis in land use law and policy.
Mamillapalli is a Connecticut resident who majors in Management Information Systems and Philosophy. She is a resident assistant, a mentor with Peer Allies Through Honors student group, and secretary for UConn Change Lives (which raises money for children in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India). She has earned various scholarships, held several internships (including those in the legal field), and speaks multiple languages. Mamillapalli plans to attend law school after completing her undergraduate degree. “What first interested me about Moot Court was the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills while focusing on constitutional issues. There’s nothing quite like getting up in front of a panel of real judges and attorneys, and having them interrupt and question the argument you’ve developed for months. It’s definitely a challenge and a thrill that has advanced my critical thinking skills,” says Mamillapalli.
The UConn Moot Court team is a Tier II student organization, receiving partial funding through USG. Membership is open to all undergraduate students. The team hopes to send several students to the national tournament event in Miami this January to support LaRosa and Mamillapalli, but also to continue the lessons learned from the Moot Court experience.
The tournament is hosted by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association.
Each course is designed to help students prepare for one of the two pre-law competition teams, Mock Trial and Moot Court. Those teams are open to everyone and you can find out more about them on UConntact.
If you’re interested in taking either course, email prelaw@uconn for a permission number. Include a little information about your background and your interest in the course.
This year, for the first time, UConn students competed in the Eastern Regional Moot Court Tournament at Fitchburg State University. In Moot Court, students compete in teams of two in a mock appellate argument. The competition is organized by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association. Regional competitions are every fall. The top teams from each regional competition advance to the nationals in January.
This year, the arguments involved a complicated 4th Amendment Search & Seizure and an equally complex Article II question on the scope of presidential authority. We competed against teams that had spent 5months working with the problem, many of whom took a specific course on moot court. Our team only had two months of preparation and did not receive course credit. And yet we still ranked in the top half of competition and nearly defeated the top ranked team. While we did not make it to nationals this year, I am excited to see what we can do next year! Congrats to all the students who competed. If you’d like to find out more about Moot Court and how to join the team for next year, contact the Pre-Law Office!
To everyone taking the LSAT on Saturday…. Best of luck from the Pre-Law Center! Once you get your scores back, stop by and let me know how you did.
Now is the time to start thinking about internships for next semester. Information about three internships with the State of Connecticut are available at the links below.
You’re not limited to these programs. But they’re a good starting point. If you want to do some other type of internship, that’s great. The key thing is to do something to add to your resume. Internships are hugely important in your law school applications. But they’re even more important in helping you make the decision to apply. Internships can give you a small taste of what it’s like to work as a lawyer. This can change your perspective on law school and the legal profession. It can also help make you realize that this is the right path and get you started on it.
If you can’t do an internship this spring, check out the opportunities anyway. Most also have summer programs.
The Pre-Law Calendar is suffering from some technical difficulties right now. We apologize if you tried to go to a workshop and the time was incorrect. We should have it fixed by the end of the week. In the meanwhile, if you have questions, please contact us!
Over the next few weeks, the Pre-Law Center will be making updates to our website. This is the perfect time for you to let us know what information you need. Is there anything you think is missing from the website? What can we include that would make it more useful for you? Let us know at email@example.com.