Cardozo Moot Court

Life takes you strange places. If you’d told me three years ago that I would not only stand up to present a fifteen minute oral appellate argument more than once, but would actually sign up to do so of my own volition, I might not have believed you. I did know that participation in the J. Newton Esdaile was required of all 1Ls so I’d have to muddle through that somehow. And while it was a tremendous amount of work and mildly terrifying… it was also kind of fun. My 2L year I voluntarily participated in the Edward C. Stone competition and found it even less terrifying, and this year I represented BUSL at the BMI Cardozo Intellectual Property Moot Court Competition in New York.

A few background basics: ‘Mock Trial’ consists of preparing and performing in a sham jury trial proceeding, complete with opening and closing statements, witness exams and cross-exams, objections, the works. ‘Moot Court’ is preparing and delivering an oral argument in a court of appeals, frequently pretending to have a case before the Supreme Court of the United States because if you’re dreaming you may as well go big. Many schools compete in several of one or both types of competitions at the regional, national, and even international levels (every year one team from our school flies to Oxford to argue in a competition there).

My partner and I prepared a brief for the Petitioner but also had to be prepared to deliver arguments for the Respondent. Our fact pattern dealt with a dispute over two copyright issues (what constitutes “work for hire” in an employment context and what constitutes a joint authorship). Lots of times the people writing the problems have a little fun with pulling names for the parties from pop culture; for instance, I represented Tuco Comics Publishing against comic book artist Walter White with his maybe-joint-authorship collaborating Jesse Pinkman, with a smattering of other Breaking Bad references sprinkled throughout.

The rules of our competition required that we prepare our brief without outside assistance, but once it was submitted we were allowed to be coached by BU’s moot court faculty on our actual delivery of the arguments which was helpful in nailing the nuances of courtroom presence and presentation. The people sitting on the judicial panels (usually in threes) range from faculty at the hosting school to local lawyers who work in the competition’s practice area to actual judges.

So, how did we actually do once we got to New York? Not as well as we might’ve liked: every team was supposed to argue three separate rounds on the first day of competition (two ‘on brief’ or on the side that they prepared for and once ‘off brief’ flipping roles to be the opposing counsel), but a snowstorm intervened and cut us short so we only got to argue twice, and it’s my personal belief that we would’ve been stronger in the last round and made the cut for the finalist. Even still, the experience was terrifically valuable and I’m glad I had the chance to participate.

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