NAAC Features Skilled Advocates, Tight Competition

Vol. 42 No. 2

By

Alyssa Levine, was the 2012–13 national student director for the Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition.

Suzanne Taylor, Ashirvad Parikh, and Reagan Marble were lucky enough to argue before a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge while still law students. “Most lawyers never have that opportunity and I felt extremely fortunate to do so,” said Marble. The team made its argument during the final round of this year’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC).

The Texas Tech University School of Law team was crowned NAAC’s 2013 National Champion Team. The winning team’s accomplishment was over five months in the making with 226 teams competing for the title. Like real appellate advocacy, the competition has a written and oral portion.

NAAC is the largest, most prestigious moot court competition in the country, with 226 teams from 130 schools competing in six regional competitions for a coveted National Competition position. The competition begins annually in November when the problem is released. The problem is a mix of facts and questions of law. Competitors must analyze the facts, research the law, and find their position’s strengths and weaknesses. And then they must do the same with the opposing position. Like the real world, competitors have to make a compelling argument through an easily digested story that explains important nuances for the judges. And they must know their arguments so well that they can tackle tough questions with ease.

The competitors have nearly two months to prepare their briefs before the January deadline. Then, the teams participate in one of six regional competitions. Nearly ten percent compete so well that they advance to the final competition in April.

“There isn’t a better run, more realistic appellate competition in the country,” said Marble. “Unless you are arguing in front of a real court of appeals, there is no better advocacy experience than the NAAC.”

The winning team’s coach, Robert Sherwin, added, “As a coach, this is the tournament that I look forward to all year long, and, in my mind, it’s the most important. It’s the tournament that everyone wants to win the most because, simply put, it’s the best in the country. It’s run professionally and consistently year in and year out. It’s the gold standard of moot court competitions.”

Also an integral part to NAAC is the competitors’ professionalism. “The neatest moment I had at NAAC was right after our team was announced as the champion,” said Taylor. “It was not necessarily the pictures or the trophies, but seeing the support of all the teams in the room. It was very humbling to think about how many hours each person had invested to be prepared for the competition.”

Coming in second place as the National Finalist Team is South Texas College of Law’s Ahmed Sidik, Cody Schneider, and Christian Dewhurst. Nikki Trautman Baszynski from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law was named National Best Advocate, and the National Best Brief Team went to Alex Seay, Maggy Randels, and Utrophia Robinson from the University of Georgia School of Law.

This year’s winners encourage others to participate. “Other law students should participate in NAAC because the competition offers an opportunity to gain practical experience, showcase legal skills, compete against the best advocacy teams in the country, and, most importantly, have fun.” said Parikh. n

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