The 12th Annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition
Presented by the ABA Forum on Communications Law
Click here to apply for the 2019-20 Competition.
Deadline to apply: Monday, June 17, 2019 - Extended Deadline
The annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court, now in its 12th year, is designed to introduce minority law students to the practice of media law and to many of the lawyers who are active in the media law bar.
The moot court Hypothetical Case involves timely issues of national significance in the field of media law. The Hypothetical Case for the 2018-19 Competition focused on whether a website operator is shielded from liability for copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for an unflattering copyrighted video regarding a fundamentalist Christian pastor who was a candidate for the local school board that was produced and uploaded by an unpaid contributor on the website operator’s site, and whether the “fair use” defense shielded the website operator from liability for publishing a meme that added commentary to a single still frame taken from the copyrighted video for both journalistic and parodic purposes.
Past competitions have posed issues relating to: whether an online media platform which encouraged the uploading and sharing of user-created content through a downloadable application violated the Video Privacy Protection Act by providing user information, including that of both account holders and general users of the application, to an external data analytics and advertising company which used the information to maximize the media platform’s profits by directly marketing products and videos to viewers; whether an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act allows for a governmental agency in possession of a report detailing the findings of an investigation into instances of high lead levels in residents of a community with a contaminated water supply to withhold the report when the report was prepared by a third-party who provided the report to the agency under a confidentiality agreement; whether a statute making it illegal to eavesdrop is unconstitutionally overbroad when applied to a citizen’s surreptitious recording of a police officer conducting a traffic stop; whether journalists have a privilege under the First Amendment or federal common law not to reveal sources in response to a government subpoena; and whether or not the public and the press have a qualified First Amendment right of access to attend an internal employee disciplinary proceeding at a public university.
Law students interested in the Competition submit short written applications and a short essay on a media law question posed in the application. There is NO FEE TO APPLY. All applications are due and must be received no later than Midnight PDT. From the application submissions, up to twelve teams (“quarter-finalists”) are selected to submit an appeal brief. Each quarter-finalist will be paired with a practicing media law attorney in a city close to their law school for career advice, mentoring and networking. Mentors also will review and comment upon one completed draft of their quarter-finalist’s brief. Past mentors have included attorneys such as Chip Babcock, a partner with Jackson Walker LLP in Houston, Texas; Robb Harvey, a partner with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP in Nashville, Tennessee; Laura Prather, a partner with Haynes and Boone in Austin, Texas; Chuck Tobin, a partner with Ballard Spahr in Washington, D.C.; S. Jenell Trigg, a partner with Lerman Senter in Washington, D.C.; Ashley Messenger, Senior Associate General Counsel at NPR; Mark J. Prak, a partner with Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Herschel Fink, Legal Counsel at Detroit Free Press to name a few. Each quarter-finalist also will receive complimentary registration to attend (and all meals during) the Forum’s 25th Annual Conference, which will take place at at the Hilton Austin, 500 E. 4th Street, Austin, TX 78701, from February 6 through February 9, 2020. (Transportation to the Annual Conference and hotel are not provided for quarter-finalists.) Click here for the Moot Court Rules.
“I loved having the mentors. Please, please, please, please continue this! Having my mentor, Chip Babcock, was a huge help in calming my nerves and preparing me for the competition. Chip and my partner's mentor, John Edwards, were incredibly gracious to allow us to come to their offices and to take time from their busy schedules to help us practice. I enjoyed talking to Chip both about the competition and about my legal and non-legal interests. I hope that you continue this program because it was a highlight of the competition for me.”
Carolyn Ng, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, 2013-14 Competition
The four teams with the highest brief scores will receive coaching from their mentors to prepare for the semi-final round of oral arguments. The quarter-finalist team with the highest-scoring brief will be awarded “Best Brief” and each team member will receive $1,000. (The team with the Best Brief will be announced following the final round of oral arguments during the Annual Conference.) The four teams will compete in the semi-final round of oral arguments during the Forum’s Annual Conference. (In addition to complimentary registration to attend the Forum’s Annual Conference, all semi-finalists also will receive round trip transportation and four night’s hotel stay during the Annual Conference.) The four students with the highest combined brief and semi-final oral argument scores (without regard to team assignment) will compete in the final round of oral arguments during the Annual Conference before a panel of sitting appellate judges. For the final round of oral arguments, the finalists will be randomly assigned to represent appellant or appellee (resulting in new team assignments) and will be randomly assigned an issue to argue.
The team with the highest score for the final round of oral arguments will be the winner of the Competition. Each member of the winning team will receive $750. The finalist with the highest score for the final round of oral argument will be deemed “Best Oralist” and will receive $1,500. All students who attend the Annual Conference will have the opportunity to network with practicing media law attorneys from across the country and attend engaging and informative panels.
"Participating in the ABA First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition was a remarkable experience at every stage of the competition. From developing my research and writing skills while writing my brief as well as mooting with my incredible mentors, S. Jenell Trigg and Ari Meltzer, to arguing in front of some of the most distinguished panel of practitioners, I was thrilled to participate… Overall, this was an unforgettable experience and I look forward to becoming an active member of the Forum on Communications Law in order to make an impact on another law student’s legal career the way this competition made an impact on mine."
April Jones, The George Washington University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2016