April 02, 2019

Moot Court Competition

The 13th Annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition

Presented by the ABA Forum on Communications Law

Click here to apply for the 2020-21 Competition.

Deadline to apply: Friday, August 7, 2020

The annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court, now in its 13th 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 annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, now in its 13th 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 communications law bar. The competition offers cash awards for superior performance in appellate briefing and oral argument.

The moot court hypothetical case will involve timely issues of national significance in the field of media law. The hypothetical case for the 2019-20 Competition, for example, focused on journalists’ access to interviews in state prisons and a government agency’s retaliatory withdrawal of press credentials.

To see past winners of the competition, click here.

Application Process

Law students interested in the Competition submit a written application, including a short essay explaining their interest in issues of media and communications law. There is no fee to apply. All applications are due and must be received no later than Midnight PDT on the deadline date. Students may apply individually or as part of two-person teams (each team member must complete an individual application).

Based on the essay submissions, up to twelve teams (“quarter-finalists”) are selected to submit an appeal brief; applicants who did not apply as part of a team will be matched with a partner. 

Competition Rules

Quarter-finalist teams are assigned a hypothetical set of facts from which to prepare an appellate brief. Each quarter-finalist will be paired with a practicing media lawyer for career advice, mentoring and networking. Mentors also will review and comment on a draft of their quarter-finalist’s appellate brief.

Each quarter-finalist also will receive complimentary registration to attend, and all meals during, the Forum’s 26th Annual Conference. The Conference is scheduled to take place at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego, Calif., Jan. 28-30, 2021 (with the possibility that the event will be conducted remotely, depending on COVID-19 conditions).

Briefs are judged blindly by a panel of experienced media-law practitioners. Based on their scores, four two-person teams are named semi-finalists. The team with the highest-scoring brief will be awarded “Best Brief” and each team member will receive $1,000.

In addition to complimentary registration and meals the Forum’s Annual Conference, all eight semi-finalists also will receive round-trip transportation and up to four nights hotel stay during the Conference.

At the Conference, the semi-finalists will argue the case before panels of communications lawyers acting as judges. The four semi-finalists with the highest combination of brief and oral argument scores, without regard to team assignment, will compete in the finals, arguing before a panel of prominent sitting judges. The most recent panel included the chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, a justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and a U.S. district judge from Mississippi. For the final round of arguments, the finalists will be randomly assigned to represent appellant or appellee, resulting in new team assignments.

The team with the highest score for the final round 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.

Read the complete rules here.


Students from any ABA-accredited law school are encouraged to apply to participate in the competition. Students must be members of a chapter of the National Black Law Students Association; the National Latino/a Law Student Association; the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association; the National Native American Law Students Association; or a comparable minority law student organization at their school.

Competition Administration

The First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition is administered by the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law. The Competition Committee, made up of volunteer scholars and practitioners from across the field of media law, will oversee the administration of the Competition.

For any questions, please contact the Competition Committee:

Esther D. Clovis
Holland & Knight LLP
New York, New York

Sommer Ingram Dean
Student Press Law Center
Washington, D.C.

Frank LoMonte
The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Al-Amyn Sumar
Ballard Spahr LLP
Washington, D.C.

Competition Sponsors

The First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court competition is accepting sponsors for the current year. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact the committee members below.

Sponsorship Committee

Bob Latham, Co-Chair
Jackson Waller, Dallas, TX

Mark Bailen, Co-Chair
Baker Hostetler, Washington, DC

Past Moot Court Competitions