September 24, 2020

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

Presented by the ABA Forum on Communications Law

Overview and Deadline

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.

Deadline: October 15, 2020
Click here to apply for the 2020-2021 competition.

The four finalists in the January 2021 competition will be offered the opportunity of summer employment opportunities with a top law firm, media company, or First Amendment nonprofit, thanks to the generous support of ABA Forum sponsoring organizations.

The moot court hypothetical case will involve timely issues of national significance in the areas effecting communications 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. This year’s hypothetical will cover a variety of topics from traditional media law issues to digital media and regulatory advocacy Due to COVID-19, this year’s Forum will be held entirely online via video conference and feature judges that are partners at top law firms, in-house counsel at major media companies and members of the judiciary.

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, competitors are selected to submit an appeal brief as part of a two-person team. Applicants who did not apply as part of a team will be paired with a partner.

Competition Rules & Details

Competing teams are assigned a hypothetical set of facts from which to prepare an appellate brief. Each competitor 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 assigned team’s appellate brief.

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.

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.

Moot Court 2020-2021 Competition Rules


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; National LGBT Bar’s Law Student Congress or a comparable minority law student organization at their school.

Competition Administration and Sponsors

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
New York Times
Washington, D.C.

Past Recipients

To see the past recipients, click here.