UNH Law Moot Court Team First in Nation in Unprecedented Award Sweep
The University of New Hampshire School of Law took top honors at the national Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., this past weekend. The students who competed, Anjie Vichayanonda and Jeffrey Larson, made history by winning every award: Best Brief in the Nation, Best Oralists in the Nation, and Best Overall Team in the Nation.
Vichayanonda and Larson, both second-year students, were coached by third-year student Nicholas Scala, who with his teammate won the regional competition in 2011. This year’s team took first place in the regional competition in February before heading to the nationals, where they defeated the seven other finalist teams vying for the top prize: The University of Virginia School of Law, Emory Law, UC Davis School of Law, the University of Iowa School of Law, University of Illinois College of Law, Santa Clara Law, and North Carolina Central University School of Law.
“Competing at the finals was something that I will never forget,” says Larson. “The feedback and respect given by the judges was great. They are there to challenge you, but also to teach you what they, as judges, expect and how effective you were in getting your message across. As for winning, it felt amazing. I am very proud to have represented the school on a national level.”
The competition, which focuses on trademark and unfair competition law, allows students to develop their brief writing and oral advocacy skills in a mock courtroom experience. It also gives them substantial practical experience.
“In terms of becoming practice-ready, it’s incredibly important,” says Scala. “Not only does it give you a substantive basis, but it also gives you a confidence that you’ve done it before, that you’ve argued before experienced trademark attorneys and judges, and that’s not an experience you can get in any other forum.”
UNH Law, globally renowned for the quality of its intellectual property education, has historically done well at in the competition. Last year's team took first place in the regional competition and went on to compete in the finals, and in 2010, UNH Law took second place in the country.
The team, which spent countless hours in preparation for the competition, received support from the UNH Law community, including alum Stephen Brodsky JD ’11 and Professors Ashlyn Lembree, Susan Richey, Margaret McCabe, Sunny Mulligan, Alice Briggs, Tom Field, William Hennessey, and John Greabe. They also received expert coaching from the school’s first Distinguished Jurist in Residence, Judge Arthur J. Gajarsa of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
For Vichayanonda, the moot court experience brought the skills she’d learned as a first-year student – legal research and legal writing – to life. She highly recommends moot court to her fellow students.
“It’s a great experience, and it allows you to hone all the skills needed for great advocacy: writing, research, and oral advocacy – the trifecta,” she says.
At the competition, the students were also able to connect with UNH Law alumni who were helping with the event. Cathy Lueders JD/LLM '95, herself a veteran of the competition, has been a member of the committee since after her graduation from law school. Last year, she chaired the competition, and this year she had the satisfaction of watching a team from her alma mater win top honors.
"It was fantastic," she said. "I love the fact that the participants from the prior year competition mentor the current team. I sat in on their first round of arguments and they were extremely poised – they should all be extremely proud of their accomplishment."