The ABA Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition emphasizes the development of oral advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. Competitors participate in a hypothetical appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The competition involves writing a brief as either respondent or petitioner and then arguing the case in front of the mock court.
Dates and timeline overview
The competition is in March
Members of the prior year’s ABA National Moot Court Team give a problem (often a modified version of a problem from the national competition) and have applicants write a brief and present an oral argument based on the problem. The selection process begins early in the fall semester because the team must be in place by early November.
What to Expect
The ABA releases the national competition problem one to two weeks before Thanksgiving. Briefs are due around mid January. The regional oral argument competition occurs in four or five venues around the country during late February or early March; teams usually get their first or second choice of venue. For teams that survive the regionals, the national oral competition is held in Chicago in April.
From soon after the problem is released, students should expect to be involved in intensive research on difficult, current issues of the sort that would engage the U.S. Supreme Court. They can expect to discuss the problem and the brief with the team coach and faculty members. Their research will be turned into a polished appellate brief. The coach and faculty may provide guidance but are prohibited from providing assistance in writing or editing the brief. This effort will consume considerable time during winter break.
After the brief is submitted, students can expect to spend several evenings per week through January and February developing, refining and presenting oral arguments on both sides of the problem to panels drawn from faculty members and local judges and practitioners. They will learn how to think on their feet and can expect helpful and incisive commentary from the coach and panel members.
Team members will see their appellate advocacy skills grow commensurately from their hard work and can expect to have fun at the oral arguments.