UNM School of Law students Laura Melton and Kurtis Donisthorpe participated in the Animal Law Moot Court Competition, taught by Professor Marsha L. Baum, to develop an expertise in oral advocacy and brief writing. The course is part of the National Animal Law Competition (NALC), an inter-law school competition presented by the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School at Northwestern University, in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
For six weeks, Melton and Donisthorpe honed their persuasive abilities, advocacy skills and substantive arguments in preparation for the national competition by practicing with Baum and Professors George Bach, Ted Occhialino, and Lu-in Wang as well as with local attorneys.
Then from February 21 – 23, 2014, the UNM team competed in the 11th Annual National Animal Law Competition in Chicago. The event consisted of three separate competitions: Legislative Drafting & Lobbying Competition; Closing Argument Competition; Appellate Moot Court Competition.
Melton and Donisthorpe were tested by two panels of judges in the preliminary rounds, facing tough competition from the Vermont Law School and the Michigan State team.
"In the first round against Vermont, the team was the stronger of the two, presenting solid arguments and showing great poise in light of questioning," says Baum. "They both argued very well off-brief in their second round against Michigan State, a team that ended up in the semifinal rounds."
Donisthorpe was honored for his advocacy skills with nomination for best oralist. "I had the pleasure of observing the competition rounds for our team and was very impressed by both of our competitors’ abilities to respond to focused questions from the judges and to handle their arguments effectively," adds Baum.