Law School's moot court teams excel in regional competitions

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Mar 23, 2015

From left, Nordyke, Stapp and Davis.
From left, Nordyke, Stapp and Davis.
From left, Fasi Allison, Simon, Desierto, Seehase, Halydier and Jutz.
From left, Fasi Allison, Simon, Desierto, Seehase, Halydier and Jutz.

The UH William S. Richardson School of Law has enjoyed noteworthy recent success in regional moot court competitions, with two teams taking first- and second-place honors in their respective regional finals and thereby moving on to additional rounds in April. A third team took a third-place win.

In the Jessup International Law regionals, the UH team defeated 20 other law schools to be named 2015 Jessup Pacific Regional Champion.  The UH team also won individual awards, with Loren Seehase ’15 named the Best Overall Oralist out of 100 competitors, and Grant Fasi Allison ’15 winning Tenth Best Overall Oralist. Additionally, the team took Second Best Overall Memorial (Applicant and Respondent.)

The 56-year-old Jessup Competition is the world’s largest and oldest moot court competition, with as many as 1,000 student teams from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries participating annually. The challenging competition simulates a dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice.

In addition to the top Jessup win, UH Law teams took high honors in a number of other competitions as well, including:

  • Finishing second overall in the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition's North American Regional Competition and advancing to the international final.
  • Advancing to the quarter-finals in the National Environmental Law Moot Court competition.
  • Placing third in the Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Challenge.
  • Having two teams reach the “Elite Eight” and three reach the “Sweet Sixteen”  in the Native American Moot Court Competition.

In a jubilant email after the regional Jessup victory, team adviser and Assistant Professor Diane Desierto noted that the UH team defeated Santa Clara Law School in the quarter finals, then the University of California Berkeley Boalt School of Law in the semi-final match. In the championship round, the UH team bested the defending regional champions from the University of Denver Sturm School of Law.

“We certainly look forward to taking the Richardson education, expertise and experience in international law and international advocacy to the 2015 global Jessup Championships,” added Desierto. Professor Carole Petersen joined Desierto in coaching the team, and a number of faculty and past Jessup team members helped the UH team prepare for the intense regional competition.

Meanwhile, in the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition, the UH team coached by Associate Professor Shalanda Baker and Environmental Law Program Director David Forman ‘93, finished second overall in the North American Regional Competition in Washington, D.C.  On the way to the regional final, the team eliminated defending international champion Hastings College of Law as well as a team from the highly regarded environmental law program at Pace Law School. 

In mid-April, the team of Veronica Nordyke ’16, David Stapp ’16 and Jordan Davis '16 will compete in the international finals at Stetson University Law School in Gulfport, Florida.

The Stetson competition, now in its sixteenth year, focuses on environmental law and simulates an environmental dispute before the International Court of Justice.

In the other competitions, there were also noteworthy successes.

The National Environmental Law Moot court team, coached by ELP Director Forman, advanced to the quarter-final round hosted by Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.  Team members won individual awards in two out of three preliminary rounds. Joanna Zeigler ’15 was named Best Oralist in the first preliminary round, and Lida Angier '15 was named Best Oralist in the second preliminary round.

The Law School’s Black Law Students Association fielded two teams for the Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competition, with the team of Cameron Holm '15 and Josh Michaels '15 advancing to the semi-finals and taking third place in competition this month in Portland, Oregon. Michaels was also recognized as one of six National BLSA Members of the Month. The teams were coached by Associate Faculty Specialist Kenneth Lawson.

This is the second year in a row that a UH BLSA team has come home with trophies. Last year UH students finished as regional runners-up and national finalists in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition.

The Nelson Mandela challenge develops negotiation skills, as well as increasing understanding and awareness of global issues among law students, particularly concerning social justice. It honors the man who has been called “the greatest negotiator of the 20th century.”

Additionally, three UH teams competing in the National Native American Moot Court Competition in Arizona made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” group, and two teams reached the “Elite Eight.” Jordan Inafuku ’15 was named Best Oralist and his team partner, Dylan Taschner ’16, placed third for Best Oralist. The UH teams are coached by Professor Melody MacKenzie ’76, director and founder of the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.

The 22-year-old National Native American Moot Court Competition explores current issues involving indigenous peoples in the U.S. The competition enhances knowledge in the fields of tribal law, federal Indian law and traditional forms of governance.

Each year students begin preparing for these moot court competitions when the fall semester begins in late August. Law School teams enter an array of competitions that run the gamut from those already mentioned to others including Client Counseling, Labor Law, Intellectual Property and Space Law.

Traditionally the Law School has had outstanding success in such competitions. For instance, an inaugural Intellectual Property Moot Court Team won the 22nd annual Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

Between 1997 and 2014, the Richardson Native American Moot Court teams alone have won 37 national awards.

The team coaches volunteer a great deal of time, including many evenings and weekends, to help students hone their delivery and grasp of relevant substantive law. Much credit goes to the extensive coaching and practice round judging by Law School faculty as well as many Honolulu attorneys and judges.

“We could not have reached this point without your support and insight,” wrote the International Environmental Law Moot Court team in an email to their eight local moot court judges. “Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to make our team better.”

Added Environmental Law Program Director Forman, “Our students deserve the lion’s share of credit for working so hard to succeed in these competitions, but members of the legal community who volunteer their time also play an integral role in bringing positive exposure to the terrific programs that we are proud to offer at Hawai‘i’s Law School.”        

(Full caption for first group photo) The Jessup winning team and coach, from left, Grant Fasi Allison '15, Derek Bradford Simon '16, coach and Assistant Professor Diane Desierto, Loren Seehase '15, Garrett Halydier '15 and Jason Jutz '16.

(Full caption for second group photo) Stetson second-place finishers, from left, Veronioca Nordyke '16, David Stapp '16 and Jordan Davis '16.

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