William & Mary Moot Court

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

After an exciting two weeks of intense competition, 23 students have been selected to join the William & Mary Moot Court Team! 1Ls and 2Ls participated in the annual Bushrod T. Washington Tournament to earn a place on the team. The tournament was named for Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington, who graduated from William & Mary and served on the Court with Chief Justice John Marshall at the turn of the nineteenth century.

The Moot Court Team practices appellate advocacy, using the format of oral arguments presented before the Supreme Court. Participants in the Moot Court Program learn to write appellate briefs addressing pertinent legal issues. They then argue their positions before panels of judges, who may interrupt to ask questions about the law. Advocates must be able to think on their feet and persuasively defend their positions.

In most cases, the Bushrod Tournament is the first exposure that students have to appellate argumentation. For the current team members, it’s a chance to channel our favorite Supreme Court Justices as we don black robes and question competitors about the law. For the competitors, it is a chance to show their argumentative prowess and zealously advocate for their party’s position. This year’s problem dealt with potential First Amendment concerns surrounding a classification of Gay Conversion Therapy called “Talk Therapy.” Students did an excellent job of navigating the complex constitutional issues and delivering convincing arguments.

Moot Court TeamThe top eight competitors in the Bushrod Tournament will move forward to compete for the coveted Edmund Randolph Silver Tongue Award. The William & Mary Institute of Bill of Rights Law also presents this award to a practicing appellate lawyer for outstanding achievement in their field. The award-winning attorney serves on an esteemed panel of William & Mary faculty, who select the ultimate winner of the Bushrod Tournament.

In the fall, the new members will take an Advanced Brief Writing course to help them master the written advocacy skills required to write a persuasive brief. They will then practice oral arguments in a fun and competitive intra-team tournament. From there, they will have the opportunity to compete in Moot Court tournaments across the country in a variety of legal disciplines. Based on the exceptional skill displayed during this year’s Bushrod Tournament, the Moot Court Team is thrilled to welcome our new members!

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