NYLS Excels in National Moot Court Competition

NYLS displayed exceptional performance in the 68th Annual National Moot Court Competition, placing first regionally and ultimately placing fourth nationally. The final levels of the competition, which originally included more than 150 law schools, were held from January 29 to February 1, 2018 at the New York City Bar Association.

In mid-November, NYLS placed first in the regional level, sweeping every round of oral argument and receiving the “Best Brief” award. The team—Chris Fernandez 3L Evening and Nicole Santora 3L Evening, coached by Shanayé Sweet 3L and Christin Spinelli 3L Evening—then qualified for the national competition, along with other first- and second-place regional winners from around the country.

The team scored an early victory in the national competition when its brief was ranked fifth at the outset. After NYLS swiftly progressed through preliminary rounds, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law prevailed in a close semifinal. Northwestern later won first place.

Both the national and regional rounds focused on two constitutional issues: first, the relevance of probable cause to a claim of retaliatory arrest after the exercise of First Amendment rights and second, whether an unauthorized driver of a rental car has standing to challenge a search under the Fourth Amendment.

“This is a huge accomplishment, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” said Dean Anthony W. Crowell. “Nikki and Chris, along with their coaches Shanayé and Christin, illustrate the very best talent of our community. I am particularly proud of how Nikki and Chris deftly balanced the demands of being evening students who work full-time with the considerable effort needed to prepare for this competition. I had the honor of helping to moot them, and they were magnificent!”

“These students approach legal issues with eagerness and acuity, and seek out the toughest feedback they can get, because they want to be their absolute best selves,” said Professor Susan Abraham, Moot Court Association Faculty Advisor. “After working all day and attending school at night, they found the time and energy to craft brilliant arguments and impress round after round of judges, making their way to the semifinals, among regional champions. Very impressive!”

The National Moot Court Competition, held annually since 1950, focuses on appellate advocacy skills, including oral arguments and brief writing. The competition is sponsored by the New York City Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Fernandez and Santora expressed gratitude to those who helped them prepare for the competition. They thanked Dean Crowell and Associate Dean William LaPiana; Assistant Dean and General Counsel Matt Gewolb; Professors Abraham, Kirk Birkhalter, Robert Blecker, Heather Cucolo ’03, Martha Hochberger, Frank Munger, and Ed Purcell; and alumni Joshua Mitts ’17, Alex Noble ’15, and Andrew O’Connell ’97. They were also grateful to Luke Dougherty, Alejandro Herrera, and Keith Martorana ’07 of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Zahreen Ghaznavi, Mark Salomon, and John Song of Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Ashley Barnes, William McKinney Brown, Lauren Casparie, Vanessa Domenichelli, Mark Ferguson, Michelle Fox, Tristan Montaque, Ryan Nasim, and Nicholas Sorrentino of the New York City Law Department; and Nashon Hornsby, Frances Huskey, Jeffrey Key, Brenda Saunders, and Judge Michael A. Shipp.

NYLS’s Moot Court Association is one of the largest and most successful student-run moot court organizations in the nation. Learn more.