NYLS placed first in the regional round of the prestigious 68th Annual National Moot Court Competition. In January, the team will compete against law schools from across the country in the competition’s final round.
NYLS Moot Court Association members Chris Fernandez 3L Evening and Nicole Santora (Niermeyer) 3L Evening, coached by Shanaye Sweet 3L, won every round of oral argument and received the “Best Brief” award in the regional competition, which was held November 15 and 16. NYLS faced off against teams from New York University, Cardozo, Fordham, and other local law schools, ultimately edging out runner-up Fordham for top honors.
The National Moot Court Competition, held annually since 1950, focuses on appellate advocacy skills, including oral arguments and brief writing. Each year, over 120 law schools participate at the regional level; the first- and second-place teams from each region compete in the final round. The competition is sponsored by the New York City Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers.
The regional competition 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.
“Our victory means that we get to compete for a national championship against 27 other regional champions and runners-up,” Fernandez said. “With the support of our faculty, alumni, and fellow Moot Court Association members, I see no reason why we cannot walk away as national champions. The three of us plan on putting in the work necessary to give ourselves a shot.”
“This competition was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at NYLS,” Santora said. “We are so appreciative of the support we continue to receive from faculty, peers, and alumni to help us prepare and to cheer us on. Our focus has now shifted to winning a national championship in January, and we hope to engage many more faculty members and legal professionals to help us achieve that goal!”
Sweet noted, “It was a pleasure being able to work with Nicole and Chris and witnessing their progression from beginning to end. I am truly honored to be their coach and work with two of the best competitors at New York Law School.”
“Nicole and Chris have the winning combination of incredible advocacy skills, consummate professionalism, and the commitment to do the hard work necessary,” said Professor Susan Abraham, who helped the team practice and watched them compete. “Add to that the guidance and support of Shanaye as their coach, who has done everything possible to help them prepare, and they were unstoppable. They are sure to wow the judges at the nationals!”
Several faculty members provided feedback and advice to the team, including Associate Dean William P. LaPiana, Professor Melynda Barnhart (the Moot Court Association’s interim Faculty Advisor), Professor Robert Blecker, Professor Kirk Burkhalter ’04, and Professor Frank Munger. In addition, two alumni—Ronald Cosme Jr. ’17 and Alex Noble ’14—were key contributors. The team also thanked Dean Anthony W. Crowell for his support.