MSU Law Moot Court Completes Impressive Virtual Spring Competition Season

At the end of the 2020-21 Moot Court competition season, we’re reflecting on the success of our student-competitors throughout the spring semester. Despite ongoing modifications due to the pandemic, our teams repeatedly impressed at regional and national virtual events. As a result, the MSU College of Law Moot Court program is ranked 16th in the country, according to results compiled by the University of Houston’s Blakely Advocacy Center.

Our students were off and running as soon as the semester started in January. The first team to compete included Ali Miller, ’21, and Charlie Kersten, ’21, as oralists, with briefwriter Branden Prather, ’21. The team was one of 48 teams nationwide to compete at the National Online Moot Court Competition, a new event hosted by eight law schools from across the nation including MSU. The competition had four preliminary rounds held over the course of two weeks. The team advanced to the octafinal round with its brief scoring in the top 10 and Kersten receiving an award for finishing in the top 10 oralists overall. The team was coached by alumni Allison Kruschke, ’20, and Chad Karsten, ’19.

Later that month, Knox Yellin, ’22, Makenzie Sipes, ’22, and briefwriter Kyle Lydy, ’21, were semifinalists at the Hunton Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship, becoming the only MSU Law team to advance beyond the quarterfinals in the College of Law’s history at the competition. Yellin and Sipes were also the first 2L oralists that MSU Law has sent to represent the college at this competition, and each earned individual oralist awards from the judges (Yellin in third place and Sipes in second). Sipes received a monetary scholarship of $1,200 for her individual award and the team received a scholarship of $1,200 for its semifinal finish. The team was coached by Professor Jennifer Copland and assisted by numerous volunteers including Judge David McKeague.

In February, Camille Loftin, ’22, and Kamri Hogans, ’22, competed in the regional rounds of the National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition. The team reached the quarterfinals, coached by alumna Nadia Vann, ’18.

The team of Liz Meadows, ’22, Kelsey Bees, ’22, Brendan Ruehle, ’22, and Emily Binienda, ’22, was awarded third place at the Midwest regional rounds of the Saul Lefkowitz Trademark Law Competition. Associate Dean Jennifer Carter-Johnson and Adjunct Professor Jeff Carter-Johnson coached the students for the event, with the help of volunteer attorneys and alumni.

Nancy Haddad, ’22, Rachelle Ibrahim, ’22, and briefwriter Jediah (J.J.) Biddinger, ’21, competed at New York University’s National Immigration Law Competition. The team submitted a top-scoring brief, coming just .67 points behind the first-place winner, and made the quarterfinals of the national competition. The students were coached by Juan Caballero, who previously served in MSU Law’s Immigration Law Clinic, with assistance from Professors David and Veronica Thronson.

Austin Pattan, ’21, Kristopher Larsen, ’21, and briefwriter Konrad Starostka, ’21, were the top team at the American Bankruptcy Institute’s third-annual Midwest regional Shapero Cup Moot Court Competition and Symposium on February 15. Larsen received the second-place oralist award from the judges. The team went on to compete together again a few weeks later at the national Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition. They reached the quarterfinals, advancing to the top eight out of 35 teams and receiving an “outstanding brief” award for having their brief place in the top five briefs. The students were coached by alumnus Alexander Sheldon-Smith, ’19, and assisted by Professors Jennifer Copland, Lawrence Ponoroff, and Mary Bedikian.

Kacey Chopito, ’21, and Cassondra Church, ’21, reached the semifinals of the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition, which hosted 40 teams. The team also received the second-place brief award. This was the second year in a row that MSU Law has advanced to top-tier placement at this competition. Chopito and alumna Kaitlin Gant, ’20, were finalists in 2020. The students were coached by alumnus Linus Banghart-Linn, ’09, and Neoshia Roemer, staff attorney for MSU Law’s Indigenous Law and Policy Center.

Maleigha Jackson, ’22, Maggie Belcher, ’22, and briefwriter Haley Regan, ’22, advanced to the quarterfinals at the National Moot Court Competition in Child Welfare & Adoption Law, hosted by the Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School, at the end of February. The team tied for the second-place brief award, and they were coached by alumna Kate Kerbrat, ’18, and Adjunct Professor Jacob Simon, ’17.

Ali Miller, ’21, Christian Rhoades, ’22, and briefwriter Joshua Redlinger, ’22, coached by Professor Geeyoung Min, advanced to the quarterfinals at the Irving R. Kaufman Memorial National Competition in Securities Law in March.

The team of Andrew Malec, ’21, Kelsey Harrington, ’21, and Delany Dyze, ’22, reached the quarterfinals at the Prince Evidence Moot Court Competition hosted by Brooklyn Law School. Professor Copland coached the team, and the students were also assisted in practices by Professor Philip Pucillo.

Finally, two MSU Law teams advanced to the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition, which took place from April 8-10. The teams consisted of Charlie Clark, ’21, Lauren Legner, ’22, and briefwriter Brandon Cross, ’22; and Alana Ballantyne, ’21, Alexander Numbers, ’22, and briefwriter Rachel Westmaas, ’21. Both teams competed at the ABA’s Brooklyn Regional Competition at the end of February, where they were the top two teams to advance to Nationals from the region. At the Regional Competition, Legner received the award for third-place speaker among an estimated 80-90 competing students, and Cross’s brief, with his teammates, was awarded fourth place, while Westmaas and her team’s brief submission was just .13 points behind. This was the first time in MSU Law’s recent history that two teams advanced to ABA’s Nationals. The teams were coached by Professor Copland and alumnus Mitch Piper, ’18.

Ballantyne, Numbers, and Westmaas went on to reach the semifinals at ABA’s Nationals, and both oralists brought home awards (Numbers tied for third place and Ballantyne was awarded seventh place).

Congratulations to our student-competitors! Our teams received assistance from numerous professors, staff, alumni, and friends of the College of Law, not all of whom have been specifically named here, and we’d like to send a big thank you to those who supported the Moot Court program during this season.