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Students triumph in moot court regionals

Will Puckett | Thursday, December 4, 2003

Recently, two Notre Dame third-year law students emerged in a Moot Court triumph that was anything but moot.

Carah Helwig and Julissa Robles will travel in February to New York City to the national moot court competition, following their victory at the Region VIII National Moot Court Competition. The pair won each of the five matches in which they competed in the regional competition, and also won the best brief competition, defeating a team from Indiana University, Indianapolis in the final round.

There are fourteen regions nationwide in moot court competition, and approximately 26 to 28 advance to the national competition. Not all of the regional results have been finalized, so Helwig and Robles are still waiting to learn the entire slate of competitors they will be facing in New York. They are not particularly concerned about the competition, however, according to Helwig.

“We went into the competition wanting to do well for each other, and were only focused on supporting each other as teammates,” said Helwig. “Then … we just kept on winning.”

Robles expressed confidence in the pair’s preparation and brief-writing skills, but she, too, was surprised at the end of the competition.

“I was confident we were prepared for the challenge,” Robles said. “The shock didn’t arrive until we were sitting in the final round … and the tournament officials revealed we were the top seed throughout the tournament.”

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where the national competition will most likely be held, and the American College of Trial Lawyers sponsored the competition.

Moot Court competitions operate somewhat differently from mock trial competitions or other legal simulations in several ways. Each team writes a forty-page brief based on one side of a case record they receive some time in advance.

Following submission of this brief, the team must compete in an oral argument component, where each side has thirty minutes to argue their side of the case, which is determined just before the arguments by a coin toss.