In March 2020, 3Ls Isabella Cazacu and Jessica Stauring won the Northeast Regional Moot Court Competition in the AIPLA Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition, advancing to the national round which was held remotely in April.
It was the first moot court competition for both women, so they were devastated when the competition was called off initially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, organizers decided to hold the competition virtually. However, after months of preparation for an in-person competition, Cazacu and Stauring faced the challenge of creating strategies appropriate for a virtual competition in just one week.
Professor Veronica Finkelstein, one of the faculty advisers for the Moot Court Board, offered invaluable help to Cazacu and Stauring. “Professor Finkelstein dedicates so much time to each of the individual moot court teams,” said Stauring. “There is absolutely no way that we would have made it to nationals without her help or that of our other two coaches, Gary Levin and Emily Denisco.”
Acting on their coaches’ advice, Stauring and Cazacu began testing “different strategies of ‘remote’ oral arguments” to become comfortable in front of the camera, said Cazacu. For example, they stacked textbooks to create a makeshift podium so they could look directly into the laptop camera while standing, simulating the in-person moot court experience, which impressed the judges.
Cazacu and Stauring also used aspects of the virtual space to their advantage. They were in the same location during the competition, which was held before Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order was issued, so they could adjust their arguments and rebuttals together between rounds.
“You have to remain flexible during these unusual times,” Cazacu remarked. “Get creative with the environment and tools around you.”