The Kline School of Law’s Moot Court Program was ranked #22 out of 88 moot court programs at law schools throughout the United States in 2020-21. The ranking, which was by the Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston School of Law, is done annually and is based upon that year’s competition results for each participating school.
“This has been one of our most successful years to date. We had major wins in a series of competitions,” said Professor Veronica Finkelstein, who won the Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III Outstanding Contribution to the Law School Community Award for 2020-2021 and coaches the Moot Court team.
One of the most unique experiences from the year occurred when the team not only hosted the Region 3 rounds of the 71st Annual National Moot Court Competition, the most prestigious Moot Court competition in the country, but also sent an unprecedented two teams to the final round of the competition. One of the two Kline Law teams won best brief during the competition and Katherine Avetta, JD ’21, was named the top oralist.
“Although the 2020-2021 National Moot Court Competition was one of the first competitions to move online after the COVID-19 pandemic, our team changed its approach to complement the online format,” said Avetta. “After collaborating online to write the brief, our team immediately began practicing together on Zoom multiple times a week. This continued online collaboration between teammates and coaches fostered confidence in competing online and ultimately led to a Regional Championship for our Kline Law team.”
The strong online collaboration amongst the team members was consistent throughout the competition season and allowed for unprecedented opportunities for the team, including participating in international competitions. “Because we didn’t have to pay for travel or lodging, we were able to put those funds towards having more students compete in different competitions. These things would not have been possible in a typical, in-person year,” said Finkelstein.
The team capitalized on another benefit of working remotely by bringing in out-of-state coach Sarah Varney, JD ’19, who is a staff attorney with the New Hampshire Public Defender’s office.
Varney, who was active on the Moot Court team when she was a student, was eager to get involved in the program as soon as everything went online. Varney describes the experience of coaching online as positive. “I got to moot my students multiple nights a week via Zoom, chat with other current students who signed up for their moots, and develop that same coaching relationship I had looked forward to. [...] My students gave it their all and, I think, came out better advocates for it. In a year where it was so difficult to connect, my silver lining ended up being that I could reconnect with the Drexel Moot Court community and help current students have the same great experience I did.”
In addition to the success at the National Moot Court Competition, other major wins for the team included:
- Teams advanced to the quarter finals in the Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition, the Robert F. Wagner National Labor and Employment Law Moot Court Competition, and the August A. Rendigs, Jr. National Products Liability Moot Court Competition. Aidan Carickhoff, JD ’21, was the top oralist in the entire Rendigs competition;
- No awards were left for anyone else in the Ellen A. Hennessy Employee Benefits Moot Court Competition. Kline Law fielded two teams (one a hybrid team with a student from Buffalo Law joining two Kline Law students). One team won the entire competition and the other team won best brief. In addition, 2L Katherine Bell was named top oralist in the competition; and
- For the second year in a row, the team won the regional rounds of the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition. Kline Law fielded two teams. One of which was eliminated in the semifinals and the other which won the regional rounds. In addition, that team, composed of 3Ls Isabella Cazacu and Jessica Stauring, won best brief.
In reflecting on the year, Finkelstein said, “The pandemic brought so much hardship and uncertainty. At the beginning of the school year we weren’t even sure there would be Moot Court competitions. The entire community and all of our Moot Court Board members rallied together to make the most out of the year. We truly did make the best of it.”