Minnesota Law

Summer 2023

A Collaborative Culture Leads to Success

Minnesota Law’s Moot Court Teams Excel in National Competition

3L Faith Hemingway with Prof. Randall Ryder, director of Minnesota Law's Moot Court Program

On the national moot court stage, Minnesota Law teams have demonstrated that they are no one-act show. 

Two Minnesota Law teams advanced to the final round in two different competitions­— Gender & Sexuality and F.B.A. Thurgood Marshall —and five teams won best brief awards at five competitions (ABA, I.P., Gender & Sexuality, William McGee Civil Rights, and F.B.A. Thurgood Marshall). In addition, another student competitor was named a top ten oralist at the ABA competition.

We don’t just have one or two teams that are doing well, we have a plethora of teams that have excelled at national competitions,” says Randall Ryder ’09, director of Minnesota Law’s moot court program.  

“It speaks to the overall success of the program that we had students with different backgrounds and interests, yet they all demonstrated amazing skills in oral and written advocacy in different practice areas,” Ryder adds. “It showcases what great students we have.”

Minnesota Law’s moot court program provides students with a strong foundation in writing appellate briefs and making oral arguments, both in the classroom and on competition teams. Faith Hemingway, 3L, selected the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties moot court course in her 2L year to practice her oral advocacy skills so she could strengthen her skills as she plans for a career as a public defender.

Hemingway completed eight oral arguments during class and a tournament, including two before Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court jurists. This experience and a second-place win at the final competition whetted her appetite for more. Hemingway joined a Federal Bar Association Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court team this year, capturing second place and overall best brief at the competition. “It’s a good steppingstone to go from Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to a competition team,” she says. “We were set up for success.”

Key elements to moot court’s recent success include emphasizing collaboration, program-wide training and support, and rich opportunities for peer feedback, Ryder says. The program cultivates a collaborative, collegial approach that encourages students to work together and embody the idea that they are all an important part of the Minnesota Law team — an approach that is critical to the school-wide success. Whether students are competing on an environmental law, gender and sexuality, or intellectual property team, the inclusive structure allows them to share insights and best practices with each other. That collaborative culture is also reflected in the coaches—many of whom are moot court veteran alumni.  

Prof. Randall Ryder with 3L Alex Screaton

This year, 3L Alex Screaton had his second run at the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition. Screaton, who plans to be a litigator after clerking in federal district court, benefitted from opportunities to hone his oral argument skills in an appellate setting—skills that netted him an oral advocacy award. He believes that the collaborative brief writing, practice arguing both sides of the case, and learning to interact with appellate judges are critical elements of the program.  

“I really appreciate the support of coaches. They do a good job of providing feedback and pointers on what we did well and what we could improve on.”
Alex Screaton, 3L

“I really appreciate the support of coaches,” Screaton says. “They do a good job of providing feedback and pointers on what we did well and what we could improve on. And we had guest judges so we could see what it feels like to be in front of a judge at the tournament. You do a lot of impromptu advocacy during competitions and that takes practice.” 

 With student directors like Screaton and Hemingway sharing their experience with 2Ls and building on a long history of success, the future continues to shine bright for Minnesota Law moot court.