Mock Oral Argument

Moot Courts

Moot courts provide training in written and oral advocacy by giving students mock problems involving current real-world legal issues. Students then argue the cases to appellate courts, using the techniques and processes of real lawyers.

Moot courts are taught by full-time clinical faculty members with practice experience, adjunct attorneys and judges.

Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Moot Court

The Law School's flagship moot court course. Students research and create a first draft of their appellate brief during fall semester. In the spring semester, students focus more on oral arguments while also writing a final draft of their appellate brief. For every assignment, students receive feedback from both their attorney instructor and student instructor. The course is taught by local attorneys with significant appellate experience and/or experience in the relevant subject matter.

The course problem encompasses topical and important areas of law. Recent problems include First Amendment rights to record government officials, affirmative action in law school admissions, mandatory vaccination and state police power, search and seizure of a student cellphone, and First Amendment rights in public schools.

At the end of the course, each section nominates students to participate in the best brief and best oralist competition. The top oralists argue before judges from the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court. The finalists of the best oralist and best brief competition are awarded automatic spots on a moot court competition team for the following academic year. Upon completion of the course, students are encouraged to apply for a student director position for the following year. 

Environmental Law Moot Court

Environmental Moot Court introduces students to the art of appellate advocacy by focusing on current issues in environmental law. The course is taught by adjunct professors, who have experience practicing environmental law and also appellate litigation.

Fall semester focuses on the underlying substantive law. Students complete three written assignments that become components of spring semester’s full appellate brief assignment. In the spring, students complete two written assignments that form the argument section of their complete brief, with the final brief due in mid-spring. After that, students transition to the art of oral advocacy and complete an oral argument at the end of the semester. This year, guest speakers from the Minnesota Supreme Court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals provided guidance on effective oral advocacy. 

Upon completion of the course, the instructors encourage students to apply for a spot on the Environmental Moot Court competition team, along with a student director position for the following year.

Intellectual Property Moot Court

The Intellectual Property Moot Court furthers students’ research, writing, and oral advocacy skills using case problems based primarily on patent, copyright, or trademark issues. Case problems also may involve computer law, contract, and antitrust issues, as well as general procedural questions.

During fall semester, students complete numerous writing assignments, the majority of which are components for their appellate brief, and receive written and oral feedback. Towards the end of the semester, students submit a complete first draft of an appellate brief. In spring semester, students receive written feedback on their first draft and also meet with course instructors to discuss the first draft. Students then rewrite the brief based on that feedback. Students also complete approximately half a dozen oral arguments during spring semester. The final oral arguments are structured to simulate a courtroom experience, with local attorneys practicing in intellectual property law invited to serve as guest judges.

The course is run by adjunct attorneys with backgrounds in I.P. law, along with two 3L Student Directors. The two Student Directors also are the competition team for the Giles S. Rich Moot Court competition.