First-year law students build oral advocacy skills in annual competition

March 2018 1L oral advocacy competition students and judges
From left, Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine, Matthew Bunnell, Kaylee Raymer, Judge Colin Lindsay, Connor Cafferty, Lindsay Ratliff and Professor Justin Walker.
Each first-year student at the Brandeis School of Law is required to deliver an oral argument near the conclusion of their 1L year.

Immediately following the first-year oral arguments, students are invited to participate in the First-Year Oral Advocacy Competition. The competition is organized by the law school's Moot Court Board and allows the first-year students to compete using the same prompt from which they delivered their first-year oral argument.

Rounds during the First-Year Oral Advocacy Competition are judged by members of the Moot Court Board. The championship rounds are judged by distinguished alumni, local federal and state judges and law professors. The winner receives $500, and the runner-up receives $250.

In 2018, 69 first-year students signed up to compete in the First-Year Oral Advocacy Competition. All of these students presented their same argument in rounds on March 26 and March 27. Typically, the 16 students with the highest average score advanced, but this year 18 advanced due to ties.
These 18 students competed on March 28, with the top eight students advancing based on highest score in each round or head-to-head. These eight students competed on March 29, with the four highest-scoring students from each round advancing. Due to the nature of students advancing by score, some students may be required to argue “off-brief” in subsequent rounds if an equal number of appellant and appellees advance.
On March 30, the championship rounds were held in the Cox Lounge at the Brandeis School of Law.

The panel consisted of Judge Colin Lindsay, Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Kentucky; Judge Tom Wine, Commonwealth's Attorney for Kentucky and former Judge for the 30th Circuit Court in Kentucky; and Justin Walker, professor at Brandeis School of Law. Connor Cafferty, Kaylee Raymer, Lindsay Ratliff and Matthew Bunnell were the four first-year students who advanced to the championship round. Judge Lindsay and Mr. Wine deliberated and selected Raymer as the winner, with Cafferty as the runner-up.