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National Champs: Moot court teams continue strong tradition

by Kevin Hyde, special to UofL Today last modified Apr 29, 2010 11:08 AM

A moot court team from the UofL Brandeis School of Law recently won a national championship in the New York University Immigration Law Competition, placing first out of 16 teams from around the country.

National Champs: Moot court teams continue strong tradition

Duffy Trager and Rachel Carmona with law school Dean Jim Chen

Law students Duffy Trager and Rachel Carmona argued for the team, which had to take on a case involving recidivism in immigration law. Maria Mourad worked on the brief and preparation for oral arguments.

"We really put ourselves through the paces before we got there," said Trager of the team's intense preparation for the event.

Carmona agreed that the secret to their success was practice, practice and more practice. "The more practice you can get, the better your chances-and we practiced all the time," said Carmona, who credited the team's coach, professor Enid Trucios-Haynes, and facilitator Jamie Izlar for preparing them.

"We had so much help."

The team from Louisville defeated competitors from Stetson, Howard, California-Davis and Harvard universities in the preliminary rounds before beating the University of Maryland in the semi-finals and Georgetown University in the championship round.

In the finals, the teams argued before federal judges Edith Brown Clement of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3rd Circuit and William Fletcher of the 9th Circuit.

The victory was UofL's first in the NYU competition, although a team came close two years ago when it finished runner-up.

"I am very proud of Rachel and Duffy, and their commitment to the competition and the field of immigration law," said Trucios-Haynes, a nationally recognized scholar in immigration law. "Both of them aspire to practice in the field of immigration law. The legal issues in this competition are complex and very technical.  In fact, one of the issues is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because of a split in decisions at the federal court of appeals level."

Trucios-Haynes credits the team's success to their own hard work, "but also the commitment of a community of local lawyers who helped as practice judges, fellow law professors who also served as practice judges, as well as the team facilitator, Jamie Izlar, who did an outstanding job of bringing all of the practice judges together."

In all, the 2009-2010 school year was another banner year for UofL, which has a strong tradition in moot court competition.

"Moot court competitions are an important feature of our program of study," Trucios-Haynes said. "Students usually write a legal brief that is submitted and evaluated, and then participate in an intense oral competition. It provides a key opportunity to learn practical skills."

UofL teams placed second in the International Commercial Arbitration competition at Loyola University and the Kentucky Intrastate Mock Trial Competition. A UofL team also submitted the national second-place brief in the Saul Lefkowitz National Trademark Competition.

The university also had semi-finalist teams in the American Bar Association Client Counseling Competition, the National Animal Law competition and the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Competition (Intellectual Property Law) and quarter finalists in the National Health Law Moot Court Competition and the Florida Bar Association National Tax Law Competition.

The law school had 18 moot court teams this year that included 50 to 60 students-all second-year law students or higher. Faculty members as well as local attorneys coach and facilitate the teams.

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