Busy moot court season under way at Penn State Law

Competition season is in full swing and Moot Court Board President Evan Jones wants everyone to know about it. Jones, who will graduate in 2013, said this year board members are proudly wearing "Moot Court Board" sweatshirts around campus and making sure moot court competitors and coaches get recognition for their hard work.

First to compete this semester were second-year Penn State Law students Hamilton Martin and Vaishnavi Arshanapally, who participated in the National Black Law Student Association’s (NBLSA) Frederick Douglass Moot Court competition. They came home with a first-place trophy in the Mid-Atlantic Region for their Petitioner’s brief.

Sarah Tanyhill is one the many Moot Court coaches who work to ensure that students are ready to compete. “This was a complicated problem, and I saw it as my role to push them to work very hard, find answers to open questions, address critiques from judges and give them pep talks when they needed it,” said Tanyhill, who is also set to graduate this year. Martin said that Tanyhill’s role as coach was key.

“She would comment on our performance, tell us what we did well and what we did wrong, and challenge us to do better every time. She embodies the ideal of a great coach,” said Martin, who is interested in litigation.“This moot court and any of the trial type experiences you get here help build those skills, especially getting you comfortable arguing in front of people.” He said that he and Arshanapally complemented each other’s writing and arguing styles.

“It was an amazing experience that allowed to me improve my public speaking and oral argument skills,” Arshanapally said. 

Faculty coaches play an important role in competition as well. Professor Katrice Bridges Copeland coached the NBLSA team. “Vaishnavi and Hamilton practiced their oral arguments three times a week. The key to their success was that after every practice round, the judges for the day gave them feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. Every time they came back for another practice, they had done more research or tweaked their arguments to address their weaknesses and build on their strengths,” she said.

Jones said that one of the key improvements the Moot Court Board has made this year is ensuring that students are getting the training they need to succeed. In addition to the video-training programs featured on the website, Jones credited third-year student Alisha Falberg, vice chair for training, for her “outside the box thinking.” They enlisted the help of writing expert professor Mary Kaye Polacheck, appellate argument expert professor Michael Foreman, research expert Mark Podvia, local actors to help with presentation skills, and practicing attorneys like Jennifer Wilson and moot court alumna Sarah Stec.

To see a list of all the competitors and events, visit the Moot Court Board website.



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Last Updated July 22, 2015