Two KU Law moot court teams win best brief award in national competitions

LAWRENCE — Whether competing in frigid Buffalo, N.Y., or festive New Orleans, University of Kansas School of Law moot court teams continue to achieve winning results.

Third-year law students Christi VanBlarcum and Ben Winters won the award for best brief in the Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition in Buffalo on March 31. They competed against 25 other teams from a list of prominent schools that included New York University, Michigan, William & Mary and Wisconsin. An estimated six weeks of research and writing the brief paid off big.

“To be honest, I think we were both pretty shocked when we heard the news,” Winters said. “We worked really hard on the brief, but we had submitted it about five weeks before the oral argument section of the competition, so it was kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of thing. “

Although the two were disappointed not to advance in the oral argument section of the competition, they enjoyed the opportunity to improve both their argument and legal writing skills – and the winning brief made the experience that much sweeter. Hard work was essential, but VanBlarcum also pointed to the guidance of the team’s coach, School of Law professor Thomas Stacy, as a key factor in the outcome.

“I cannot imagine doing the competition without him,” she said. “I think that my oral advocacy skills have greatly increased under his able tutelage – and his no-stress demeanor was helpful, too, especially on the day of the competition.”

Another third-year duo, Evan Jarrold and Sean Foley, advanced to the Sweet 16 and earned the best brief award at the Mardi Gras Sports Law Competition, which was Feb. 15-17 in New Orleans. The event is an appellate competition sponsored annually by Tulane University Law School. Professor Phillip DeLaTorre coached the team for the competition, which featured St. John’s University, Marquette, Florida State University and other prestigious law schools.

“In many ways, (we) wrote the brief together,” Foley said. “We collaborated on some of the joint parts of the brief, and we gave each other extensive and pointed feedback on each other's sections of the brief.”

The timing of Jarrold and Foley’s brief deadline was not ideal, requiring the two to put in hours of work over winter break before submission. But the timing of the actual competition couldn’t have been better, and the team celebrated another successful moot court competition in style.

“We put a lot of man-hours into the brief and felt that writing was one of our strengths, so we were extremely pleased,” Jarrold said. “It also didn't hurt that at the time they announced, Tulane was throwing a party for all the competitors on Bourbon Street.”