Student Engagement

Moot Court team qualifies for national final rounds of ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition

Calder Burgam, Amanda Navarre and Brian Sarnacki in front of building
Wayne Law Moot Court Competitors Calder Burgam, Amanda Navarre and Brian Sarnacki.
A Wayne State University Law School Moot Court team of third-year students qualified for the national final rounds of the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition held in Washington, D.C. The team — which was composed of Amanda Navarre, Calder Burgam and Brian Sarnacki, the primary brief writer — represented one of four schools declared winners of the Brooklyn regional held Feb. 16-18.

The team also took home the second-place brief award, Navarre earned the second-place oralist award, and Burgam received the fourth-place oralist award. The team was undefeated in the regional, beating teams from Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, University of Colorado Law School and Seton Hall Law School. The Brooklyn regional saw competition from 32 teams.

This year, a total of 173 teams from 100 ABA-approved law schools across the country will compete in six regionals, with the four winners of each regional advancing to the final rounds in Washington, D.C.

As one of the most prestigious moot court competitions in the county, the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition emphasizes the development of oral and written advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. The hypothetical appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court this year involves two issues: whether there is a First Amendment academic speech exception to the rule in Garcetti v. Ceballos for the in-class speech of a college instructor, and whether a college may compel an instructor to communicate a message endorsing a viewpoint that conflicts with his academic views.

“As soon as we finished writing our brief, we began practicing three days a week,” said Burgam, a 3L. “We’re lucky to have great coaches in Associate Professor Amy Neville and Monica Batsford.

“We also benefited from the feedback of local practitioners, Wayne Moot Court alumni and Wayne Law faculty who were incredibly generous in giving their time and sharing their expertise as guest judges,” Burgam continued. “After facing questioning from folks like Professor Jonathan Weinberg, we were ready for anything.”

Burgam encourages his peers to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in Moot Court.

“If you are looking for a law school experience that will help you become a well-rounded lawyer, it’s tough to beat Moot Court,” he said. “The strongest Moot Court competitors are strong writers and exceptional oralists. They are deeply prepared while remaining flexible and quick on their feet. They can explain complex details of a case without losing sight of the big picture. This competition has been a great opportunity to hone those legal skills at the highest level.”

Calder Burgam, Amanda Navarre and Brian Sarnacki in front of building
Wayne Law Moot Court Competitors Calder Burgam, Amanda Navarre and Brian Sarnacki.
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