Five people looking out from webcams

Undeterred by coronavirus, CWRU Law successfully runs its annual Moot Court competition online

Each spring, the law school hosts the Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition, an intramural appellate advocacy tournament where second- and third- year students compete in an NCAA bracket-style competition judged by faculty members, local judges and experienced practitioners.

This year, just eight days before the competition was set to start, the law school and much of the nation were forced to cancel public events. Thanks to the efforts of the student Moot Court board, led by third-year law student Joe Shell, the school ran its first online Dunmore Competition coordinated among dozens of participants and judges across multiple time zones.

“Overnight, we transformed the law school to remote teaching with very few hiccups. But running a moot court competition online presents difficulties of another magnitude,” said Co-Dean Michael Scharf. “That our students pulled this off is a testament to their perseverance and can-do attitude in these challenging times,” added Co-Dean Jessica Berg.

The online competition began with 38 students. Two weeks and six rounds later, Ali McKenna and Dillon Brown argued in the final before Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly and Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Judges Alice Batchelder and Chad Readler. After lengthy discussion, the judges voted McKenna the winner, 2-1.

In addition to naming McKenna the winner of the competition, awards were given to Dillon Brown as the runner-up, Jesse Wynn for best brief, Natalie Oehlers for best oralist and Melanie King for highest combined score.

“I could not be more proud of the way the board embraced that challenge and immediately started contacting alumni, appellate practitioners and professors,“ said Shell. “We were determined to continue the Dunmore tradition. That attitude drove everything we did. But no matter how determined we were, the competition would not have happened without the support of the administration, the students and the 74 practitioners, alumni and professors who volunteered their time to judge. We held 53 total arguments over 12 days with no issues.”