NALSA and Cultural Heritage Moot Court Teams Compete in National Competitions

2017 February NALSA Team membersStudents from Alexander Blewett III School of Law recently competed in both the 25th Annual National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition and the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition. In both competitions, students tackled complex issues of federal Indian law and faced challenging questions from nationally-renowned experts and judges.

The National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition took place in Chicago, Illinois on February 24 and 25, 2017, and focused on challenges to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act brought by a member of a state-recognized Indian tribe, including a challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Two teams of third-year students, the first comprised of Morgan Hoyt '17 and Adrienne Ellington '17 and the second, Morgan Chandler '17 and Andrew Butler '17, traveled to the competition, where they faced off with teams of law students from across the country. The team of Chandler and Butler advanced to the "octofinals" round of sixteen and all of the students enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate their oral advocacy skills.

The 25th Annual NNALSA Moot Court competition took place March 5-6 at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. Sixty-four teams from law schools all over the nation, including Hawaii, argued a problem involving the taking of land into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act. Two teams from the Blewett School of Law, a team of third-year students April Youpee-Roll '17 and Michael Trosper '17 and a team of second-year students Lillian Alvernaz '18 and Emily Gutierrez '18, competed. Youpee-Roll and Trosper advanced from the preliminary rounds of sixty-four to the sweet sixteen as a twelve-seed and both teams represented the school well.

Students involved in the competitions described the challenges and benefits of participating in moot court. Before coming to law school, Gutierrez never thought she would participate in moot court but was glad to do so because she found it challenging and she "learned about myself, teamwork, and Indian law."

Youpee-Roll described her participation in NALSA Moot Court as "invaluable," saying that the experience "taught [her] a great deal about the purpose of oral argument, how to answer questions effectively, how to confront bad facts, and how to make a convincing case under pressure."

Likewise, Ellington said that, although she "never worked harder or spent more time on any law-related issue," participating in moot court "was the best experience [she has] had during law school and [she] wouldn't trade it for anything."

Professors Cathay Smith and Monte Mills co-coached the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition teams and Professors Maylinn Smith and Monte Mills co-coached the NNALSA Moot Court teams.