The School of Law sponsors several competition teams selected by a competitive process. Montana is a consistent contender both regionally and nationally. As one of the smallest law schools in the nation, we are proud of our teams' outstanding performance in interscholastic competitions. We owe our success to the dedication of our coaches, the quality of our students and our unique curriculum. Thank you to Cliff Edwards and other generous donors for supporting these competition teams.
Prof. Malin Johnson
Teams from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana have competed in the American Bar Association-sponsored Negotiation Competition for more than 25 years. During that time, Blewett School of Law teams have advanced to the final round of regional competition 16 times. Seven teams have participated in national competitions and two at international competitions. The 2017 Team ranked second in the nation.
Negotiation Competition encourages interest-based negotiation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Team members are selected annually during an intraschool competitive process in the fall of each academic year. Qualifying team members practice dozens of simulated scenarios in preparation for northwest regional competition in early November. Top-ranked teams advance to national competition held in conjunction with ABA Mid-Winter Meeting in February.
Several weeks before competition, teams are provided with a set of general facts and another set of confidential facts pertaining only to their client. Regional Competition "rounds" consist of two teams from different law schools negotiating on behalf of a client before a judging panel of three attorneys.
Learning negotiation skills is the prime objective of the School of Law Negotiation Team. A "learn by doing" approach is conducted in a supportive atmosphere with abundant opportunity to gain negotiation experience and learn new concepts. During practice sessions team members acquire negotiation skills in planning, flexibility, teamwork, and self-analysis.
Team members must also be members of the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association to be eligible to compete. Blewett School of Law students may receive academic credit for participation on the Negotiation Team.
NALSA National Moot Court
Prof. Monte Mills
In the Native American Law Student Association competition, two-person teams argue cases on topics chosen from among a variety of legal issues involving Native American rights and concerns. UM team members are selected by a competitive process. Members must be second or third year law students in good academic standing (2.3 GPA) and have taken or be enrolled in Indian Law. NALSA Moot Court members receive two credits in the Spring Semester for the appropriate section of Law 699.
National Environmental Moot Court
The Environmental Law Moot Court Team competes in the Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. The competition tests oral and written advocacy skills in appellate court litigation. The fact pattern drafted each year involves timely issues of national importance to the practice of environmental law. Recent topics have included illegal dumping of hazardous waste, vicarious criminal liability of corporate officers for their company's environmental crimes and commerce clause limits on water pollution regulation.
UM traditionally performs well in the competition. In its 16 years of competing, we have advanced to the quarterfinal round seven times, advanced to the final round twice (in 2015 and 2005) and won the overall best-oralist award in 2002. In each of these 16 years UM has received at least one best-oralist award in the three preliminary rounds. In 2014, the team wrote the second highest scoring brief in the competition, and in 2015 the team wrote the third highest scoring brief in the competition.
National Moot Court
This competition, the oldest and largest in the country, is open only to third-year students, six of whom will be selected. Team members earn two credits. They attend a day-long training session right before school starts in August and devote a significant amount of time during fall semester to writing the brief and practicing oral argument. Despite the time and effort required, students who participate consistently describe National Moot Court as the most valuable experience they had in law school because of the skills they developed.
National Moot Court involves briefing and arguing a case, generally concerning statutory or constitutional issues, in the United States Supreme Court. Each three-student team writes a brief that is due in mid-October. Then the teams practice their oral arguments about four times a week until the Northwest Regional Competition in November. The top two teams from each of the country’s 15 regional competitions advance to the week-long National Competition, held in January or February at the New York City Bar Association in mid-town Manhattan, which sponsors the competition in conjunction with the American College of Trial Lawyers.
In recent decades, University of Montana teams have an unrivaled record of success in the Northwest Regional Competition, which includes public and private law schools in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. UM teams have won the national championship twice and have advanced to the National Finals 15 of the last 21 years, including an unprecedented 10 years in a row, by taking first place in the region nine times and second place another six. During that period, UM teams also won the region's award for best brief nine times, including three of the last four years. In 2018-2019, a UM team not only won the best-brief award and finished first in the regional competition, it then finished third at the National Competition where its brief was judged best in the nation.
All rising third-year students in good academic standing are eligible for the teams. Team members are selected after open tryouts in the spring of their second year of law school and enroll for two credits of the appropriate section of Law 699 in the fall semester.