National Environmental Law Moot Court

Coach
Rebecca Smith

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.

History

2018

Students from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana received accolades at this year’s Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, held on February 22-23 at Pace University in White Plains, NY. The team of Nathan Burke and Lowell Chandler, both second-year law students, competed at the 2018 event and received the Fossil Creek Watchers Best Brief for the environmental side. 

Facing the Universities of Colorado and North Carolina in the first round, Nathan was selected as best oralist. In round two, they faced UC Davis and Emory University. In the final preliminary round against the Universities of Maryland and Pittsburgh, Lowell was selected as best oralist. On the strength of their exceptional brief and outstanding oral presentations, they advanced to the quarterfinal round. 

More than 130 students from 53 law schools competed at Pace in 2018. This year’s fact pattern addressed whether a state law requiring coal ash pond remediation was properly included in a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and whether the EPA’s 1980 waste treatment exclusion grandfathered existing ash ponds impounding waters of the US from Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Much of the team’s success is owed to the many attorneys in Missoula who volunteered their time and expertise in helping prepare Nathan and Lowell for this competition. Thanks to all involved for your dedication and help.

Pictured: Lowell Chandler and Nathan Burke at the 2018 Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

Lowell Chandler and Nathan Burke

2016

Team Members Thomas McMeans and Michelle Tafoya competed in the Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in February of 2016 in White Plains, NY, advancing to the quarterfinal round.

Thomas McMeans won the best oralist award in each of the three preliminary rounds against the University of Minnesota, Roger Williams University, University of UT, University of OR, University of CA, Davis, and the University of Connecticut.

2016 Environmental Moot Court Team Members

2015

Hannah Cail (2L), Katelyn Hepburn (3L), and Lindsey West (2L) wrote the third highest scoring brief out of 62 teams at the competition in 2015 and advanced to the final round where it competed against Vermont Law School and the University of Mississippi.

In the preliminary rounds the University of Montana met Loyola University, University of South Dakota, Northeastern University, University of Louisville, Louisiana State University and Widener University. Katelyn Hepburn won the award for best oralist in the round against Northeastern and Louisville.

The University of Montana defeated the University of Indiana and Western New England University in the quarterfinal round and eliminated the University of California-Berkeley and Barry University in the semifinal Round. The last time the University of Montana competed in the final round was 2005.

Environmental Moot Court Team Members

2014

In 2014, the Environmental Law Moot Court Team advanced to the quarterfinal round at Pace Law School's National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. The team of Alana Brown (3L), Katelyn Hepburn (2L), and Kristine Akland (3L) wrote the second highest scoring brief out of 78 to advance based on brief score and oral argument performance.

2014 Environmental Moot Court Team Members

2013

In 2013, the Environmental Law Moot Court Team members Alan Zackheim (3L). Keif Storrar (3L), and Bradley Jones (3L) advanced to the quarterfinal round at Pace Law School's National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.

2013 Environmental Moot Court Team Members