UM Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Teams Shine at National Competition

Kirsten Gerbatsch and Jacqui Baldwin-LeClairSix students from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana competed in this year’s National Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) Moot Court Competition. This year marked the 30th annual contest and once again featured teams of law students from around the country engaging in written and oral advocacy regarding topics of federal Indian and tribal law.

Second-year students Aspen Ward and Annabelle Smith. along with third-year students James Pollard, Daniel Webster, Kirsten Gerbatsch and Jacqui Baldwin-LeClair, represented the Blewett School of Law in the competition.

After researching, writing and submitting comprehensive briefs earlier this year, the teams practiced for weeks in simulated oral arguments to prepare for the competition. As in prior years, they were joined and supported by guest judges, including alumni, students and friends of the law school. They all generously contributed their time to help support the students.

In the competition, the teams of Ward and Smith and Pollard and Webster showed the depth of their preparation, making their best arguments of the season in the first two rounds. The Gerbatsch/Baldwin-LeClair team advanced into the elimination rounds, eventually competing in the national semifinals before bowing out to the eventual national champions.

“Overall, these students represented the law school and UM’s NALSA chapter very well,” said Monte Mills, acting dean and professor in the Blewett School of Law as well as coach of the NALSA Moot Court team.

Gerbatsch and Baldwin-LeClair were named runner-up best overall advocates in the nation. In addition, the team authored the fourth-best brief in the country, which was recognized as outstanding by the judges and competition coordinators.

“It is a a well-deserved honor that demonstrated their hard work and dedication to the competition,” Mills said.