Law students place at mock trial competition

By Trent Lowe, Staff Writer

A team of law students from the U came in second at a prestigious environmental law competition.

Megan Anderson, Jason Groenewold and Ben Machlis, all third-year students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, tied with Louisiana State University at the 21st Annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in February.

“The students worked very hard and were incredible,” said Bob Adler, associate dean of academic affairs for the law school and co-coach of the team with Katie Lewis, a U law school alumna. “They never lost their cool. They were superb.”

Teams from 68 law schools around the country attended the competition, including Harvard University, the University of California-Berkeley and Georgetown University.

“It’s a prestigious thing to have done so well. It’s something that people look highly upon in the legal community,” Anderson said. “To have done so well speaks highly of the dedication of all members of the team. It’s something nice to put on your résumé.”

The competition, won by Lewis and Clark Law School, presented a mock case to the competitors, and this year the students participating in the competition were able to hunt for treasure. The case involved the treasure contained in an 18th-century Spanish shipwreck near the U.S. coast. Three parties were present in the case: the salvage company, the United States and the kingdom of Spain. Both the company and Spain claimed rights on the contents, while the United States claimed that permits were required for the search to take place.

“It’s like a mock court, a hypothetical case before a hypothetical U.S. Court of Appeals,” Adler said. “They have to write a brief, which is graded, and they have to be able to argue all sides of the case. It’s actually based on a case that’s in court in Florida right now. One coach called it “Pirates of the Caribbean’ meets environmental law.”

The students said they all gained valuable experience through the process, which will help their future as attorneys.

“It was an amazing experience and it’s great that there’s the support for these kinds of things at the school, they’re incredibly valuable to the students here,” Machlis said.

The U has placed well in the competition in the past, reaching the semifinals three times before and the quarterfinals numerous times.

“We were very fortunate that we had great faculty and coaches and an excellent environmental law program at the U,” Groenewold said. “We felt confident going into the competition. Hopefully there will be more success for the university in the future.”

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