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Moot Court Team Triumphs in Houston

February 05, 2016


Liberty Law’s moot court team of Chris Collins, Nate Hopkins, and Ben Rathsam finished as national semifinalists in the annual Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship held January 28-30, 2016, at the University of Houston Law Center.

Each year, the University of Houston hosts this tournament and invites teams from the top16 moot court programs in the country to participate. This exclusive best of the best list is chosen based on each team’s ranking from the prior year. Liberty’s exceptional 2014-2015 moot court season earned them an 11th place ranking and a first-time qualification for the competition.

The team’s coaches, Professors Scott Thompson and Grant Rost, agreed that it is extremely impressive to have this level of success from a law school of less than 200 students when competing against schools with a population of more than 2000 students.

“There are a whole host of moot court tournaments that take place around the country every year. Unlike other tournaments, you have to earn your way into this one,” said Rost, Associate Lawyering Skills Legal Instructor.

The tournament consisted of four preliminary rounds. In each round, two advocates argued one issue each within a time frame of 15 minutes. Three judges questioned the oralists throughout their presentations to test the understanding of the facts, the law, and the consequences of finding for one side or the other in a case.

Collins, Hopkins, and Rathsam went 4-0 through the preliminary rounds posting victories over St. Johns, UC Hastings, Seton Hall, and NYU and finished as top seed. Liberty then defeated SMU in the quarterfinal round before falling to tournament champion, Georgetown, in the semifinals.

In addition to its semifinal finish, the team also won the award for second best brief scoring just two points less on its brief score than the winning team.

According to Liberty’s team coaches, Rathsam was assigned to the brief writing, which occurred prior to the competition. Upon submission, the briefs are graded by panelists and factored into the oral argument scores.

“The team wrote an excellent brief, primarily due to the efforts of Ben Rathsam,” said Professor Thompson, Director of the Center for Lawyering Skills. Both coaches also commented that Collins and Hopkins were both stellar oralists throughout the tournament, each with average oral scores in excess of 90 points. 

The team received favorable comments throughout the tournament from judges, other competitors, and coaches regarding their argumentation skills.  According to Thompson, one opposing team coach even noted that to achieve this success for a school in only its twelfth year of existence was amazing.

Thompson commented, “Collins, Hopkins, and Rathsam were not only among the elite teams at the competition based on their oral advocacy skills and their written brief, they shone throughout the tournament in their character and demeanor.  They were truly Christ’s ambassadors and were recognized by every team and every coach there. (A competitor) told us directly that this was the best team that they had ever faced.  Not only in this tournament, but ever.” Thompson also thanked everyone who helped prepare and pray for the team throughout the weekend.

Liberty Law’s dean, Keith Faulkner, also expressed his appreciation for the moot court team’s continued success. "I am thrilled that our moot court program continues to prepare some of the very best student appellate advocates in the country. The success of this exceptional team of students and coaches is the realization of many, many hours of hard work and serves as further evidence that Liberty Law has one of the best moot court programs in legal education."

Judges and legal employers have recognized Liberty’s Moot Court program for its excellence in preparing students for the practice of law. To learn more, visit our website.

(Image - Pictured left to right: Nathan Hopkins, Christopher Collins, and Benjamin Rathsam.)