September 22, 2020 : By Logan Smith - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
The American Moot Court Association (AMCA) has ranked Liberty University’s Moot Court team at No. 2 in the nation for top programs in oral advocacy, a giant leap from its previous season No. 6 ranking.
Other notable institutions including Bentley University, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Southern California also tiered in the top 25. Patrick Henry College, the nation’s most decorated program powerhouse, is ranked first.
“This is something we’ve been building on for the past three or four years,” said Dr. Benjamin Rathsam, chair of Liberty’s pre-law program and the primary coach for the Moot Court and Mock Trial teams. “This is truly a testament to how hard our students work to be prepared to compete in Moot Courts, and the Lord’s blessing on the program.”
Moot Court, which mimics Supreme Court cases, is an extracurricular activity offered under the Helms School of Government and can occupy as much as 20 hours of practice each week leading up to competition. Liberty hosts two tournaments each year and sends teams to regional and national tournaments throughout each semester.
Each team tackles a problem with two sides of a legal issue and must argue (oral advocacy) for one of those sides.
“Moot Court is wonderful preparation for what law school and the real world will be for an attorney,” said senior Law and Policy student Julia Robertson, who has two years of competition experience under her belt. “I’m extremely proud of the team. We have a lot of great faces and great dynamics. We have a lot of really hardworking, smart individuals. I’m not surprised that we were ranked second place, because we did do the hard work to get there.”
Liberty currently has eight teams, with two students on each team. While many competitors will pursue law school following graduation, Moot Court participation is not exclusive to government students.
“Stripping down the legal aspect and completely removing that, Moot Court is still a wonderful opportunity for public speaking practice,” Robertson said. “If you’re interested in law, or even if you want to go into politics, it’s really good to understand the language behind why certain decisions are made.”
Although Liberty lost a strong, experienced senior bench last season, the team is optimistic about future competitions and maintaining a strong standing in the national ranking.
“There’s not a single person who got into Moot Court and regretted it,” said senior government student David Korn, who wants to work for an organization that advances homeschooling rights. “Liberty will continue to do well for the future.”
The team, led by seniors like Robertson and Korn, has competitions beginning in October and will compete in four regional tournaments, all remotely, leading up to Thanksgiving.
“I don’t think our students take anything for granted by making it No. 2 in the nation,” Rathsam added. “They know that every year, they will have to continue to put up the work and effort if this ranking is something they want to maintain.”
Students who are interested in getting involved can contact Dr. Rathsam at firstname.lastname@example.org.