August 3, 2015
Saginaw Valley State University’s moot court program is quickly establishing itself among the nation’s best.
SVSU’s undergraduate program now ranks no. 20 overall in the national rankings and earned a no. 17 finish for the 2014-15 academic year. A relatively young program (formed in 2010), SVSU has quickly climbed ahead of highly regarded schools such as Duke University and the University of Chicago.
“We have progressed so quickly because of the culture of excellence and hard work created by the students in the program,” said Julie Keil, SVSU assistant professor of political science and moot court adviser. “Students with very busy schedules take time to practice outside of class, go to invitational tournaments and to mentor each other. We also receive a great deal of support from the university that makes competition at such a high level possible.”
SVSU’s high ranking is based upon strong performances at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament in Miami last January. Recent graduates Samantha Jackson, a political science major from Goodells, and Rachel Stocki, a business major from St. Clair, together placed 21st in the tournament, losing to the eventual champion.
The SVSU team of Rachel Cahill, a political science major from Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Jacob Mojica, a political science major from Freeland, also qualified for the national tournament and finished 59th overall.
In a moot court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.
Jackson is attending the University of Michigan Law School this fall; Stocki is employed as a continuous improvement analyst for a major automotive supplier in suburban Detroit.
Keil, a former practicing attorney, said students reap significant benefits by participating in the program.
“Our students getting into good law schools and graduate schools is not new, but the skills moot court students learn and the relationships they form with the local bar associations, attorneys and judges through this program help them be more competitive for scholarships, as well as helping to ensure success when they get there,” she said.
SVSU moot court graduates are seeing success at the law school level. SVSU graduate Ashley Hanson Chrysler was part of a Michigan State University College of Law team that won the nation’s largest law school-level moot court competition, topping 202 teams at the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition April 9-11 in Chicago.
For more information on SVSU’s moot court program, visit http://www.svsu.edu/prelaw/studentopportunities/mootcourt/.