National Moot Court Team reaches regional finals and qualifies for nationals in January 2018

Photo of Kelsey Mellan (JD ’18), Alex Teixeira (JD ’18), Emily Lagan (JD ’18) and Professor John Korzen (JD '91).

Kelsey Mellan (JD ’18), Alex Teixeira (JD ’18), Emily Lagan (JD ’18) and Professor John Korzen (JD '91) pose after securing a spot for the national competition at the Regional Moot Court Competition in November.

Wake Forest School of Law’s National Moot Court Team won all five of its oral arguments, tied for the second best brief and finished as the runner-up at the Region IV tournament held on Nov. 17 -18 in Richmond, Virginia. It is the fifth straight year that Wake Forest School of Law has reached the national finals in the National Moot Court Competition, which is the oldest moot court competition in the country and now in its 68th year.

This year’s team consists of Emily Lagan (JD ’18), Kelsey Mellan (JD ’18) and Alex Teixeira (JD ’18). Teixeira won the Best Oralist award. By reaching the regional finals, the team qualified for the National Finals that will be held in New York City on Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2018.

Region IV has the largest number of teams of any of the regions in the National Moot Court Competition. In addition to Wake Forest’s team, this year 17 other teams from 10 other law
schools competed in Region IV, which encompasses Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

In the two preliminary rounds on Nov. 17, the Wake Forest team was randomly paired against a team from Kentucky and a team from the University of North Carolina. The match against Kentucky was especially important, because that team had tied with Wake Forest for the second best brief, leaving no margin for error (in this competition the brief score always counts for 40 percent of the total points in a match, with the oral arguments counting for 60 percent).

Teixeira and Lagan won the oral arguments by 4 points. In the afternoon, Teixeira and Mellan won the oral arguments against North Carolina by 6 points. By going 2-0, the team advanced to the elimination rounds on Nov. 18. In the first elimination round, the team then faced the same Kentucky team and again had a must-win oral argument. This time Teixeira and Lagan eeked out a 1-point victory in the oral argument, advancing the team to the semi-finals. In the semis, the team beat a team from George Mason by 1 point in the oral arguments and 4.75 points on the brief, thereby advancing to the final round against a team from Campbell that had the best brief score and had defeated a William and Mary team in its semi-final.

The final round was as close as could be, with Teixeira and Mellan winning the oral arguments and falling just short overall — by only 0.1 point (on a 100-point scale) — due to the Campbell brief’s higher score.

In feedback after the rounds, judges praised the team members for their poise, knowledge of the record, knowledge of the case law, ability to withstand tough questioning, collegiality, and politeness. There were five judges for the semi-final round, and all five were members of the American College of Trial Lawyers. The finals panel also featured five judges, including federal judges from the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, and justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The team is very grateful for the practice round judging of Professors Charley Rose, Ron Wright and Gordon Widenhouse (JD ’81); alumni Pat Kane (JD ’07), Jamie Dean (JD ’09), Dylan Greenwood (JD ’13) and Matt Cloutier (JD ’17), who all were members of the National Moot Court Team in their 3L years); and their classmates Nick Bedo (JD ’18), Vanessa Garrido (JD ’19), Mickey Herman (JD’18), Ryan Holt (JD ’18), John Allen Riggins (JD ’18) and Mike Stephens (JD ’18).

Professor John Korzen (JD ’91) coached the team that will advance to the national finals in New York as one of the best 30 teams in the country out of more than 180 that entered the competition. Only the two finalists from each region advance to the national finals. In 2016, the Wake Forest National’s Moot Court Team of Cloutier, Mia Falzarano (JD ’17) and Blake Stafford (JD ’17) won the National Moot Court Competition for the first time since 1986.