The topic was one of the most complicated in American law– aboriginal title–but Mitchell students were undaunted, placing four teams in the top 16 at the national Native American Law Students Association’s (NALSA) moot court competition, with one of the Mitchell teams finishing third overall. In the individual competition, Mitchell students took second and third place for Best Oral Advocate.
Sixty teams from across the country competed at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., focusing on modern application of 19th century Supreme Court decisions.
“Most law students never have to achieve this level of mastery with 19th century law, but the Mitchell students proved themselves to be adept at understanding the older opinions and explaining how the opinions apply in a contemporary context,” said Professor Sarah Deer, who coached the teams with Professor Colette Routel. “To take second and third place out of over 120 competitors from across the nation really demonstrates that Mitchell students are ready to practice Indian law in a rigorous, competitive environment.”
“Our strong performance among the top schools and Indian law programs in the country speaks volumes of Professors Deer and Routel, who selflessly devoted so much of their time and energy to our preparation,” said Ryan McCarthy, 2L, who won 2nd place Best Oral Advocate. “To have four teams in the top 16, three in the top eight, and the third place team, demonstrates the success and strength of Mitchell’s Indian law program and its incredibly talented students.”
“The thing that’s so great about moot court is that it lets you be creative,” said Rachel Kowarski, 3L, who took third place Best Oral Advocate. “You always have to back up your arguments with law, but you can make arguments that might never be possible in the real world. We are lucky at Mitchell to have professors who not only teach us what the law is but also give us the freedom to imagine what the law should be. I think that’s one of the reasons the Mitchell NALSA team was so successful.”
Here are the Mitchell teams that made the top 16:
- Veronica Newcomer, 3L, (Turtle Mountain) and Rachel Kowarski, 3L: 3rd place overall team
- Courtney Allensworth, 3L and Aram Desteian, 3L: quarterfinals
- Ryan McCarthy, 2L, (Eastern Cherokee) and Rachel Vesely, 3L: quarterfinals
- Anna Light, 2L and Brieanna Hoban, 2L: round of 16