Looking for a new club to join on campus but not sure which one? Unbeknownst to many students, the University of Michigan-Flint is home to a brand-new organization that may be of interest–the Moot Court Team.
The club is looking to offer a unique experience for students by allowing them to argue constitutional law against other teams of students. While the team as a whole is made up of all club members, they are broken into smaller, two-person teams for competing.
These teams are given a fake case problem at the beginning of the semester that contains a realistic set of facts and evidence that pose constitutional issues. Like many constitutional questions, these do not have a clear-cut answer and it is the teams’ job to formulate an argument that persuades the judges to adopt its point of view over their competitors.
For example, this semester teams will be arguing issues related to the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure rules and the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause in a mock criminal case involving human trafficking.
Many universities and some high schools field one or several teams and can compete locally, regionally or even nationally. However, the skills learned by participating in Moot Court can reach far beyond those typically associated with the political science and law fields.
“Moot court is open to everyone who is interested in debate, public speaking, and/or politics. While it is obviously beneficial for students wishing to go to law school, it also is beneficial for persons wishing to go to graduate school in politics, communications, and other liberal arts,” said Kimberly Saks-McManaway, Ph.D., and Kevin Lorentz, Ph.D., in a joint statement, the faculty organizers for the team.
In fact, Lorentz and Saks-McManaway both got their starts in Moot Court while they were still undergraduates, with Lorentz finishing 13th nationally and Saks-McManaway achieving Best Oralist at the State of Michigan Moot Court Competition for law school students in 2006.
Many graduate schools, particularly law schools, look at Moot Court as an important resume builder and stepping-stone in preparing their students for their careers because of the realistic situations it provides.
“It is a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, strengthen my public speaking skills, and work with a great group of students and staff! Plus, this is UM-Flint’s first year participating in moot court, and establishing another club on campus is always good for the university and its students,” said Taylor Liles, a political science major and member of the team.
The UM-Flint club will participate in several competitions throughout the semester against collegiate teams from all over the Great Lakes region, such as Saginaw Valley State, Michigan State and Eastern Michigan. If a team on the club is able to qualify for the national competition, they will then head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to compete with teams from all over the United States.
“It’s not just a great opportunity for budding lawyers but for a wealth of fields that prize critical thinking, teamwork, and public speaking,” said Lorentz and Saks-McManaway.
If you are interested in learning more about the Moot Court Club or possibly looking to join, you can contact Lorentz at [email protected] or Saks-McManaway at [email protected], or by coming to the weekly meetings every Thursday with one meeting time at 4:30 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. in the political science department on the second floor of French Hall.