Willamette’s Environmental Law Moot Team Shines

Willamette College of Law's Robert L. Taylor JD'04 has been named the best student advocate for environmental law in the nation. Judges at the National Environmental Law moot court team competition, held this week in New York, have named Taylor Best Oralist in the entire competition.

For the second year in a row, Willamette Environmental Law Moot Court Team has done very well in the national competition. During the preliminary rounds, Taylor received two Best Oralist in round awards and Aaron Young received one Best Oralist in round award. Each round has six people present oral argument and the judges select the Best Oralist from each round. Taylor was then named Best Oralist of the competition. The Best Oralist Award goes to the competitor with the highest scores in oral advocacy during the first preliminary rounds.

Willamette team members Jodi Skeel JD'05, Aaron Young JD'04 and Taylor, successfully competed in three preliminary rounds before advancing to the quarterfinals. After winning the quarterfinals and advancing to the semi-finals, the team narrowly lost a chance to argue in the finals. The three teams that advanced to the finals included two teams Willamette had already beaten in the preliminary rounds. While the Willamette team didn't win the entire competition as they did last year, they beat more 200 other law students on 70+ teams to make it to the semi-final round. Willamette's team members are among the best 4-5% of student advocates in environmental law in the nation.

Successfully competing in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition is a challenging experience and Willamette's team rigorously prepared. "Our team put in a lot of hard work for the competition," recalled Taylor. "Aaron, Jodi and I met twice a week to practice our arguments. We also held more formal practice sessions in front of professors and lawyers in the field."

Second year team member, Skeel, said she spent one or two hours every night "re-reading cases and our brief and reading through many of the other teams' briefs." Even during the competition, the preparation didn't stop. "Piece by piece the arguments came together," said she said. "They were a work in progress all the way up until the competition began. Most evenings during the competition were dedicated to revamping the arguments."

According to Young, working together was key to the team's success. "Our team really worked together," he said. "Our goal was to make another strong showing at the National Competition and further enhance Willamette's already strong reputation for developing legal advocates."

Skeel, who calls this year's competition "one of the most rewarding experiences in my life," has tentatively agreed to lead the team next year. The Willamette Environmental Moot Court team is coached by Willamette Law Professor and environmental law expert, Susan Smith. She's confident that next year's team will be as strong or even strong that this year's.