Lawyering skills competitions provide the opportunity for students to simulate negotiating, trying a case, or arguing an appeal on behalf of a fictional client. This kind of experiential learning provides an unmatched opportunity to build real-world lawyering skills. Opportunities are available within and outside Pitt Law to students in all class years.
Within Pitt Law
Pitt Law’s intramural competitions are organized and supervised by the Moot Court Board. Students build negotiation skills and client advising skills at the Ronald D. Ecker Memorial Negotiation and Client Counseling Competition, which is open to all class years. At the Murray S. Love Trial Moot Court Competition, second- and third-year students try a fictional case. First-year students may serve as bailiffs or witnesses. In the Appellate Competition, second- and third-year students brief and argue an appeal.
Outside Pitt Law
In the Mock Trial Program, students learn how to examine witnesses, admit evidence, raise objections, and deliver opening and closing arguments. These courtroom skills are developed with the help of Pitt Law’s adjunct coaches, who are experienced trial lawyers. Students may then try out to compete in one of several national mock trial competitions. The mock trial program is overseen by Michael Gianantonio.
On a Moot Court Team, students brief and argue an appeal in either a general litigation area or a specialized practice setting, such as intellectual property or environmental law. Pitt Law has also sent a team to a health law transactional competition in many recent years.
Students who participate in International Moots gain skills in international arbitration and litigation under the guidance of faculty in Pitt Law’s Center for International Legal Education.
Students are eligible to receive academic credit for participating in most moot court competitions, intramural or interscholastic. These are classified as activity credits, and students may count a limited number of activity credits toward their graduation requirements. (Credits earned for service on a journal and/or the Moot Court Board also count as activity credits.) Specific information regarding academic credit is available during the signup process for each competition, from each competition’s faculty advisor, or from the Competitions Coordinator, Professor Paige Forster.
Moot Court Board
The Pitt Law Moot Court Board organizes and administers the competitions that take place within Pitt Law: the Murray S. Love Trial Moot Court Competition, the Appellate Competition, and the Negotiations Competition. In addition to its logistical role, the Board researches and creates competition problems. Board selection is a competitive process that takes place over the summer for the coming academic year. Questions should be directed to the current student chairperson or the faculty advisors, Judge D. Michael Fisher or Professor Paige Forster.