Moot court team ranks nationally, sets the bar for STU

This year’s moot court team returned to St. Thomas University last week with another successful season behind them, earning exceptional rankings at nationals in Gulfport, Florida.

“We beat every American at their own game,” said Matthew LeBlanc, a third-year moot court student.

More specifically, he and his partner, Robbie Lynn, beat 328 American teams out of 350, placing 22nd at nationals. This accomplishment set the score to beat for next year and surpassed STU’s moot court team’s previous record set at last year’s nationals.

In the competition running from Jan. 4 to 7, Navy Vezina and Alexandra Monteith also brought STU to a third-place victory with their written brief and Emma Walsh and Brianna Matchett placed in the top 48 among 350 teams.

STU’s prominent presence in the competition can make the process look easy, but students in the program spend countless hours studying case law and writing case briefs months beforehand. Participants receive their cases May 1 and study throughout the summer. During first semester, they work on memorizing their arguments and responding to judges.

When LeBlanc joined the moot court efforts, he said he knew it would be demanding.

“I expected not to sleep,” he said.

Walsh agreed, recalling it seemed like “an insurmountable barrier” at the time.

However, LeBlanc, among many others, also said moot court has been “the most enriching experience I’ve had at St. Thomas.”

“[It’s] one of those things that guide your career,” Walsh said.

She said she was uncertain with her future at STU before she joined moot court. This created an enthusiasm for the school she never felt before. She said she will return for next year’s season, passionate for the “challenge” and another chance to “expand how I think.”

Both Walsh and LeBlanc commended professor Amanda DiPaolo on her enormous dedication to the program and her faith in the students. An alumni and human rights professor, DiPaolo founded the class three years ago. Since then, the success has been visible with two out of three teams making nationals.

“[She] put so much of herself in this,” LeBlanc said.

Over the eight months of preparation, DiPaolo dedicated much of her spare time to holding meetings with moot court participants, e-mailing them and familiarizing herself with the moot court documents. Due to her investment in both the program and its students, the team knew she would, in Walsh’s words, “get us where we need to be.”

DiPaolo’s dedication was paralleled by the students’, whose cumulative efforts carried them to nationals.

DiPaolo agreed with the students this is the “most difficult course at St. Thomas.”

However, as a St. Thomas University alumni herself, she is “incredibly proud” as the moot court program not only succeeds in teaching students about practical American law and court procedures, but it also cultivates important skills students will keep for the rest of their life.

“Moot Court gives students confidence … to do what it is they want in life,” she said.

“It gives them … a belief in themselves which … is very unique for a university program.”

As for the future of moot court, DiPaolo’s confidence mirrors that of her students.

“I honestly believe with the calibre of students that are attracted to moot court, St. Thomas University will win the American Collegiate Moot Court Championships.”

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