Winners emerge as Pace Law School hosts 20th annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

WHITE PLAINS, NY (March 14, 2008) – Lewis & Clark Law School’s Bethany Cotton, Liz Crosson, and Diana Federoff faced stiff competition from a field of over 200 competitors from 70 national law schools before emerging as the winners of the 20th National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Pace University School of Law February 21- 23, 2008. The student-run competition was led this year by Abigail Jones, a second year student at Pace Law School.

The court case examined in the competition explored the issues surrounding pesticide spraying from helicopters over open water to control the West Nile Virus and whether it should be regulated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) or the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Like all National Environmental Law Moot Court Competitions, the case was drawn from real world controversies in the environmental arena. As the elimination rounds progressed, all teams were required to prepare and argue the position of all three parties to the lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the citizen groups, and industry groups. Winners were selected on the quality of their oral presentations and written briefs, not by the party they represented.

A strong effort was shown by the two finalist teams, Georgetown University Law Center’s Sarah Fox and Lindsay Hogan; and the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law’s Allan Alicuben, Mitsuko Takahashi, and Jael Makagon.

Florida State University College of Law was presented with the David Sive Award for “Best Brief,” authored by Caroline Brady, Preston McLane, and Ramona Thomas. Santa Clara University School of Law and the University of North Carolina School of Law also took home awards for their written briefs. Sarah Fox of Georgetown University Law Center received the award for the “Best Oralist.”

The final round of the competition can be viewed on the Pace Law School website http://www.pace.edu/page.cfm?doc_id=23579.

Eminent judges. As in past years, the final round was presided over by some of the nation’s most significant environmental jurists. They were:

  • the Honorable Stefan R. Underhill, United States District Court, District of Connecticut;
  • the Honorable Robert S. Smith, State of New York Court of Appeals;
  • the Honorable Anna L. Wolgast, Environmental Appeals Board, United States Environmental Protection Agency; and
  • the Honorable Susan L. Biro, Chief Administrative Law Judge, United States Environmental Protection Agency.

This event is the premier environmental law moot court competition in the country and is administered by a Pace Law School student-run board and members of the law school staff. The competition provides an invaluable educational experience by simulating the process of preparing a legal case and presenting it to a Federal Court of Appeals. Students are given a complex environmental issue and must file legal briefs supporting the position of one of the three parties to the case. The oral arguments are presented before attorneys who serve as judges in the preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.

Professors’ workshop on ocean issues. During the competition, Pace Law School also hosted a Professors’ Workshop for the faculty members who came from across the nation to attend the competition with their teams. This year’s workshop featured a discussion on “Current Issues in Ocean Resource Management and Governance.” The workshop was moderated by Ann Powers, Pace Law School associate professor of Law and an international oceans expert.

Panelists included Robin Kundis Craig, the Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund Professor of Law at the Florida State University College of Law, Tallahassee, Florida, who is an expert in water law and marine protected areas; Howard S. Schiffman, Clinical Associate Professor of Global Affairs at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, who is an expert in international environmental law; and Tanya Rosen, an oceans expert and consultant with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Major supporters of the Pace Law School 20th National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition were Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, and the Environmental Law Institute®.

Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has nearly 6,500 alumni throughout the country and the world. It offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus. The School also offers the Master of Laws in Environmental Law and in Comparative Legal Studies and an SJD in environmental law. The School of Law is part of a comprehensive, independent, and diversified University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

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