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KU Law’s moot court program ranks 13th in nation

Wed, 06/02/2021

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law’s moot court program is 13th in the nation, according to rankings published recently by the University of Houston Law Center.

This is the highest ranking KU Law’s moot court program has received since the ranking system began in 2009. KU Law has finished in the top 30 nationally for the past six years.

“Once again, our students and coaches found a way to win,” said Pamela Keller, clinical professor of law and director of KU’s moot court program. Students competed against peers from across the country in virtual competitions throughout the year.

“Our teams faced so much adversity this year, yet they dug in – researched, wrote and practiced their oral advocacy skills for hours and hours – and they ended up giving our program its most successful year ever. We have dedicated coaches and talented students. I couldn't be prouder of how they all performed,” Keller said.

The top-16 ranking earns KU Law an invitation to compete in the 2022 Hunton Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship, scheduled for January 2022.

Garnering the most points toward KU’s ranking was its performance at the National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition in March. Recent graduate Zachary Kelsay and second-year law student Emily Depew won the competition.

“KU Law's success in moot court begins with outstanding faculty support. The faculty spends endless hours helping students grow as lawyers through oral and written advocacy,” Depew said. “Representing KU at the NNALSA Moot Court Competition allowed me to advance my practical legal skills in ways that traditional classroom learning does not always allow.”

Other highlights from the 2020-2021 competition season:

  • Caleb Kampsen and Ben Ramberg advanced to the semifinal round of the Federal Bar Association Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition. The team won the award for best brief. Kampsen was named best oralist, and Ramberg took third place in that category.
  • Blake Saffels and Blaine Smith placed third overall in the Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition. Saffels and Smith also won the award for best brief.
  • Kalie Belt, Olivia Black and Jon Dennis won the award for best draft at the UCLA Transactional Law Competition. The team also received second-place awards for best negotiation and best overall.
  • Jenny Bartos and Zach Beach advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Bartos won the award for best oralist in two preliminary rounds.
  • Ellen Bertels and Michael Burcham advanced to the quarterfinal round of the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition.
  • Rachael Simon, Emma Easom and Kirstyn Dvorak advanced to the quarterfinal round of the regional National Trial Competition.

Most KU Law students who compete in national tournaments were the top finishers in the school’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Competitions generally consist of writing an appellate brief and presenting a mock oral argument before an appellate court.

Several KU Law teams also competed in national competitions in mock trial and transactional law.

Past KU Law moot court rankings by the University of Houston Law Center:

  • 2021: No. 13
  • 2020: No. 22
  • 2019: No. 14
  • 2018: No. 26
  • 2017: No. 17
  • 2016: No. 19.


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