Each year, Georgia State University College of Law sends a team of students to compete at the Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (NELMCC), one of the country’s largest interschool competitions for moot court.
This year’s competition took place from February 22 – 25 at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York. Although the team didn’t advance to the final round, Jacob Euster (J.D. ’24) won “Best Oralist” as counsel for the defendants in the second preliminary round.
Euster took the lessons he learned from his law school courses including Legal Writing, Environmental Law, Natural Resources, and Water Law, and applied them to this competitive context.
This year’s Georgia State Law team consisted of Leah Ritter (J.D. ‘23), Jacob Euster (J.D. ‘24), and Logan Johnston (J.D. ‘24). The team was coached by Patrick Hanson (J.D. ‘23).
“I would say as the coach, I was extremely proud of how the team handled the competition, especially the oral advocacy,” Hanson said. “Each team member was well prepared, and it showed when being questioned by judges.”
Participants are faced with a comprehensive, environmental law fact pattern, usually involving three parties – the Environmental Protection Agency, a private corporation, or the polluter, and an advocacy group formed by impacted citizens, or intervenors challenging the EPA’s plan for remediation.
Ritter explained how last fall was dedicated to legal research on the problem and crafting a brief to present their arguments. During the spring semester, the students read briefs written by other teams to help them develop their appellate oral arguments from the perspectives of the three parties to present while in New York.
“This was my first oral advocacy competition,” Ritter said. “The whole experience taught me that effective advocacy requires more than hammering on the facts – the best communicators argue policy and precedent while having a strong grasp on the facts to back up their arguments. I am excited to take this experience forward with me as a litigator.”
The students chose to write from the perspective of the citizens’ group, diving into case law and other administrative and statutory research to help them prepare.
One of the interesting aspects of this competition features a “hot” bench during the first round. Johnston explained how this process steeled both his nerves and his skills, which he can use in future practice and litigation.
“I spent almost half my oral argument answering relentless and difficult questions from judges who had been serving on the bench for years,” he said.
He also explained how this year’s difficult problem allowed the students to work the complex facts into different procedural histories, statutes, and jurisdictions while providing a real-life example of environmental law litigation.
Georgia State Law focuses on sending team members to the moot court competition that are interested in Environmental Law and Policy, while other legal institutions often send students from their standard moot court programs to compete.
To learn more about Georgia State University College of Law’s Moot Court Team log on to: Moot Court Competition Team – Georgia State College of Law (gsu.edu)
-Written by Natalie Salvatore (J.D. ’24)