MSU Law students take championship title at Billings Exum Frye Moot Court Competition


MSU?Law Moot Court champions, clockwise from top left: Makenzie Sipes, Lauren Legner, coach and MSU Law alumnus Anthony Chester, and Haley Regan.

Photo courtesy of MSU?Law

Over the last several weeks, as the 2021 fall semester Moot Court season nears its close, MSU Law teams have given top performances at high-level competitions.

On Oct. 23, 3Ls Makenzie Sipes, Lauren Legner, and briefwriter Haley Regan took home the championship title at the Billings Exum Frye constitutional law competition hosted by Elon University School of Law.

According to Director of the Competitions Program and Professor Jennifer Copland, this event was the largest competition that MSU Law will participate in this semester, with 52 competing teams and more than 100 students.

The competition – held virtually due to ongoing COVID-19 safety protocol – tasked student-competitors with a complex problem to argue before the judges: abortion, specifically the question of whether to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“When the problem came out, it was very interesting because it’s so relevant. The Supreme Court is going to hear this matter in a few months,” Sipes said. “It was interesting, at first, figuring out how to tackle it because abortion is so politically contested and very emotional. We had to be careful, especially in oral argument, with how we approached the topic.”

Sipes emphasized the challenge of arguing off-brief and trying to speak with the Court about why they should overturn 50 years of precedent.

In addition to the team earning the top spot at the competition, Sipes received awards for second place oralist and best final round oralist. The team’s brief was also awarded second place.

“For me, it was three weeks of research and writing – and that’s draining. For Makenzie and Lauren, they had to argue the same thing over and over again for hours and I can only imagine how exhausting that is,” Regan said. “I think to win as a team is most important overall, and to get those extra awards was just icing on the cake.”

The students were coached by alumnus Anthony (Tony) Chester, ’13, a managing associate attorney with Kazerouni Law Group in Minnesota.

“Tony was great. I really can’t say enough good things about him,” Legner said. “He was extremely supportive from the start and made it clear that this was our competition, and this is what we made of it.”

“Him being an alum and being so involved and caring about how we did and putting in so much time and effort,” Sipes explained, “I think it speaks a lot to the Moot Court Program at MSU: the fact that alums want to come back and volunteer so much time.”

This was the first time that these students competed together, and the outcome was the most they could have hoped for from the experience.

 “There is pride in our Moot Court program,” Regan said, “and it’s nice to add to that.”

In additional news, on Oct. 24, the Wechsler First Amendment Competition team of 3Ls Knox Yellin and Katie Long, coached by Professor Copland, finished in the top four, and Yellin received an award for second place oralist.
The weekend prior, the Emory Civil Rights and Liberties Competition team of 3L oralists Alex Number and Christine Wang, and 2L briefwriter Tom Delano, finished in the top four teams. Wang received an award for fifth place oralist, and the team’s brief placed fourth in the competition. The students were coached by alumnus and Adjunct Professor David Sheaffer, ’17.

The team of 3Ls Samantha Iachello and Hana Kamel made the octafinals (top 16 teams, out of more than 40) at the Leroy R. Hassell Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. Iachello was recognized as one of the top five oralists, and the team was coached by alumna Leigh Hansmann, ’09.

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