I came to Marquette for the Sports Law program. If anyone asked me what I wanted to do with my law degree I simply stated that I wanted to be the next Brian Cashman. I worked in sports throughout college and for two years after. When I got into Marquette, after I stopped crying of happiness (true story), I told myself that I would keep my mind open to other legal paths. I can safely say, wholeheartedly, that Appellate Writing and Advocacy changed my life. When I walked into that class I physically, metaphorically, and literally fell in love with appellate litigation and moot court (physically only in the sense that I am super clumsy and probably fell over and broke something). If moot court were a person we would get married in an appellate courtroom, officiated by Justice Scalia, and instead of “I do” we would say, “May it please the court.” To follow is the greatest love story you have ever read. This post puts love stories such as Twilight, The Notebook, and Kim Kardashian/Kanye West to shame. Here is the love story of Brittany Skye Kachingwe and Madam Moot Court.
Appellate Writing & Advocacy
I walked into Professor Blemberg’s AWA class with absolutely zero idea what I had just gotten myself into. I was a naïve 2L that thought this would be an easy class and the only benefit would be to strengthen my legal writing skills. As an English major, I thoroughly enjoyed writing so I thought, “Why not take a class where I get to write a 30 page appellate court brief.” The amount of work I put into that brief with my partner, Sarah Sharrar, was the most amount effort I had ever put into any educational project. I lived and breathed Andy Van Ryzin and the Eighth Amendment for four months. I started my oral argument training with my 3L coach, Chad Pollard, and Professor Blemberg. I was not deferential, I spoke loud and fast and I did not know any of the substance. I thought there was zero chance I was going to make Jenkins and succeed in any moot court competition. My heart was momentarily crushed.
Love takes work, however. After months of spilling my blood, sweat and tears into my brief and oral argument practice, I felt comfortable submitting my brief and going into oral arguments. By this point, after all the work I had put into my brief and oral arguments, I wanted nothing more than to make Jenkins and continue my loving relationship with moot court. The semester ended, I said goodbye to Andy Van Ryzin and waited by email for word to come regarding Jenkins.
2013 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition
It was December 28, 2012. I was back at home in Iowa for winter break sitting on the couch watching Revenge with my mom. I had not told her that I was waiting for an email because I was too scared that if I talked about it I would jinx myself. Nicole Cameli (the Associate Justice of Intramural Competitions at the time) had told me that those who made Jenkins would be notified around 6 p.m. on December 28 as to whether or not they made Jenkins. It was 6:10 p.m. and I still hadn’t heard anything. At 6:14 p.m. I heard the ping of an email and all I needed was to see it was from Nicole and I instantly started crying harder than when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Since the only thing I was able to say was “Jenkins,” my mom assumed that I was hysterical because someone named Jenkins had died. It was the best day of my law school career.
The honeymoon after being reunited with my long lost love was short lived. The second semester of my 2L year was one of the most stressful semesters ever. I have never put so much time and effort into a single paper than how much I put into my Jenkins brief. Paul Jonas and I meticulously went through each sentence of the 7,000 word brief to find errors as small as an extra space after a period. Once our brief was turned in we would practice with our coaches three to four times a week. Although I had put so much time, effort and energy into this competition I never truly believed I could make it past the preliminary round, let alone the finals. Making it to the Jenkins finals, despite not winning, is singlehandedly my greatest legal accomplishment. I gained confidence in my writing ability and my oral argument skills that will help me succeed as a practicing attorney.
This 3L year Moot Court and I have taken our relationship to the next level and things have gotten pretty serious. We are Facebook official! I am following in my mentor’s footsteps and I am the Associate Justice of Intramural Competitions (aka I am in charge of Jenkins and making sure it does not blow up). Last weekend Kerri Puig and I competed in the 2013 Hassell National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. We spent a month working on our brief and a month preparing for oral arguments on issues regarding the Recess Appointments Clause and the National Labor Relations Act. Although we did not advance in oral arguments while in Virginia Beach, we received second best brief and will receive a plaque to be hung in the Law School. The completion of the competition was a bittersweet moment. I was extremely happy and proud of all our hard work and the success of receiving second best brief but . . . it is over! No more cuddling with brief drafts at night and no more saying my opening statement in the shower. All I want to do is appellate litigation now so that I can rekindle with my love of saying “may it please the court.”
I got second in Jenkins and second best brief in my national moot court competition and for some reason I am supposed to be ashamed of this? Not a chance! I have never been more proud of myself than I am now as I step back and see how far I have come since walking into AWA for the first time. My participation in moot court was not a cakewalk by any means. Every brief I wrote and every oral argument I practiced for was stressful, time-consuming and exhausting. But I have strengthened my legal writing skills and I have gained an immense amount of oral advocacy confidence throughout my relationship with moot court. I cannot praise Marquette’s Moot Court Program strong enough to the 1Ls, 2Ls and future students. Moot Court has changed my life and I cannot wait to graduate and litigate in the real world.
Thank you to everyone that has helped me during my moot court experiences:
Partners: Sarah Sharrar, Paul Jonas, Kerri Puig
Coaches: Chad Pollard, Kristi Gordon, Sarah McNutt, Jenna McConnell, Patrick Leigl, Jennifer Severino, Joel Urmanski
Professors/Deans: Professor Blemberg, Professor Greipp, Professor Julien, Professor Carpenter, Dean Kearney
Everyone that judged me in AWA, Jenkins and Hassell
The 2012/13 and 2013/14 Moot Court Executive and General Boards
And my hero/ life coach/ mentor – Nicole Cameli
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