Moot Court champs
exultant — and exhausted

Team of 2Ls takes top honors

The champions of the 2009 Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition could hardly have afforded not to win.

Because if 2Ls Frances Lewis and Usman Ahmed had come up short, Lewis says they would have felt compelled to try again in 2010.

Campbell champions Usman Ahmed and Frances Lewis discuss their arguments with Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton after the competition.

"Now we don’t feel the need to come back and compete again next year," said an only partly joking Lewis, who also captured Best Oralist honors. The Best Brief award went to the other team that reached the finals -- Isabel Daniels and Dan Hipskind, both third-year students.

The Campbell Moot Court Competition, established in 1926, honors the 1878 Michigan Law graduate who went on to found the prominent Detroit law firm that later became known as Dickinson Wright. Competition is open to all second- and third-year students, as well as to LL.M., visiting, and dual-degree students. Final arguments took place last month before a panel of federal judges comprised of Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the Second Circuit and judges Jeffrey S. Sutton and Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit.

TRIUMVIRATE: A panel of federal appellate judges – Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the Second Circuit and judges Jeffrey S. Sutton and Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit -- quizzes Campbell Moot Court finalists.

Lewis said the intensity of the competition made her feel almost as if she were carrying an extra class between October and April. But she quickly added that the pressure was a positive thing – especially since she and Ahmed were already friends when they came into the contest.

"In a competition like this, the most important element is who you’re working with," Lewis said. "It helped that Usman and I were friends from last year, because it meant we could argue with each other and not take it personally. We were also able to joke around and have fun with it."

And winning the competition, which involved the race-conscious admissions policy at a private academy, didn’t hurt either, she said.

"We’re just on cloud nine," Lewis said. "We’re only 2Ls, so it’s a huge honor to get to make arguments in front of federal circuit court judges at such a young age. And the support we were shown throughout this process from our professors, friends and family – we really owe our success to them."

For video of the judges’ post-competition commentary, click here.