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Campbell Competition Finalists Celebrate Success

By Lori Atherton
February 28, 2020

3L Claire Shimberg and 2L Sophia Montgomery are still enjoying their success after competing in one of Michigan Law’s most prestigious traditions. The two argued the final round of the 95th annual Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition on February 24, with Montgomery winning first place.

“I'm definitely still processing it,” said Montgomery, who argued on behalf of the petitioner. “I'm mostly just grateful to have had this incredible opportunity. I learned so much, and it was amazing to work so closely with my friend Claire in preparing for the final round.”

This year’s competition focused on two questions: Are nonimmigrant visa holders entitled to Second Amendment rights? And does the State of Hutchins’s handgun licensing scheme violate the Second Amendment by requiring an applicant to demonstrate a “legitimate need” to carry a handgun in public?

A panel of three judges heard the arguments: The Hon. Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; The Hon. Pamela Harris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; and The Hon. Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

An interest in appellate work and the opportunity to hone skills such as brief writing and oral advocacy is what drew Shimberg and Montgomery to compete. The competition was “intellectually fulfilling,” which is why Shimberg encourages other 2Ls and 3Ls to consider participating in next year’s event.

“It’s a great opportunity, and it’s so fun and rewarding,” said Shimberg, who will clerk for The Hon. Charles R. Wilson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit after graduation. “It allows you to master a topic and think through the law from start to finish. You get to see how putting so much time and energy into something really pays off.”

Shimberg and Montgomery also highlighted the relationships that were formed as a result of participating in the competition. This year’s event drew 106 competitors.

“What will stick with me most about this experience is how supported I felt by the entire Michigan Law community and how much I learned from everyone else who engaged in this process,” said Montgomery, who is interested in administrative law and civil rights impact litigation work. “I became closer with a lot of the other competitors as we moved through the rounds, and Claire and I got to work with several professors as we were preparing for the final. They gave us feedback on our briefs and arguments, and helped us feel a little less nervous and more confident knowing that we were well prepared.”

The Campbell Moot Court competition was established in 1926 and honors the 1878 Michigan Law graduate who founded the prominent Detroit law firm that became Dickinson Wright. Henry M. Campbell, the son of a renowned Michigan Supreme Court justice, helped draft Michigan's 1908 constitution. He also maintained close relations with the University of Michigan and argued the case that established the institution's constitutional autonomy in 1911. After Campbell's death in 1926, his law partners established the Campbell Moot Court competition to help train students at his alma mater in the finer points of appellate advocacy.

(Pictured above, from left: The Hon. Pamela Harris, Sophia Montgomery, The Hon. Jeffrey Sutton, Claire Shimberg, and The Hon. Denny Chin.)

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