By Bibeane Metsch-GarciaApril 9, 2015
With a week to go before the final round of the 90th Annual Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition, 2L Benjamin Reese and 3L Hannah Swanson were getting a little help from their friends. This year's finalists mooted with three Campbell competitors from earlier rounds as part of their preparation for the prestigious competition.
The Campbell Moot Court Competition is one of Michigan Law's oldest traditions, a yearlong endeavor that involves the simulation of an argument before the Supreme Court. This year, Reese and Swanson will argue the question of whether the First Amendment prohibits a public school from disciplining a student for off-campus conduct after the student publicly shares a social media message that references illegal substances and that other students share on social media.
For both Reese and Swanson, the best part about being in the final round of Campbell has been the opportunity to continue to collaborate with fellow students and to work with faculty for the first time in thinking through this year's problem. Swanson has enjoyed "speaking with professors who approach the problem from a big-picture, normative angle." Although the length of the arguments has increased from 10 minutes in the preliminary round to 30 minutes for the finals, Reese says the additional time is easy to fill because "the arguments have gotten more complicated and nuanced." He says he has been pleasantly surprised by how many new arguments he has come across throughout the three previous rounds and how his understanding of the problem as deepened.
To prepare, in addition to reading the student-speech cases from the problem packet and other relevant case law, both Reese and Swanson have watched videos of past Campbell final rounds and listened to Supreme Court oral arguments. They also plan to moot several more times with faculty members and additional fellow students who participated in Campbell.
Swanson says she feels the competition has prepared her well to stand up in court after law school. "Campbell has been a great opportunity to get experience doing oral advocacy without a real client's interests at stake. It turns out that I really enjoy oral argument. I now trust myself a lot more to think on my feet and to be able to talk myself out of a corner," she says.
Reese says he enjoyed approaching the problem "with no preconceived framework and engaging in the process of figuring out how school-speech cases relate to the rest of the First Amendment."
As the final round approaches, Swanson says she is "excited to learn about how the final round judges think about the problem and what stands out to them as the most pressing issues." "Campbell has been a highlight of my law school experience," says Reese. As a graduating 3L, Swanson says Campbell "has been a great capstone on my education as I prepare to put everything that I have learned at Michigan Law into practice."
Reese and Swanson join the ranks of other impressive past Campbell Finalists. Recent finalists include Michael Huston, '11, who went on to clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Catherine M.A. Carroll, '02, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and is now a partner in the appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in Washington, D.C. Carroll came to speak to Campbell competitors this year.
The final round will be judged by the Hon. Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit, the Hon. Cheryl Ann Krause of the Third Circuit, and the Hon. John B. Owens of the Ninth Circuit.
Everyone in the Michigan Law Community and general public is invited and encouraged to attend to the final round at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in Hutchins Hall 100. The competition is made possible by the generosity of Dickinson Wright PLLC as well as the support of Law School administrators and faculty.
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