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MLaw Team Wins Premier Moot Court Competition on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law MLaw Team Wins Premier Moot Court Competition on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law

By Jenny Whalen
April 27, 2015

The Michigan Law team of 3Ls Daniel Halainen and Wyatt Fore has won this year's UCLA School of Law Williams Institute Moot Court competition, the only national competition dedicated exclusively to the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity law.

Arguing a fictional case centered on allegations of sexual orientation and religious discrimination, Halainen and Fore faced Northwestern Law in the moot court's final round on April 17.

"Daniel and I are very excited to be the winners of the 2015 UCLA Williams Institute Moot Court," Fore said. "It is the nation's pre-eminent competition dedicated to cutting-edge legal issues on sexual orientation and gender identity and participating in it was one of the most exciting projects I've done in law school. It was truly humbling to meet so many leaders in the LGBT legal movement."

Fore, who has also contributed as a student to DeBoer v. Snyder—Michigan's marriage equality case scheduled for oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States on April 28—said he hopes to continue his pro bono work on LGBT issues when he joins O'Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., upon graduation.

Halainen, who will start a clerkship after graduation, described the victory as "a little surreal." Like Fore, he too hopes to continue pro bono work on LGBT issues in the future.

"This year the moot court focused on the scope of federal antidiscrimination laws, looking at whether Title VII protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation," he said. "We argued on behalf of the plaintiff, a nurse who was arguably terminated because of her sex, religion, and sexual orientation. So we had to navigate between pushing the court to adopt an expansive view of Title VII that captured sexual-orientation discrimination and obtaining a favorable outcome for our client under a more traditional theory of discrimination."

The fictional case was decided by the Hon. Henry Franklin Floyd, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; the Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; and Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Halainen and Fore are especially grateful for the support they received from the Hon. Judith Levy, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and a Michigan Law lecturer; the Hon. David Grand, U.S. Magistrate for the Eastern District of Michigan; the Hon. Elizabeth Gleicher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and fellow students 2L Mike Brown, 2L Katrina Fahey, 3L Rebecca Eisenbrey, 2L Abbye Klamann, 2L Ken Powell, and 3L Hannah Swanson.

Photo by Jon Endow. Pictured: Moot court winners Daniel Halainen and Wyatt Fore, with judges Henry Franklin Floyd, Kim McLane Wardlaw, and Shira A. Scheindlin.

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