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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

LC’s Environmental Moot Court team continues record of success

March 11, 2019

  • Lewis & Clark Law School’s 2019 environmental law moot court team of Ben Scissors (2L), Sangye Ince-Johanssen (3L), and Rachel Blackburn (3L), advanced to the quarterfinals of the national environmental law moot court competition.

Lewis & Clark Law School’s 2019 environmental law moot court team of Ben Scissors (2L), Sangye Ince-Johanssen (3L), and Rachel Blackburn (3L), advanced to the quarterfinals of the national environmental law moot court competition. Ben won recognition as the “best overall oralist” of the entire competition.

Professor Johnston has coached the Lewis & Clark team for 28 years - and with incredible success, including:

 - Winning seven national championships
 - Advancing to the quarterfinals 27 times
 - Advancing to the semifinals 22 times
 - Advancing to the finals 15 times

Regardless of the formal outcome of the national competition, as Rachel Blackburn notes: “the Lewis & Clark team had won, in my eyes, because we’ll keep these invaluable skills for the rest of our careers. Professor Johnston’s love for coaching is apparent, and we appreciate the positive impact he’s had on this community by never settling for less than excellence.”  

The Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (NELMCC) - held at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York - is “the largest interschool moot court competition of any kind under one roof, regularly attracting 200 competitors from law schools from all over the nation” according to its website.

Each fall, Prof. Johnston teaches the Environmental Advocacy course to second and third-year law students. The class centers on a moot court experience, but includes much more than that. During the first four or five weeks, each student prepares a brief on a particularly thorny environmental problem laid out by Johnston. Over a three-week period, students engage in six rounds of oral argument regarding the problem. The last three of these are competition rounds, which take place in front of a panel of faculty, alums, and practitioners from the community, giving the students the opportunity to practice thinking on their feet and responding to difficult questions and comments.

The top three advocates to emerge from these rounds are offered the chance to participate as part of the Lewis & Clark team for the national environmental law competition.

The national environmental law team writes a brief (due around Thanksgiving) for the competition and begins a series of intense practice rounds – again in front of lawyers from throughout the faculty and community -  in preparation for the competition at Pace.

Each year the team puts in extraordinary hours to achieve mastery of the subject and law, and this year was no different. Ben Scissors says “moot court was the single most challenging and rewarding experience I have had in an academic context. The name ‘moot court’ belies its true impact. Somewhat ironically, it is the realest thing I’ve done in law school. It is a training ground for the world of competent and confident lawyering. Under Professor Johnston’s passionate and intensely focused tutelage, you feel like a lump of clay being molded into something with real form, substance and character. It is process. It is challenge. It is explosive growth. And it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it.”

For more information about the moot court class and competition click here.