News

Moot Court teams prepare for national competition

March 1, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine – Four Maine Law students will travel to New York this month to test their skills against other top students at the only national moot court competition devoted to bankruptcy law.

The annual Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition will be held in New York City March 10-12, with opening rounds at St. John’s School of Law in Queens, and final rounds at the U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in Brooklyn. The competition wraps up with a gala awards banquet in Manhattan, which attracts a crowd of more than 1,000 bankruptcy lawyers and judges from New York and beyond.

Maine Law will send two teams to the competition: Bill Olver and Laura Rideout; and Eric Bither and Tudor Goldsmith. All are third-year students. This is the 8th consecutive year that Maine has sent teams to the event. The tradition began under the direction of Lois Lupica, a Maine Law professor and an expert on bankruptcy law. “Students consistently have told me that this is the best experience they have had in law school,” said Lupica, who serves as faculty advisor for the teams. “They are thrown into a world of real-world brief writing. It forces them to grapple with the most complex issues of bankruptcy.”

The competition, jointly sponsored by St. John’s School of Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute, is the largest single-site moot court competition in the country. A total of 56 teams, representing about 40 law schools, will converge at St. John’s this year. Maine’s team will have at least three opportunities to present oral arguments in front of the judges. The 16 teams with the highest scores will advance to compete in further rounds. In the past eight years, one team from Maine law has advanced to the round of 16.

Peter Fessenden (’74), the Standing Chapter 13 Trustee for the District of Maine, has coached the Maine Law Duberstein Competition teams for the past seven years. He will drive the students to New York and guide them through the competition.

“The students are very impressive,” Fessenden said. “They’ve practiced in front of most of the bankruptcy practitioners in Southern Maine, in their law offices. My ambition is to get as deep as we can, but you never know. It’s a tough competition.”

The students will hold a final practice session on March 7 at the Law Court courtroom in Portland. Guest judges will be Leigh Saufley (’80), chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court; U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen; and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Haines.

Maine Law teams are financially supported by the local bankruptcy bar. Robert Keach (’80) of Bernstein Shur has spearheaded the fundraising.

“For the local bar to have stepped up in the ways that they have, it says a lot about the community here and the character of the lawyers,” Lupica said.

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Media contact: Trevor Maxwell, communications director at Maine Law
Office: 207-228-8037/ Cell: 207-286-4431/ email: tmaxwell@usm.maine.edu