News

Maine Law students finish 2nd in national sports law competition at Tulane

March 8, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine – Comparing themselves to a “Cinderella” team in the college basketball tournament, University of Maine School of Law students Joseph Mendes and Rob Connelly knocked off several highly renowned law schools en route to a 2nd place finish last month at the Tulane Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational.

The duo of Mendes and Connelly made it all the way to the seventh and final round of the moot court competition, losing narrowly in the finals to Cardozo Law. The event was held Feb. 26-28 in New Orleans.

“When we advanced to the final four we were absolutely dumbfounded,” Connelly said. “We kept high-fiving and laughing, it was surreal. Many other schools were cheering us on – we gained a reputation real fast down there.”

The annual event is one of the longest running appellate competitions, and the only sports law competition in the nation. Opening rounds were held at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and the final two rounds were held at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. This year’s competition concerned two current issues: whether the First Amendment permits video game companies to use the likeness of college athletes; and whether student-athletes in the NCAA have a right to compensation. Teams were based on written briefs and oral arguments.

Mendes and Connelly, both third-year students at Maine Law, knocked off powerhouse teams including the University of Kansas, Miami School of Law, Wisconsin, and top-ranked Florida Coastal School of Law.

Their interest in the field was sparked when they took a bridge course on sports law last year, taught by sports lawyer and Maine Law alum Paul Greene (’07). Mendes and Connelly heard about the Tulane event from Professor Angela Arey, who teaches legal writing at Maine Law, and they also drew on the expertise and support of classmates and Professor David Cluchey.

“I think everyone in the Maine Law community is very proud of Joe and Rob,” Greene said. “It’s an amazing result from two incredibly talented students.”

Mendes said: “The judges seemed to approve of our charismatic, unscripted arguments. While other teams were rooted to memorized speeches and boilerplate language, we approached each argument saying ‘we’re just going to get up there and talk’ and rely on our distinct ‘trial attorney’ candor and style.”

“Although we didn’t place first, we solidified our school’s reputation and are pleased with our contribution to Maine Law’s moot court program.”

Mendes, 24, is an intern with the firm of Strike, Goodwin & O’Brien, and his goal is to become a criminal defense attorney. Connelly, 28, served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, and his goal is to become a prosecutor. He is an intern at the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

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

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