Maine Law team takes home best brief in international Moot Court competition

What should be done about an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot making insensitive remarks to users expressing mental health issues on the platform?

This was the question posed to teams competing in this year’s Helsinki Information Law Moot Court, an international competition held each year in Helsinki, Finland. While the competition has an international flavor, for the past several years, Maine Law’s team has been the only U.S. team in attendance.

Will Simpson (far left), Devin Forbush, Justin Weiss, Sophia Paslaski, and Deirdre Sullivan in Helsinki with their award.

And for the second year in a row, Maine Law brought home the prize for best brief. Will Simpson (2L), Raaid Bakridi (2L), Sophia Paslaski (2L), Devin Forbush (3L), and Deirdre Sullivan (3L) made up this year’s team roster.

Scott Bloomberg, Associate Professor, Directory of the Information Privacy Law Certificate Program and one of the team’s coaches, pointed out the level of skill and research it took to compete in a European-based competition, never mind taking home the best brief accolade. 

“The team’s success speaks to the strength of Maine Law’s information privacy law program and also to the individual skill of these students,” he said. “Moot court in a European setting looks very different than in the U.S., not to mention students had to become intimately familiar with the GDPR- the European Union’s comprehensive privacy law. All of this makes their success doubly impressive.”

The team was also coached by Gabe Maldoff, an Associate at Goodwin Law, and Joe Jones, Director of Research and Insights for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

Forbush was drawn to the program in his first year of law school because of its excellent reputation and the speed at which privacy law develops. This year’s problem was a prime example, he said, of the relevancy and fast pace of the field.

“Since I started law school, AI has developed into a massive issue in the field,” he added. “Given that technology continues to develop at an expedited pace, a massive need for competent attorneys in the space has emerged. As emerging lawyers specializing in information privacy and data protection, you hold the power to create a substantial impact within the field, tackling new and dynamic issues that change day-to-day.”

For Forbush and the other members of the team, this is what drew them to the field of information privacy law and moot court. Additionally, they enjoy gaining fluency in law and regulations outside of the U.S.

This was Sullivan’s second year competing on the Helsinki Moot Court team, an experience that has benefited her in tangible ways. “The opportunity to work with European law and the GDPR while in law school has been invaluable,” she explained. “Data protection law is not as defined by borders as other areas of the law, thus my experience with the Helsinki competition has been super helpful in my internship and work experiences.” 

Simpson agreed, adding that the skills gained through this year’s competition have been helpful  for  his experiential learning endeavors, such as his externship with Match Group, the company behind dating apps like Tinder and Hinge.

Trevor Hughes, President and CEO of IAPP, and Justin Weiss, Associate General Counsel with Naspers Limited, attended the competition this year. In addition to being leaders in the field of international privacy law, they are also Maine Law alumni. Both expressed their deep regard for the performance of their alma mater’s team.

“Justin and I are very committed to building the brand of Maine Law as a global center for excellence in privacy law,” Hughes said. “Engaged and professional students doing great things on big stages makes that brand a reality.”