Moot Court Holds on to #1 Ranking

UC Hastings Law’s storied Moot Court Team finished the fall semester with a win streak, holding on to its #1 national ranking for the third straight semester.

The discipline of dozens of student competitors and their 45 alumni coaches—who practiced multiple times a week over several months—paid off with the #1 ranking. The ranking’s point system factors in the number and placement of wins at nationwide competitions.

For example, 3L Zhi Yang Tan and 2L Zoe Gallagher aced the Wechsler First Amendment Competition, giving the team its first national championship of the 21-22 season. Mark D’Argenio (’05) and 3L student Nikayla Johnson coached. Other teams made strong showings in four other fall contests to put the UC Hastings team ahead of 21 other schools.

“Hastings is lucky in that we have an incredible pool of talent, and we have an amazing reputation,” says Senior Assistant Dean and Adjunct Professor Toni Young (’76), the program’s longtime leader. The team has consistently placed in the top 10 for about three decades. In Fall 2020, the team clinched the enviable #1 spot and has shown no sign of letting it go ever since.

Madison Boucher (’21) said she got hooked on the program from her first competition in the first semester of her second year. In her third year, she became a co-chair and helped the program transition to Zoom. As everything moved online, moot court oral argument practices gave her the welcome chance to meet new people and interact with both students and coaches.

“I loved it,” she says. “It was an opportunity to stay connected during an isolated time.” Her grades improved, too. When it came time to take the bar exam, she realized she could draw on many of the skills she learned, like applying the law to facts and writing concisely. The competitions also exposed her to many different areas of the law. When she saw a question on the exam about criminal search and seizure involving a cell phone, she breathed a sigh of relief. That subject had come up at several competitions, which boosted her confidence during the exam.

With bar passage in hand, Boucher is now working two jobs that she landed thanks to Moot Court connections. As an academic program coordinator at UC Hastings, she works for Young preparing legal research and writing coursework for 1Ls. She also works for Typelaw, a service for lawyers to format and finalize their briefs for court filing. Christopher Dalla (’20) founded the startup.

Academic Dean Morris Ratner congratulated the Hastings Moot Court team. He credited Young’s inspiring leadership, along with effort put in by the students and dedicated alumni and student mentors and coaches.

“Moot Court has intrinsic value as an educational experience,” Ratner says. “Participation correlates with higher bar passage rates and positive employment outcomes. But it’s also nice to know that we are the best.”