CWRU Law successfully completes first virtual Moot Court competition

Photo of Dunmore Moot Court competition contestants and judges.

Every Spring, the law school hosts the Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition, an intramural appellate advocacy tournament where second-and-third year students compete in an NCAA bracket-style competition judged by faculty members, local judges and experienced practitioners.

This year, just eight days before this year’s competition was set to start, the law school and much of the nation were forced to cancel public events due to the coronavirus. But thanks to the efforts of the student Moot Court Board led by 3L Joe Shell, the school ran its first online Dumore Competition, coordinated between dozens of participants and judges across multiple time zones.

“Overnight, we transformed the Law School to remote teaching with very few hiccups. But running a moot court competition online presents difficulties of another magnitude,” said Co-Dean Michael Scharf. “That our students pulled this off is a testament to their perseverance and can-do attitude in these challenging times,” added Co-Dean Jessica Berg.

The online competition began with 38 students. Two weeks and six rounds later, Ali McKenna and Dillon Brown argued in the final before Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly and Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Judges Alice Batchelder and Chad Readler. After a lengthy discussion, the judges voted McKenna the winner, 2-1.


In addition to naming McKenna the winner of the competition, awards were given to Dillon Brown as the runner up, Jesse Wynn for best brief, Natalie Oehlers for best oralist and Melanie King for highest combined score.

“I could not be more proud of the way the Board embraced that challenge and immediately started contacting alumni, appellate practitioners and professors,“ said Shell. “We were determined to continue the Dunmore tradition. That attitude drove everything we did. But no matter how determined we were, the competition would not have happened without the support of the administration, the students and the 74 practitioners, alumni and professors who volunteered their time to judge. We held 53 total arguments over 12 days with no issues.”

While there could only be one winner, the competition’s judges were impressed with the students’ ability to remain focused during the competition, despite its unusual format.

“I was wildly impressed that the students were able to pull this off without a hitch under extremely trying circumstances,” said Eric Lavasseur of Hahn Loeser, who serves as President of the CWRU Law Alumni Association Board. “Truly, truly outstanding!”

“I thought the oral arguments in the Dunmore tournament were great,” said alumni competition judge Kevin Young of Tucker Ellis. “Other than not being in the same room together, we were able, via video, to do the exact same thing we have always done.”

Several of the participating judges and practitioners felt that the success of the 2020 Dunmore Competition will help pave the way for greater online practice of law during these extraordinary times.

Congratulations to all of this year’s contestants and thank you to Moot Court board members Joe Shell, Catherine Cochrane, Abigail Peabody, Vito Giannola and Alex Waid, and faculty adviser Professor Andrew Pollis for making the event possible in the face of so many challenges.