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Hale Moot Court Honors Program

The Hale Moot Court Honors Program, founded in 1948, provides students with an opportunity to develop their written and oral advocacy skills. Participants gain invaluable experience by engaging in oral arguments before judges and practicing attorneys and by drafting their own appellate briefs.

Each spring, all first-year students are invited to compete in Qualifying Rounds conducted by current Executive Board members and the second-year student participants of the Program. During the summer break, the Executive Board then extends invitations to forty first-year students to participate in the next year's Program based on their oral argument scores, their grade on a brief from the Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy class, and their grade point averages. The students who accept the Board's invitation become participants in the Hale Moot Court Honors Program as second-year students.

Each Hale Moot Court Honors Program Competition involves two issues, and every participant drafts an appellate brief on behalf of either the Petitioner or Respondent regarding one of the two issues. In the oral argument portion of the Preliminary Rounds, participants present arguments on behalf of both the Petitioner and Respondent during two separate rounds. During the fall semester, to help them draft their briefs, participants attend an issue clinic and work with Executive Board Editors to create a polished final draft. In preparation for the Preliminary Rounds, they attend an oral advocacy clinic and participate in practice oral argument rounds with Executive Board members. Participants ultimately present their arguments before three-person panels of state and federal judges, experienced attorneys, and faculty members. Based on their Preliminary Round oral argument scores and their appellate brief scores, sixteen of the forty participants are chosen to advance to the Quarterfinal Round. Participants who advance choose their issue and side through a lottery selection for each subsequent round.

During the spring semester, the sixteen Quarterfinalists present their oral arguments and eight participants are chosen for the Semifinal Round. The Competition culminates in March of each year, with four participants competing in the Final Round. The Final Round takes place before a panel of three distinguished judges from across the country, in front of an audience of the participants' peers, professors, and members of the community. Past Final Round judges have included United States Supreme Court Justices, State Supreme Court Justices, and United States Circuit Court Judges. The Final Round judges select the Competition Champion. The Executive Board also presents awards to six participants who have written the best briefs.

At the end of the academic year, participants may apply for positions on the next year's Executive Board. Third-year students on the Executive Board administer the next Hale Moot Court Honors Program.

Third years may also participate on the National Moot Court team. The National Team is composed of third-year students who represent USC Law in competitions against other law students in moot court competitions across the country.

Hale Moot Court Honors Program Awards

Edward G. Lewis Champion Award

A cash prize is awarded each year to the Champion of the Hale Moot Court Honors Competition. The prize was endowed through a generous contribution from Edward G. Lewis, Class of 1970, as part of the Edward G. Lewis Hale Moot Court Honors Program Fund. Mr. Lewis as a student served as the Chairman of the Hale Moot Court Board and materially changed the format of the program from its previous form. He invited prominent members of the State and Federal bench who actively participated in the program, and he introduced many innovations, which are still in place today. Under his leadership, the program was greatly enhanced and for the first time in the history of the law school, a Justice of the United States Supreme Court officiated over the final round of the competition. After a successful career in private practice, Mr. Lewis has devoted his efforts to strengthening both USC and the Gould School of Law. In addition to endowing a chair at the Gould School of Law, Mr. Lewis is also a charter member of the Widney Society, a member of the Gould School's Board of Councilors, The Committee, and a Chairman member of USC Associates.

Judge E. Avery Crary Awards

Three cash prizes, given to the other finalists, are presented each year in honor of Judge E. Avery Crary, Class of 1929, who served with distinction on both the Los Angeles Superior Court and the U.S. District Court. Judge Crary was also partner in the firm of Meserve, Mumper & Hughes until his appointment to the bench. He served frequently as a panel judge in the annual competitions, and his enthusiastic support of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program was instrumental in the Program's development and success.

The BAR/BRI Award

California BAR/BRI Bar Review has generously donated a scholarship for half the cost of a bar review course to be awarded to the Champion of the Hale Moot Court Honors Competition.

Fox Rothschild LLP Written Advocacy Awards

The Fox Rothschild LLP Best Brief Awards recognize four students from the competition who have demonstrated truly superlative abilities in the field of written advocacy. Cash prizes are presented to the four participants who wrote the best brief for each party on each of the competition's two issues.

LexisNexis Written Advocacy Awards

Two runner-up awards are presented to the participants who received the next highest brief scores on each issue, regardless of which party they represented.

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