Primer on Organizing Moot Court Teams for the Duberstein Competition

Primer on Organizing Moot Court Teams for the Duberstein Competition

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Since 1996, Mississippi's two law schools have sent teams to the Judge Conrad B. Duberstein Moot Court Competition, co-sponsored by ABI and St. John's University School of Law. The participation of the schools was made possible by the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference Inc. (MBC), a non-profit organization of insolvency professionals. In recent years, MBC has donated $3,000 per team to the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson and the University of Mississippi Law School in Oxford. Both schools have been very successful in the Duberstein Competition.

Other bankruptcy bar groups have followed the Mississippi model and organized moot court teams for their law schools. For the 1999 competition, a record 22 teams participated, a number of which were sponsored by local or state bankruptcy bar groups. Participation in the Duberstein Competition is a highly rewarding experience, not only for the students‹and future practitioners‹but for those who help the students reach the competition. A winning game plan for successfully organizing a Duberstein moot court team follows.

  1. Raise the money first. It is difficult for law schools to fund another moot court competition from the law school's already-stretched budget. Therefore, it is best to seek outside funding first from the bar. The Mississippi law schools have found the $3,000-per-team financial commitment from the MBC to be adequate.
  2. Identify a bankruptcy professor. In order to obtain the support from the law school administration and students, it is important to find a bankruptcy professor who is interested in committing time to the Duberstein Competition. With the funding in hand, the bankruptcy professor can meet with the appropriate members of the law school administration. Once approved, the bankruptcy professor can determine the best method for selecting which students will compete.
  3. Bar support. Once the law school decides to accept the funding and participate in the Duberstein Competition, it is important for the local bankruptcy practitioners to become involved and assist the bankruptcy professor in coaching the team and judging practice rounds. In Mississippi, attorneys in Oxford and Jackson have assisted the two law schools. The practice culminates in a face-off between the University of Mississippi team and the Mississippi College team. This year, Hon. David W. Houston III (N.D. Miss.), Hon. Edward Ellington (S.D. Miss.) and Hon. Edward R. Gaines (S.D. Miss.) judged an intrastate competition held at the Mississippi Supreme Court, and MBC members were invited to attend. The students enjoyed the competition and received some valuable comments from these bankruptcy judges.

This type of partnership between bankruptcy practitioners and law schools enhances the standing of bankruptcy law as an academic subject and a practice area. Use this tested game plan and organize a team in your community. You will find the experience most rewarding.

Journal Date: 
Wednesday, September 1, 1999