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 the Program’s Executive Board members and the second-year student participants of the program. During the summer break, the Executive Board extends invitations to forty first-year students to participate in the following year's Program based on their Qualifying Rounds oral argument scores, their grades on their Legal Research, Writing, and Advocacy brief class, and their grade point averages. The students who accept the Executive 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. During the fall semester, participants attend one issue seminar and three writing seminars to help draft their briefs. Participants also work closely with the Executive Board Editors throughout the semester to polish their final drafts.
During the spring semester, all participants present their oral arguments during the Preliminary Rounds. Participants present arguments on behalf of both the Petitioner and Respondent during two separate rounds. In preparation for the Preliminary Rounds, participants attend two oral advocacy clinics and participate in practice oral argument rounds with the Executive Board members’ guidance. 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.
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, United States Circuit Judges, and State Supreme Court Justices. The Final Round judges select the Competition Champion and Runner Up. The Executive Board also presents awards to six participants who have written the best briefs and to one participant and one Board member who have been selected by their peers to receive Outstanding Service Awards.
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, United States Circuit Judges, and State Supreme Court Justices. The Final Round judges select the Competition Champion and Runner Up. The Executive Board also presents awards to numerous participants who have written the best briefs and to one participant and one Board member who have been selected by their peers to receive Outstanding Service Awards.
Third-year students may also participate on the National Moot Court team. The National Team is composed of up to ten students who represent USC Gould School of Law against other law schools in national moot court competitions across the country.
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. As a student, Mr. Lewis served as the Chairman of the Hale Moot Court Board. During his tenure, he materially changed the format of the program. He invited prominent members of the State and Federal Bench to actively participate in the program, and he introduced many other 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.
Three cash prizes, given to the runner-up and the two 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.
Themis Bar Review has generously donated a scholarship for the cost of a bar review course to be awarded to the Champion of the Hale Moot Court Honors Competition.
The runner-up of the Hale Moot Court Honors Competition will also receive a credit towards a bar review course from BARBRI Bar Review.
The Anthony and Susan Taylor Written Advocacy Award recognizes 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.
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.
Each year, the participants of the program are given the opportunity to recognize one participant to receive an outstanding service award, which recognizes an individual who was committed to the ideals of the program and showed enthusiasm in helping others succeed. The participant recipient of the Outstanding Service Award will receive a credit towards a bar review course from BARBRI Bar Review.
The participants also recognize one board member who contributed to the success of the program in exceptional ways, dedicating additional time and effort to guide the participants to success within the program. The board member recipient of the Outstanding Service Award will receive a gift from LexisNexis.
Outstanding Oral Advocacy Award
This award recognizes the highest scoring oral advocates from each side of each issue in the preliminary round. These advocates showed outstanding skill and preparation in the first round of the competition.