What to Expect
The Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition is sponsored by the International Trademark Association (INTA), and typically involves a problem posing multiple issues of trademark and unfair competition law. Members of Gonzaga’s Saul Lefkowitz moot court team win at competition, become part of the team’s extensive legal community, and become practitioners of appellate trademark and unfair competition law.
Part of being a member of Gonzaga’s Saul Lefkowitz moot court team is a tradition of success. Gonzaga has consistently won awards in this competition, including one national Best Brief, three national second-best briefs, one western regional best oral argument, one western regional third-place finish, two western regional second-place finishes, and one western regional first-place finish. Gonzaga has advanced to the national finals in 2011, 2019, and 2020 – finishing second in the nation in 2011.
This moot court team’s community is a tight-knit group of current and former participants. Many local attorneys, working at various Spokane law firms, return each year to participate as judges for the team’s oral argument practice sessions. Being a member of this team opens to participants a wide-reaching professional network and provides common ground with many of the area’s top intellectual property attorneys.
Members of Gonzaga’s Saul Lefkowitz team are expected to invest long hours of hard work, attend team meetings and practices without exception, and work alongside other students committed to succeeding at the competition. In return, members achieve deep knowledge of the complex workings of trademark and unfair competition law, become experts in of the law within the scope of the competition problem, and gain practical appellate-level litigation experience unmatched by any other law school experience.
Before the Competition
Gonzaga typically enters two teams in the Saul Lefkowitz competition. Each team has three to four members. This competition is open to all students. It is recommended that participants be 2L or 3L students who have taken (or are enrolled in) Legal Research and Writing III and Intellectual Property. Interested students should also plan to attend the team’s annual open practice night, where the teams hone their arguments before local attorneys acting as mock judges. It is an excellent opportunity for students to ask questions of the team members, connect with area attorneys, and meet the team’s coach, the individual who selects the next year’s group of competitors.
Potential competitors join Gonzaga’s Saul Lefkowitz moot court team through an application and interview process at the end of the academic year. Team members are selected primarily based on achievements and skills that evidence excellence in legal writing and oral presentation abilities. Excellence in legal writing, which is most critical in terms of selection criteria, is best shown by LRW grades, although law school grades generally (GPA and class rank), undergraduate or graduate writing recognition, and similar achievements are probative.
An applicant’s personal statement expressing why she or he is interested in participating in the Saul Lefkowitz competition is evaluated as a demonstration of writing skills. Oral presentation abilities are demonstrated by success in prior oral advocacy settings, including Linden Cup, the 1L oral advocacy competition(s), other inter-school moot court competitions, and college debate experience.
Once the teams are selected, the competitors immediately begin preparing for the competition. From May until September, the competitors become deeply familiar with trademark and unfair competition law. Weekly meetings with the team’s coach begin shortly after school begins and conclude before the problem is released.
At the Competition
Gonzaga competes in the Western Region, and oral arguments for the Western Region are held at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The top two teams from each region go on to compete in the national finals at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. in March.
INTA typically releases the problem by the end of September. Briefs are due on the first week of January. The oral arguments are held in early to mid-February. Competitors work independently on their briefs from the day the problem is released to the day the briefs are due. Once the briefs have been submitted, the teams begin preparing in earnest for oral argument. Oral argument practices are held twice a week until the competition. In these practices, competitors present their arguments before local intellectual property attorneys acting as mock judges.
In February, the teams travel to San Francisco to present their oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before Bay Area attorneys acting as mock judges. These attorneys are sourced from many of the area’s most prestigious businesses and law firms. At the conclusion of the oral arguments, a reception is held where competitors network with these attorneys and professionals. The awards ceremony follows the reception.
In deciding the winning teams for each region, INTA awards equal weight to the written brief and the oral argument performance of the team. INTA recognizes with awards the regional winners, the second-place teams in each region, the best brief in the region, the best oral argument in the region. INTA also recognizes with awards the national winning team, the best oralist team in the nation, the best brief in the nation, and the second-best brief in the nation.
Participating in the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition is an exceptional opportunity for any student interested in intellectual property. Joining this team has propelled many Gonzaga Law students to professional success, in both intellectual property and other arenas of law. We invite all who are interested to apply. Come join one of the top moot court teams at Gonzaga.