Soon after Harvard Law School was founded in 1817, Harvard Law students began meeting in clubs to practice arguing cases. The first law club, known as the Marshall Club, started about 1825 and claimed future U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes LL.B. 1845 as one of its members. In 1911, a bequest in honor of the late Dean James Barr Ames LL.B. 1872 established a formal competition awarding prizes to the most successful oralists and teams. For more than 100 years of the Ames Moot Court Competition, students have stood before an illustrious panel of distinguished jurists to demonstrate their skills in oral argument.

This year, in honor of the law school’s bicentennial, the Hon. John G. Roberts Jr. ’79, Chief Justice of the United States, presided over the final round of Harvard Law School’s 2017 Ames Moot Court Competition, on Nov. 14. It was the second time the Chief Justice has presided over the prestigious competition, having first joined the Ames bench in 2010.

In fact, Roberts has lately become a regular presence on the HLS campus. In October, he joined Dean John Manning ’85 and Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy ’61, Stephen G. Breyer ’64, Elena Kagan ’86, Neil Gorsuch ’91; and Retired Associate Justice David H. Souter ’66 for an historic talk at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre for Harvard Law School’s Bicentennial Summit. Hours before this year’s Ames Competiton, he participated in a panel discussion on appellate advocacy with Supreme Court advocates Lawrence Robbins ’78, partner, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber; Kathleen Sullivan ’81, partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Elizabeth Prelogar ’08, assistant to the Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice; and moderator Richard Lazarus of the HLS faculty.

Joining Roberts for this year’s Ames Competition were Judge Debra Ann Livingston ’84 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Judge Carl E. Stewart of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Before a standing-room-only crowd, two teams of 3Ls, the John Hart Ely Memorial Team and the Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team, competed for the coveted recognition of their advocacy skills. Team members included:

The John Hart Ely Memorial Team (Petitioner)
David Beylik
Jason Ethridge (Oralist)
Jenya Godina
Isaac Park
David Phillips (Oralist)
Derek Reinbold

The Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team (Respondent)
Frederick Ding (Oralist)
Vivian Dong
Henry Druschel
Lydia Lichlyter (Oralist)
Raeesa Munshi
William Schmidt

During the event, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review hosted a liveblog of the Ames arguments.

After rounds of questioning and considered deliberation, the judges returned with their final decisions. They awarded the Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team Best Overall Team and Best Brief. David Phillips, of the John Hart Ely Memorial Team, was named Best Oralist.

Gallery: The 2017 Ames Moot Court Competition

This year’s case was Dylan Bloom v. United States of America. A summary of the case and the briefs submitted by the finalist teams for the Final Round are posted on Harvard Law School’s Board of Student Advisers website.

The Ames Competition, held in the historic Ames Courtroom of Harvard Law School, is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. The students participating in the Final Round started the competition in fall of their 2L year.

The Ames Moot Court competition is administered by the HLS Board of Student Advisers (BSA). A list of past winners of the competition is available on the Board of Student Advisers website.