Eighth Annual Williams Institute Moot Court Competition, Preliminary Rounds (*Previous Competition)

Eighth Annual Williams Institute Moot Court Competition, Preliminary Rounds (*previous competition)
UCLA School of Law
March 10, 2012

Click here for the 2013 Moot Court Competition.


Now in its eighth year, the Williams Institute hosts the only national competition dedicated exclusively to the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity law.  The competition provides an opportunity for competitors to write an appellate brief on a current legal topic and to argue the case before a panel of judges.  The competition is designed to promote and recognize the finest oral and written advocacy on a significant problem in sexual orientation and gender identity law.

Competition History & Previous Winners

In March 2011, 26 teams addressed the question of affirmative action with respect to sexual orientation. U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, Delaware Supreme Court Justice Jack Jacobs, and Oregon Supreme Court Associate Justice Rives Kistler (pictured left) presided over the final round of competition during the Williams Institute’s 10th Anniversary Update and Celebration in April 2011. The two final teams were from UC Davis School of Law.

In January 2010, 29 teams addressed the question of religious liberty and LGBT rights.  Justice Carol A. Beier, Kansas Supreme Court, Justice Joette Katz, Connecticut Supreme Court, and Justice Steven Z. Perren, California Court of Appeal, presided over the final round of competition. For the second year in a row, Florida Coastal School of Law competed in the final round.  The University of Illinois won the competition.

In February 2009, 26 teams argued for and against the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein, Georgia Supreme Court, Justice Virginia L. Linder, Oregon Supreme Court, and Justice Patricio M. Serna, New Mexico Supreme Court, presided over the final round of competition.  Teams from NYU and Florida Coastal School of Law competed in the final round. Florida Coastal won the competition.

In February 2008, 26 team competed against each other over the topic of gay-straight alliances in public schools.  The Honorable Vice Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Arizona Supreme Court, the Honorable Justice James Graves, Mississippi Supreme Court, and the Honorable Jean Dubofsky, former Justice, Colorado Supreme Court, presided.  The UC Davis team won the competition, along with the award for best oral argument. The UCLA team took home the award for best brief.

In 2007, 22 teams from across the country briefed and argued the constitutionality of restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children. The Honorable Justices Susan Owens and Barbara Madsen from the Washington State Supreme Court presided over the Final Round along with Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Fisher. Teams from UConn and NYU faced off in the Final Round, and NYU won.

In 2006, 17 teams dealt with the problem of same-sex marriage. Teams from UC Davis and Syracuse University advanced to the final round and argued in front of Steven Levinson of the Hawaii Supreme Court, J. Spencer Letts and Dean Pregerson both from the US District Court of the Central District of California.  Syracuse University won the competition.

In February 2005, 13 teams from 11 schools argued for and against recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.  Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt presided over the final round of competition.  The team from Chicago-Kent College of Law won the competition.

Upcoming Competition

The upcoming competition will take place over the course of two weekends.  Four rounds of arguments, two preliminary rounds, a quarterfinal and semifinal round will take place on Saturday, March 10, 2012.  The final round will take place on Friday, April 13, 2012 during the Williams Institute’s 11th Annual Update.  The Williams Institute will cover finalists’ travel expenses for the final round. All events will take place at the UCLA School of Law.

During the preliminary rounds, teams will have the opportunity to argue both on brief and off brief, thus guaranteeing each team a minimum of two rounds of arguments.  Scoring for the preliminary rounds will be based on the written brief and both rounds of oral arguments.  The top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals and from there the top four teams will move on to the semifinals with the two highest scoring teams invited to compete in the final round. Scoring in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds will be based only on oral arguments.


Each team may consist of two or three members. If a team has three members, all must argue in the competition but only two may argue in any given round.


The winning team will receive a prize of $500.  Prizes of $200 will also be given for the best brief and the best oral advocate.


To register for the competition, please complete the registration form and return it along with a non-refundable registration fee of $300 (checks payable to “Williams Institute/UC Regents”). Your registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch, and a closing reception for all student participants and their coaches on the day of the competition.  Registration will open on October 31, 2011 and close on December 1, 2011. There is a limit of 30 teams for this competition and each school may enter one or two teams.  If more than 30 teams register, one team from each school will be guaranteed a slot and the remaining slots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, so register early if your school plans on sending two teams!

Judicial Education Program

The Competition seeks to expose law students, lawyers, and judges to sexual orientation and gender identity-related legal topics.  To that end, the Competition’s Judicial Education Program encourages teams to practice their oral arguments before sitting state and federal court judges.  If a team adopts such a strategy, the Williams Institute will pay the team $100 per judge, up to a maximum of five judges.  To claim the money, teams must submit a completed Certification of Oral Argument Practice form to the registration desk the day of the preliminary competition.

Official 2011-2012 Rules

Sample Score Sheets

These sample score sheets are intended to provide guidance as to the scoring criteria for the written brief and oral rounds of competition.  The Executive Board reserves the right to modify the score sheets.

Brief Scoring Sheet & Oral Scoring Sheet


The 2011-2012 problem will be posted on December 15, 2011.  Access information will be emailed to all registered teams.


A block of rooms has been reserved at the UCLA Guest House, which is a short walking distance to the UCLA School of Law. Click here for room rates. To make a reservation, please call (310) 825-2923. The room block is under “8th Annual Williams Institute Moot Court Competition.” The deadline to make a reservation is February 1, 2012. All room and hotel charges are the responsibility of hotel guests.

Click here for additional places to stay in the immediate area. Make sure to mention UCLA when making your reservation as many of the hotels listed offer a discount for UCLA visitors.  Please keep in mind that the listed prices are subject to change.

Contact Information

For additional information or questions regarding the competition please email: WilliamsMootCourt@law.ucla.edu

We look forward to hearing from you and to your participation in our competition!

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