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University of Cincinnati College of Law Wins National Moot Court Competition


The University of Cincinnati College of Law Moot Court team of Sarah Kyriakedes and Tony Strike brought home a first place win at the 15th Annual Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition.  The team won the overall competition and Strike won the Final Round Best Advocate Award. The event was held Saturday, March 23, 2013, hosted by the SUNY Buffalo Law School.

Kyriakedes and Strike, who will both graduate this year, have been on the Moot Court Board since their second year of law school after making the team during the Intramural Competition.  (There, Kyriakedes won the Best Overall Score during the competition.) They became partners last year for their first competition: the Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law Moot Court Competition.  (Strike won Best Overall Oralist at this competition.)  In addition, they worked together on the Trial Practice Team for the last two years.

“I got involved in Moot Court, because I wanted to improve my oral advocacy skills,” said Kyriakedes. “After graduation, I always knew that I wanted to be in the court room actively litigating. I knew that Moot Court would give me an opportunity to practice my courtroom etiquette and to grow from the constructive criticism that I received.” 

Strike concurred. “I came to law school in large part because I want to do things in the courtroom and Moot Court is one of the best ways to get that sort of experience. Moot Court is an excellent way to delve into a particular topic and get a sense of the way the law develops.” 

Prepping for the Moot Court Competition

The Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition is one of the leading national moot court competitions in the United States to focus on topics in substantive criminal law. Problems address the constitutionality and interpretation of federal and state criminal statutes as well as general issues in the doctrine of federal and state criminal law.

The Wechsler Competition consisted of two parts: a written brief and oral arguments.  After receiving the material for the brief in January, Kyriakedes and Strike researched and reviewed the issues, dividing responsibilities between the two. Before they began writing their brief, they met with Professor Janet Moore and Professor Christo Lassiter to brainstorm ideas about how to approach the problem. They estimate it took about three weeks to write the 30 page brief. (Meanwhile, they were also practicing for a Trial Practice Competition in February!)

After turning in the brief, they began to prepare for the oral arguments, including weekly meetings to talk through issues and problem spot and weeks of practice “moot sessions.” During these sessions, they basically ran through their arguments as if they were in the actual competition with different people acting as judges to ask questions.  Because the Moot Court Program is a student organization, there aren’t formal coaches. So, the students reached out to professors and attorneys in the community to help them prepare.

“We knew that the best way to get prepared was to soak up all the advice that we could get,” said Kyriakedes.  Judge Patrick Fischer, Hamilton County Court of Appeals, First Appellate District of Ohio; Professor Moore; Donald Caster, an attorney with UC Law’s Ohio Innocence Project; and fellow student Sundeep Mutgi, the Moot Court Executive Director, helped with practice and acted as judges.

Looking Ahead to Life after Moot Court and Law School

Both Kyriakedes and Strike are already making plans for life after law school. Strike has been working part-time at the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office and hopes to continue that full-time after passing the bar. This "new" career of Strike's comes on the heels of a lengthy career in business, including receiving an MBA from Harvard.

Kyriakedes will be moving to Charlotte, North Carolina after graduation. She hopes to work at the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, where she interned this past summer. “It has always been my goal to pursue a career as a public servant, so that I could use my legal education and skills to better the public welfare as a prosecutor.”

Take Note: Recent Moot Court Competition Success

Amy Bedinghaus’14 and Erica Helmle’14: advanced to the quarterfinal round at the Whittier Moot Court Juvenile Law Competition.

Nina Vachhani’13 and Josh Langdon’13: advanced to the octo-final round of the 2013 Cardozo/BMI  Entertainment and Communications Law Competition. Team also had top 10 brief.