Southwestern Team Takes Top Honors at National Telecommunications Competition
Southwestern's Andy Owen, Lee Previant, and Celia Beckwith bested 10 other teams from around the country to win the 2008 National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition with the First Place Team Award, and Owen was also named Best Oralist. The competition, held in Washington D.C. in February, was based on telephone regulation and national security issues. The event was cosponsored by the Catholic University of America-Columbus School of Law Institute for Communications Law Studies and the Federal Communications Bar Association.
The team spent their winter break working on the problem. "We represented a wireless telephone company that offered a separate text-messaging service called SubText," Previent said. "Our job was to stop the government, via the FCC, from implementing access standards that would allow law enforcement agencies to plug into the system and obtain call-identifying information."
Working on the brief during the winter break until mid January, the team tackled the challenges of working on what Owen called "the complexity of the issues and the nebulous nature of telecommunications law.... Our wonderful board advisor, Julia Romano, put us on a strict practice round schedule for the entire month. Our brief writer, Celia, did the lion's share of the writing for her excellent brief."
In announcing the team's victory, Professor Michael Epstein, the team's coach, said, "I am very proud of this team. They worked hard to tackle a very difficult problem. The judges, including current and former senior FCC attorneys, offered unanimous praise of our students' oral skills and substantive knowledge.
"I was thrilled to see our school's reputation as a 'telecommunications powerhouse' in evidence at the competition," he said. "Although schools were not identified to judges during the arguments, CUA moot court students reported to me later that a number of judges were 'guessing' that ours was the 'Southwestern Team.' During the awards reception, lawyers from the Federal Communications Bar Association swarmed around our team not only to congratulate them, but to continue to argue the issues. A number of lawyers even asked our students if they would consider summer associate positions in Washington!"
"Our team was calm," Previent said. "We felt very confident in our arguments and knew with all the help from Southwestern's Moot Court Program, Board, and Professors, we were well prepared."
Owen attributes the outstanding preparation the team received from Professor Epstein as well as the coaches. He also attributes his success as Best Oralist to the foundation of his moot court experience: LAWS. "Another thing that may have given me an edge was not using any notes. It was something that Professor Graver, my second semester LAWS professor, said would help an oralist because it would allow you to really focus on the judges' questions and treat the interaction more like a conversation."