Tiffany Keung L’22 and Apratim Vidyarthi L’22 were announced as the winners of the 13th Annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, presented by the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law. The pair also won “Best Brief.”
“Throughout the process we were incredibly lucky to receive guidance and moot practice from our ABA appointed mentor, Mike Berry at Ballard Spahr, Michael A. Fitts Professor of Law R. Polk Wagner and Visiting Professor of Law Jennifer E. Rothman,” said Keung.
The annual competition helps introduce the practice of media law to minority law students, while also serving to connect participating students with practicing lawyers who are active in the Communications Law Bar. Teams made up of two students are given a set of hypothetical facts surrounding a hypothetical case involving a timely, national issue effecting communications law for which they then prepare and submit an appellate brief.
Competition finalists are offered summer employment opportunities with ABA Forum sponsoring organizations that include top law firms, media companies, and First Amendment nonprofits, as well as cash prizes for best brief, oral argument, and overall winners.
This year’s competition, held entirely remotely, covered topics surrounding traditional media law issues as well as digital media and regulatory advocacy and was judged by partners at top law firms, in-house counsel at major media companies, and members of the judiciary.
“Apratim and I were both interested in this particular moot court competition because it dealt with issues of technology, privacy, and free speech and we both worked in the tech space before law school” said Keung. “Essentially, the fact pattern dealt with whether an online forum user could be held liable for the defamatory allegations made by another anonymous forum user, because the original poster solicited the information, framed things in an inflammatory manner, and reacted with (arguably) affirmative emojis.”
The first round of the competition included a blind judging of the submitted briefs, where the four highest-scoring teams moved on to the semifinal round. The “Best Brief” is awarded to the highest-scoring individual brief, along with a $1,000 cash prize for each team member.
The semifinal led into an oral argument segment where competitors presented their case before a panel of communications lawyers. The four individual competitors with the highest combined brief and oral argument scores moved on to the finals, which consisted of arguing the case before a panel of prominent sitting judges.
“It was a fascinating topic that brought together some of the 1L classes that Apratim and I took together — such as Civil Procedure for the applicability of a state anti-SLAPP statute and Internet Law for questions of Section 230 immunity,” added Keung.
You can watch the full recorded stream of the competition finals here.