Ames Moot Court Competition




Dear Second-Year Students,


Welcome back to HLS. I hope you all enjoyed your summer and are looking forward to your second year of law school.


As second year students, you have the opportunity to compete in the Upper Level Ames Moot Court Competition, which is administered by the Board of Student Advisers. The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. Past Ames Competition winners include Professor Cass Sunstein, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Judge Henry Friendly and Justice Harry Blackmun. We hope that you join the illustrious ranks of Ames Participants.


Included below are further details regarding the Upper Level Moot Court:


1.       Structure of the Competition

2.       Assembling Your Team

3.       How to Register

4.       Important Dates


I encourage you to join this unique academic tradition by participating in the competition. Please send any questions or concerns to We will also be holding an information meeting on September 12 in Langdell North to provide you more information. I look forward to seeing all of you there.


Best regards,


Jeffery Habenicht

Vice President, Ames Moot Court Program

Board of Student Advisers

Harvard Law School





1. Structure of the Competition


The Upper Level Ames Moot Court Competition consists of three rounds. The first round is known as the Qualifying Round or “Q-Round.” Each Q-Round team consists of four (4) team members who will write an Appellant brief. If the team advances to the second phase, the four team members will then write two Appellee briefs. Teams advancing to the second phase will also participate in oral arguments.


For oral arguments, teams will divide themselves into two pairs. One pair will represent the Appellant and the other pair will represent the Appellee. Each pair will argue twice: each Appellant pair against two Appellee pairs and each Appellee pair against two Appellant pairs. Q-Round scores will be based on points assigned to each team’s Appellant brief, Appellee briefs, and Oral Arguments. The four highest-scoring teams in the Q-Round will advance to the Semi-Final Round.


The Semi-Final Round presents the unique opportunity for students to brief and argue an appellate case for a panel of distinguished jurists in front of the Harvard Law School community. In 2011 the Semi-Final Round judges included, among others, Judge Kermit Lipez of the First Circuit, Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr. of the Third Circuit, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the Eastern District of New York, and Judge Nancy Gertner of the District of Massachusetts.


The winning team in each Semi-Final Round argument will advance to the Final Round of the Ames Competition. In the past, the Final Round has been judged by Supreme Court Justices and other distinguished jurists from appellate circuits and state supreme courts. Last year the Final Round judges were Chief Justice John Roberts, Judge Diana Murphy of the Eighth Circuit, and Judge Julia Smith-Gibbons of the Sixth Circuit.


2. Assembling Your Team


The first step in the Ames process is assembling a team of four students. Team members must be second-year law students or joint-degree students currently enrolled in their first year of post-1L law school classes at HLS.


Feel free to create your team in any way you see fit: talking to friends, emailing section makes, or chatting up complete strangers at Starbucks. Students who wish to participate, but who do not have a team or who only have a partial team can also use the Q-Round Ames online forum to form a group. The forum can be accessed HERE. This forum is intended to allow 2Ls (both individuals and partial teams) to connect with other interested participants.


3. How to Register for the Competition


Students who are interested in the Competition should plan to attend an INFORMATIONAL MEETING on Wednesday, September 12th, at 12:00 PM in Langdell North. The meeting will discuss how to register for Q-Round, the logistics of competing in Q-Round, and will provide an opportunity for potential participants to ask any remaining questions they may have. The BSA will also distribute registration forms and copies of the official rules at this meeting. Students who cannot attend the informational meeting may instead ask a potential team member to attend, or may access the registration form and the official rules online at:


Registration forms listing complete teams of four (4) students must be submitted to the BSA Office via hardcopy by 5:00 pm on Monday, September 17th. Teams must also register online at by the registration deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances.



4. Important Dates for Registered Teams


The case record will be distributed to registered teams on Tuesday, September 18th at noon. Appellant briefs will be due on Friday, October 19th by 5:00 pm. A team will not be permitted to withdraw from the Competition once it has submitted its Appellant brief.


On Monday, October 22nd, teams will told whether they have advanced to the second phase of Q-Round. Those teams that advance to the second phase of Q-Round must submit their two Appellee briefs by Monday, October 29th. Advancing teams will participate in oral arguments on Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday, November 14th. Judges for the Q-Round oral arguments include esteemed judges and practitioners from around the Boston area, as well as HLS faculty.



I encourage you to join this unique academic tradition by participating in the competition. Please send any questions or concerns to I look forward to meeting you at the informational meeting on September 12th.

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