The First Year Oral Argument Competition (“FYOA”) is a mandatory competition for first year law students and is held in the spring semester in conjunction with the Legal Research and Appellate Advocacy course. This competition combines the students’ research, writing, and oral advocacy skills and is a great way for the students to receive feedback on all aspects of the appellate process.
The students receive a problem from their Legal Research and Writing professors. Each professor utilizes a different problem, usually exploring an unsettled area of law. This provides the students with an opportunity to research an area of law and prepare a brief on the issue presented. The students are graded on the substance of their arguments and the technical requirements of drafting a brief. In some years, the students are paired for purposes of the brief and argument, giving the students a unique opportunity to collaborate in the process. These briefs are submitted and graded for purposes of the second semester legal writing course.
The oral advocacy competition is based on the same subject matter as the briefs written by the students. While the brief score is not calculated into the competition score, the research and time dedicated to the brief are reflected in the students’ arguments. The students are judged by practicing attorneys, many having appellate advocacy experience. The preliminary rounds last two weeks and challenge the students by requiring the students to argue both sides of the issue. The top students from the preliminary rounds are selected to argue in a final round, judged by Professor Laurie Dore, alumni of Drake's appellate advocacy teams, and the Moot Court Board. The top ten students are recognized for their success.
This competition—along with the C. Edwin Moore Moot Court Competition—is reviewed during the application and selection process for the Skills Teams at Drake Law School.