For the fourth consecutive year, a team of University of Colorado Law School students took first place at the Federal Communications Bar Association National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition on February 24 and 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
The team, comprised of Alex Kimata (’18), Gabrielle Palanca (’17), and Mike Stegman (’17), received awards for “Best Brief” and “Best Argument.” Kimata was also recognized with the “Best Oralist” honor.
This year’s win continues a distinguished tradition at Colorado Law, which has now landed the national title in this competition four years in a row and five years out of the last seven, with first-place wins in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
“I was overjoyed that we delivered a fourth consecutive win for Colorado Law,” Palanca said. “It demonstrates what a tremendous resource the school has in its telecommunications law faculty and attorney networks.”
Net neutrality was the topic of this year's problem, which involved interpretation of the FCC's Open Internet regulations.
The team prepared by practicing arguments in front of volunteer judges, who included telecommunications and energy attorney Becky DeCook (Moye White LLP); Tom Dixon, first assistant attorney general, Colorado Office of the Attorney General; and Professor Amy Bauer. The team’s final practice took place at the Colorado Supreme Court and was presided over by Justice Richard Gabriel.
“The students’ hard work and preparation over the last several weeks was really something special to see, and we could not be prouder of their accomplishments,” said Assistant Clinical Professor Blake Reid (’10), who coached the team along with Silicon Flatirons fellows Bill Levis and Ken Fellman.
"The coaches for our team were fantastic and helped us prepare tremendously," Kimata said. "Blake Reid, Ken Fellman, and Bill Levis specifically helped moot us every Wednesday and spent as much time as we needed to ensure that we were prepared for the argument. Furthermore, Justice Gabriel of the Colorado Supreme Court was exceptionally generous and mooted us in the Colorado Supreme Court to both give us a different perspective and get all the jitters out before we did the competition."
“Volunteer judges would interrupt our arguments to pose questions, just as they do in the real competition,” Palanca said. “Because there was at least one new face each week, I was consistently asked questions I'd never considered, which helped me refine my argument and improve my ability to think on my feet.”
In its 23rd year, the National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition provides students the opportunity to argue before private and government practitioners in the communications field. Each year, the competition problem, which is written by members of the FCBA, is “ripped from the headlines” of current technology, intellectual property, and telecommunications issues.
Pictured (L-R): Mike Stegman ('17), Gabrielle Palanca ('17), Alex Kimata ('18)