A student moot court team from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa swept the finals in the leading Intellectual Property Law competition last weekend to capture two top titles against some of the most elite law schools in the nation.
The four-member team – comprised of Andrea Maglasang-Miller, Nikki Yamauchi, Shirley Lou-Magnuson, and Avery Matro – took “Best Oralist Team” and “Best Overall Team” awards in the IP Moot Court National Championship.
Professor Danielle M. Conway, one of several team advisor/coaches, called it an “heroic win” for the UH Mānoa team. Conway is the Michael J. Marks Distinguished Professor of Law at the UH Mānoa Law School.
Hawai‘i went head to head with Georgetown University Law Center, ranked 14 by U.S. News & World Report, and Georgia State University College of Law, ranked 54th. Other schools competing in the finals included Brooklyn Law School, the University of Iowa, Northwestern University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Washington.
The Hawai‘i team had already “made history by sweeping all three categories at the Regional competition – Best Brief, Best Oral Argument, and Best Overall Team,” said Conway, noting that it was “a feat no other team has done in the 22-year history of the competition.”
The team had a powerful line-up of coach/advisors, in addition to Professor Conway, including: Sayoko Blodgett-Ford, Lecturer-in-law and Partner at GTC Law Group & Associates in Boston and California who recently served as senior manager of the Intellectual Property Group at Nintendo of America Inc.; and Martin S. Loui, Intellectual Property Counsel at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, LLP. His law firm sponsored the two UH Mānoa teams.
Additionally the teams were coached by Judge Richard Clifton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and by Justice Sabrina McKenna, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawai‘i. She is a Richardson Law School graduate.
In a quick email to their coaches after their win, the four team members thanked them effusively, saying “We truly could not have made it this far without all of your help, guidance, teaching, and confidence in us.” They added, “We are thrilled.”
Law Dean Avi Soifer had high praise for the team, noting that it “did us proud” – particularly since the Law School is so new to the competition.
Soifer stated, “Intellectual property is a vitally important area of law of increasing significance around the world and in Hawai‘i. It is really quite something – and a real tribute to all the students and their coaches – that only a few years after we first entered this competition, all our students did so well and one team took the highest honors.”
Conway, too, had high praise for the students.
“The unprecedented win at the Regional and National levels of competition put our Law School and our law students on the radar of some very distinguished intellectual property-related organizations and academic institutions,” said Conway. “The teams’ successes in this competition demonstrate that University of Hawai‘i law students are capable and willing to navigate the complicated, comprehensive, risky, yet rewarding, practice of intellectual property law.”
Conway said the students first compete for a slot on one of the two Intellectual Property Moot Court teams.
“These students then typically commit the entire academic year to the team by enrolling in the Intellectual Property Law course, researching and writing an appellate brief, practicing oral argument three times a week in advance of the regional competition, and then devoting the same amount of preparation for the national competition,” she said.
The annual Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition, named after the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, is sponsored by the International Trademark Association, a global association of over 5,900 trademark owners and professionals. It is the only moot court competition devoted exclusively to trademark law and related rights. Because INTA is a prestigious organization, many elite law schools with high profile intellectual property law programs routinely compete.