The power of a good argument and a couple of pairs of leopard shoes helped propel Tatiana Hamilton and Katie Winbauer to a narrow victory in the finals of UND’s intra-school moot court competition.

Members of North Dakota’s Supreme Court judged the competition Wednesday evening, a tradition that stretches back years, but offers students an opportunity few others get at a young age, arguing a case in front of their state’s highest court.

“This is as close to a real life experience as our students could possibly have,” Ariana Meyers, faculty adviser for the moot court board, said. “Our North Dakota Supreme Court is very interactive with our law school and with our students. That is something that sets UND Law School apart from other law schools.”

Hamilton, who also won an award for best final round oralist, said she will remember the competition and the experience for a long time.

“How many law students do you know of that have argued in front of their state Supreme Court when they're in their second year of law school?” she said. “As we transition into our career, the fact that we've had this is invaluable and it's amazing to have been able to do this and I'm sure it's something we'll talk about forever.”

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Hamilton and Winbauer sported matching leopard print shoes during throughout the multiple-round competition, which added to the fun of victory.

“It was pretty crazy,” Hamilton said.

Members of the North Dakota Supreme Court listen to arguments by UND law students during the annual moot court competition. (Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald)
Members of the North Dakota Supreme Court listen to arguments by UND law students during the annual moot court competition. (Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald)

The intra-school competition started with 16 teams, eventually ending in a final round case between Hamilton and Winbauer against Martha Amdahl and Logan Caldwell. All students in the final round are in their second year of law school.

The teams argued a cybersecurity case with each duo answering questions from the Supreme Court justices.

Justice Jon Jensen said it was a tight competition with each side well prepared and well versed when presenting.

“I think it gives (the students) a chance to see the court in action and how we function,” he said. “I think it's a good experience for the court as well. We get to see the law school again, not all of us, but four of the five of us are graduates of this law school. So it's good to come back and just participate.”

Meyers said the competition gives students a chance to work on their oral advocacy skills.

“In law school, it's a lot of reading, it's a lot of working in small groups,” she said. “The opportunity to present in front of a courtroom with this many individuals is a far and rare opportunity. Also, with many of our graduates staying in North Dakota, chances are most of our students will argue in front of the North Dakota Supreme Court one day in a real case. So this provides them that practice, which will help them so much in their career.”