James Pearce ’11 wins Hardt Cup

April 8, 2009Duke Law News

April 8 — A three-judge panel awarded James Pearce ’11 the Hardt Cup in the final round of the annual moot court competition for first-year students.

Pearce and Leah Shen '11 were the finalists in the tournament, in which 126 students made 912 individual arguments over the course of two weeks.

Pearce said that arguing in the final before Judge David Ebel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Paul Friedman of the D.C. District Court, and Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson of the N.C. Supreme Court, was harrowing, but not as difficult as the early rounds.

“With only 24 hours to prepare for the early rounds, mastering the material was out of the question,” he said. “I found the questions put to me by one panel of student judges during the third round the most difficult part of the competition.”

Hardt Cup co-coordinator LaToya Edwards ’09 said this year’s competitors “were well prepared and presented a supreme level of advocacy.”

The competition is comprised of three preliminary rounds and one final round, all completed within a three-week period. Participation in the first round of the Hardt Cup is a mandatory component of the Legal Analysis, Research and Writing (LARW) curriculum for all first-year students.

Students participate in subsequent rounds on a voluntary basis. The top 20 competitors of the preliminary rounds are invited to join the Moot Court Board. The top eight competitors compete in the advanced rounds of the tournament culminating in a final round between the top two advocates.

Pearce said he was never sure how well he was faring during the competition, and changed strategy as he progressed into the final rounds.

“I was never fully satisfied with any of my arguments,” Pearce said. “Certainly each of my arguments could have been improved. I changed my approach to argue the facts more closely in my final round and was unsure even as the argument was coming out of my mouth if it was a good strategic choice.”

Law students launched the Hardt Cup competition was created in 1964, to honor first-year student A. Lee Hardt who died unexpectedly.

The Hardt Cup Competition is sponsored by the Moot Court Board and Thompson & Knight.

» View the 2009 Hardt Cup final round webcast