Hardt Cup

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The Hardt Cup Tournament is an annual Moot Court tournament for first-year students at Duke University School of Law.

The Hardt Cup Tournament is an opportunity for students to practice oral advocacy and a chance for the finest advocates to earn an invitation to join the Moot Court Board. The tournament begins with the oral advocacy component of the first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing (LARW) curriculum, which is coordinated by the Moot Court Board.

History of the Hardt Cup

In the fall of 1962, the Duke Law community was shocked and saddened by the death of A. Lee Hardt, a student who had just completed his first year. Students in the class of 1964 chose to honor his memory by dedicating a cup in his name to be presented to the winner of the annual first year Moot Court competition. Each year, in the weeks following Spring Break, the Moot Court Board conducts the annual Hardt Cup competition for first-year students.

Appellate advocacy is an important aspect of the Duke Law curriculum for first-year students. The ability to organize oral presentations logically and persuasively, as well as the skill of responding to others' concerns and criticisms by thinking on one's feet, are invaluable to law students and law school graduates alike. Competing in the Hardt Cup is a prime opportunity for students to build skills that will help them not only in future law school courses, but also in the job market and in whatever careers they choose.

Hardt Cup Competition Schedule

Information Sessions: March 5 and 7 at 12:30

Judges Training: March 4 at 12:30pm

LARW Rounds: March 27 and March 28

Opt-In Portion

  • Deadline to Opt-in: April 4 at 11:59pm
  • Problem Release: April 5 at 12pm
  • Preliminary Rounds: April 6 and April 7
  • Qualifying Round:[1] April 8
  • Round of 16:[2] April 9 at 12:30pm
  • Quarterfinals (Round of 8): April 9 at 6:00pm
  • Semifinals (Round of 4): April 10 at 6:00pm
  • Final Round: April 11 at 12:30pm

Competition Advancement

Board Membership: The top ten percent (10%) of the number of competitors obligated to participate in the mandatory round shall be selected for Board membership. In the event of a tie for the last qualifying position in the final rankings, each competitor sharing the lowest qualifying score shall be selected for Board membership. Thus, this year, at least 25 competitors will qualify for membership on the Moot Court Board.

Competition Advancement: After the preliminary rounds, each competitor’s highest and lowest scoresheet will be dropped. The competitors with the highest averages will advance to the qualifying round. The same procedure will be followed throughout the entire competition.

Competitors advancing to the quarterfinals will be assigned a side, which they will use to argue for their remaining rounds in the competition. The two members of each side with the highest average scores after dropping each competitor’s highest and lowest score will advance to the Semifinals. The same process will determine which two competitors advance to the finals from the Semifinals.

Ties: The average of the scores from the LARW rounds will be used to break ties through the Round of 16.[3] If there is then a tie in the LARW rounds, the lowest scores will be reintroduced into the average. If a tie arises in the Quarterfinals or Semifinals, the competitor with the higher average score from the previous round will prevail.

[1] Rather than using the term “Round of 48,” we have decided to use the term “qualifying round.” This will allow for flexibility in the number of competitors in the round based on competition participation. “Qualifying” refers to qualifying for Board membership because this round determines who makes the Board.

[2] Competitors who are not able to compete in any round after the Round of 16 may compete in the Qualifying Round in order to try out for the board but may not compete past this point. Competitors with such conflicts must make them known when opting-in to the competition.

[3] Because the scoresheet only contains 42 points, ties are common, particularly at later points in the competition. Competitors should assume that their LARW scores will play a factor at some point in the competition.

Information for Competitors