Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction Moot Court Program

In 2014, the Committee established a Moot Court Program for counsel who are scheduled to argue cases in the New York Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals Program is facilitated by staff at the New York State Bar Association, and moot arguments take place at the Bar Center in Albany unless other arrangements are made. Links and contact information for the NYSBA program is provided below.

More recently, the Committee has helped to expand appellate moot court opportunities by working with County bar associations to establish programs for counsel scheduled to argue Appellate Division cases, as well as other appeals. These regional programs will allow counsel to moot arguments closer to home among their peers. Thus far, two model programs have been set up—one by the Erie County Bar Association and the other by the Albany County Bar Association.  Links to the County Bar Association programs are also provided below.

The New York Court of Appeals Moot Court Program Offered by the NYSBA Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction

The Committee offers its Moot Court Program to counsel with cases in the New York Court of Appeals. Any attorney with a case in the Court of Appeals can apply and request that the Program “moot” his/her argument before a panel of 3-7 “judges,” made up of experienced appellate practitioners and former judges. Following the simulated argument by counsel, the judges will provide the attorney with a candid evaluation, including the strengths and weaknesses of counsel’s presentation and suggestions for improvement.

This program is of particular benefit to solo practitioners and counsel from small firms who may not have experience in the Court of Appeals or the opportunity to moot an appeal. It is modeled on relatively small number of similar programs operated by several law schools and bar associations across the nation. With the exception of Georgetown Law School’s program that focuses on arguments in the United States Supreme Court, each of these programs was started relatively recently.     

The Committee’s program will generally follow the “unilateral” approach where only one side to the appeal will be heard, which every existing program follows with one exception. Former Court of Appeals Judge Albert Rosenblatt’s NYU Law School course uses the “bilateral” approach in which both sides argue. Consistent with this, we will take the first party to an appeal who requests a “moot” and require all participants to sign a Confidentiality Agreement. Bilateral arguments will be accepted only if both parties consent, and the judges will provide separate evaluation time for each lawyer.       

Counsel are encouraged to apply promptly once their appeal is calendared by the Court for a term. Electronic or paper copies of all briefs must be provided with the application. While the entire Record should also be provided electronically, the mooting judges will advise counsel if portions of the Record should be provided as paper copies. The moot arguments will be held approximately 7-14 days before the actual argument date. Moot court sessions will be held at the NYSBA Bar Center in Albany, unless counsel and the Judges agree to an alternative location.  

The Committee reserves the right to reject requested moots based on the Subcommittee’s view that the appeal in question is not “moot-worthy.” However, acceptance into the program will not be based on subject matter or the attorney requesting the moot. The program is available to all NYSBA members without additional fee. If you are not currently a NYSBA member, proof of application and payment of the fee must be provided – a very inexpensive “moot” considering all the other member benefits included.    

To obtain and complete a Form to request a moot argument click here. To volunteer as a Moot Court Judge click here. Completed forms, and questions, can be directed to the Committee’s staff liaison, Dan McMahon at [email protected] (or 518-487-5582).

Regional Moot Court Programs Offered by Local Bar Associations

The Committee is also seeking to expand opportunities to moot appellate arguments by helping County bar associations put into place local programs. Such programs allow moots to be scheduled throughout the State for the convenience of the participating attorney(s) and judges. Such programs are particularly useful to new and experienced appellate advocates who are arguing in the Appellate Division.

To date, two model programs have been put into place—one by the Erie County Bar Association and the other by the Albany County Bar Association. These “cooperative” programs offer formal and/or informal opportunities to moot appellate arguments among experienced appellate advocates who are also fellow members of the county bar associations. Such programs often employ a sort of “pay it forward” approach to provide judges for the arguments to be mooted. In addition, retired members of the judiciary and appellate bar may be recruited to assist in mooting the arguments. 

The County bar programs can benefit repeat appellate advocates as well as those who have little experience advocating in the appellate courts. And they provide local opportunities to moot cases not only in the Appellate Division, but also in the New York Court of Appeals and the Second Circuit Courts of Appeals.

While, as a general rule, membership in the County bar associations is required to enjoy the benefits of their programs, it may be possible for lawyers from nearby counties to participate upon request for a reasonable fee.

Links and contact information for the County Bar Association Programs are set forth below:

Erie County Bar Association Appellate Moot Program 
Edward Markarian   [email protected]
Timothy Murphy     [email protected]

Albany County Bar Association Appellate Moot Program
Justin Brusgul     [email protected]
Cindy Feathers    [email protected]

General Questions 
General questions can also be directed to the Committee’s staff liaison, Dan McMahon at [email protected] (or 518-487-5582).     

To read the Committee’s Original Report on the Moot Court Program, click here.