Professor Jim Gets new Perspective on Moot Court
Professor Louis Jim is a fixture in the Anthony V. Cardona ’70 Moot Court Program, guiding Albany Law School students through arguments and client counseling skills while also serving as a sounding board. He’s the faculty advisor for the Karen C. McGovern Senior Prize Trials Competition and the faculty advisor for the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition.
After he wrote the problem for this year’s Thomas Tang National Moot Court Competition – an appellate advocacy competition sponsored annually by an educational affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) – he gained a new perspective.
The timely problem – focused on voting rights and redistricting – was inspired by the growing population of Asian Americans and their voting strength, among other things, he said.
“One issue focused on the Voting Rights Act—which the Supreme Court is chipping away at—and the other issue focused on the Equal Protection Clause and voting rights, specifically whether race can be substituted for a political party,” he said. “But how do you tell the difference in some states where you have a large racial group that is a predominantly one political party? Isn't it one and the same? So, that's what the second issue focused on and how the Supreme Court can decide.”
Watching law students from around the country—including Albany Law students—analyze his work was a unique experience, Jim said.
“I'm always impressed when they think things I didn't think of,” he said. “When I teach Lawyering, I create the hypothetical, and because they're guided a lot more, I really know where they're going to go with it. With the competition, I had no idea where they're going to go.”
In the classroom, Jim also weaves in current events, particularly for Introduction to Lawyering—the yearlong course all 1L students take. It helps students build a strong foundation as practitioners and civic participants.
“Society impacts the law. And we see it in all realms right now, not just voting rights, but women's rights, for example, and more,” he said. “More civic engagement is always a good thing. And I think about my role and how I can do that as a law professor, how we can increase civic participation? As lawyers and teaching law students, we're probably already a more civic minded group, right? But, I want to reach the people who are not going to be lawyers, or are not yet going to be lawyers. I want to reach everybody, I want everyone to participate in the process.”
The first semester of Lawyering is unique to teach in law school, Jim said. It’s often one of the first classes students have and an opportunity to build confidence along with legal skills.
“When I teach Lawyering in the first semester, I often think, ‘Okay, what is it that they might have questions about? And what is it that they might have questions about that they're afraid to ask?’” he said. “It's about building in opportunities for them to ask questions. Some of it, which is unrelated to Lawyering, and some of it is, ‘What's law school like?’”
Beyond the classroom, and in addition to his work with Moot Court, Jim is also the faculty advisor for the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA).
“These roles give me an opportunity to see how what I'm teaching in the first year makes an impact in the second and third years,” Jim said. “Regardless of your practice, you are always going to be in a position where you have to explain things to people, either in writing, or that's what lawyers do. Participating in moot court helps a student develop those skills in a way that being in a classroom can't always do. You are always presenting it to a new group of people.”
Beyond New Scotland Ave., he and several Albany Law students participated in the Capital Regional Clash Mock Trial Invitational in late November. Held at the University at Albany, 12 undergraduate mock trial teams participated with attorneys and law students with mock trial experience serving as judges.
“We hope it helps to just create a pipeline for our students to go help undergraduate students, to help train the next generation of lawyers before they even come into law school. It’s a wonderful experience for everyone,” he said.
No matter what setting, Jim makes it a priority to get students off to a strong start.
“Legal analysis, at the end of the day, is legal analysis. The way I teach a Lawyering is, I don't want you to just solve a criminal law problem, I want you to solve every type of problem that you might face,” he said. “Everyone comes to law school for a different reason. I want to learn from my students and help them succeed.”