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The Force is strong with the Forum on Communications Law

ABA Forum on Communications Law

It may not seem like a long time ago, nor did it first happen in a galaxy far, far away, but the ABA Forum on Communications started its Representing Your Local Broadcaster event 35 years ago. The 35th celebration, which takes place on the desert planet that is Las Vegas on April 17, is subtitled “The Fifth Estate Strikes Back.” And just like Luke Skywalker had to train with Yoda, the forum’s masters are ready to share their knowledge to arm lawyers in their battles against the Empire, Rebels, or simply the FCC.

Padawans – er, law students – who attend the event will learn how technology from what seems like an Old Republic is innovating and serving the public interest today. Sessions will tackle critical issues including regulatory and enforcement challenges; key policy issues to watch in the future; challenges and lessons for the 2016 election; and how to keep up with the non-stop changes in privacy in a modern environment.

Are you prepping your registration? Please do. Or do not. There is no try.

The forum also announced a June 6 registration deadline for next year’s 9th Annual First Amendment Moot Court Competition. The competition is is designed to introduce minority law students to the practice of media law and to many of the lawyers who are active in the media law bar.

Students from any ABA-accredited law school are encouraged to apply to participate in the competition. Students must be members of a chapter of:

  • The National Black Law Students Association
  • The National Latino/a Law Student Association
  • The National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • The National Native American Law Students Association
  • Or a comparable minority law student organization at their school.

The moot court’s hypothetical case involves timely issues of national significance in the field of media law. Past competitions have posed issues relating to whether journalists have a privilege under the First Amendment or federal common law not to reveal sources in response to a government subpoena and whether or not the public and the press have a qualified First Amendment right of access to attend an internal employee disciplinary proceeding at a public university.

Interested individuals and teams should submit an application form in addition to a resume, writing sample, and essay answer based on a prompt. From the application submissions, up to 10 teams will be selected to submit an appeal brief. Each quarterfinalist will be paired with a practicing media law attorney in a city close to their law school for career advice, mentoring, and networking. Each quarterfinalist also will receive complimentary registration to attend the forum’s 22nd Annual Conference in New Orleans from Feb. 9-11, 2017.

The four teams with the highest brief scores will receive coaching from their mentors to prepare for the semifinal round of oral arguments. The with the highest-scoring brief will be awarded “best brief,” and each team member will receive $1,000. The four teams will compete in the semifinal round of oral arguments during the forum’s annual conference. The four students with the highest combined brief and semifinal oral argument scores will compete in the final round of oral arguments during the annual conference before a panel of sitting appellate judges. For the final round of oral arguments, the finalists will be randomly assigned to represent appellant or appellee – resulting in new team assignments – and will be randomly assigned an issue to argue.

The team with the highest score for the final round of oral arguments will be the winner of the competition. Each member of the winning team will receive $750.  The finalist with the highest score for the final round of oral argument will be deemed “best oralist” and will receive $1,500.  All students who attend the annual conference will have the opportunity to network with practicing media law attorneys from across the country and attend engaging and informative panels.

Law students interested in the competition submit short written applications and a short essay on a media law question posed in the application. There is no fee to apply.  All applications are due and must be received no later than midnight on June 6.

Submitted by Forum on Communications liaison Jessica Easterly.

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.