After a demanding six months of preparation for the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition, Nick Restauri’s and Rachel Schweers’ hard work and dedication paid off with a regional first place finish, two best brief awards and the national title of runner-up.
Restauri and Schweers formed a team in November 2011, soon after the release of the competition problem. The brief writing process took them through the end of the year, and in mid-January, they finalized their briefs for the regional competition held in Chicago in March. Unlike most moot court competitions that require participants to write one brief, the patent moot requires students to write briefs for both sides of the argument. Schweers, a patent agent with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and a recipient of the Robert and Clytia Chambers Endowed Prize for Excellence in the College of Law, says, though this requirement made more work for the team at the onset of the writing process, “It also facilitated our ability to more effectively advocate for either side of the issues.”
“Rachel and I spent a great deal of time going back and forth over our briefs,” says Restauri, a third-year student who received the 2012 Allen J. Hoover Memorial Award. “We scrutinized every sentence and rewrote portions multiple times. The process was long and very tedious, but Rachel and I played off each other’s individual writing strengths and eventually arrived at the final products.” The team received awards for best appellant brief and best appellee brief at the regional level, where they competed against 26 teams to win first place and advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in April.
To prepare for oral arguments, the team practiced two days a week for seven weeks before the regional, and after winning, continued to rehearse two days a week until the national competition. They also benefited from the assistance and support of DePaul intellectual property law professors, the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology, and alumni who previously competed in the patent moot.
“Nick and I coined a new term called the ‘Bressler test,’ which will ever live in my mind for passing off colloquial terms in legal arguments and making sure they are not stretched too far,” says Schweers. The team found Professor Sarnoff’s substantive feedback essential to develop the ability to effectively answer judges’ questions during the competition. They also attributed their learning to interweave themes and communicate passion for a position and for clients to Professor Volini’s advice and “uncanny ability to give big picture perspectives.”
Schweers adds that the feedback provided during practice sessions was vital to the team’s growth and success. “Faculty members and alumni posed challenging questions and topics, which allowed us to prepare our arguments to address the issues, as well as to obtain excellent suggestions for oral presentation styles and how to professionally demonstrate effective advocacy for a client.” She considers this interaction one of the most valuable aspects of her overall experience.
At nationals, Restauri and Schweers spent the majority of their time preparing for the head-to-head competition. Knowing more about the opponents they would encounter this time around, the team tailored oral arguments and worked on courtroom presentation style. Still, they found a little time to take in the accomplishment of advancing to the national level and the grandeur of arguing in front of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Schweers says, “It served as an excellent reminder and motivator of where I want to be and what I want to achieve in my career.”
“Many attorneys go their entire careers without ever arguing a case in this court, and I felt extremely privileged to be in the Federal Circuit arguing in front of Judge Prost and Judge Reyna,” says Restauri. “That in itself was worth the entire six months of work.”
Restauri graduates in May 2012 and is seeking a position at a patent law firm. Schweers is a part-time student set to graduate next spring. This summer she is transitioning from her current role as patent agent to a summer associate at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in Chicago.
Photo by Mattox Photography.