MACON — Is a criminal defendant entitled to have his conviction reversed when his lawyer gave him bad advice to reject a plea bargain offer and then the lawyer slept through a portion of the defendant’s trial? That is the question being asked of 22 moot court teams from law schools across the nation traveling to Macon for the second annual moot court competition in legal ethics and professionalism. The competition is being held by Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law this Friday and Saturday in the law school’s moot court room.
The final round is expected to begin at 3 p.m. Saturday before a panel of distinguished federal and state judges including Judge James G. Carr of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Judge Louis W. Sands of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and Judge Sara L. Doyle of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Gary Simson, dean and Macon Chair in Law, and Daisy Floyd, former dean and University Professor of Law and Ethical Formation, will also serve as judges in the final round.
“Last year’s Legal Ethics and Professionalism Moot Court Competition at Mercer, the first of its kind at any law school, was a great success. With our law school’s deep and longtime commitment to legal ethics and professionalism, this moot court is a perfect fit for Mercer,” Dean Simson said. “I look forward to another excellent competition with a group of teams that, if anything, promises to be even stronger than last year’s.”
Professor Tim Floyd, faculty adviser to Mercer Law School’s advocacy council, said the competition is unique in requiring law students to explore the ethical dimensions of being a lawyer.
“Issues involving lawyers and their conduct have become increasingly important in the nation’s courts, including the United States Supreme Court,” Floyd said. “A law student moot court competition is an excellent vehicle for law students to explore the ethical dimensions of lawyering. And given the strength of our academic programs in legal writing and in legal ethics and professionalism, as well as our national prominence and successes in moot court competition, Mercer is a natural and fitting home for this competition.”
Mercer Law School’s curriculum is distinctive in requiring students to take six hours of ethics and professionalism, including a first-year course in which students explore the many aspects of being an ethical lawyer. One of the hallmarks of the law school’s innovative Woodruff Curriculum is its effort to infuse issues of ethics throughout the legal education of Mercer Law students. Additionally, the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism engages in a variety of in-house and outreach educational activities with the purpose of improving the professionalism of students, lawyers and judges. This competition also draws upon Mercer Law’s Legal Research and Writing Program, the nation’s preeminent such program. Mercer offers the nation’s only Advanced Certificate in Legal Writing, Research, and Drafting, and is the host school for the Legal Writing Institute.
The ABA has recognized the Woodruff Curriculum with the Gambrell Professionalism Award, citing its “depth and excellence” and “obvious commitment to professionalism.” More recently, Professor Patrick Longan, the law school’s William Augustus Bootle Chair in Legal Ethics and Professionalism and director of its Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, was awarded the National Award for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching Professionalism by the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism, the National Conference of Chief Justices, and the Burge Endowment for Law & Ethics.
About Mercer Law School
Founded in 1873, the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and the first one in the state of Georgia accredited by the American Bar Association. Mercer Law School’s educational philosophy is based on a broadly shared commitment to prepare students for the high-quality practice of law in a day-to-day learning environment that is both strongly supportive and consistently professional. Its innovative Woodruff Curriculum – which focuses on ethics and practical skills amid small class sizes – earned the Gambrell Professionalism Award from the ABA for its “depth of excellence.” With an enrollment of about 440 students, Mercer Law School is nationally recognized for its exceptional programs in legal writing, moot court, public service, and ethics and professionalism. For more information about Mercer Law School, visit www.law.mercer.edu or call 478.301.5000.