For more than 100 years, Harvard Law School’s Ames Moot Court Competition has been one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the nation.

In one of the most anticipated events of the year, contestants stand in the Ames Courtroom before an illustrious panel of distinguished jurists to demonstrate their skills in oral argument. As it has since 1911, the competition draws standing room–only crowds as two 3L teams argue before the judges. A justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is usually a member of the three-judge panel. Making the final round is one of the school’s greatest honors. Winners have been memorialized on bronze plaques in Langdell Library.

Learn more about the history of the Ames Moot Court Competition

Follow this year's Ames Moot Court Final Round

“I learned that you have to prepare the brief as a kind of science of the case and do the oral argument as a kind of art.”

— Kathleen M. Sullivan '81 Best Oralist, Ames Moot Court Competition, 1980

Recent Arguments | View all Ames Moot Court videos

Title Date Length Category

Watch the video: 2016 Ames Moot Court Competition

Final Round

United States v. Papaya Cellular

11/01/2016
01:36 Video Play

Watch the video: 2015 Ames Moot Court Competition

Final Round

Abrams v. Vita, Inc.

11/16/2015
01:29 Video Play

Watch the video: 2014 Ames Moot Court Competition

Final Round

Duke v. United States

11/18/2014
01:24 Video Play
10/23/2013
01:23 Video Play

Watch the video: 2012 Ames Moot Court Competition

Final Round

Go Glow, Inc., v. Sheila Simpson

11/15/2012
01:56 Video Play

How the Ames Process Works

  • First Year Ames Competition

    The First Year Ames Moot Court serves as the academic focus of first-year students’ second semester of Legal Research and Writing (LRW). All first-year J.D. students participate. The work of briefing and arguing a case is an essential part of a Harvard legal education and helps students develop critical skills in argument and logic.

    Students work in pairs to compose briefs on the merits of a hypothetical appellate case. Cases are assigned by students’ Legal Research and Writing instructors, the Climenko Fellows. The Fellows, together with members of the Board of Student Advisers who serve as teaching assistants, teach students how to research and write their briefs and help them prepare for oral arguments.

  • Ames Qualifying Round

    The Qualifying Round is the first round in the upper-level Ames Competition. All second-year students or joint-degree students currently enrolled in their first year of post-1L law school courses are eligible to participate.

    Official Rules of the Qualifying Round

  • Ames Semi-Final Round

    The students participating in the Semi-Final Round start the competition in the 2L year and rise to the final four spots through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy.

  • Ames Final Round

    The students participating in the Final Round start the competition in fall of their 2L year. Two teams progress to the Final Round in their 3L year through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy. Past Ames Competition participants include Professor Cass Sunstein, Dean Kathleen Sullivan, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Justice Harry Blackmun.