By Sean Camacho
“Your Honor, it was not Congress’s intent to force people to live a life of poverty while trying to repay crushing student loan debt with no chance of relief through bankruptcy.”
This was my key argument at the national Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court competition in New York City. As a member of one of 59 competing teams at the largest single-site appellate competition in the country, I had no idea what we were getting into.
I was in my second year when I tried out for the bankruptcy moot court team. Three students were chosen for the team over the fall semester. We then spent the fall and winter preparing for the competition held in March in New York City.
The annual competition makes up a bankruptcy court case and randomly assigns teams to argue on alternate sides. Our fictional client was a young, healthy, 46-year-old woman with a job and no children. We were assigned to convince a panel of judges that our client’s situation was so dire she would need to have her student loans wiped clean through bankruptcy.
As soon as we got the fact pattern, our team members spent a month diving into bankruptcy law and developing our argument on paper.
Next, we prepared and practiced the oral argument. Two alumni who are federal bankruptcy court judges in Boston volunteered their time and courtrooms to hold practice rounds and provide feedback to our team. Our coach flew in from Washington, D.C. several times a week to hold practices and coordinate with alumni. The goal was to prepare our team to respond to a barrage of tough questions from real judges while arguing on behalf of our client.
The long hours and preparation were well worth it. When it came time to perform at the competition in New York City, our team was prepared and ready. It was nail biting and nerve racking, but I’m so glad it was part of my law school experience.
Sean Camacho is a second-year student at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. He also is a staff member of Suffolk University Law Review, President of the SULS Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, and has interned for judges at both the state and federal levels. For more info about Suffolk Law School’s competition teams, visit suffolk.edu/law.