Ohio Wesleyan Students Compete in National Championships

Moot Court Team Earns University’s Highest-Ever Finish in Tournament
From left, Andrew Paik, Katherine Berger, Professor Michael Esler, Memme Onwudiwe, and Liam Dennigan attended the national championships of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University. Onwudiwe and Dennigan competed, advancing to the final day of competition. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Paik)

From left, Andrew Paik, Katherine Berger, Professor Michael Esler, Memme Onwudiwe, and Liam Dennigan attended the national championships of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University. Onwudiwe and Dennigan competed, advancing to the final day of competition. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Paik)

DELAWARE, Ohio – A two-student Ohio Wesleyan University team competed recently in the national championships of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association, advancing further than any previous OWU team.

Ohio Wesleyan juniors Liam Dennigan and Memme Onwudiwe won four of six ballots in preliminary rounds to advance to the final day of competition. For the event – considered the premier undergraduate moot court competition in the United States – students simulate presenting legal arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. The championships were held Jan. 17-18 at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University.

Dennigan, a politics and government major and economics minor from Norwell, Mass., called participating in the national competition an “amazing experience.”

“I thought it was a great example of the appellate court process, he said. “It was a good mix of competition, argument building, and public speaking. Memme and I were new to the process and the moot court culture. The experience and confidence we gained will definitely help prepare us for next year’s competition.”

Onwudiwe, a double major in international studies and French from Centerville, Ohio, agreed. “We had the opportunity to challenge some of the top teams in the nation with our knowledge of case law, and also learned a lot about ASU’s graduate law program,” he said.

The team’s coach, Michael Esler, Ph.D., a professor of politics and government, said 2014 marks the third straight year that Ohio Wesleyan students have qualified for the national championships. Dennigan and Onwudiwe narrowly missed reaching the round of 32 and posted some of the highest scores of such teams, Esler said, making their finish OWU’s best to date.

In addition to Esler, OWU Moot Court Team members Andrew Paik, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, and Katherine Berger, a junior from Sunbury, Ohio, accompanied the competitors to Arizona, serving as assistant coaches.

“Dennigan and Onwudiwe performed at a very high level throughout the competition, said Esler, who also advises Ohio Wesleyan’s Pre-Law Studies Program. “They worked hard all year on learning the case law and developing their arguments, which was a continuous process. …

“Dennigan and Onwudiwe earned high marks for their knowledge of the law,” Esler continued. “They scored equally high marks for their courtroom demeanor and ability to answer questions from the bench. Throughout our practices and in both tournaments, they delivered their oral arguments with clarity and remained calm and focused under sometimes withering questioning.”

The duo qualified for the national tournament by placing third in the Midwest Regional Tournament held in November in Wooster, Ohio.

Esler invites any students interested in moot court to contact him at mvesler@owu.edu. Experience is not required. “We seek to get students involved as early as possible in their careers at OWU,” he said. “Experience is invaluable in this type of competition.”


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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