Fordham Law School welcomed 57 law student oral advocates to compete in the annual Irving R. Kaufman Memorial Securities Law Moot Court Competition, held from March 12 through March 14
The competition is named after Judge Kaufman, who graduated from the Fordham Law School in 1931. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy nominated Kaufman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where he served from 1961 to 1992. Seven of Judge Kaufman’s years on the bench were spent as Chief Judge. Over the past 46 years, the Kaufman Competition’s final round has been presided over by a distinguished panel of judges, including Supreme Court justices and commissioners of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Students from 21 Law Schools Face-Off Over Zoom
This year’s competition looked a bit different than in years past. Twenty-one law schools and twenty-four teams competed entirely over Zoom over the course of three days.
“The Fordham Moot Court Board worked tirelessly to ensure that the competition ran smoothly over Zoom,” described Erin Guiltinan ’21, this year’s Kaufman Competition Editor. “We wanted the competitors to have a great experience despite the fact that they were not able to travel to New York City to compete in-person.”
Last year’s competition was unfortunately canceled due to the coronavirus lockdown, but the slated final round panel of distinguished jurists pledged to return in 2021. New York University School of Law and William & Mary Law School faced off in the final round before a panel composed of Judges Paul Kelly, Bernice Donald, Richard Sullivan, and Pamela Chen.
Ultimately, New York University’s team, made up of Julia Bruce and Graham Ellis, took home the top prize, but William & Mary did not leave empty-handed. William & Mary’s Megan McCarthy and Alec Young won Best and Second-Best Oralist, respectively, and the team, which also included William Spotswood, took home the Best Brief award. NYU walked away with the Second-Best Brief award, and Jake Young of University of Virginia Law School tied Alec Young for Second Best Oralist.
“We were incredibly lucky to have this distinguished panel of judges agree to preside over the Kaufman final round not one, but two years in a row,” said Jack Sullivan ’21, managing editor of the Fordham Law Moot Court Board. “Executing a competition of this scale takes a village, but seeing competitors argue the problem you’ve edited and a panel of judges vigorously interrogate the issues is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.”
Fraud, Standing, and Liability
This year’s problem covered a securities fraud private action involving a medical device company’s public offering of securities through a novel direct listing transaction. The problem featured two issues: 1) whether purchasers of shares of a class of stock issued in a direct listing have standing to bring a claim under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, even though they cannot trace their purchased shares to a registration statement; and 2) whether investment bankers acting as financial advisors in a direct listing are statutory underwriters for purposes of Section 11 liability.
“At the end of the day, we are enormously proud of the competition the board administered,” noted Ashley Slater ’21, editor-in-chief of the Moot Court Board, “but we’re hopeful that Erin does not have to pass down her blueprint on how to run a virtual Kaufman Competition. With any luck, this year’s board can look forward to attending the 2022 Kaufman Competition in person as alumni judges.”