IIT Chicago-Kent Wins William E. Mcgee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition Championship

From left, second-year students Rachel Brady, Matthew Cogan, and Alexandra Grace

The IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law team of Rachel Brady, Matthew Cogan and Alexandra Grace won the 27th annual William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition, February 23 to 25, at the University of Minnesota Law School. Brady, a second-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent, also received the competition’s overall Best Oral Advocate Award.

The William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition is designed to give law students an opportunity to develop the oral advocacy and writing skills essential to be successful appellate practitioners, and to promote interest in civil rights law. The students argued Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Regents of the University of Michigan, a federal appellate case that considered a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action in college admissions. (In the actual court case, decided in July 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the law.)

The competition is named for University of Minnesota Law School alumnus William E. McGee ’80, the first African American to be appointed chief public defender in the State of Minnesota. Mr. McGee also served as a public defender and prosecutor for Hennepin County. During his career, he worked as a staff attorney and then as executive director at the Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit, community-based organization that represents low-income people of color. Mr. McGee worked with numerous community and legal organizations, including the NAACP, the Legal Redress Committee, the Minnesota Criminal Rules Committee, and the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, of which he was a founding member and a past president. He died in 2000 at the age of 47.

“The McGee Competition is a highly competitive 36-team tournament,” said IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Kent D. Streseman, director of the law school’s Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy. “On the way to the championship, our team defeated some of the strongest advocacy programs in the country, including Washington University Law School (the three-time defending champions), Brooklyn Law School, and South Texas College of Law.”

Winning team member Rachel Brady earned a bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude in political science from Macalester College, and a master of arts in teaching from Dominican University. Teammate Matthew Cogan is a second-year student who graduated from Boston University with a degree in economics and Spanish. Teammate Alexandra Grace, also a second-year student, completed her undergraduate education at Loyola University Chicago with a major in philosophy and minors in Spanish literature and French language. The winning team was coached by third-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Meganne Britton-Trela and Richard Madison.