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US Fish & Wildlife Service Journal

Pacific Region Congratulates FWS STEP Student Teri Wright on Placing First in NNALSA Moot Court Competition

Region 1, February 25, 2012
FWS STEP student Teri Wright and her Moot Court Competition partner, Tyler Gomes, on competition day.
FWS STEP student Teri Wright and her Moot Court Competition partner, Tyler Gomes, on competition day. - Photo Credit: n/a
FWS STEP student Teri Wright and her Moot Court Competition partner, Tyler Gomes, celebrate their frist place win.
FWS STEP student Teri Wright and her Moot Court Competition partner, Tyler Gomes, celebrate their frist place win. - Photo Credit: n/a

Last month over 50 teams representing 28 law schools including Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and the University of Washington, gathered to compete in the annual National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition in Honolulu. Recently appointed at the Honolulu Office, STEP Student, Teri Wright, and her partner, Tyler Gomes from the University of Hawai?i took home first place honors in the Best Advocate category.

 

Selected as one of three Elizabeth Sharpe Fish and Wildlife fellows (STEP), for the summer of 2012,Wright has an impressive legal resume detailing academic excellence, commitment to her community and a passion for advocacy. This passion prompted her to apply for the STEP position, “I knew that the Fish and Wildlife Service would provide me with an excellent opportunity to experience law in action in an environmental context,” Wright said.

The Moot Court Competition offered Wright, her colleagues, and competitors the chance to “experience law in action”, which she described as “exciting as well as nerve racking.” Arguing her case in front of some of the most esteemed judges in the country fulfilled part of a childhood dream for Wright, “I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to represent the law school at a place I remember visiting as a child on school field trips.”

Founded in 1970 to support Native American students in law school, NNALSA puts on the Moot Court Competition each year in order to encourage the oral advocacy and brief-writing skills of NNALSA members, as well as enhance knowledge about federal Indian law, tribal law, and traditional forms of governance.

Wright and her colleagues from University of Hawaii gave strong performances and, after preliminary rounds on Friday, all five UH teams proceeded to the top 16 elimination rounds Saturday morning. Four moved on to the quarter-final round and then three moved on to the semi-final round along with a team from Columbia Law School. In the final round, two Hawai?i teams competed in an appellate argument held at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court where Wright and Gomes were awarded first place for Best Advocacy.

Professor Williamson Chang, the team’s faculty advisor said, “We’re very proud of our students. Over the past few years, they’ve consistently done well in this particular competition.” Between 1997 and 2011, the Law School won 23 awards in this competition according to the team’s UH-based website. This year’s win brings the team to 30 awards.

Wright’s STEP fellowship begins this summer and she hopes to gain greater insight into the challenges of natural resource management in Hawai'i, “I hope to contribute to the NEPA-HEPA analysis of the summer project, get out in the field, and work with the community to involve them in the decision-making processes.”

Contact Info: Amanda Fortin, (503) 872-2852, Amanda_Fortin@fws.gov