For the second consecutive year, James C. McFall served as co-chair of the American Bar Association’s First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, which took place February 9 – 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The annual competition offers minority law students the opportunity to argue a hypothetical case and interact with practicing media law attorneys and sitting judges.
This year, the hypothetical case focused on whether an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act allows for a governmental agency in possession of a report detailing the findings of an investigation into instances of high lead levels in residents of a community with a contaminated water supply to withhold the report when the report was prepared by a third-party who provided the report to the agency under a confidentiality agreement.
Students who participated in the competition were required to complete an application and short essay. Ten teams (20 total students) were selected as quarter-finalists. The teams were then required to submit an appellate brief on the hypothetical case. The four teams with the highest brief scores received an invitation to participate in the semi-final round of oral arguments before practicing media attorneys at the Forum’s Annual Conference.
The four students with the highest combined brief and oral argument scores advanced to the final round of the competition, where they participated in oral arguments before a panel of three federal judges: Judge Charles L. Wilson, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Judge Stephen A. Higginson, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and Judge Sam A. Lindsay, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The team with the highest score for the final round of oral arguments was the winner of the competition. Each member of the winning team received $750, while the finalist with the highest score for the final round was named “Best Oralist” and received $1,500.
Notably, each quarter-finalist was paired with a practicing media law attorney in their region who provides the student with mentorship, career advice, and networking opportunities. This year, Jackson Walker associate Trey McDonald served as a mentor for one of the students in the competition. Jackson Walker also served as a sponsor.
“The competition provides an invaluable experience for minority law students looking to pursue careers in media law,” James said. “Judge Wilson, Judge Higginson, and Judge Lindsay’s participation in this year’s competition made the event truly special. I’m honored to be part of an event that provides real-world experience and mentoring that will benefit students throughout their careers.”
James has agreed to co-chair next-year’s competition. For more information, visit the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law.
About James C. McFall
James Carlos McFall is a litigation attorney who focuses on commercial, media, and construction disputes. James’ practice covers all areas of litigation from investigation to trial, including depositions, preparing fact and expert witnesses for deposition and trial testimony, and drafting and arguing various evidentiary and dispositive motions. Last fall, James and Jackson Walker partner W. Ross Forbes, Jr. tried a case to a jury in which they obtained a verdict of more than $12 million against a group of defendants.
In media litigation, James has represented television networks, newspapers, journalists, internet publishers, film directors, and producers in cases of libel, defamation, and misappropriation of likeness. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stanford University and his J.D. from Washington University School of Law, where he served as a Senior Editor for the Washington University Law Review.