A brilliant Blue Devil – Duke’s Shadoff earn top prize at major law school competition

December 17, 2009
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Lynn resident Andrew Shadoff, a third-year student at Duke University School of Law, won the top prize in a major law school competition.

Shadoff and fellow Duke student Greg Dixon received the best brief award in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps inaugural National Moot Court Competition held at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Twenty-three teams, representing some of the highest-caliber law schools in the country including Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, and the University of California Berkeley, participated in the competition.

Shadoff and Dixon co-wrote the brief and then argued separately about suppression of evidence and search and seizure issues in a military justice context.

“They were general Fourth Amendment constitutional issues that are applicable to most people if you get stopped by the police and they conducted a search,” said Shadoff.

The two Duke students argued their cases in front of a prestigious bench of judges, including a sitting federal judge, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the chief judge of the Department of the Navy.

Shadoff, a graduate of Austin Prep and Duke University, was happy to emerge as the champion in the competition.

“We were very pleased because we put a lot of work into it and we thought the oral advocacy part would come with practice but we’ve been working for three years in law school on developing the arguments and trying to craft briefs and other motions that involve writing,” said Shadoff. “So we were really happy that the skills we were supposed to have been picking up already seemed to have been improving a little bit.”

Shadoff said the competition was very professional and a great educational experience.

“I was very impressed with the organization of the JAG Corps exhibited in the competition as well as their proficiency in law,” he said.

The Duke Law School students also had the opportunity to learn about life in the Navy during visits to Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron Fuve (VP-5) and USS The Sullivans (DDG-68).

“I thought the whole weekend was tremendous,” said Shadoff. “I really liked our tours of the ship and the P-3 squadron. The competition itself was a lot of fun. The highlight of the competition was getting to hear from the judges exactly what they thought.”

The competition tests a law school student’s ability to think on his feet and answer questions directly from the judges. Shadoff displayed his well-polished oratorical skills and his knowledge of the legal system during his presentation.

“We begin by presenting our arguments and the judges interject with questions,” said Shadoff. “At some point, we have to get back on our argument wherever the question may have left us, which is one of the important parts of the argument and we proceed along until they have another question.”

The Duke team had six weeks to prepare the brief for the competition. “We did substantial work on it,” said Shadoff. “I think the brief ended up being 35-40 pages total.”

Shadoff and Dixon received a lot of congratulatory wishes upon their return with the award to the Duke campus.

“The moot court people who sent us were very happy and the Law School put a link on the front page of its Web site to the stories that the Navy had compiled,” said Shadoff.

Shadoff is enjoying his law school experience at Duke.

“The people are great,” said Shadoff. “It’s a small school. There are only about 200-220 students in each class so everybody pretty much knows everybody else. We have some very well renowned professors in various fields.”

Shadoff will graduate from Duke Law School in May. He has already landed a full-time position at a law firm in Los Angeles. He will take the California Bar Exam in July.

Shadoff will be returning from North Carolina this week for his mid-semester break. He is the son of Lynn Tech athletic director Edward Shadoff and Sheryl Shadoff. He has a brother, Landon, who is a senior at the University of Connecticut.

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