Laurence Tooth '13 wins Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition

Laurence Tooth, a third-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has won the 21st annual Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the law school's Moot Court Honor Society. The competition is named for IIT Chicago-Kent graduate Ilana Diamond Rovner '66, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Students in the Rovner Competition each prepare a brief in a case that raises an issue of national concern, as well as oral arguments supporting both sides of that issue. Students present those arguments before panels consisting of IIT Chicago-Kent faculty, practicing attorneys and experienced moot court students. The top-scoring students advance through a series of elimination rounds.

This year, students argued a constitutional challenge to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines "marriage" as the legal union of one man and one woman. At issue is whether Congress's refusal to recognize state-sanctioned marriages violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause.

In the final round, Laurence Tooth argued against second-year student David Starshak. As the winner of the final round of competition, Tooth received the Ilana Diamond Rovner Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocate and a $500 scholarship. Runner-up Starshak received a $250 scholarship from the Edmund G. Burke Scholarship Fund.

Rovner Competition winner Laurence Tooth graduated with honors from Trinity College with a bachelor's degree in German studies and a minor in legal studies. Following graduation, Tooth taught English in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship. He is a submissions editor for the Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property Law. Tooth currently is a law clerk at Spencer Stuart, a management consulting firm, and a judicial extern for the Honorable Mary L. Mikva, judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. David Starshak graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor of science degree in political science and a minor in leadership studies. Starshak is a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. He currently is a law clerk at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.

Second-year student Ryan Moore received the Fay Clayton Award for Outstanding Oralist and a $250 scholarship. Fay Clayton, who graduated with honors from IIT Chicago-Kent in 1978, is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Robinson, Curley and Clayton, P.C. Her legal experience includes numerous trials, appeals, mediations, and arbitrations in tribunals including the United States Supreme Court.

Claudia Cortes, a second-year evening student, received the Ralph L. Brill Award for Best Brief and a $250 scholarship. Professor Ralph Brill, a member of the faculty since 1961, founded the law school's groundbreaking legal research and writing program and its award-winning moot court program.

The final round of the competition was judged by a distinguished panel that included the Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner, the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Illinois Solicitor General Michael A. Scodro.

Established in 1992, the Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy provides training for students in IIT Chicago-Kent's Moot Court Honor Society. Students in the program complete intensive course work in appellate litigation, represent the law school in appellate advocacy tournaments throughout the United States, and are eligible to participate in the Ilana Diamond Rovner Competition.

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, science, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. In 2008 and 2009, IIT Chicago-Kent won the National Moot Court Competition, the largest appellate advocacy tournament in the United States. In 2008, IIT Chicago-Kent became the first law school to win both the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year.

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