Duane Bonifer  |  Published November 09, 2023

Top Advocate

Monmouth resident Karli Strom named top advocate in College’s 13th moot court competition.

Karli Strom '25 of Monmouth was the winner of Monmouth's 2023 moot court. From left: justice Mary... Karli Strom ’25 of Monmouth was the winner of Monmouth's 2023 moot court. From left: justice Mary Corrigan ’82; chief justice Judge Heidi Benson; justice Sarah Billington; Strom; Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership & Fellowships Director Marnie Steach; and political science professor Andre Audette.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Karli Strom’s last-minute decision to participate in this year’s Monmouth College moot court turned out to be a wise one.

At Wednesday night’s final round, a three-judge panel named Strom top advocate in the College’s annual legal competition.

TOP ADVOCATE: Karli Strom '25 makes a point during the moot court final round, held Nov. 8 in the... TOP ADVOCATE: Karli Strom ’25 makes a point during the moot court final round, held Nov. 8 in the College's Hewes Library. Strom was named the top advocate.“I am a little bit shocked,” said Strom, a communication studies and political science junior from Monmouth. “I only started a week before the preliminary round. … I did a lot of prepping beforehand, and I was still shocked when they told me I was a finalist. So I am really surprised when I got all the way here.”

The top legal brief was written by Payton Crims ’27 of Alsip, Illinois. Cameron Shook ’25 of Morton, Illinois, placed second, and Maya Dickerson ’26 of Galena, Illinois, was third.

The preliminary round of the College’s 13th moot court competition was held Nov. 4 in the Center for Science and Business as 13 students competed for four spots in the final round, which was held in Hewes Library.

This year’s moot court case involved an establishment clause challenge to the practice of legislative prayer. The clause prohibits the government from supporting any religion. The case also questioned whether taxpayers have standing to bring the suit against the government.

Strom said she spent about six hours a day reviewing the case.

“Originally, I just looked at the establishment clause, then once I got into the final round I had to learn the whole argument of standing,” she said.

The benefits of moot court

Moot court is sponsored by the Monmouth Political Science Department and the Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership & Fellowships.

“We’re very proud of our moot court competition,” said political science professor Andre Audette. “It’s something that most law schools have, but it’s not something that many undergraduate institutions have.”

“Every year we have judges come in and tell us that our students are competing at really high levels, and that sometimes they are outcompeting lawyers that are actually in the courtroom.”
– Andre Audette, political science professor

And Monmouth’s moot court benefits students in numerous ways.

“We’ve had many students who go on to legal careers or to law school cite moot court as one of the most important activities that they participated in at Monmouth,” said Audette.

He said that one of the factors that makes Monmouth’s moot court so strong is a network of “dedicated alumni judges.”

The preliminary round judges were Dan Cotter ’88, Brad Nahrstadt ’89, Debra Nahrstadt, Kate Fitzsimmons Cross ’08 and Hadley Smithhisler ’20. The judges for the finals were Judge Heidi Benson of the 9th Judicial Circuit of Illinois, who served as chief justice, and justices Mary Alexander Corrigan ’82 and Sarah Billington, both of whom are attorneys with Howard & Howard Attorneys of Peoria, Illinois.

“Every year we have judges come in and tell us that our students are competing at really high levels, and that sometimes they are outcompeting lawyers that are actually in the courtroom,” said Audette. “So to be able to see our students do this at such a high level makes me very proud of the hard work that they put in for the competition.”

A 2021 graduate of Monmouth-Roseville High School, Strom transferred to Monmouth from Carl Sandburg College. She said she decided to double major in communication studies and political science because the two programs complement one another. And while Strom is still mapping out her post-college plans, she said that moot court competition is but one advantage she’s received as a Monmouth student.

“I have had so many opportunities, both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom,” she said. “Had I not come to Monmouth, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I would have been so lucky to have had.”

The four finalists of the 2023 Monmouth College moot court. From left: Dean Duncan '26, Luis Cast... The four finalists of the 2023 Monmouth College moot court. From left: Dean Duncan ’26, Luis Castillo ’24, Shannon Smith ’25 and Karli Strom ’25.

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/offices/global-engagement/" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthscots.com/" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/only-at-monmouth/educational-garden-farm/" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>