Top-notch: Law student wins prestigious Campbell Moot Court contest


By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News
After switching his major from vocal performance to history at Carnegie Mellon University, Andrew Robb participated in the Mock Trial Club – and found a passion for the law and litigation that eventually led to his spring graduation from the University of Michigan Law School, and first place in April’s prestigious Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition, an annual event for more than 90 years and one of the highest honors a Michigan law student can achieve.
“I’ve really enjoyed the courtroom opportunities that Michigan Law has provided, highlighted by the Campbell Competition,” Robb says.  
“The Law School touts Campbell as a great opportunity to get substantive litigation exposure through in-depth legal brief-writing and real experience arguing in front of practitioners and judges – and it really was all of that and more.  If I’m lucky enough, someday I’ll have responsibility and honor of having clients trust me to resolve conflicts through actual courtroom litigation.” 

Robb’s Campbell partner, Jennifer Fischell, was the other finalist – the first time in Campbell history where two partners both advanced to the finals.   
“Getting the chance to delve so deeply into a set of issues – both through brief-writing and oral advocacy – was incredibly interesting and quite rare at such an early stage in my legal career,” Robb says. “The opportunity to argue in front of three circuit court judges, friends, family, faculty, and peers was nerve-wracking, but I can’t imagine a better experience for an aspiring litigator.

“The MLaw faculty was extremely supportive. They met with us, read our briefs, and mooted us for oral argument. I hope the practical experience will ultimately help make me a better lawyer.”  

Robb credits some of his success in the Campbell Competition to his experience performing on the stage. From 2005-09, he was a member of the American Opera Studio and traveled Europe several times performing in fully staged operas – once as the title character in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring.  

Robb, who also served as a Notes Editor on the Michigan Law Review and as a senior judge to 1L legal writing students, has enjoyed his three years at MLaw, and the sense of community in Ann Arbor. 

“More often than not, when I walk around downtown I’ll see someone I know. It’s been a great place to be for law school,” he says.

“Michigan is great because law school is not only about who you learn from, but who you learn with – and at Michigan, I’ve gotten the chance to learn the law alongside some truly amazing people.”

Robb will now clerk for two years in his hometown of Kansas City, first for Hon. William Duane Benton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and then Chief Judge David Gregory Kays on the Western District of Missouri, before heading to the Big Apple in 2018 to work at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where he has previously worked as a summer associate. 

“I’m very excited to head back to the firm and start developing my skills as a litigator,” he says. “I’ve made some wonderful friends and mentors at the Firm, and I’m very much looking forward to further developing those relationships.  

Robb’s musical interests have not gone dormant.  

“When we go to restaurants and there’s a piano, if the mood strikes I will often do a song or two – my family often goads me on,” he says.

“I’ll sing at some family events, and sometimes I’ll embarrass my fiancée by serenading her with one of her favorites.”

The wedding – with several MLaw friends in attendance, and one as a groomsman – will be in May 2017. Robb’s fiancée, Brittany Sanders, was recently named Editor-in-Chief of the Washington University Law Review in St. Louis, will clerk for Judge Duane Benton in Kansas City in 2017-18 and start work at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City in the fall of 2018.  

Legal roots clearly run deep in the family. Robb’s sister, Marilyn Robb, is a 1L at Harvard Law, and his parents – Gary C. Robb and Anita Porte Robb, both MLaw alumni – are plaintiff’s lawyers in Kansas City, handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. 

“They are best parents, mentors, and friends that any son could ask for,” Robb says.  “No way I would be where I am today without them.”

And perhaps one day he’ll return to the Supreme Court of the United States, where he interned in his undergrad years. He helped draft a couple of speeches for Chief Justice John Roberts, and had the pleasure of meeting Roberts, and Justices Elena Kagan, and Clarence Thomas.  

“I was in the Supreme Court for Justice Stevens’s last day on the Court, and in the Senate when Justice Kagan was confirmed, both of which were unforgettable experiences,” he says.