February 24, 2020

Christina Pashaj argues before judges

On Saturday, February 22, Catholic Law and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel (ACEBC) hosted the third annual Ellen A. (Nell) Hennessy Employee Benefits Moot Court Competition. The competitors addressed cutting-edge employee benefit issues involving the denial of benefits under an insured Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) welfare benefits plan based on an exclusion in the insurance policy and whether the insurer can require the claimant to go to arbitration.

The teams competed before experienced ERISA practitioners, including the former Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security of the U.S. Department of Labor––and longtime friend and colleague of Nell Hennessy ’78––Phyllis Borzi ’78; former Benefits Tax Counsel of the U.S. Department of Treasury, George Bostick; and former Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, W. Thomas Reeder, Jr. Each of the competing teams produced quality briefs and put forth excellent oral arguments; zealously advocating for their “clients” before a panel of esteemed judges.

There were seven teams competing—including two from Catholic Law. After several hard-fought rounds, Catholic’s and Kentucky’s teams squared off in the finals. At the conclusion of more than an hour of argument and intensive questioning by the panel, Catholic’s team of Peter Kim (3L) and Christina Pashaj (2L) won the competition over Kentucky’s team of Jacob Ludwig and Zachary Holt. Pashaj also won Best Oralist. The Georgetown team of Sooheun Ham and Javier Diaz won best brief. Kentucky also won best brief runner-up.

This year, Christopher Hennessy, the nephew of Nell Hennessy, attended the dinner and provided comments that gave insight into the amazing trailblazer that Nell was. Vice Chancellor Willistine Harris (4E) thanked faculty sponsor Professor Regina Jefferson, Catholic Law staff members Emily Sobieski and Joe Ferraro, and members of the Moot Court Association for providing invaluable assistance during the competition.

Winners of the event were awarded a plaque as well as a monetary prize—provided by the competition sponsors, LexisNexis. Kim and Pashaj will be attending the annual ACEBC conference in Chicago (expenses paid by ACEBC). Other photos from the day can be seen on Catholic Law's Facebook page.

First Place:

Peter Kim & Christina Pashaj

Team 1
The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
Peter Kim & Christina Pashaj

Second Place:

Zachary Holt & Jeffrey Ludwig

Team 6
University of Kentucky, David Rosenberg College of Law
Zachary Holt & Jacob Ludwig

Best Oralist:

Christina Pashaj

Team 1 
The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
Christina Pashaj

Best Brief:

Javier Diaz & Sooheun Ham

Team 4
Georgetown University Law Center
Javier Diaz & Sooheun Ham

Best Brief Runner-Up:

Zachary Holt & Jeffrey Ludwig

Team 6
University of Kentucky, David Rosenberg College of Law
Zachary Holt & Jacob Ludwig

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