Lasting Appeal: UVA Law's Lile Moot Court Photo Flashback

Among the Competitors and Judges Were Some Very Famous Faces
A view of Lile Moot Court, held in Old Cabell Hall

The Moot Court, now held in Caplin Pavilion, has been held at Old Cabell Hall in the past (here in 1975).

March 20, 2017

William Minor Lile, the first dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, insisted that law students be well trained in the practical side of their profession. “The student is taught that books are the working tools of the lawyer, and that facility in handling them, in the office and in the court room, is an indispensable professional acquirement,” he wrote in 1904, his first year as dean.

One way in which students were encouraged to develop their practical skills was through a yearly moot court competition, which eventually became Lile’s namesake. Now in its 88th year, the William Minor Lile Moot Court competition allows students to showcase their practical skills in oral argument and brief-writing. The competition typically begins with about 80 second-year students, then through several rounds is whittled down to two teams during the competitors’ third year in law school.

Over the years, the Lile Moot Court competition has featured major legal and political figures, both as judges and competitors. Future U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ’59 won the competition in his final year at the Law School, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, William J. Brennan and Stanley F. Reed judged the competition at various times.

Professor Ruth Buck ’85, who argued before Justice O’Connor in the final round in 1985, recalls her Lile Moot Court experience with pride.

“Since then, I have enjoyed saying that I once argued before Justice O’Connor,” Buck said. “Of course, once I get the expected response, I explain the circumstances.”

On March 25, that history will continue when Danielle Desaulniers ’17 and Adam Stempel ’17 face off against Tuba Ahmed ’17 and Kyle Cole ’17 in the final round of the 2017 competition at 11 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion.  The judges are Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Pamela Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee and David Stras of the Supreme Court of Minnesota.

  • William Minor Lile

    William Minor Lile, first dean of the Law School, pictured in his office in the 1920s.

  • Edward M. Kennedy ’59, fourth from left, pictured with the 1959 Law School extramural moot court team

    Edward M. Kennedy ’59, fourth from left, pictured with the 1959 Law School extramural moot court team, won that year’s Lile Moot Court Competition.

  • The winners of the 1966 competition pose with the judges.

    The winners of the 1966 competition pose with the judges. From left to right: John J. Kirby Jr. ’66, Justices William J. Brennan and Stanley F. Reed of the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John W. Eggleston of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and John S. Kingdon ’66.

  • James S. Mathews ’66 argues in the 1966 competition.

    James S. Mathews ’66 argues in the 1966 competition.

  • E. Nicholson Gault Jr. ’71 argues before a quarterfinal moot court panel in 1970.

    E. Nicholson Gault Jr. ’71 argues before a quarterfinal moot court panel in 1970.

  • Nancy Sparks ‘76 presents her argument during the quarterfinal round in 1975.

    Nancy Sparks ‘76 presents her argument during the quarterfinal round in 1975.

  • Peter W. Morgan ’78 argues before Chief Judge Frank M. Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge John D. Butzner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

    Peter W. Morgan ’78 argues before Chief Judge Frank M. Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge John D. Butzner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Lile Moot Court.

  • Ruth Buck ’85 argues before the Moot Court in 1985.

    Ruth Buck ’85 argues before the Moot Court in 1985.

  • Judge Paul H. Roney of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hear arguments during the Moot Court finals in 1985.

    Judge Paul H. Roney of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hear arguments during the Moot Court finals in 1985.

  • Ashwin Shandilya and Reedy Swanson, who won the 87th William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition in 2016

    Friends since their first year in Section G, Ashwin Shandilya and Reedy Swanson took home the Kingdon Moot Court Prize for winning the annual competition in 2016. Shandilya took home the Stephen Pierre Traynor Award, for best oralist. Finalists also received the James M. Shoemaker Jr. Moot Court Award.

  • Adam Stempel and Danielle Desaulniers will face off against Kyle Cole and Tuba Ahmed

    Two teams will compete at the final round of the 88th annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition on March 25: Adam Stempel and Danielle Desaulniers will face off against Kyle Cole and Tuba Ahmed.

Media Contact

Kimberly Reich
Director of Media Relations
kreich@virginia.edu / (434) 982-6832

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