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.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.