Third-year students Henry Dickman and Megan Mers won the 91st William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition at the University of Virginia School of Law on Tuesday.
The appellants defeated fellow third-years Abbey Thornhill and Katherine Whisenhunt, the appellees, to take home the Kingdon Moot Court Prize.
In addition, Thornhill won the Stephen Pierre Traynor Award for best oralist. All four finalists received the James M. Shoemaker Jr. Moot Court Award.
Presiding over the competition were U.S. Appeals Court Judge Andrew S. Oldham of the Fifth Circuit and Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the First Circuit, and U.S. Judge Allison J. Nathan of the Southern District of New York.
Held annually, the competition starts with a field of about 50 individual competitors, writing briefs and arguing student-written problems in a mock federal or state appeal. Students pair into two-person teams upon advancing to the quarterfinal round.
In preparation for the final round, the duo spent a lot of time brainstorming the most persuasive arguments and rewrote the same arguments repeatedly until they were clear.
“When it came time to prepare for oral argument, we had a lot of great friends volunteer their time to moot us,” Dickman said. “They asked us really tough questions, and without that practice, we wouldn't have been ready for the judges.”
This year’s scenario involved a class-action lawsuit. Written by third-year student Hanaa Khan, the problem asked whether a victim of a data breach has standing to sue based on the threat of future identity theft. It also asked whether the legal standard for “personally identifiable information” under the Video Privacy Protection Act includes information that an ordinary person could not use to identify an individual.
Dickman and Mers didn’t know each other before the competition began, but another Lile participant suggested they pair up. Dickman said the two fostered great teamwork ever since.
“One of the best aspects of this competition is the chance to develop new friendships and then learn a great deal from those people,” he said.
Dickman said his keys to success included dialing in on details in the brief writing and oral argument stages, and honing in on any weak spots in their arguments. For Mers, the duo’s personalities and speaking styles balanced out well.
“At the end of the day, we both wanted to make this an enjoyable process,” she said. “Even during long days spent mooting, we had a blast joking around and casually discussing the issues.”
After graduation, Dickman will clerk for Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mers will clerk for U.S. District Judge William Lindsay Osteen Jr. of the Middle District of North Carolina.
In addition to the Lile Moot Court Competition, UVA Law students also compete in other appellate moot court and trial advocacy competitions nationwide.
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.