For Mihir Khetarpal ’21, Law School Turned on a Moot Point
Update: This “Star Witness” was completed before the school moved to online teaching.
Prior to entering the University of Virginia School of Law, Mihir Khetarpal was pretty sure law school wasn’t for him. Yet the second-year student and car enthusiast not only changed gears but found his voice with an interest in moot courts.
At UVA Law, Khetarpal is an articles development editor for the Virginia Law Review, vice president of the Extramural Moot Court Team, a Peer Advisor and a Virginia Law Ambassador, serving as a tour guide to visitors. He is also a William Minor Lile Moot Court competitor.
The Clarksburg, Maryland, native earned a bachelor’s in economics, government and politics from the University of Maryland, where he was involved with the Student Government Association.
In our occasional series “Star Witness,” Khetarpal discussed a seminal moment working on the Law Review and how choosing a car for his dad was an omen for law school.
Why law school?
When I went to college, I was almost certain that I did not want to go to law school. But during my sophomore year, that all changed. I took a survey of law course with a great professor who taught the seminar like a law school class, and I really enjoyed it. I also had the opportunity to work in the Maryland General Assembly and learned that I really liked the work that lawyers were doing there. After that, I bought my first LSAT prep book, and the rest is history.
Describe your most interesting law school experience.
I think my most interesting experience actually happened recently. I took over as one of the articles development editors for the Virginia Law Review, a role that allows me to do an initial screen of articles submitted to VLR. It has been extremely interesting to see the breadth of scholarship that gets submitted, but I will never forget the first time I got to call a professor and tell him that his article had been selected for publication. Here was a professor, who is remarkably accomplished, getting excited over some news that I gave him.
Tell us more about your interest in moot courts.
Moot court has been a constant interest in law school, and I came in knowing that I wanted to compete in moot court. My interest in moot court first started in college. I took many more classes with the professor who I mentioned spurred my interest in law, and for one of the classes, we were tasked with mooting a case that was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin gerrymandering case. We got to research arguments, some that were being made before the court and some that were waived below, and decide how best to argue the case. In a sense, it was very similar to what I do now for moot court. I research arguments and decide how to present them, but now of course there is a bit more formality than there was in class.
I also had the opportunity to see the ACLU and Colorado moot Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission at Georgetown Law, and I loved it — it was exciting to see that caliber of attorney arguing in person, and it also felt good to see that those lawyers were still working on basic tics in their oral advocacy style.
What’s something your classmates don’t know about you?
This is a hard question! Some of my classmates know this, but I am a car enthusiast. I like to drive every chance I get, and I like to read about cars in my spare time. The night before every exam, I spend the evening reading car blogs or watching YouTube videos about cars to relax.
I think I got my interest in cars from my father — he is a sales manager at a car dealership in Maryland. I have many model cars, and at home I have a box full of old car keys that I collected over the years. The number of keys of various makes and models of cars I have is unbelievable. I also learned to research cars. When I was about to go to middle school, my dad was deciding which car to buy, and my brother and I disagreed on the answer. We made documents to argue for our car of choice, and then presented them to our dad orally. In the end, my brother won out. I also remember one time my uncle was deciding which car to buy, and he sent my cousins and me an email asking for our opinions. I wrote him a memo with three choices, and later found out I was the only one who did. As I give this answer, it seems like law school was a good choice.
What’s next for you?
I hope to be able to clerk for a year or two after graduation, and after that, I hope to be able to return to the firm I’m heading to this summer!
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.