Rasmussen, West Win 92nd Lile Moot Court Competition

Avery Ramussen and Matt West

Teammates Avery Rasmussen ’21 and Matt West ’21 met as undergraduates at UVA. Photos by Julia Davis

March 25, 2021

Third-year students Avery Rasmussen and Matt West won the 92nd William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition at the University of Virginia School of Law on Tuesday.

The appellees bested fellow third-years Mihir Khetarpal and Nina Oat, the appellants, to take home the Kingdon Moot Court Prize.

Mihir Khetarpal
Best Oralist Mihir Khetarpal

In addition, Khetarpal 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 Megan Barbero, deputy general counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives; Chief Judge Louis A. Bledsoe III of the North Carolina Business Court; and Judge Jerome A. Holmes of the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This year’s scenario involved search and seizure. The problem asked whether police may enter homes without a warrant and use what is found for criminal charges when the entry is based on concern about the well-being of a resident. It also asked whether the silence of a defendant before police give the “right to remain silent” Miranda warning can be presented as evidence of guilt.

Held annually, the competition starts with a field of about 50 individual competitors, who write briefs and argue student-written problems in a mock federal or state appeal. Students form two-person teams upon advancing to the quarterfinal round. This year’s final round, which normally takes place in the fall, was delayed until the spring due to the pandemic.

In preparation for the final round, Rasmussen and West’s friends volunteered to be judges in Zoom practice arguments and offer feedback. West said the moots were also a way to catch up with classmates they haven’t seen as much during the pandemic.

“A real highlight of Lile was the opportunity to see so many impressive teams in action,” he said. “Throughout the competition, we learned a great deal from their advocacy.”

Rasmussen and West became friends as UVA undergraduates in 2015 and were section mates at the Law School. “It was a natural fit,” Rasmussen said.

West said their keys to success included dedicating a lot of time to writing and fine-tuning their brief, which helped build confidence during oral arguments. They tried to enjoy the process as much as possible, he added, such as meeting over coffee in more relaxed settings to discuss the issues.

“We put in a lot of work, but we also had fun with it,” Rasmussen said. “Matt and I tried not to put too much pressure on ourselves and to instead just enjoy talking over interesting legal issues with each other, our brilliant peers and co-competitors, and the judges.”

After graduation, Rasmussen will clerk for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III ’72 of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2021 term, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for the 2022 term, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for the 2023 term.

West will work for Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., and then clerk for Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit.

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.

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