Law Schools, UVA Law

Lile Moot Court Board Embarrasses UVA Law, Again

Lile Moot Court UVA law competition.jpgIt’s difficult trying to figure out what to write about when you’ve been away for a week and return to hundreds of unread emails. But, luckily for me, UVA’s Lile Moot Court Board has a way of making itself really, really obvious.
I trust you all remember the Lile Moot Court Board. Back in September, the board threatened to call prospective employers of students who withdrew from Moot Court competition. Because, you know, threatening scared 2Ls is one way to feel powerful and accomplished.
Over the weekend, news broke of more shenanigans from the Lile Moot Court Board. But at least this weekend’s obnoxiousness was limited to actual Moot Court issues — as opposed to employment matters that are none of the board’s business. Thank God for small favors.
The Lile Moot Court Board versus two 3Ls, after the jump.

Saturday was the semifinal round of the Moot Court competition. But before oral arguments began, one of the semifinalist teams withdrew from the competition. Virginia Law Weekly explains that the team of Lanora Pettit and Casey Lee withdrew because the Moot Court Board wouldn’t let them make the argument they wanted to:

Pettit and Lee chose to withdraw after being informed by the Lile Moot Court Board that, in addressing the second issue, Pettit had written the “wrong” side of the question. …
Pettit and Lee cried foul, citing the reasons they felt the Board’s decision was wrong. First, they argued they had not violated any of the rules of the competition, which do not restrict competitors to making specific arguments; rather, competitors are allowed to advance whatever arguments best serve their clients. Second, they noted that the problem itself was vague about which side they were supposed to take. Third, the pair argued that they had attempted to clarify the issue with the Board soon after receiving the problem packet.

The Board didn’t relent, and Pettit and Lee withdrew instead of changing their answer.
I’m not going to delve into the substance of the question presented and the various argumentative strategies. I haven’t been drinking enough this morning to have a passionate opinion on the substance of a fake question.
But the Board disallowing a particular argument in a competition about arguing seems asinine to me. The Board’s approach to the problem stifles intellectualism and good lawyering, and it makes the whole competition seem even more useless and masturbatory than it already appears.
Of course, the Board doesn’t quite see it that way:

From the Board’s perspective, Pettit and Lee misconstrued the issue and missed the portion of the packet informing competitors which arguments they were expected to make.

You know what would be awesome? If federal judges felt that the Lile Moot Court Board misconstrued the issue. The UVA Law Blog has this firsthand account from Saturday’s arguments:

During their comments, the judges from the morning arguments said something like “for issue 2, we were all really confused as to why the competitors were assigned to argue the sides they did.” They thought that in the real world, on that issue, the appellant would have made the argument the appellee was assigned to make, and vice versa.
All three made the point at the very beginning, and then one or two judges made the same point AGAIN later.

In the Commonwealth, they call that “comeuppance.”
It should come as no surprise that the team of Pettit and Lee thinks that the Lile Moot Court Board missed the portion of anatomy class that explained the difference between a head and an ass:

Lee staunchly stood by his partner, writing, “What I am about to write here is perhaps harsh and pointed. But frankly, I tell it like it is, and these statements are mine alone. So here it goes: [M]y moot court partner is a Law Review Articles Editor, is near the top of our class, summered for a Vault Top Five law firm, and will be clerking on the 9th Circuit after graduation. I will take her analysis of the case law over the Board’s any day of the week.”

Do students at UVA Law need to wear goggles to protect themselves from all the popped collars being flashed in every direction?
Seriously though, at some point doesn’t the UVA Law administration need to step in and teach the members of the Board how to play nicely with their fellow students? Is it good for the school to have a student group that seems to get off on lording their position over other students?

In response to a request for comment about how this reflects on the Law School, Dean Paul Mahoney wrote, “It is important to the entire Law School community that any event associated with the Law School be organized and run with the utmost professionalism. I have encouraged the Moot Court board to take steps to prevent any misunderstandings about permissible arguments in the future.”

Well, the Lile Board has embarrassed the school twice now, this time in front of federal judges. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
Withdrawal Taints Lile Semifinals [Virginia Law Weekly]
More Moot Controversy – Team Withdraws After Arguing the “Wrong Side” of the Question [UVA Law Blog]
Earlier: UVA 3Ls Threaten to Eat Their Young

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