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Q&A with the Moot Court Board

Part of our ongoing series of Q&As with student leaders, Moot Court Board chair Donavan Eason and vice-chairs Jimmy Pickle and Zach Wilkes talk about why moot court competitions are a big part of the W&L experience. Learn more about Moot Court at law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.

Q: For those of us who have not had the opportunity to compete in any of the Moot Court competitions, can you talk a little bit about how they’re structured?

Zach: The Moot Court competitions at Dubyuhnell provide a myriad of opportunities for student involvement. The five internal competitions—Negotiations, Appellate Advocacy, Mock Trial, Client Counseling, and Mediation—vary greatly at face value, but all emphasize the importance of conducting yourself in a professional manner and developing a rapport with your target audience.

While each competition is judged slightly differently, the Moot Court Executive Board typically judges the preliminary rounds of each competition, a faculty panel judges the semifinal round, and a group of distinguished judges and/or practitioners presides over the final round.

Q: What competitions/events have you recently had, and what’s coming up? What have some of the highlights of this semester been?

Zach: We just had the final round of Mock Trial on November 14, and we have Client Counseling and Mediation coming up. The Client Counseling final round is on November 19th, and the Mediation Final Round is on February 11th. Those are internal (schoolwide) competitions. We are also in the process of selecting and preparing teams to represent the law school in external competitions.

The highlights of the semester to date have been interacting with, and watching students compete in front of, our extraordinary panels of judges. In addition to Justice Alito, who judged the final round of the Appellate Advocacy tournament, the Moot Court Executive Board has hosted judges from the Fourth and Ninth circuits, and practitioners from some of the most prestigious firms in the country. All of the judges took significant time out of their schedules, and offered invaluable feedback and career advice—as well as high praise for the Washington and Lee community.

Q: How has being on Moot Court shaped your law school experience (e.g. did it help with finding a job, organizing time, learning certain skills)?

Donovan: In my opinion, there’s no better way to build self-confidence and pure grit than having to stand in front of a judge or jury and argue your case with adrenaline pumping through you at full tilt. The amount of information you are expected to retain and leverage effectively is staggering. If you aren’t intimidated, you don’t have a pulse. Moot Court taught me that preparation is life’s great equalizer. If you’re willing to put in the time, you’ll be given opportunities to grow and succeed despite the overwhelming expectations placed upon you. And when you do, you will feel fulfilled beyond measure.

Q: What’s on your bucket list to see or do before you leave Lex Vegas?

Jimmy: Well, when you have been in Lexington for almost 7 years now, you have seen and done pretty much everything. But with that said, I have yet to float down Maury River with my law school friends while sipping on a drink or two, so I will be doing that in the Spring.

Q: We talk a lot about how proud we are of our community here at W&L. What is the W&L Law community all about, and has it affected your time in law school?

Jimmy: In one word, the W&L Law community is about “trust.” Students trust each other, students trust professors, and professors trust students. One example of that trust: professors let students take unproctored exams. Because that trust exists, professors not only care about a student’s legal knowledge, but also about his/her character. I am very thankful for the W&L Law community because it has positively affected me in many ways, the most important of which is that my daily interactions with students and professors have prepared me to enter the professional legal world.