Moot Court Origins
Predating the commencement of the Civil War, the law school’s Moot Court origins began no later than 1861. Judge John W. Brockenbrough had instituted a Moot Court program at his Lexington Law School, which merged with Washington College in 1866. In a letter to his father dated February 24, 1861, James N. Stubbs noted the onset of the Civil War and wrote, “We are quite busy with Moot Courts; I have two cases on Wednesday next; I am defendant in both, one of them is a Case of Slander.”
In General Lee’s College, a history of Washington and Lee, Ollinger Crenshaw referenced Moot Court as a part of the W&L Law School curriculum in 1877: “Moot Court has been held for about six weeks in February and March of that year with Judge William McLaughlin presiding.”
The Martin P. Burks Moot Court Competition
At some point after 1877, Moot Court vanished before it resurfaced in 1951, when the Student Bar Association took steps to institute a program. First-year law students wrote and presented briefs in the spring of 1952 and 1953.
On March 3, 1953 in the Supreme Court of Tucker Hall, the Student Bar Association held the inaugural Martin P. Burks Moot Court Competition in which all students were eligible to participate. Donald S. Cohen won the competition over which Dean Clayton E. Williams, Professor Charles P. Light, Jr., and Professor Charles V. Laughlin presided.
The SBA created a Moot Court Committee, which was in place from 1953-1969, and charged it with overseeing the competition. In 1969, the competition evolved into a first-year competition administered by the newly created Burks Scholars and a faculty advisor. When the first-year curriculum changed in 1989, the faculty discontinued the competition.
The John W. Davis Moot Court Competition
In the fall of 1980, Professor Sam Calhoun and Moot Court Board members, Alan Button, Jim Neale, Jill Otey, and John Sullivan, inaugurated, organized and supervised the John W. Davis Moot Court Competition for second- and third-year law students. Professor Calhoun named the competition in memory of John W. Davis, 1892, 1895L.
The Mock Trial Competition
Students initiated a Mock Trial Competition at the law school as early as 1956. Members of the faculty judged the competition until 1962, when the Honorable Alfred D. Barksdale, United States District Judge for the Western District of Virginia, presided over the competition. Comprised of several students, the Mock Trial Committee, supervised the competition from 1956 until 1985, when the Moot Court Executive Board began to administer Mock Trial.
The Client Counseling Competition
The Client Counseling Competition began at the law school in 1973, when Charles J. Brown III and W. Thomas Ryder won the intraschool competition, won the regional competition, and participated in the national competition. In 1985, the Moot Court Board began to administer the Client Counseling Competition.
The Negotiations Competition
The first Negotiations Competition was held in 1985. On August 30, 2006, the Moot Court Board renamed the competition in honor of Robert J. Grey, Jr., ‘76L.
The Mediation in Representation Competition
The 2002-2003 Moot Court Board inaugurated the Representation in Mediation Competition and held the first competition in the spring of 2003.