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Penn Law team wins Williams Institute Moot Court Competition

April 19, 2018

On April 13, Penn Law students Jesse McGleughlin L’20, Ian Wahrenbrock L’19, and Andrew Wilson L’19 won the the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition.

Now in its 14th year, the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition at UCLA School of Law is the only moot court in the country focusing on legal issues facing the LGBT community.

Thirty-four teams from around the country traveled to Los Angeles for the preliminary, quarter-final and semi-final rounds in early March, including a second Penn Law team including Steven Mills L’19, Erik Lampmann L’20, and Monica Murphy L’20.

The Penn Law and Yale Law students returned to UCLA School of Law in April to compete in the final round, where they argued a case about a transgender high school student seeking to use restroom facilities in accordance with her gender identity, against the backdrop of the shift in federal policy from the U.S. Department of Education.

Preparation began in the fall semester as students tried out for the team. The problem was released in December, and Penn Law students worked over winter break and into the spring semesters to write briefs and develop their oral advocacy skills. The teams mooted with other students and attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis in New York in preparation for the competition.

“The problem was really exciting,” said Andrew Wilson, L’19. “It allowed me to take the knowledge of administrative law and statutory interpretation I had developed in the classroom and apply it to a timely issue that affects transgender youth throughout the country.”

The Penn Law finalists, who advocated for the transgender student, practiced with professors and alumni in preparation for the return trip to UCLA. Judges presiding over the final round were Judge Dolly M. Gee, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Justice Luis Lavin, California Court of Appeal for the Second District; and Judge Dean Hansell, Los Angeles County Superior Court. 

“We had one of our largest competitions ever this year, and many of our judges commented on the incredible caliber of the students who competed,” noted Christy Mallory, Director of the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition.

Established in 2005, Williams Institute Moot Court Competition is the only moot court competition exclusively designed to promote and recognize the finest oral and written advocacy on a significant problem in sexual orientation and gender identity law.

This was the first win for Penn Law at the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition.