A team of students from the University of Virginia School of Law placed second in this year’s International and European Tax Moot Court competition, which culminated April 1.
This year’s team members are Timothy Blauch ’22, James Collins ’22, Natalie Mauch ’23 and Hunter Shaw ’23, with Bolton Smith ’22, a member of last year’s team, serving as student coach.
UVA took home a majority of the prizes awarded based on the qualifying rounds: Best Pleading Applicant Team, Best Pleading Defendant Team and Best Defendant Brief. Mauch won Best Oralist for the Applicant.
“This was definitely the most challenging and unique experience I have had in law school, and I am very grateful for it,” Mauch said. “I think this experience really helped develop my research, writing and oral advocacy skills.”
The team’s strong finish continues a streak of well-performing UVA Law student teams at the competition. UVA took home first place three years in a row, having become the first U.S. team to win the competition in 2018. This year the team lost to WU Vienna, a seven-time winner.
The competition, which attracts dozens of teams from around the world, allows law students to sharpen their oral and written argument skills on tax issues with global implications. The event is sponsored by the Institute of Tax Law of KU Leuven and the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation. As with last year, the teams competed virtually due to the pandemic; in prior years, final rounds have taken place in Belgium.
After the international semifinal round, the two final teams had 24 hours to submit a new brief on a problem involving the same legal issue, but new facts, and then another 24 hours to prepare for the final round of oral argument. In the earlier rounds, which were judged by tax academics and practitioners, Collins and Shaw argued for the government’s position, and Blauch and Mauch argued for the taxpayer’s position. In the final round, Collins and Mauch argued on behalf of the whole UVA team, and they fielded questions from European appellate judges.
“This moot court is the best experiential learning opportunity that UVA Law provides for students interested in tax,” Collins said. “Even being the best school for learning about tax, given our star-studded faculty, Virginia Tax Review and our extensive alumni network in the tax world, there are few opportunities to make actual tax work-product and to apply what we learn in doctrinal tax classes to facts.”
Professor Ruth Mason has served as a faculty adviser for the team since it launched in 2017.
“It was wonderful to meet with the team each week over the course of the academic year and to see their knowledge and understanding of the model tax treaty deepen,” she said. “Because the competition moved online, I was able to watch our students compete in the final round for the first time. I was so impressed with the sophisticated arguments our team made and with their complete confidence with the material. Their arguments were creative but steeped in the law and policy. The team from Vienna was also excellent, which made for an exhilarating final round.”
Consistently ranked one of the top law schools for tax, UVA Law prepares students for tax careers in government, private practice, business and the nonprofit sector. Among the nation’s top scholars, the school’s tax faculty are known for converting students who are fearful of studying tax into fans of the field. Professors bring experience from Congress, the Treasury Department and private practice. The school’s Virginia Center for Tax Law serves as a hub for tax law activities at the school, and the Virginia Tax Review also offers students experience in cutting-edge tax issues.