UDC Law congratulates 3Ls Nija Bastfield and Darby Hickey for winning the 2022 D.C. Cup Moot Court Competition hosted by the D.C. Bar. Bastfield and Hickey competed against teams from five other law schools in the virtual competition, in which they argued before volunteer judges. The final round featured the UDC Law and American University Washington College of Law teams arguing before D.C. Court of Appeals Judges Loren L. AliKhan and Catharine Easterly and D.C. Bar President Chad Sarchio.
In the D.C. Bar’s press release, UDC Law student and D.C. Bar Writer in Residence Akeem Earle described Whitman v. SousChef.com, the hypothetical case that brought Bastfield and Hickey their win. “C. J. Whitman, a legally deaf amateur chef, appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals after a Superior Court judge dismissed his claim that SousChef.com, [a website] that posts cooking videos, violated the D.C. Human Rights Act by posting its videos without closed captioning,” Earle wrote.
Moot court competitions like the D.C. Cup provide students opportunities to hone skills that will make them better advocates for their clients, such as oral argument, legal writing and even adaptability in a courtroom setting. Students can also extend their professional networks by connecting with more experienced legal professionals who have a chance to see the students in action.
Prof. Saleema Snow, who directs UDC’s Legal Writing Program, coached the team in the fall semester while they were drafting their brief for the competition. Snow explained the impact of experiential learning in students’ legal education. “Moot Court Competition and other experiential courses allow students to apply skills beyond the classroom,” she said. “Nija and Darby’s appellate brief established their stellar analytical and writing skills. They also developed a unique social justice argument under the D.C. Human Rights Act, reminding the court that there is no such thing as ‘a little discrimination.’ Their advocacy reminded me that we really are building the next generation of social justice lawyers.”
Prof. Tianna Gibbs, who coached the team this spring when they focused on oral advocacy, said, “Nija and Darby submitted an excellent brief, and they demonstrated expert knowledge of the law during all three oral argument rounds. Their tireless commitment to continuing to improve their appellate advocacy skills, particularly over the last two semesters, is an inspiration.”
Hickey reflected on the experience. “The D.C. Cup was a great opportunity to hone the skills we have been learning since 1L, from legal research and analysis to brief writing to oral advocacy. Combined with the great support we got from our coaches Professors Snow and Gibbs – plus many moots with professors and others – we were able to bring our A-game and excel against tough competition. We put in a ton of work, and it paid off. Fantastic experience.”
“UDC Law has prepared me not just for the D.C. Bar Moot Court Competition but for the actual practice of law by providing me with the tools to be a successful legal writer, legal researcher and orator,” said Bastfield about her training and the competition. “UDC Law gave me countless hours of Writing Wednesday sessions and voluminous and constructive feedback on all writing assignments, which has afforded me the confidence and skills to successfully prepare for this competition.”
Meet the D.C. Cup Winners
Nija Bastfield is pursuing a legal career dedicated to addressing injustice and providing opportunity by becoming a federal prosecutor and a judge. She hopes to stay committed to advancing diversity in the profession through several mentoring and assistance projects, including serving as a mentor to UDC Law students, establishing a scholarship to assist minority women in the evening program and creating a nonprofit to increase opportunity for evening law students. Bastfield has been active in the Baltimore City community since 2014 with an emphasis on helping residents prepare resumes and job documents through her resume and grant writing business All Things Paper. She will continue serving the community by providing pro bono legal services in at-risk neighborhoods in Baltimore City, where she has worked as Head Law Clerk in the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for the past seven years.
Bastfield is a Writing Mentor for the UDC Writing Hub, Student Bar Association Student Senate Minority Leader, Themis Student Representative, member of the National Black Prosecutors Association and UDC’s Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. She graduated from University of Baltimore in 2018 with a master’s in Public Administration and in 2012 with a master’s in Legal and Ethical Studies. She received her Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies in 2008 from Stevenson University. She has worked as a Legal Intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., Legal Intern with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, a Management Assistant with the Federal Aviation Administration, and a Law Clerk with the Law Office of Barry R. Glazer, P.C. Bastfield will be a 2022 Summer Law Fellow for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Darby Hickey is a 3L in the day program after starting as an evening student when she was a staffer for former D.C. Councilmember David Grosso. While working for Grosso and the people of D.C., Hickey’s policy and budget responsibilities included criminal justice, health, education and human rights.
Since moving to D.C. in 2001, she has been active in movements to protect the human rights of marginalized communities, including transgender people and sex workers. Starting in August, Hickey will clerk for the Honorable Shirley M. Watts on the Maryland Court of Appeals.
Hickey received her B.A. in interdisciplinary studies from the Friends World Program at Long Island University, which included study and work in Central America and the Middle East. She lives in D.C. with her 11-year-old son.