Skip to main content

School of Law student earns ‘Best Defense Advocate’ title at national mock trial competition

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Swapna Kilani, a third-year law student at the University of South Dakota School of Law, was honored as Best Defense Advocate at the 2014 Capitol City Challenge held in Washington D.C. recently.

The Capitol City Challenge, hosted by American University, is a prestigious mock trial competition consisting of the top trial schools in the nation. The USD School of Law team participating at the Capitol City Challenge included third-year law students Kilani, Jen deHueck and Shane Andrews; and second-year law student Andy Fick. The USD trial team is coached by law school faculty Tom Horton, associate professor of law, and Michael McKey. The competition featured teams from the Georgetown University Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law, William & Mary Law School and Temple University Beasley School of Law.

Kilani scored 68 (out of a possible 75) to place first overall as the USD School of Law team defeated Widener University (the University of Delaware’s School of Law) in the opening round of the competition. This is the second time in five years that a USD law student has been honored as Best Defense Advocate at the Capitol City Challenge (Alex Hagen won it in 2010). Her co-counsel, Andrews, scored a 66 to earn a tie for third place. A photo of Kilani and Andrews is available for download at

“We could not be prouder of Swapna, Shane, Jen and Andrew. Their outstanding performances against such top teams directly resulted from their hard work and dedication over the past several months,” stated Horton, who thanked the South Dakota Trial Lawyers’ Association for their support of the USD School of Law’s trial teams.


USD’s Knudson School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News