Delia Kathleen Cobb entered the Paul M. Hebert Law Center with great enthusiasm for the legal profession. Although she attended law school at a time when women were not encouraged to do so, her energy and motivation drove her success as a student. Her law school experience left an overwhelming impact on her family, which inspired them to create the Delia Cobb Moot Court Award in her memory.
Cobb grew up in Alexandria, Louisiana with remarkable musical inclinations. Her childhood friend Janis Kile (’83) sat next to the spunky red head in the saxophone section of the high school jazz band.
“She actually played the clarinet but switched to saxophone because there was a need,” Kile recalled. “And she picked it up beautifully.”
Although she played wind instruments, Cobb’s greatest musical passion was piano. She majored in music at Northwestern State University in Louisiana and continued in that field when she transferred to Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University. Ultimately, she finished her bachelor’s in political science at the University of Oregon. With her degree in tow, she became a paralegal in California where she met her husband, Peter Athas. They moved to Washington D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill until Cobb decided it was time for a career change.
“She was tired of working for lawyers and wanted to be one herself,” Athas said. He would later graduate from Tulane Law School.
“She also wanted to move home to be closer to her mother, hence the choice of LSU Law School.”
Kile had just graduated from law school herself when Cobb enrolled at the Law Center. She was clerking for the late U.S. District Judge John V. Parker (’52) in 1984 when Cobb called her with the suspicion that she had breast cancer. Despite the diagnosis and grueling treatment, Cobb continued her education for as long as her health allowed her to.
She thoroughly enjoyed her studies and was particularly excited to be a finalist in the Robert Lee Tullis Moot Court Competition. Named in honor of the late Dean Emeritus of LSU Law, the prestigious competition tests the writing and oral advocacy skills of second-year law students.
“She threw herself full throttle into everything she did, that was no exception,” said Athas, who participated as an “inexpert” expert witness at her mock trial. “We were very proud of how well she did.”
Cobb took inspiration from her favorite LSU Law professor, Paul Baier, and aspired to practice public interest law.
“She had a very good sense of justice,” Kile said. “It wouldn’t have surprised me at all to see her handle race and discrimination cases.”
Cobb remained close with LSU Law students and faculty, even when she could no longer attend class. Professor Howard l’Enfant, who later became an Episcopalian priest, provided her with spiritual guidance while she received treatment. Cobb succumbed to her battle with breast cancer in 1985, and her fellow law students served as additional pallbearers at her funeral.
To encourage women to pursue a legal career, the Cobb family created a scholarship to award a female finalist in the Tullis Moot Court Competition. In a letter to LSU Law Chancellor William Hawkland to establish the scholarship, Delia’s mother Louise Allen Cobb Couvillion described how law school transformed her daughter.
“Shortly before she died, Dee told me that she believed her two years as a law student had been her happiest because, through her experiences there, she had developed confidence in herself and felt that she could have been both happy and successful in her chosen field.”
About the Scholarship:
This endowed scholarship was established in memory of Delia Kathleen Cobb and is awarded to a female finalist in Tullis Moot Court Competition.