Texas Tech University

Law School Advocacy Team Captures Moot Court Competition Crown

George Watson

March 17, 2015

It is the 33rd national advocacy title for the Texas Tech School of Law.

Advocacy Team
Clay Watkins, Katherine Handy and Stephanie Ibarra

The advocacy team at the Texas Tech University School of Law captured the crown this weekend at the Fifth Annual National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition hosted by West Virginia University.

The team of Katherine Handy, a third-year law student from Plano, Stephanie Ibarra, a second-year law student from Laredo and Clay Watkins, a second-year law student from Rockwall, took first place. This is the second time in the past three years Texas Tech has won the competition.

"Given Texas Tech Law's commitment to producing graduates who are ready to practice in the energy sector when they graduate, this is always an extremely important competition to our law school and advocacy program," said Robert Sherwin, an assistant professor of law and the director of the law school's advocacy programs. "The fact that we've won this tournament two out of the last three years — not to mention our second team's quarterfinal finish — once again affirms our place as one of the top energy law schools in the country. Combine it with our Energy Law Negotiation team's finalist finish last month, and I think the results speak for themselves."

According to the School of Law, Handy became the first three-time national moot court champion in the school's history.

"Winning my third title with Clay and Stephanie was one of the greatest experiences of my law school career," Handy said. "We all worked so hard, and I could not be more proud of my team."

The competition highlights emerging energy law trends and sustainable energy production developments and is for students who desire to work in the field of energy and sustainability law. It allows them to present in front of experienced lawyers, district court and appellate judges, competing in four preliminary rounds, after which the field of 40 is narrowed to 16.

The Texas Tech team then had to compete in three more rounds to win the competition, beating the University of North Dakota, last year's runner-up, in the finals. Sherwin said this year's problem dealt with the complicated issues of granting public utility status to a mid-stream natural gas pipeline company and whether that company's proposed pipeline in a designated wetland area violated the Clean Water Act.

As part of the win, the Texas Tech students receive scholarships in recognition of their superior appellate advocacy skills.

"Our coaches, professors Brie Sherwin and Laura Pratt, were nothing short of amazing," Handy said. "They worked with us every single evening to make sure we were as prepared as possible. I'm so glad we could win this for them and for Texas Tech Law."

The second Texas Tech law team that reached the quarterfinals consisted of third-year student Jamie Vaughan of San Marcos and second-year students Shelby Hall of Lubbock and Matthew Loving of Lindale.