Texas Tech University

School of Law Earns Top Ranking in ABA Competitions Championship

George Watson

May 30, 2019

Scales of justice

The competition, sponsored by the American Bar Association, awards points for achievements in skills competitions.

After placing second in the inaugural competition a year ago, the Texas Tech University School of Law ascended to the top in the 2019 American Bar Association (ABA) Competitions Championship.

The ranking, compiled by the ABA, measures overall performance for law schools across the U.S. in four practical skills competition categories – arbitration, negotiation, client counseling and the National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC moot court).

The Competitions Championship was established to recognize law schools that go above and beyond to prepare students for practice. The law school with the most points through team achievements and participation in the ABA Law Student Division's four practical skills competitions receives the ABA Competitions Champion title.

Texas Tech outdistanced Southern Methodist University and Liberty University for the title.

"Texas Tech Law is a school passionately devoted to students and to skills training," said Jack Wade Nowlin, dean of the School of Law. "Our advocacy program, under the amazing leadership of professor Robert Sherwin, succeeds because of the hard work, talent and dedication of our faculty, staff and students. I am so proud of our community and so pleased to see our program recognized in this way."


According to the ABA, the competitions teach law students real-world legal skills in a simulated practice environment. Judges for the competitions include volunteer attorneys and sitting members of the bench. This year, more than 1,300 students from 154 law schools participated in one or more of the competitions sponsored by the Law Student Division.

Across the four competition categories, the Texas Tech School of Law fielded 10 teams, advancing to the national finals in the arbitration and negotiation competitions, both held at the ABA headquarters in Chicago.

Taylor Calvert took top honors in the national negotiation competition in February on the topic of employment law. The arbitration team of John Haugen, Johnathan Young, Darrian Matthews and Sara Jaeckle reached the semifinals of the competition held in January.

Texas Tech finished second in the inaugural competition last year. At the time, Sherwin said the law school had been heavily involved in past ABA competitions for several reasons. He said the two-stage structure of having regional and national competitions makes them much harder to win and, therefore, better prepares students to practice law.

Also, ABA competitions are administered by law school professors instead of student groups, and with the ABA as the primary accrediting body for law schools, their competitions bring an extra level of prestige and attract the most talented law students from around the U.S.

"This distinction is incredibly important to us because it acknowledges our strength, not just in one discipline, but across the entire spectrum of lawyering skills," Sherwin said. "It confirms that what we do at Texas Tech is turn out well-rounded students who are ready to effectively advocate for their clients as soon as they graduate. The ABA has really set the gold standard for what advocacy skills competitions should be, so capturing the top ranking from all four competitions means so much more to us than winning a single tournament."