Texas Tech University

School of Law Crowned ABA Competitions Champion

McKenzi Morris

May 4, 2020

ABA Arbitration Competition Champions

The American Bar Association awards points for achievements in four skills competitions.

For the second straight year, the Texas Tech University School of Law was named the 2019-2020 American Bar Association (ABA) Competitions Champion.

The award is based on each law school's success in the four ABA Law Student Division competitions – arbitration, negotiation, client counseling and national appellate advocacy (NAAC Moot Court). Points are awarded for participation and achievements in each competition.

Texas Tech fielded 10 teams across the four competitions and racked up a total of 63 points, outscoring Stetson University and the University of Oklahoma, who placed second and third, respectively.

"Texas Tech Law ensures our students graduate with the real-world, practical skills that every lawyer needs for a fantastic career," said Jack Wade Nowlin, dean of the School of Law. "Our advocacy program, under the leadership of program director and professor Robert Sherwin, is an important cornerstone of our practical skills training. Our students work hard, and I am so proud their dedication has continued our legacy of success in advocacy with a second championship in two years."

The team of second-year students Michael Samaniego, Patricia Cabrera-Sopo, Emily Fouts and Drake Pamilton won the ABA arbitration competition championship in January.

A team of second-year students – Patricia Cabrera-Sopo, Emily Fouts, Drake Pamilton and Michael Samaniego – won the arbitration competition in January after defeating nine teams, including another team of Red Raiders in the semifinals, at the ABA headquarters in Chicago.

The client counseling team of Jodee Rankin and Alesha Walker won its regional competition and advanced to the national finals. The moot court team of Sara Baumgardner, Patrick LeMasters and Kaitlyn Schiraldi won the NAAC Regional Competition as well.

Alesha Walker, coach Chuck Bubany and Jodee Rankin won the client counseling regional competition to advance to the national finals this year.

"I think what I'm most proud of is that we're doing this consistently," said Sherwin, Champions in Advocacy Endowed Professor of Law and director of the Advocacy Program. "We were No. 1 this year, No. 1 last year and No. 2 the year before that. What that shows is, we're doing something right when it comes to training our students to fiercely advocate for their future clients. The students who contributed to this ranking should be commended for their performances, but it also shows something larger, which is that there's no Texas law school better at preparing its students than Texas Tech."

Coach Allie Hallmark, Patrick LeMasters, Kaitlyn Schiraldi, Sara Baumgardner and coach Robert Sherwin won the NAAC Regional Competition this year as well.

ABA 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 180 law schools participated in one or more of the competitions sponsored by the Law Student Division.

"It was such an incredible privilege to get to compete at ABA," Baumgardner said. "I experienced so much growth during this process – not just during the practice period, but at the competition itself. I feel as though this experience helped me discover the kind of advocate I've always wanted to be, and I got to keep building on that all the way through the championship round. It was so delightful and affirming to win, and I'm honored to get to contribute to Texas Tech Law's long history of superb advocacy. This competition has truly shaped me, and I could not be more grateful for this experience."