Baylor Law Students Celebrate $5,000 Prize in Practice Court Contest
by Alan Hunt
A three-hour trial at Baylor Law School resulted in a $5,000 prize for four law students who were judged by three practicing attorneys on their courtroom skills and poise.
The winning team in the Bob and Karen Wortham Spring Practice Court Competition comprised attorneys Persis Mehta and Drew York and witnesses Brandon Barchus and Brandon Bundren. Second-place winners were attorneys Holly Martin and Jack Zinda and witnesses Jason Miller and Brian Thomas.
Students alternate as attorneys or witnesses at each stage of the competition, which started out with a field of nearly 20 teams. The hypothetical case argued by the students involved a claim for damages resulting from a road accident. Judging the final round of the contest were practicing attorneys and Baylor law graduates Dudley Jordan and John Mabry and Texas Tech Law School graduate Rob Swanton.
Professor William D. Underwood, Baylor's Interim President, Master Teacher and director of the Practice Court Program, said the Wortham Competition, now in its second year, revives a tradition started by Professor Emeritus R. Matt Dawson, a 1938 Baylor law graduate, who directed Baylor's Practice Court Program for many years until his retirement in 1983. Underwood, who also serves as the Leon Jaworski Professor of Practice and Procedure, said Dawson's annual mini-trial competitions became a major component of the Baylor "PC experience" for law students over the years.
Law Dean Brad Toben praised the support of Robert and Karen Wortham in sponsoring the competition, noting that this kind of generous alumni assistance enables Baylor Law School to achieve the recognition it enjoys as one of the nation's leading trial advocacy schools. Baylor Law School's trial advocacy program recently was ranked sixth in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's "2006 Best Graduate School" list.
A 1974 Baylor law graduate, Wortham is the recipient of numerous professional awards. He was named Outstanding Young Lawyer for Jefferson County and in 1993 he received the Department of Justice Award for Outstanding Service. An attorney with the Beaumont law firm of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn Inc., he previously worked at the District Attorney's Office, Jefferson County, 1974-75; State District Judge, 1980-1981; and U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Texas, 1981-1993.