U.S. News Ranks Baylor Law Fourth Best in Nation in Trial Advocacy

April 16, 2010

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Baylor Law School's Trial Advocacy program was ranked the fourth best in the nation in the law specialty rankings in U.S. News and World Report's 2011 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." Last year, the Baylor Law Trial Advocacy program ranked seventh.

"The real test of a law school's trial advocacy program is the breadth and quality of instruction provided to the entire student body, not just the select few who are chosen for interscholastic teams. Baylor is committed to providing the best trial advocacy training possible to every single student enrolled," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "It is gratifying to see that its national reputation is beginning to catch up with that longstanding reality."

"Why is Baylor consistently ranked in the Top 10 trial advocacy programs nationwide? First and foremost, our students are remarkable - they are smart, talented and highly motivated," said Gerald Powell, the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law and director of the Practice Court Program. "Second, Baylor Law School focuses from day one on developing both excellent legal thinkers and excellent legal practitioners. Teaching students to serve clients in the practice of law is our culture in all three years of law school.

"Finally, our third-year litigation program, Practice Court, is intense and rigorous. Our students learn not only how to try cases in a real world setting, but they also learn the law of procedure and evidence, the foundations of trial advocacy. In short, our students are well-prepared to practice the art of trial advocacy."

The bedrock of Baylor's advocacy training program is the third-year Practice Court Program, which is taught by experienced trial lawyers - Professor Jim Wren, Professor Jeremy Counseller and Powell. Practice Court is composed of four courses taught over two quarters: Practice Court I: Pre-Trial Practice and Procedure; Practice Court II: Trial Evidence, Procedure, and Practice; Practice Court III: Trial and Post-Trial Practice, Procedure and Evidence; and Professional Responsibility. Through this 17-quarter-credit-hour program, students develop skills important to any type of practice, but essential to the trial lawyer.

Students hone these skills through intensive study of procedural and evidence law, as well as through advocacy exercises experiencing each step of litigation in the process. They not only try mock cases, including giving opening statements, closing arguments, witness examination, and jury selection, but will also do all of the pre-trial preparation, including filing petitions and answers, arguing motions, taking depositions and using the discovery process to gather evidence. Lectures address the rules of evidence and procedure, and extensive class time is devoted to practical use of the rules, including the strategy and tactics of litigation. Through this program, students not only practice procedures and skills they will need to use in the future, but also develop strategies for effectively and ethically using the law to competently represent clients.

Baylor Law also enjoyed a highly successful year in interscholastic competition. During spring 2009, a Baylor Law team was crowned national champion at the prestigious National Trial Competition, sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers. Another Baylor Law team placed third in the nation at the Student Trial Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the American Association for Justice. A Baylor Law team also won the regional ABA Client Counseling Tournament while another Baylor team made the round of 16 at the National Moot Court Competition in New York City early in 2009. Additionally, Baylor Law captured first place at the ninth annual National Trial Advocacy Competition in East Lansing, Mich., during the fall of 2008.

U.S. News' law school specialty rankings are based solely on votes by legal educators, who nominated up to 15 schools in each field. Legal educators chosen were a selection of those listed in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of Law Teachers 2007-2008 as currently teaching in that field.

In the rankings of the best law schools, Baylor Law School tied for 64th. Only three other Texas law schools joined Baylor in the Top 100 list - the University of Texas at Austin at 15; SMU in a four-way tie for 48; and the University of Houston in a four-way tie for 60.

Each year, U.S. News ranks professional school programs in business, education, engineering, law and medicine. The rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinion about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students.

Contact: Julie Carlson, Baylor Law School, (254) 710-6681

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