Baylor Law Advocacy Team Sweeps ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition

April 17, 2019

Baylor Law Advocacy Team Sweeps ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition

Baylor Law students Haley Mowdy (at podium) and Kyle Gardner (Left, at Counsel Table) argue their appeal before the assembled judges at the Federal Courthouse in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of ABA for Law Students)

WACO, Texas -

In a unanimous final-round decision, the Baylor Law team of Kyle Gardner, Haley Mowdy and Kyle Stone won the 2019 National Championship of the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC), the largest moot court competition in the nation.

Haley Mowdy (L) and Kyle Gardner (R) after the awards ceremony in Chicago

In addition to winning the overall competition, the Baylor Law team had a historic showing at this year’s NAAC. Haley Mowdy won Best Speaker; Kyle Gardner was Second-Best Speaker and the Baylor Law team had the second-best brief. Two hundred law schools competed during a three-week period in six regional rounds of the ABA NAAC in February. Following the regional competitions, a total of 24 teams were invited to compete in the National Finals held in the federal courthouse in Chicago on April 11–13, 2019.

“We are proud beyond measure of this year’s NAAC team and this national title win,” stated Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben, “Winning an advocacy competition of this profile and caliber requires a mighty investment of effort, time, focus, professionalism, and the ability to excel under pressure. This team – student competitors and coach – invested and demonstrated all these and more.”

The team was coached by Professor of Law Brian Serr who helped prepare the Baylor Law team for their strong showing at the regional competition in Portland and the national competition in Chicago. They were aided in their win by fellow student Daniel Wiseman, who acted as the team’s bailiff. Wiseman, like the other members of the Advocacy Team, willingly gave up substantial study and prep time for final exams in order to participate in Chicago.

“I can't even begin to explain how honored I am to have had the opportunity to compete in this competition, but I'm not afraid to admit that winning this competition feels especially good to me because it represents a whole army of people believing in me when I didn't always believe in myself,” Stated Haley Mowdy, winner of the Best Advocate Award, who added, “As thrilled as I am to win this on my own behalf, I'm even more proud to have done it on behalf of the world's best law school. Baylor Law School professors, coaches, and students will lift you up and keep pushing you toward your goals, even when you're too scared or tired or uncertain to keep going by yourself. I couldn't be more grateful for the support and encouragement I received from the Baylor Law family, so this win really belongs to them.

Winning an advocacy competition of this profile and caliber requires a mighty investment of effort, time, focus, professionalism, and the ability to excel under pressure. This team – student competitors and coach – invested and demonstrated all these and more.
–Dean Brad Toben, Baylor Law

“It took a lot of hard work and time from a lot of special people: our coach, Professor Serr, our brief writer, Kyle Stone, and our fellow teammates, Kylie Calabrese and Josh Richardson,” stated Kyle Gardner, winner of the second-best advocate award at the event, who added, “I Also can’t say enough kind words about my partner, Haley Mowdy. This has been the highlight of my law school career by a long shot, and I am so grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to participate and compete.”

Baylor Law 3L Kyle Stone, the 2019 team's brief writer

Brief writer Kyle Stone, who did not attend the final round but whose brief was voted second-best in the competition, stated, “I was initially hesitant to be a brief writer again this year, but I am incredibly happy that Kyle convinced me to join the team. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Kyle, Haley, and Professor Serr these past several months.” He added, “I would like to thank Kyle and Haley for their assistance and contributions on the brief. Many brief writers end up drafting and editing the brief on their own. I was fortunate to have teammates who were willing to help shoulder the burden by providing comments, feedback, edits, and advice. Their contributions transformed a good brief into an excellent brief.”

At the National Appellate Advocacy Competition, law students from across the nation participate in a hypothetical appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The competition involves writing a brief as either respondent or petitioner and then arguing the case in front of a mock Supreme Court. The case involved a lawsuit brought by inmates challenging the constitutionality of solitary confinement under the 8th Amendment: 1) whether long-term solitary confinement violates the 8th Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual” punishment; 2) whether any use of solitary confinement for juvenile inmates, except for emergency circumstances, violates the Amendment.

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Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program #2 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #48 in the magazine’s 2020 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and in the top 15 "Best Law School Facilities" in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984. Learn more at

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at

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