William de los Santos drafted the best legal document, winning first place in the fifth annual Ultimate Writer legal writing competition. For his efforts, he was awarded a $3,000 cash prize and an opportunity to interview with the prestigious appellate law firm Durham, Pittard, and Spalding, LLP in Dallas, Texas.
The legal writing team at Baylor Law is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Ultimate Writer Legal Writing Competition.
First-place winner: William de los Santos
Second Place: Grace Bregard
Third Place: Catherine Helm
Honorable Mentions: Timothy Phillips and Tom Evans
Despite battling a record-breaking winter storm the week submissions were due, several Baylor Law students joined this year’s competition. For the last five years of the competition, the Legal Writing Department has scoured real appellate case files to find the perfect complex scenario that will test students’ abilities to review a modified packet of materials and draft a real-world document based on a packet of information and a brief writing prompt. This year, competitors were challenged to prepare a legal memorandum discussing whether admissions of silence while in custody are admissible in federal court. Students competing in the Ultimate Writer are prohibited from using third-party research.
“Baylor law recognizes that quality legal writing is the foundation for a successful career in the law,” stated Matt Cordon, Director of the Legal Writing Program. “This year’s competitors have met an incredibly high standard of professional legal writing and choosing our winners was no easy task,” he added.
“This year's competition presented a fantastic and challenging question,” stated the 2021 Ultimate Writer, William de los Santos. “Without having to conduct the legal research, the Ultimate Writer allowed for the competitors to focus exclusively on comprehending the issue presented and writing the response. I am very grateful for everyone involved at Durham, Pittard & Spalding, LLP, Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP, and, of course, Baylor Law School for making this opportunity possible,” he added.
In addition to cash awards for the top three competitors, each were awarded an opportunity to interview for an internship with the prestigious appellate law firm Durham, Pittard & Spalding, LLP, in Dallas, Texas. Matt Cordon, speaking about the unique competition stated, “This competition is an incredible opportunity for our students. Not only do they get the chance to demonstrate their legal writing skills, but they also have the opportunity to clerk with an incredible firm. We are thankful to our sponsors for their time and investment in Baylor Law.”
Lisa and Charlie Frazier (JD ’86) of Alexander Dubose Jefferson LLP graciously underwrite the Ultimate Writer through their Endowed Fund for Excellence in Writing at Baylor Law. The appellate law firm of Durham, Pittard & Spalding, LLP, in Dallas, Texas sponsors clerk opportunities for the top Ultimate Writer students.
“We are so grateful for Charlie and Kirk’s involvement in not only our Ultimate Writer Competition, but their personal support and investment in our legal writing program,” stated Legal Writing Lecturer, Greg White. “They are the backbone of this competition and their dedication to helping us teach and mentor future Baylor Lawyers in the art of powerful, quality legal writing is inspiring,” he added.
Charlie Frazier, Kirk Pittard (JD '99), Rick Thompson, and Thad Spalding served as judges for the competition.
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Established in 1857, Baylor Law 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 7,500 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. Baylor Law 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 as one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #50 in the magazine’s 2019 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. 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.edu/law
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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 baylor.edu