Michaelina Sirkel and Amanda Hildebrand Take Top Spots in Baylor Law's 2021 Dawson & Sodd Fall Moot Court Competition

September 28, 2021

Michaelina Sirkel and Amanda Hildebrand Take Top Spots in Baylor Law's 2021 Dawson & Sodd Fall Moot Court Competition

Baylor Law Professor Mike Berry Speaks
Baylor Law Professor Mike Berry Speaks During the Final Round of the 2021 Fall Moot Court Competition, Monday, September 27, 2021


Baylor Law School's annual Dawson & Sodd, LLP Moot Court Competition, a week-long intramural event held every fall, ended on Monday, September 27th, with students Michaelina Sirkel and Amanda Hildebrand winning the top spots. The team of Victor Jarvis and Hope Burkhalter took 2nd place in the fall competition. The teams of Jake Shultz and Ashley Zarate and Jordan Dobbs and Ashley Cocklin ended the competition as Semi-Finalists.

This year, 21 two-person teams took part in the competition, which simulates the appellate advocacy process and focuses on developing students' oral advocacy skills and their ability to respond under pressure to questions from a panel of judges. Baylor Law students enrolled in the third quarter of Legal Analysis, Research and Communication (LARC 3) are required to participate in the moot court competition. Additionally, second and third year students have the option of competing a second time.

The 2021 competition's final round, conducted virtually via Zoom, was held on Monday evening September 27th and was judged by a panel of Baylor Law professors and the 2021 student winners of Baylor Law’s Faegre Drinker Spring Moot Court Competition.

In the competition, the opposing teams represent the petitioner and the respondent in a fictional case. The teams tackle two issues, with each team member taking an issue. The problem facing this year's competitors involved a claim for emotional distress by a plaintiff whose fiancée was killed in a pedestrian automobile accident. He did not see or hear the accident but went to the scene shortly after it happened. The questions presented were (1) whether Texas law recognizes a claim for bystander recovery if the plaintiff is engaged, but not married, to the victim of the accident, and (2) whether the plaintiff can recover damages if he was not located at the scene and did not contemporaneously perceive the accident.

The top ten speakers, as well as the member of the top eight teams, have been named as Barristers, an honorific title given to students who stand out for their appellate advocacy skills.

During the preliminary rounds of the competition, the student competitors are judged by current Barristers. This year's top ten speakers, by points awarded, were:

  1. Ashley Cocklin

  2. (Tie) Kiala Ellingson
    Michaelina Sirkel
  1. Kyle Drott

  2. Hope Burkhalter

  3. Reagan Hovey

  4. Ashley Zarate

  5. Steve Lowry

  6. Jaymi Furniss-Jones

  7. Dana Watkin

  8. In addition, Ashley Cocklin was chosen by the Officers of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society and faculty from the LARC 3 class to receive the Professionalism Award.

    "The Dawson & Sodd, LLP Moot Court Competition, is a unique and challenging competition that gives our first-year students an introduction to oral advocacy," noted Baylor Law Professor Mike Berry, faculty advisor to the intramural competitions. "It’s always very exciting for me to see how good they get from the practice round to the final round. This year was no exception. The students all did an outstanding job," he added.

    The Corsicana-based law firm of The Dawson & Sodd, LLP generously sponsors the annual fall competition. The firm's two named partners were both graduates of Baylor Law. Legendary Matt "Mad Dog" Dawson (JD '38) served on Baylor Law School's faculty from 1938-1971 and was professor of Baylor's renowned Practice Court program for 13 years. Glenn Sodd (JD '72) has been a frequent speaker on eminent domain trial strategy, including testimony on innovation of the Texas Legislature, and is a Fellow in the American College of Trial.

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    EMAIL: Ed_Nelson@Baylor.edu
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    Established in 1857, Baylor University School of 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 7,600 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. 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 as one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law is also ranked in the top 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 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 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

    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at baylor.edu

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