WACO, Texas -
On Thursday, January 26, Baylor Law announced the winners of the 2022 The Paper Chase Legal Writing Competition, Texas’s premier legal writing contest. According to the Judges from the Texas Young Lawyer Association (TYLA), this year’s winner is Gloria Jones of the University of Texas School of Law. Second Place was awarded to Colin Hickl of SMU Dedman School of Law, and Jacob C. Swanson of SMU Dedman School of Law took Third Place. The high-stakes legal writing competition stands out for its challenging real-world writing prompt and a significant cash prize award of $5,000 for first-place winner Gloria Jones and $7,000 in total prizes.
The competition was the most solicited since Baylor Law began hosting The Paper Chase in 2017. Over 150 students from eight of Texas’s nine non-Baylor law schools registered for the competition. Baylor does not field a team as host and creator of the case file.
“I was drawn to the opportunity to use the skills I had learned throughout law school and my summer jobs to tackle a discrete legal question,” remarked winner Gloria Jones, adding, “The prompt was a fun problem that was based in the distinction between the right to privacy and the right to publicity. While it was the perfect scope and complexity for a seven-page memo, it took a lot of refining to address the nuance of the issue in only several pages, making it a really fun challenge. I’m very grateful to everyone that facilitated this competition!”
The legal writing team at Baylor challenged this year’s competitors to prepare a memorandum of law analyzing issues related to a plaintiff’s allegations that a social media site appropriated the plaintiff’s likeness. Under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, a social media company is entitled to immunity from liability as a publisher. This immunity does not apply to intellectual-property claims. However, the statute does not define what an intellectual-property claim is, and several federal courts have been split about whether a state-law claim is indeed an intellectual-property claim. The Paper Chase competitors were asked to analyze the plaintiff’s complaint and several cases to determine whether the company was immune under Communications Decency Act.
The following are the top ten finishers in The Paper Chase Texas Legal Writing Competition 2022, according to the TYLA judges:
1st Place • Gloria Jones • University of Texas School of Law
2nd Place • Colin Hickl • SMU Dedman School of Law
3rd Place • Jacob C. Swanson • SMU Dedman School of Law
4. Heven Kenner • South Texas College of Law Houston
5. Joshua Blann • UNT Dallas College of Law
6. Allison Morgan • Texas Tech University School of Law
7. Melissa Daniels • UNT Dallas College of Law
8. Eva Robins • University of Texas School of Law
9. Brooke Brewer • Texas Tech University School of Law
10. Carlos A. Torres • University of Texas School of Law
“Lawyers, regardless of area or type of practice, must be able to express their analysis of legal issues and persuade others on their clients’ behalf,” noted the Director of the Legal Writing Program, Professor of Law, and the mastermind behind The Paper Chase, Matt Cordon. “Baylor Law hosts this competition to challenge Texas law students, in a fun and interesting way, to create a document they might be required to write in practice under similar time constraints.”
TYLA and Baylor Law co-sponsor the competition. Baylor Law’s legal writing team is the program’s administrator and creates the challenging case file. Select TYLA members, all practicing lawyers, judge the competition’s anonymized entries. Austin-based personal injury law firm FVF Law generously sponsored the prizes for this year’s The Paper Chase Competition.
“As Co-Chairs of the TYLA State Competitions Committee, we want to express how proud TYLA is to partner with Baylor Law in hosting the annual Paper Chase Competition—the first and finest legal writing competition in Texas. We were impressed by the overall quality of the submissions,” noted David Hagan of the Law Offices of David S. Hagen and Johnathan Stone, an Assistant Attorney General in the General Litigation Division. “The participants showed originality, thoughtful reasoning, and an appropriate reliance on legal authorities. The quality of the submissions is a testament to the excellent education Texas law schools provide. Selecting the winner was difficult. We commend the participants and encourage those who did not win to try again next year.”
The following attorneys assisted with judging:
Tim Adams • Harris County District Attorney’s Office
Andrew Cavazos • Poulos and Coates, LLP
Garrett Courts • Brady & Hamilton, LLP
Tyler Granger • West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry, PC
David Hagan • Law Office of David R. Hagan
Sushant Mohan • BakerHostetler LLP
Julia Peebles • Haynes and Boone, LLP
Laura Pratt • Brady & Hamilton, LLP
Armin Salek • Youth Justice Alliance
Aamir Siddick • Vinson & Elkins LLP
Johnathan Stone • Office of the Attorney General, General Litigation Division
Courtney White • City Attorney’s Office, City of Amarillo
The Paper Chase is the unparalleled legal writing competition in Texas and one-third of Baylor Law’s “Triple Crown’ of intense intramural legal competitions, alongside The Closer, Baylor Law’s demanding, invitation-only transactional law competition, and “Top Gun,” the most challenging mock trial competition in the country.
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ABOUT BAYLOR LAW
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 7,800 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 Schools 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
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
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