Baylor Law to Send Two Teams to National Trial Competition Finals

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From left to right: Joel Towner, Steven Lopez, Holly Raines, Chaille Walraven, Mark Walraven.
Feb. 16, 2012

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Two Baylor Law School mock trial teams will compete in the National Trial Competition finals after an undefeated run at the regional competition in Dallas.

The Baylor teams of Chaille Graft Walraven and Joel Towner and Mark Walraven and Steven Lopez competed against teams from law schools in Texas and Louisiana, with the top two teams advancing to the national finals on March 21-24 in Austin. The Baylor teams are coached by adjunct professor Robert Little, who also works for the Waco law firm Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee, PLLC.

"Baylor literally swept the field - no losses in 10 trials. I think they will do just as well at the national tournament. These young lawyers are really superb," said Gerald Powell, director of the Practice Court Program and The Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law at Baylor Law School.

"The law school is very fortunate to have been represented by such quality advocates, who once again have set the standard for excellence in trial advocacy education and training. Their wonderful achievement is a reflection of the quality of our program," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben.

The NTC is sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association and is considered one of the top mock trial competitions in the United States.

"I am extremely happy and proud," Little said. "These kids have worked hard. This is further evidence that the time Baylor Law students put in during their law school career and the time their professors put in getting them ready for practice pays off."

The regional tournament case was a fictional civil case regarding who was negligent in a car wreck that caused the death of a passenger. Before the national finals, qualifying teams will receive a new case to ready for trial.

"We will have about 24 days to prepare for nationals, but because of the work they do in Practice Court, our students are used to quick but thorough trial preparation," Little said.

In addition to the team members, Little was quick to acknowledge the contributions of law student Holly Raines, who served as evidence coach, and Paul Green and Whitney Keltch, who put in numerous hours as practice witnesses.

"Holly was responsible for researching the legal issues and highlighting the cases that could be used during competition. I saw no other team that had such extensive legal research," Little said.

Arranged as a bracket tournament, the regional competitions ensure that two teams from the same school never compete against each other. Both Baylor Law teams defeated teams from South Texas School of Law in the regional finals.

Baylor Law won the National Trial Competition in 2009.

"Our interscholastic advocacy record continues to be superb. I'm grateful for our bright and motivated student competitors and for their dedicated faculty and adjunct coaches," Toben said.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 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 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About Baylor Law School

Established in 1849, Baylor Law School was the first law school in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,000 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 on a career in public service. The Law School boasts two Texas governors, members or former members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, 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 the third best in the nation. Baylor Law School is ranked No. 56 in the magazine's 2012 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools."

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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