Tax Moot Court Team Weathers Obstacles, Wins Two Awards at National Competition
(Boston, 02/08/11) New England Law | Boston: New England Law | Boston’s Tax Moot Court Team weathered a fierce snowstorm, cancelled and delayed flights, and a penalty because of their resulting late arrival at the National Tax Moot Court Competition in St. Petersburg Beach, FL, on February 3-5. But the perseverance of team members Jordan Baumer ’11 and Michael Saracino ’11 paid off, and they garnered the Best Overall Brief award and Second Runner-up in the oral argument competition.
Transportation hurdles had to be cleared on the way to the annual assessment of tax law knowledge and presentation skills. Baumer, Saracino, and team coach Professor Kent Schenkel’s original flight from Boston was cancelled, and the airline scrapped the next day’s departures. The team booked with another carrier, but mechanical delays caused a missed connecting flight.
Professor Schenkel called the Florida Bar, which sponsors the competition, and explained that the team would be too late for the first scheduled competition round. The following terms were offered: the team could compete if it arrived by 3 p.m., but it would have to forfeit the first round.
“By the time we registered, it was after 2:30,” said Professor Schenkel. “Jordan and Michael ran to their rooms, changed, entered the conference room by 3, and won.”
The initial victory against LSU Law Center (“Possibly our toughest round,” according to Professor Schenkel) was followed the next day by victories over Brooklyn Law School and the University of Alabama School of Law. The team came up short, however, in a very close decision against Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law. This loss, paired with the forfeit, eliminated New England Law from the championship round.
In the consolation round, the team competed successfully before United States Tax Court judges, besting Quinnipiac University School of Law to earn second runner-up (third place) honors.
“Overall the competion was one of the most intellecually challenging and rewarding experiences I've had during my time in law school,” commented Michael Saracino. “The area of law I'm most interested in practicing is estate planning or other types of transactional tax work. I've never been interested in doing any type of work that would involve court appearances, and I've always felt that my weakest skill was my oral advocacy, which is what motivated me to take part in this competition. I will certainly have a new confidence if I ever appear before a judge on behalf of a client.”
Baumer and Saracino also won the award for the Best Overall Brief, which was entirely their work product without advice from Professor Schenkel or John Keeney ’11, the team’s student-coach. Keeney was a member of last year’s team, which took first place in the competition. Keeney also received the 2010 award for the best individual oralist.
“I really saw the team’s confidence grow throughout the competition,” noted Professor Schenkel, of New England Law's Center for Business Law. “They were very sharp on the law and were complimented by judges in every round.”
The national competition features 16 law school teams, which consider a hypothetical appeal before a Federal Circuit Court. This year’s problem focused on the claim of right doctrine and the tax practitioner-client privilege.