New OU Law Competition Director Aims to Continue Winning Tradition
NORMAN, OKLA. – Championships are always nice to have, but they are secondary to the learning experience when it comes to the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s competitions program.
Fortunately, it’s possible to do both. This year, Taylor Peshehonoff takes the reigns of the program from legendary program director Connie Smothermon, with the goal of continuing that winning tradition. More importantly, however, she aims to make sure OU Law graduates are prepared for the challenges that await them after law school.
“Professor Smothermon’s guidance was invaluable,” Peshehonoff said. “Her efforts put OU on the competition’s world map. She built the foundation for OU’s program, and hopefully we will continue that success.”
In the past five years, OU has won the prestigious Hunton Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship at the University of Houston twice and regularly ranks among the top moot court programs in the nation. OU students also participate in mock trial competitions, as well mediation and arbitration competitions, to name a few. Just this last spring, OU students were national finalists in the ABA Client Counseling Competition.
An OU Law graduate herself, Peshehonoff knows the importance of the competitions program. She competed on several of the university’s moot court teams under Smothermon’s tutelage.
“When I came into law school, I was all about trial teams. Professor Smothermon kind of steered me toward moot court.”
Moreover, Peshehonoff has already guided a team to success.
“The team I co-coached last year advanced to the national level of the competition’s bracket in New York City, and they were recognized with the ‘Best Brief’ award at the national level of a very rigorous competition,” she said.
The main goal of the program is not simply to win awards, however. Peshehonoff emphasizes that the program gives students the chance to develop real-world skills.
“The biggest thing is those hands-on, practical skills. Competitions allow you to seek that out. You get the teamwork aspect of it. You have to adapt to different personalities and different writing styles. You learn to navigate conflict. There are a lot of learning opportunities.
“I’m excited to get in and give students the right opportunities so we can get them prepared for practice. That was always my goal. This process is your safe place to fail and learn. It’s great when there’s a trophy, but the main goal is to take something away from it.”
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