NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma College of Law was crowned the national champion of this year’s Federal Bar Association Thurgood Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition. This marks the fourth national competition championship for OU Law in the last two years, demonstrating the college’s place among the top law schools in the nation for moot court.
The OU team of second-year law students Bakhtawar (Becky) Hafiz of Denton, Texas, and Taylor Freeman Peshehonoff of Ada, Oklahoma, competed in five rounds, prevailing over 39 other teams. The competition was held March 20-21 in Washington, D.C. They were coached by OU Law alumnus Andrew Morris (’13).
“We are extremely proud of our remarkably talented students, who devote extensive time outside the classroom to prepare for this level of competition. The skills our students develop through moot court competitions will serve them throughout their professional careers,” said OU Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “The perennial success of our competitions program is a direct result of the tireless efforts of our students and the incredible support from our faculty and alumni. We owe so much of our success to our Director of Competitions, Professor Connie Smothermon, whose leadership and dedication inspires our students to perform at their best.”
The Federal Bar Association competition, designed for two-person teams, focuses on written briefs as well as oral arguments. This year’s topic involved the interpretation and application of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Other competitors in the tournament included teams from SMU Dedmon School of Law, the University of North Carolina School of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law and Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
OU Law is ranked a Top 5 Moot Court Program in the Nation by the Blakely Advocacy Institute, and for the last six years, the institute has placed the college in the Top 20. In the American Bar Association’s inaugural Competitions Championship, OU Law placed fifth out of 156 law schools nationwide.
In combination with other recent honors, OU Law’s achievements in moot court competitions highlight the college’s commitment to providing a world-class legal education. Other recent accolades include:
- Top 10 Best Value Law School (National Jurist)
- Named an Apple Distinguished School for 2017-2019 (Apple Inc.)
- Top 25 Law School for J.D. Required, Full-Time, Long-Term Employment (American Bar Association)
- the Oklahoma law school with the highest overall bar passage rate for 16 years running.
Founded in 1909, the OU College of Law is one of the nation’s premier law schools. OU Law offers small sections and class sizes that encourage a strong sense of community; accomplished faculty with international expertise; and a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technology. The OU College of Law is the academic home of more than 800 students enrolled in the juris doctor program, the John B. Turner Master of Laws Program, the master of legal studies program and various dual degree programs. For more information about OU Law, visit law.ou.edu.
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OU Law Conversations: Dean Emeritus Andrew Coats
What led you to OU Law? I have wanted to go to law school since I was a teenager. I was active in speech contests and enjoyed making oral presentations. When I was in high school, I would go downtown and watch some of the trials at the courthouse, so, I got acquainted with the courtroom rather early. I obtained a Navy scholarship to go to OU. I was a regular Navy midshipman then I served three years in the far east before coming back to law school. I wanted to attend law school and came back to OU.
OU Law Conversations: Robert Barnes
What led you to OU Law? OU Law has been part of my family since the 1920s. My great uncle was Dr. Maurice Merrill, a 1922 graduate of OU Law who then earned a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University in 1925. Merrill taught at OU Law for 30 years, published numerous seminal works in oil and gas law, constitutional law, administrative law and the law of Notice. While still in his twenties, Merrill published the seminal treatise Implied Covenants in Oil and Gas Law, which has been a cornerstone of my cases. In law school, I lived with Uncle Maurice and marveled at his longhand scrawl which was literally final copy in its first draft form. In my mind, he will always be ten times the lawyer that I ever became.