Student excellence in legal writing and advocacy was recognized at the 2023 Beck Center Awards on April 20.
The annual event, which is sponsored by The David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy recognized “outstanding Texas Law students for their focus on refining exceptional communication skills, as demonstrated in multiple ways.”
“Thorough research, clear writing, and persuasive advocacy are crucial to a lawyer’s success,” said Beck Center Director and Senior Lecturer Kamela Bridges. “At the Beck Center, we teach students these essential skills and we celebrate students who have demonstrated their prowess in these areas at the annual awards ceremony. We look forward to seeing what they accomplish next.”
The event came days after the final round of Texas Law’s annual 1L advocacy competition, the Thad T. Hutcheson Moot Court, a 64-person tournament for first-year Texas Law students. Joshua McClain and Veda Tsai squared off in the final round, with McClain narrowly taking the top honor. Temiloluwa O. Fayiga and Luke C. Walker were semifinalists, while Ali Hamza, Noah Hoffman, Sarah Wagner, and Matthew Zavaro completed the “elite eight” round.
Also recognized were eleven upper-division students for their service as two-year Teaching Quizmasters, or TQs. TQs are academic assistants for legal research and writing courses who work with students on assignments and give feedback. The position has long been considered one of the most prized roles a student can hold in their 2L or 3L years. Those completing two years as TQs this year are: Catherine Buthod, Catherine Canby, Sarah Eberhardt, Benjamin “HR” Huber-Rodriguez, Daniel Lawrence, Lucille Li, Samuel Libby, Jamie McClintock, Alexander Rigby, Sharanya Sriram, and Matthew Wurst.
3L Gloria Jones was honored for winning the regional 2022 Paper Chase Legal Writing Competition, a practice-oriented competition designed to test analytical and legal writing skills that included entries from students at eight law schools. Texas Law 2Ls Eva Robins and Carlos Torres each earned honorable mention in the competition.
Beck Center Lecturer Nelia Robbi announced that 16 first-year students received Outstanding Memo awards. Those went to: Kaitlyn Ameny, Shayan Budhwani, Ochbayar Enkhbat, Vivien Liu, Karissa Lynn McIntosh, Caelan Mitchell-Bennett, Hannah Neighbors, Sarah Jane Sanders, Frank Andrew Sarno, Jordan Schuck, Eliot Schulte, Marisol J. Sobek, Isabella Sofroniou, Meredith Spalding, Katherine E. Spry, and Claire Wilke.
Best Brief Awards were presented by The Review of Litigation to 2L Marie Baldwin, and 1Ls Lizeth Badillo Garcia, Corinne May, Joshua McClain, Hannah Neighbors, William M. Rocci, Eliot Schulte, and Sophia Skipper.
The ceremony culminated with the announcement of this year’s winners of the Beck Award, the prestigious award given to six students who demonstrate outstanding performance in both Legal Analysis and Communication and Persuasive Writing and Advocacy. Winners for 2023 were: Brandon Charnov, Joshua McClain, Hannah Neighbors, Lauren Radigan, Eliot Schulte, and Katherine E. Spry.
The festive celebration briefly turned bittersweet with the announcement that Robbi would be leaving her role in the school’s legal writing program after six years to return full-time to her firm, the downtown Austin-based McGinnis Lochridge. “I’ve loved returning to my alma mater to teach,” said Robbi. “It’s been an absolute thrill. And I’m not going far – so you’ve not seen the last of me!”
The Beck Center provides all students at Texas Law with a foundation for excellence in legal research, oral presentation, oral argument, and, most importantly, legal writing. The center is the organizational focal point for the required first-year courses in legal research and legal writing as well as advanced courses available to upper-class students.