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November 18, 2001

2001-2002 Law Student Tax Challenge

Problem & Semi-Finalist Answers

Background and Entrants

The American Bar Association Section of Taxation Young Lawyers Forum held the first annual Law Student Tax Challenge on January 18, 2002, during the Section's Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Law students from across the country competed for cash donations to their school and other prizes.

The Law Student Tax Challenge is an annual inter-law school transactional planning and client counseling competition designed to focus on the tax consequences of a complex business-planning problem. The competition is intended to provide law students with the opportunity to research "real-life" tax planning issues and to demonstrate their acquired tax knowledge, through their writing and oratory skills, in front of the nation's largest single group of practicing attorneys, judges, consultants, counsels, and educators specializing in federal tax law. This year, 15 teams from 14 law schools entered written submissions. They were:

  • Wake Forest University School of Law - Thomas Ricks (Captain), Jill Peters
    Coach: Professor David Shores
  • Indiana University - Thomas Lunsford (Captain), Darin Siders
    Coaches: Dean Leonard Fromm, Peter Van Zante
  • Western State University College of Law - Brian Comstock (Captain), Michele J. Barranca-Donaldson
    Coach: Professor Cheyanna L. Jaffke
  • American University Washington College of Law - Gilles Stucker Jr. (Captain), Ross Poulsen
    Coach: Professor Kenneth Anderson
  • South Texas College of Law - Michelle Merendino (Captain), Rebecca Turini
    Coach: Kevin Yamamoto
  • Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law - Kate Bixler (Captain), Kimberly Houston
    Coach: Professor Joseph Sedlack
  • Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law - Marc Potlock (Captain), Geoff Bushko
    Coach: Professor Joseph Sedlack
  • Syracuse University College of Law - James C. Shackelford (Captain), Lisa Christensen
    Coach: Professor Stephen T. Black
  • University of Washington School of Law - Anthony D. Cipriano (Captain), Asher Bearman
    Coach: Scott Schumacher
  • Quinnipiac University School of Law - Dawn M. Vigue (Captain), Bruce Fair
    Coach: Professor Toni Robinson
  • Creighton University School of Law - Tina Gillispie (Captain), Hollie Mason
    Coach: Professor Tom Purcell
  • Georgia State College of Law - Maxmillian S. Kim (Captain), Mona H. Baldwin
    Coach: Professor George Carey
  • University of Maryland School of Law - Michael M. Lloyd (Captain), Amy Devadas
    Coach: Professor Daniel S. Goldberg
  • Rutgers School of Law - Paula Zwiren (Captain), Judith D. Rawcliffe
  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law - Regina Rathnau (Captain), Susan Balkema
    Coach: Jeffrey Kwall

Semifinalists and Winners

Four semi-finalist teams were selected to compete orally in New Orleans.

The semi-finalist teams were:

  • Thomas Lunsford and Darin Siders from the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington
  • Kate Bixler and Kimberly Houston from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law
  • Michael M. Lloyd and Amy Devadas from the University of Maryland School of Law
  • Anthony D. Cipriano and Asher Bearman from the University of Washington School of Law

The teams from Temple University and the University of Maryland were chosen to proceed to the finals round, with Temple winning first place overall and the University of Maryland winning second place. The memorandums and letters prepared by the semi-finalists are available.

In recognition of the two finalist teams, the ABA Section of Taxation will donate $5,000 and $2,500, respectively, to the Temple and Maryland law schools. The student team members will receive Tax Section memberships and waiver of Section meeting registration fees for three and two years, respectively.

"The competition provided the students with practical tax law experience and an invaluable opportunity to meet and network with some of the nation's leading tax practitioners," stated Melinda Merk, Chair of the ABA Section of Taxation Young Lawyers Forum. "We were very impressed with the level of professionalism and knowledge that the students exhibited."


Judges for the competition included some of the nation's top tax professionals.

Judges for the semi-final round were:

  • Christine L. Agnew (Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Houston, TX),
  • Paul H. Asofsky (Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Houston, TX),
  • Professor Charlotte Crane (Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, IL),
  • Jere D. McGaffey (McGaffey, Foley & Lardner, Milwaukee, WI)
  • Rudolph R. Ramelli (Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, New Orleans, LA)

Judges for the final round were:

  • Christine L. Agnew,
  • Jerald D. August (August & Kulunas, P.A., West Palm Beach, FL),
  • Michael J. Grace (Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP, Washington, DC),
  • Philip B. Wright (Bryan Cave, St. Louis, MO)
  • Lisa M. Zarlenga (Steptoe & Johnson, Washington, DC)