Baylor Law wins the 2024 American Association for Justice National Championship

April 18, 2024
Baylor Law's Winning Team poses with AAJ President Sean Domnick After the Event
After the competition, Baylor Law's winning team poses with AAJ President Sean Domnick (Center). (L-R) (L-R) Robert Holland, Anderson Tittle, Sean Domnick, Duncan Robinson, and Ameyali Sanchez. Photo courtesy of AAJ.

Baylor Law’s advocacy team secured the title of National Champions at the 2024 American Association for Justice’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Chicago. The team of Ameyali Sanchez, Duncan Robinson, Anderson Tittle, and Robby Holland, guided by coaches David Deaconson, Mason Dunnam, and Claire Harbert, defeated returning champions from UCLA School of Law in the final round to take home the 2024 title. Adding to this year’s accomplishment, Duncan Robinson’s exceptional advocacy skills earned him the award for Best Advocate for the entire competition.

This remarkable achievement marks Baylor Law’s third victory in one of the country’s longest-running and largest trial advocacy competitions. Adjunct Professor of Law David Deaconson, the team’s head coach, expressed immense pride in the students’ commitment and achievement, stating, “Winning the 2024 AAJ National Championship was something these student advocates truly believed they could accomplish beginning with our annual Saturday in Federal Court with Judge Gilstrap and the group of outstanding Baylor Lawyers who devoted their time to work with the students. The students’ continued dedication, hard work, and camaraderie made the many hours of practice well worth the time coaching. Being National Champions simply reinforces what we already knew - Baylor Law does advocacy right.”

Robert Little, Baylor Law’s Director of Advocacy Programs, praised the coaches, stating, “All three of these coaches have full-time law practices at local Waco law firms and spent countless weeknights and weekends to work with these students to get them ready, which is not only a tribute to them but to all of our alumni that constantly volunteer to work with our students and turn them into Baylor Lawyers.”

More than 600 law students from 160 different law school teams participated in regional competitions in March. Baylor Law and the South Texas College of Law won the Midwest Region 3 competition and moved on to the final rounds. During the finals, the Baylor Law team advanced through six rounds to take home the Championship: three preliminary rounds, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final round held on April 7th.

3L Duncan Robinson, who will graduate from Baylor Law in April, noted after the win “Not many people can say they are a national champion, so this win means a lot. We practice being trial lawyers every day at Baylor, so to cap it off with a national championship just feels right. I can’t thank Dave Deaconson, Mason Dunnam, Claire Harbert, and Robert Little enough for putting us in a position to succeed at the highest level.” His teammate, fellow 3L Ameyali Sanchez echoed his sentiments, stating, “My Practice Court professors and coaches helped me grow more confident and capable, which made this win possible. I gave the closing argument in the final round and with that, closed a meaningful chapter of my life.”

This National Championship comes on the heels of Baylor Law’s victory this past fall at the 2023 Tournament of Champions (TOC), making Baylor Law a two-time national champion this season. “There are very few programs that can say they won two national championships in the same season, and what I think is most impressive is that none of the students from the TOC team were on the team that just won the Student Trial Advocacy Competition. That just shows the depth of talent we have at Baylor Law. Eight students from the same law school, many from the same graduating class, can call themselves ‘National Champions’ at the same time, and it is very rare to have that much skill on campus at one time. And that’s a tribute not only to those students, but to our entire faculty, our coaches, the Practice Court program, and the practice ready approach that Baylor Law has always had, and will continue to have in the future,” Little added.

Dr. Robby Holland, a 2L on this year’s winning team reflected on the strategy that team coaches used to help them win. "Our coaches, Dave Deaconson, Mason Dunnam, and Claire Harbert, focused our team on knowing the case so well from both sides so that we could remain flexible during the trial and respond to how the opposing team approached the case.” He added, “I am incredibly grateful for my exceptional teammates—their dedication, skill, and tireless efforts were on full display as they excelled in the highly competitive national arena.” Fellow 2L Anderson Tittle reiterated those thoughts, adding, “Every now and again, you get the opportunity to be part of a team that just clicks – and that was this team. Duncan, Ameyali, and Robby are so talented, intelligent, kind, and hardworking. And our coaches and professors put so much time and effort into helping prep the team for success, so it was deeply gratifying to see that work pay its dividends.”

This July, the Baylor Law team will be honored at AAJ’s 2024 Annual Convention in Nashville.