Spring Champions Crowned: Faegre Drinker Spring Moot Court Competition Celebrates Top Advocates Kate Sparks and Kaia-Marie Helmer

March 19, 2024
Final Round winners and judges pose in front of Matt Dawson statue at Baylor Law.
Winners and judges of the 2024 Faegre Drinker Spring Moot Court Competition pose in front of the Matt Dawson statue at Baylor Law. (L-R) Anna Jennings, Jude Hickland, Interim Dean Patricia Wilson, Kaia-Marie Helmer, Kate Sparks, David Kent, Susan Egeland, Dawn McCord, and Rebecca Miller.

Keegan Coon and Matthew Zahn, Runners-up, pose in front of the Matt Dawson statue at Baylor Law
Runners-Up (L-R) Matthew Zahn and Keegan Coon After the Final Round of the 2024 Spring Faegre Drinker Moot Court Competition.

Baylor Law’s annual Faegre Drinker Spring Moot Court Competition recently showcased the impressive appellate advocacy skills of 34 teams of students in the Spring Legal Analysis, Research & Communication (LARC) 3, Persuasive Communications class. The final round, held in the Rex Huston Practice Court classroom of the Law Center on Monday, March 18, saw the team of Kate Sparks and Kaia-Marie Helmer emerge victorious over Finalists Keegan Coon and Matthew Zahn. Meanwhile, the teams of Callum Harralson and Matthew Tautfest and Lily Reed and Erin Kitchenka earned recognition as Semi-Finalists.

Kate Sparks, a winning team member, noted, “This win means a lot because it affirms the incredible amount of hard work that my partner and I put together. Competing against so many incredible and well-qualified competitors and making it this far speaks to the integrity of the program here at Baylor Law and makes the win even more rewarding.” Her partner Kaia-Marie Helmer echoed those sentiments, “I have been so impressed with all my classmates, not only with their competency and hard work but also with their character. Being a part of this group and standing with and next to so many people I knew were cheering for me, just as I was cheering for them, makes this win mean even more.”

Professor Mike Berry, who teaches the LARC 3 class and organizes the Faegre Drinker Spring Moot Court Competition every year, praised all four finalists for their outstanding advocacy skills and ability to handle challenging questions from the judges. “Every year at the Spring Competition, it is a privilege to witness the exceptional advocacy skills of these future Baylor Lawyers. This year’s class did not disappoint. The final round was a showcase of the caliber of legal talent nurtured here at Baylor Law.”

On Friday, February 23, 34 two-person teams began the challenging contest, which simulated an argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. After four preliminary rounds of oral arguments, the top 16 teams advanced to the post-break, single-elimination rounds that started on Monday, March 11, after Baylor Law’s Spring Break. 

The final round featured a distinguished panel of judges. Interim Dean Patricia Wilson served as the Chief Justice. Jude Hickland, Dawn McCord, Susan Egeland, and David Kent, all lawyers with the Faegre Drinker firm, joined Dean Wilson on the panel. The Fall 2023 moot court competition winners, Rebekah Miller and Anna Jennings, also served as final-round judges.

Students who were among the top 10 speakers in the preliminary rounds, along with the members of the top 16 teams, have been named Barristers, a title of honor given to students for their advocacy skills. Kaia-Marie Helmer earned the best speaker award for the competition; Charli Delmonico was the second-best speaker; and Justin Garber was the third-best speaker. Others honored as top speakers were Taylor Brown, Dylan Evans, Callum Harralson, Hattie Krawiecki, Evelyn Morrey, Madison Solis, Daniel Whittington, and Matthew Zahn.

At the final round event, Professor Berry expressed the Law School’s appreciation for the competition sponsor, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, which has consistently and generously supported the Spring Moot Court Competition at Baylor Law since 2019.  He also thanked everyone involved in making the competition a success, acknowledging the contributions of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society officers, barristers, faculty judges, and Baylor Law staff.