2019 | The Closer
On January 17-20, students from ten of the best transactional law programs in the country gathered at Baylor Law to participate in the third annual Transactional Law competition.
Rajdeep Roger Bains of the University of San Diego School of Law and Westford Lang of the University of Colorado Law School are this year's winners of The Closer, the most challenging transactional law competition in the country. Finalists for this year's competition were John Adgent of the University of Tennessee College of Law and Roy Smith of the University of Mississippi School of Law. John Kyed of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law was chosen by his fellow competitors as the winner of the Professionalism Award.
The Closer is highly selective competition with invitations extended to law schools whose programming demonstrates a commitment to excellence in practical transactional law training. Students from participating schools vied to win one of two $5,000 top prizes and bragging rights as a top closer. The annual competition, another example of Baylor Law's commitment to training practice-ready attorneys, provides hands-on exposure to one of the most important aspects of corporate law: contract drafting and negotiation.
The Closer is unique in that the transaction that participants will need to negotiate is disclosed less than twenty-four hours prior to the first round of negotiations. The tight timeline forces competitors to identify the most important legal issues and devise and negotiate solutions that best serve their client's needs with the efficiency required of lawyers under realistic time constraints.
Hypothetical Deal, Real-World Technology
In this year's competition, participants negotiated a hypothetical term sheet outlining the terms and conditions under which a multimillion-dollar venture capital investment will be made in a real Texas technology startup, Viziv Technologies, LLC. Viziv Technologies is developing a new wireless method of delivering electrical energy over long distances. The fictional venture capital investor on the other side of the transaction was "Waco Ventures, LLC." Half of the competitors represented Viziv Technologies, and half represented Waco Ventures. During the competition, participants made a site visit to the 'BRIC,' the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, a fascinating 330,000-square-foot facility that was formerly a General Tire manufacturing facility. The building has been renovated and repurposed to provide a uniquely conceived climate for the cultivation and development of new ideas, technologies, and techniques centered on the BRIC's five foundational pillars: research, industry engagement, technology commercialization, workforce development, and STEM educational outreach. Baylor University and Viziv Technologies are collaborative research partners.
Through a series of 40-minute rounds of negotiations in front of experienced transactional lawyers, competitors are judged on their presence and professionalism, knowledge of legal and financial issues, and their efficacy in finding creative solutions to reach an agreement that satisfies their client's objectives while under strict time constraints. Keeping pressure on the competitors, breaking developments and new information from their clients are introduced to the finalists on the night before the final rounds.
Closing the Deal – Under Pressure
Rajdeep Roger Bains of the University of San Diego School of Law, was awarded the $5,000 prize for best representing the interests of Viziv Technologies, LLC, and Westford Lang of the University of Colorado Law School was awarded the $5,000 prize for best representing Waco Ventures, LLC.
Representing your law school at a competition as fierce as The Closer can be stressful. Representing your school when your coach is also the Dean of your law school adds an additional layer of stress, but Rajdeep Roger Bains handled the added stress with total confidence. "You would never get this experience in the classroom or law school setting" commented Bains, who was coached by University of San Diego Law School Dean Stephen Ferruolo. Bains added, "It's really great that [Baylor Law] is providing practical experience and they really simulate real-life… by having you work with the other side in such a short period of time."
Few law school transactional law competitions have audiences watching the proceedings, but Westford Lang, who represented the fictional firm Waco Ventures, LLC, had the unique opportunity to take home the top prize with his mom cheering him on. This was because Lang's coach, Dallas attorney Theresa Searles, was also his competition coach. "I'm very grateful. It was a great experience," stated Westford Lang, "I had a unique situation where I was able to come down here and compete with my mom as my coach. It's a unique opportunity to even receive an invite, and it's a very select number of students that get the opportunity to compete."
JUDGES SCORING THE FINAL ROUNDS WERE:
- Steve Bolden, Shareholder, Mahomes Bolden PC
- Glenn Callison, Shareholder, Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C.
- Janice Davis, Partner, Bracewell LLP
- Jennifer Lindsey, Partner, Beard Kultgen Brophy Bostwick & Dickson, PLLC
- Greg Looser, Co-Founder & Partner, Clarion Ventures, LLC
Judges for The Closer 2019 Making Tough Decisions. Left-right: Greg Looser, Jennifer Lindsey, Janice Davis, Glenn Callison, and Steve Bolden.
BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL SINCERELY APPRECIATES THOSE WHO INVESTED IN THE CLOSER:
- Kim and Bill Shaddock
- Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C.
- Law Office of Mark D. Foster
- J. Michael Tibbals/Freeman Mills PC
- Viziv Technologies, LLC
- Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative
- Baylor Law faculty, staff, and students who contributed their time and talents to make The Closer 2019 a success
2019 PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS AND COMPETITORS
- American University Washington College of Law - Gaensly Joseph
- South Texas College of Law Houston - Carlo Varela
- University of Colorado Law School - Westford Lang
- University of Denver Sturm College of Law - John Kyed
- University of Mississippi School of Law - Roy Smith II
- University of San Diego School of Law - Rajdeep Roger Bains
- University of Tennessee College of Law - John Adgent
- University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law - Ani Mamisashvili
- Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law - Jason Kaner
- Widener University Delaware Law School - Sarkis Dramgotchian