2020 | The Closer
On January 17-19, students from twelve of the best transactional law programs in the country gathered at Baylor Law to participate in the most challenging transactional law competition in the country.
Carolyn Griffith from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Allyson Fleming from The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law were named the winners of The Closer 2020, the most challenging transactional law competition in the country. Finalists for this year's competition were Tara Mollhagen from the University of Kansas School of Law and Ben Gourley from the University of San Diego School of Law. Allyson Fleming was selected by her fellow competitors via secret ballot as the winner of the Professionalism Award.
The Closer is a highly-selective competition with invitations extended to law schools whose programming demonstrates a commitment to excellence in practical transactional law training. At stake in the competition is the chance 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 provide practical opportunities for legal education, provides a high-pressure environment and hands-on exposure to one of the most important aspects of transactional law: contract drafting and negotiation. As the host, Baylor Law does not field a team.
The Closer is unlike any other transactional law competition. The deal that the participants negotiate is disclosed to the competitors 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.
The Deal Is Hypothetical – The Participants Are Real
In this year's competition, participants negotiated a fictional healthcare joint venture between two prominent names in healthcare in Central Texas —Baylor Scott &White Medical Center—Hillcrest, a general acute care hospital, and Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics, a physician practice dedicated to meeting the needs of athletes and active adults of all ages. The fictitious transaction required competitors to deal with challenging issues relating to the structure and governance of the joint venture as they sought to satisfy the goals and objectives of their clients while navigating healthcare laws and other legal and tax issues. At the center of the transaction involved in the 2020 competition sat a newly constructed $50 million sports medicine and orthopedic complex adjacent to the Hillcrest campus of Baylor Scott &White Medical Center. During the competition, participants made a site visit to the new facility, which has not yet opened to the public, and learned about its state-of-the-art features.
Through a series of 40-minute rounds of negotiations in front of experienced transactional lawyers, competitors are judged on their knowledge of legal and financial issues, presence and professionalism, and their ability to find 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
Carolyn Griffith from Indiana University Maurer School of Law was awarded one of the $5,000 prizes for best representing the interests of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Hillcrest, and Allyson Fleming from The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law was awarded the other $5,000 prize for best representing Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics.
"It was an absolute pleasure getting to know my fellow competitors. I was in awe of their brilliance throughout the competition," Stated competition co-winner Allyson Fleming, "It was incredibly impressive that Baylor Law was able to assemble such a special group of people. Even when the competition was at its fiercest, the competitors remained cordial, and I think that is a credit to the kind of environment Baylor Law creates for this competition," she added.
"We host our own internal competition and rest assured we will be changing much of the model to reflect the Baylor way. The attention to detail, thoroughly challenging nature of the problem, and unique Baylor hospitality made the Closer a phenomenal competition," remarked co-winner Carolyn Griffith. "Winning the Closer will be a highlight of my time in law school [...] winning affirmed my pursuit of a transactional practice after I graduate. I am more confident in this decision after having the opportunity to push myself in my understanding of a complex body of law to represent a client well in negotiations," Griffith added.
JUDGES SCORING THE FINAL ROUNDS WERE:
- Andrew N. 'Andy' Meyercord, Partner, Gray Reed
- E. Steve Bolden II, Partner, Bracewell LLP
- Wendi Campbell Rogaliner, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
- W. Gregory Looser, Co-Founder & Partner, Clarion Ventures, LLC
- Martha Colvin Agee, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University
BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL SINCERELY APPRECIATES THOSE WHO INVESTED IN THE CLOSER:
- Kim and Bill Shaddock
- Gray Reed
- Munsch Hardt
- Law Office of Mark D. Foster
- J. Michael Tibbals/Freeman Mills PC
- Baylor Scott &White Medical Center—Hillcrest
- Baylor Scott & White, Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics
- PREMIER ER & Urgent Care
- Baylor Law faculty, staff, and students who contributed their time and talents to make The Closer 2020 a success
2020 PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS AND COMPETITORS
- Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School - Paul Fife
- Emory University School of Law - Baoyi Cai
- Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Carolyn Griffith
- The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law - Allyson Fleming
- University of Colorado Law School - Nichole Burnett
- University of Denver Sturm College of Law - Shelley Ormsby
- University of Kansas School of Law - Tara Mollhagen
- University of Mississippi School of Law - Terrence Hunter
- University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law - Nihit Desai
- University of Pennsylvania Law School - Cynthia Tremonte
- University of San Diego School of Law - Ben Gourley
- University of Tennessee College of Law - Taylor Bullard