News Briefs: Moot Court, rankings, tax, ABA award

Florida Supreme Court judges Moot Court

The Florida Supreme Court sat en banc at UF Law to judge the Florida Moot Court Team during the 29th annual Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Moot Court Competition.

It was the second time in three years that the entire Florida Supreme Court has come together in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center courtroom to judge the competition.

Jessica Clements (2L), Ryan Gilbert (3L) and DeeDee Scheller (2L) represented the petitioner. Ian Dankelman (2L), Danielle Grundt (3L) and Brandon White (3L) represented the respondent.

The teams presented legal arguments based on questions about a police detective’s qualified immunity from a civil liability arising out of the arrest of an innocent man for a sex offense. The award for best team went to the respondents, and Dankelman (2L) took home the best oral advocate award.

UF Law rises in U.S. News ranking

The University of Florida Levin College of Law is up in U.S. News & World Report rankings released March 12. Among the nation’s 201 public and private ABA-accredited JD awarding law schools, UF’s law school is 23rd among public schools and 46th overall.

The publication places the school in two top specialty program rankings: first among public law schools and third overall in tax, and fifth among publics and 12th overall in environmental law. UF Law also continues to be highly rated in terms of reputation — 10th among publics and 26th overall in the assessment of practicing lawyers and judges, and 15th among publics and 35th overall in the assessment of academics.

In other national rankings, UF Law was fourth among public law schools in 2011 (eighth among all law schools in the nation) in the number of its graduates serving as federal district and circuit court judges. More than 250 graduates serve as state appellate and trial judges in Florida, and many serve in those roles in other states as well.

A 2012 Journal of Legal Education article titled “Where Do Partners Come From?” surveyed the National Law Journal 100 law firms and found that UF Law ranked 11th among publics and 29th overall in the number of alumni graduating from 1986 to the present serving as partners. A ranking by Super Lawyers magazine placed UF Law first in Florida, fourth among public schools, and eighth overall in “output,” i.e. the caliber of a school’s graduates.

UF Law wins ABA Law Student Tax Challenge

UF Law claimed victory at the American Bar Association Law Student Tax Challenge as student teams placed first and third in the Orlando competition where 88 teams from 46 law schools nationwide participated.

The UF Law tax moot court teams finished first and third in an 88-team field at the Tax Law ABA Challenge in Orlando. From left are coach and UF Law Professor Steven J. Willis, coach and visiting Assistant Professor Yolanda Jameson, coach and LL.M. Tax Candidate Adam Smith, Paul D’Alessandro Jr. (3L), Stephanie Malen (3L), Sara Heuer (3L) and KaLynn Ryker (3L). (Photo by Maggie Powers 4JM)

The UF Law tax moot court teams finished first and third in an 88-team field at the Tax Law ABA Challenge in Orlando. From left are coach and UF Law Professor Steven J. Willis, coach and visiting Assistant Professor Yolanda Jameson, coach and LL.M. Tax Candidate Adam Smith, Paul D’Alessandro Jr. (3L), Stephanie Malen (3L), Sara Heuer (3L) and KaLynn Ryker (3L). (Photo by Maggie Powers 4JM)

The Law Student Tax Challenge is a national tax-planning competition sponsored by the Young Lawyers Forum of the Section of Taxation. In the competition’s 12-year history, the Tax Challenge has become one of the largest tax competitions for law students in the U.S. UF Law’s Tax Moot Court had two of the six teams chosen to participate in the J.D. semifinals and two of the three teams chosen to advance to the finals.

Top prize went to Stephanie Malen (3L) and Paul D’Alessandro Jr. (3L), coached by Professor Steven J. Willis and by Madison Felder and Adam Smith, both LL.M. students. The third-place team was comprised of Sara Heuer (3L) and KaLynn Ryker (3L). It was coached by visiting Assistant Professor Yolanda Jameson.

William & Mary, Harvard, Columbia, University of Oregon, Syracuse, Northwestern, Georgetown and the University of Virginia were among the law schools competing.

Professor wins ABA award in dispute resolution

Professor Leonard Riskin

Professor Leonard Riskin

Leonard Riskin, Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law, was honored with the ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution award for Outstanding Scholarly Work on April 6 at the section’s 15th annual spring conference in Chicago.

Since coming to UF Law in 2007, Riskin has served as professor, mentor and director of the Initiative on Mindfulness in Law and Dispute Resolution. The ABA recognized his extensive work in alternative dispute resolution with a focus on the perspectives that lawyers bring to the work. A story in the February issue of the ABA Journal highlighted the mindfulness field and its growing acceptance in the legal field.

Riskin began to write about and teach mediation in the early 1980s, and from that he became interested in mindsets lawyers use when addressing problems.

Riskin is the third recipient of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section’s award for Outstanding Scholarly Work since its creation in 2011. Harvard Law School Professor Frank E.A. Sander and Georgetown University Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow received the award in years past.

Law school rankings: Good, bad and not so reliable

Most of us probably think of the U.S. News & World Report ranking released in March as the standard when it comes to comparing law schools (UF Law was No. 46 out of 202). But the law school rating business is booming, and UF Law holds its own — even if some of the rankings are a little wobbly. U.S. News recently released a new ranking evaluating law school efficiency based on how much bang for  each buck a law school gets for its standing in the U.S. News ranking. UF Law came in at No. 21 in the nation.

UF Law was ranked No. 44 by the popular legal-themed blog Above the Law. The ranking was derived from outcome based methodologies, analyzing factors such as employment rates, quality of employment and education cost.

Above the Law rated UF Law as the second best school in the South in another survey. This one drew its results from surveys of the blog’s readers. The University of Virginia was ranked No. 1. UF Law did
well in quality of faculty, practical and clinical training, financial advising, and last, but certainly not least, readers said UF Law has the best social life.

Finally, UF Law came in at No. 53 in a National Jurist ranking released in February. An avalanche of criticism from legal-education media ensued for the magazine’s methodology that placed Texas Tech in the Top 10 but neither Yale nor the University of Chicago. Texas Tech couldn’t crack the Top 100 in the most recent U.S. News ranking. National Jurist admitted its methods were flawed and reissued the  ranking. This time UF Law finished No. 25 — right behind Harvard Law at No. 24.