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Team Wins National Tax Moot Court Competition

(Boston, 3/19/10)  New England Law | Boston: New England Law | Boston’s Tax Moot Court Team–John Keeney ’11 and Rachel Portnoy ’10–won the National Tax Moot Court Competition. The team not only took first place in the oral advocacy competition but Keeney also received the award for the best individual oralist.

Dean John F. O’Brien commented, “This is a very competitive event, and the results are an impressive accomplishment for our students. The final round was presided over by three judges from the federal tax court, including a senior judge and the chief special trial judge.  Although we were up against a very good team from the University of Florida the decision was unanimous.”

 Tax Moot Court Team
John Keeney ’11, Rachel Portnoy ’10, Professor Kent Schenkel

The national competition took place February 4-7, 2010, in St. Petersburg, FL, and was sponsored by the Tax Section of the Florida Bar.  It featured 16 law school teams, which considered a hypothetical appeal before a Federal Circuit Court.

This year’s problem focused on a limited partnership engaged in tax shelter transactions.  Teams needed to consider whether the Internal Revenue Service could take advantage of an extended statute of limitations in pursuing a deficiency in tax, among other issues.
Professor Kent Schenkel has coached the team for the last three years.  He is a member of the law school’s Center for Business Law and teaches Estate Planning; Personal Income Tax; Taxation of Estates, Gifts, and Trusts; and Wills, Estates, and Trusts.

“Students devote many hours to the competition over a relatively short amount of time,” he said.  “They receive a complex tax problem in November and have to write a brief that’s due in early January.  Then they have a month to prepare for the oral advocacy competition.  We regularly met twice daily to practice oral arguments.”

Teams compete in a double and then single elimination format.  After losing its first match against Ohio Northern University College of Law (“…one of the best teams there…” according to Professor Schenkel), the New England Law team won five rounds in a row, including a rematch with Ohio Northern in the semifinals, before defeating the University of Florida College of Law in the final round.

New England Law has been a perennial contender in the prestigious National Tax Moot Court Competition, having won numerous “best brief” awards over the years. 


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