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KU students win top writing prize at transactional law competition

Thursday, March 12, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law made a strong showing at the recent Transactional LawMeet Regional Competitions in Kansas City and Chicago.

The draft agreement, written by Paul Budd of Deephaven, Minnesota; Kerry Hillis of Austin, Texas, and Chris Keyser, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, was deemed the best at the competition hosted by Northwestern University School of Law, while students Maria Caruso of Leawood, Trevor Jennings of Olathe and Dylan Long of Overland Park were named regional semi-finalists of the competition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The Transactional LawMeet offers a “moot court” experience for aspiring transactional lawyers.

“The competition gave me hands on-experience with transactional law by simulating an asset purchase deal between a buyer and seller,” said Caruso, a third-year law student. “I had to go through the steps of understanding my client's interests and positions, drafting those interests into a contract, marking up a contract drafted by another team on the other side of the deal and then negotiating to come to some agreement while upholding my client's interests.” 

To prepare for the competition, team members interviewed their client, conducted research, then drafted an agreement that followed legal precedent, yet was still tailored to the client’s individual needs, Keyser said.

“I was able to work on a large, complex business transaction from beginning to final negotiations,” Budd said. “As a 3L looking to work as a transactional attorney, I think this is an experience that very few law students receive.”

Team coach Kenneth Lynn, adjunct law professor, was impressed with the students’ effort.  

“Their collective performance throughout the competition was outstanding,” he said.

The team also benefited from the expertise of alumni Stan Woodworth, L’78, Craig Evans, L’85, and Kelley Sears, L’74, who served as advisers.

“It was the first chance I've had to interact with attorneys representing an opposing party's interests in a business deal, which is a great deal different from drafting or analyzing a contract from one side,” Hillis said. “That was a very valuable experience for me.”

The National Transactional LawMeet tests students’ contract and negotiation skills. This year’s case simulation involved the sale of a family-owned business to a publicly traded international corporation.  Eighty-four teams participated in seven regional competitions.

Last year, KU brought home Best Draft Agreement from the Kansas City competition and advanced one team to the final rounds in New York.

Photo: Pictured from left are Paul Budd, Kerry Hillis and Chris Keyser.


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