Contact: Elizabeth Coplan
University of Washington School of Law



UW team finds success at the Sports Law Competition hosted by Tulane University

SEATTLE -- UW law 2Ls Nate Bingham, Ashley Sherwood and Mark Tyson competed in the "Mardi Gras Invitational National Sports Law Competition" sponsored by Tulane University over President’s Day weekend.

The competition featured a problem relating to the recent NBA lockout and was held at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

Bingham said the meet was great opportunity to learn about sports law.

“It was interesting to explore how professional sports connect to the wider world of labor law,” he said. “The NBA lockout is something that we often see discussed on TV, so it was interesting to explore its legal mechanics.”

This was the first time the team participated in the competition. Sherwood, Bingham and Tyson reached the quarterfinals, finishing in the top 8 out of 32 national teams.

“As this was our first year in the competition, it was incredible to finish in the top eight teams when many of the schools had so much experience with these particular judges [and] region of the country,” Sherwood said. “We heard from several schools from across the country how impressed they were with our performances and they encouraged us to come back next year to compete again.”

Sherwood said the appellate problem the team worked on during the competition was difficult because their specific labor law issues included double negatives, acronyms and conflicting antitrust and labor law complications.

“Our biggest takeaway was the ability to take a very complicated written brief and turn it into a cohesive, structured oral argument,” she said. “Some of the feedback we received from the judges was that we were able to effectively simplify the argument so that it was easy for any person (including judges with little to no labor law experience) to understand.”

UW Assistant Dean Elizabeth Ford and UW Professor Lea Vaughn advised the team. Ford said moot court competitions provide a great opportunity for students to prepare for practice.

“This competition gave students the chance to test their skills with an incredibly difficult and timely legal issue: whether last year's NBA union lockout violated antitrust laws,” she said. “I had the opportunity to watch the students prepare for the competition and was, as always, incredibly impressed with their skill and professionalism. It's no surprise to me that they did so well!”

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