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Posted Jan. 24, 2007

Students Win Second Place in ABA Tax Competition

Ballenger family
Jason McIntosh and Sarah Pendergraft finished second in the American Bar Association’s Law Student Tax Challenge.

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Contact: Mary Wood

Third-year law students Jason McIntosh and Sarah Pendergraft finished second in the American Bar Association’s Law Student Tax Challenge, an alternative to traditional moot court competitions that asks students to solve cutting-edge and complex business problems. The pair competed Jan. 19 against teams from six other law schools, culled from an original field of 40. Students attending the Michigan State University College of Law won first place. 

“The competition was harder than I anticipated,” said McIntosh, “but I hope that our success will cause more people from UVA to participate in the future.”

In the competition, McIntosh and Pendergraft tackled a problem involving a merger between two companies; teams had to decide how to structure both the transaction and the executive compensation in accordance with tax regulations and to the maximum benefit of their client. In the first round, contestants submitted a memorandum to a fictional senior partner and a letter to a fictional client explaining their conclusion. In the next phase of the competition, held at the ABA meeting in Hollywood, Fla., Pendergraft and McIntosh presented their solution and defended it before a panel of judges acting as the senior partner. Later in the day, the field was winnowed down to three teams who met with the “client” to explain their memo.

“The opportunity to be at the ABA Tax Section meeting was a wonderful experience,” said Pendergraft. “It was great to meet the students from other schools, and the judges were really talented and interesting people.”

The judges included Steven Salch, a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski; Mary McNulty, a partner with Thompson & Knight; the Hon. L. Paige Marvel of the U.S. Tax Court; and Donald Korb, chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service.

Both Pendergraft, who plans to work for McKee Nelson in Washington, D.C., after graduation, and McIntosh, who plans to work for Vinson & Elkins in Houston, are pursuing careers in tax law. The pair took home trophies and a small cash prize.
• Reported by Mary Wood