USF’s Tax Moot Court Team Wins ABA National Competition

Posted Mon, 02/02/2015 - 16:00

In USF’s first year fielding a team in the ABA Law Student Tax Challenge, Aaron Miki 4L and Mikkela Sweet 4L won first place in the oral portion of the national moot court competition’s JD division. 

Miki and Sweet beat out 67 other teams’ written submissions from across the nation, and were one of only six semi-finalist teams invited to present before distinguished panels of judges and practitioners in Houston on Jan. 30. This year’s competition featured complex procedural and substantive tax questions, and required teams to advise a client on how to address issues relating to deductions taken and reported income.

“While placing first in the competition is a great honor and looks great on a resume, the networking opportunity while at the competition will ultimately help me in my career,” said Miki, who also works full-time as a senior tax associate in a corporate tax department of an aircraft leasing company in San Francisco. “I met several distinguished practitioners in the field of taxation and was able to get my name out into the tax law community.”

Sweet found the competition to be an incredible learning experience and an invaluable contribution to her law school education. While in law school, she also works at the estate planning and tax firm Barulich Dugoni Law Group, Inc., where she will continue working after earning her JD.

The team participated through the Tax Moot Court course offered to JD and LLM students through the LLM in Taxation program. They were coached by Adjunct Professor Davis Yee, a special trial attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel for the IRS, where he represents the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in significant cases before the U.S. Tax Court.

“This prestigious competition is a great way for our students to gain valuable exposure to the tax law community and, equally important, it gave them hands-on experience in advising a client as to how to solve his tax problems,” said Natascha Fastabend, associate director of the LLM in Taxation program. “Our winning students gained invaluable experience defending their submission in front of a panel of judges consisting of Tax Court judges and the country’s top practitioners.”