LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 6, 2020) — Third-year law students Amanda Krugler and Scott Sullivan of the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law were awarded first place in the American Bar Association’s 19th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge, J.D. Division, in February.
The contest, open to both J.D. and LL.M. law students, gives students an opportunity to research, write about and present their analyses of a real-life tax problem. This year, a record number of teams – 84 – submitted memos for the written portion of the J.D. competition. Six teams, including Krugler and Sullivan, were selected to present oral arguments before a panel of tax lawyers and tax court judges attending the Section of Taxation 2020 Midyear Tax Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida. The winners were honored at an awards ceremony and reception during the meeting.
Jennifer Bird-Pollan, Robert G. Lawson Professor of Law, teaches a variety of tax law courses at UK and served as the team’s coach for the challenge.
“This is a great opportunity for students to really dig in on a practical set of questions and see what it’s really like to be a tax associate at a law firm,” Bird-Pollan said. “The competition allows students to apply what they’ve been learning in the classroom in a real-life setting, and they get to stretch their wings a little bit.”
Krugler, who hails from Florissant, Missouri, heard about the competition in Bird-Pollan’s class and decided it would be a good learning experience and resume boost. Krugler said she enjoyed researching and writing about statutes she had not previously examined. The problem involved several issues related to a taxpayer with rental property.
“I hope other UK students compete. I think this shows that UK is really competitive in these competitions. A lot of ABA sections have their own research and writing competitions, and I hope that UK students participate and bring home more wins,” Krugler said.
After graduation, Krugler plans to work for the Small Business/Self-Employed Division of the IRS in Philadelphia. She was offered the job in the fall while working with Sullivan to prepare the written memo for the tax challenge.
Sullivan of Fort Wayne, Indiana, had a career as an Air Force officer for 23 years before he became a law student. He has considered working for a government agency after law school or opening a veterans’ law-focused practice.
“My younger son got a scholarship, so I didn’t have to use my G.I. Bill for him, and I’d always wanted to go to law school,” he said.
Sullivan said the tax challenge forced them to do independent research and find solutions on their own. Bird-Pollan and other UK law professors supported their efforts but could not assist with the content.
“My role as coach is limited,” Bird-Pollan said. “I can’t direct them to certain materials or offer detailed feedback on their preparation.”
Bird-Pollan organized a mock panel with two other UK Rosenberg Law professors to help Krugler and Sullivan prepare for their presentation in Boca Raton. Both students said the moot presentation was extremely helpful.
Bird-Pollan said this win demonstrates quality of education received at the UK Rosenberg College of Law even with fewer tax offerings than bigger law schools.
“It’s great for our college because we get tangible proof that our students match up against students from law schools all across the country,” she said.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.