University of Mississippi
The Government Law Students Association of the University of Mississippi School of Law recently hosted its first policy competition, in which students demonstrated their skills in legislative drafting, oral advocacy, and lobbying.
GLSA was founded last spring as a space for law students interested in pursuing legal careers in government or the civil service.
âThe GLSA Political Competition Committee has worked very hard over the summer to create something unique and impactful for our student body,â said Founder and Co-Director Teresa Jones.
The competition provided students with an interactive opportunity to express their views and develop policy through academic research and writing, public speaking and coalition building. .
âWe are so proud of our unique political contest,â said Susan Duncan, the dean of the school. âAt UM Law, our mission is to ensure that all students are well equipped for their legal careers, and we are proud of GLSA’s plans to strengthen the skills of our government law students.
Second-year law student Samuel Taylor Rayburn of Oxford took first place at the end of the event. Rayburn said he participated because he wanted the learning experience of developing a prescription.
âWorking through the process of finding the best way to write an order was something I thought was a valuable learning experience on how to solve legal drafting issues, and in the end, it was,â Rayburn said.
âI felt like I learned a lot about writing things in an enforceable way that I could not only use in the future if I was able to write an order or something similar, but that were also very applicable to the drafting of contracts and useful in this area. “
During the competition process, Rayburn became aware of many issues that he had not previously considered, ranging from wording the language of the order so that it was clear and unambiguous to ensuring it can be implemented and applied in a reasonable and cost-effective manner, he mentioned.
The GLSA was recognized by the Mayor of Oxford, Robyn Tannehill, at the board meeting on November 2, where it announced that Rayburn was the winner.
âI spend a lot of time on my prescription, from researching to writing and editing to preparing a speech,â he said. “Winning was the validation that my hard work has paid off and a good boost in self-confidence as I enter the last month of the semester and finals.”
Competitors received a sample issue with two weeks to research and draft a city ordinance for or against an open container law. After completing the written portion, the contestants delivered a speech supporting their policy to a panel of judges.
Judges for the competition included Jarvis Dortch, former state official and executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union; Christopher Green, professor of law at UM; Pope Mallete, Oxford City Attorney and Founder of Mayo Mallette PLLC; and Heather McTeer Toney, former mayor of Greenville and vice president of community engagement for the Environmental Defense Fund.
The final part of the competition required contestants to discuss their policy with law student organizations in order to gain support for their policy. Organizations and representatives who participated in this âlobby dayâ included the American Civil Liberties Union, represented by Emily Adams; Association of Black Law Students, represented by Arreyah Whitlock; Entertainment and Sports Law, represented by Emma Tompkins and Sydney Merrin; Federalist Society, represented by Jack Hall and Sebastian Harrell; Latinx Law Students Association, represented by Sylvia-Nicole Cecchi; Law Association for Women, represented by Hayley Klima; OUTlaw, represented by Jennifer Bagby and Bailey McDaniel; and the Public Interest Law Foundation, represented by Sierre Raphael Anton and LaQuita âQâ Reinhardt.
âMy favorite part of the competition was the day part of the lobby because it feels like a real world approach to solving problems,â Jones said. âFor the lobby day, the contestants had to present their policy to other law student organizations.
“This had the effect of pushing competitors to use innovative approaches to gain support from conservative and progressive groups on campus.”
GLSA was created by a team of students on both sides of the political aisle, and it intentionally has two co-directors so that conservative and liberal views are properly represented. The organization remains active throughout the academic year by hosting speakers and workshops for its members.
For more information on the Faculty of Law’s programs, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/.