FIU Law’s two-person taxation team, made up of fourth-year law student and team captain Alex Martini and recent graduate Sam Gonas, took home second place in the 13th annual Law Student Tax Challenge presented by the ABA Section of Taxation. Eighty-eight teams entered the J.D. division of the competition, which began with a written component back in November 2013. From there, six teams advanced to the oral rounds held on Jan. 24 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The several months-long competition provided the team with extensive hands-on training in tax law. ”It was a great experience to meet and receive feedback from some of the top tax attorneys in the country, including IRS Chief Counsel officials, Tax Court judges and practitioners. And we take pride in the fact that we were able to bring home the first award that FIU has ever received in this competition,” Martini said.
The challenge is an alternative to traditional moot court competitions. The Law Student Tax Challenge requires that two-person teams solve a complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice. The competition offers law students the opportunity to showcase their knowledge in a real-world setting and gain valuable exposure to the tax law community.
For Sam Gonas, sparking interest in tax law was part of the appeal of the competition. “It was a wonderful experience competing against so many quality opponents from around the country. I’m grateful for the support of Professors Jose Gabilondo and Christine Rickard. It’s my hope that future FIU Law students will take advantage of their support and represent FIU in the upcoming years,” he said.
The FIU Law team was among finalists who came from law schools that have more established tax programs. Gonas and Martini hope this success means a bright future for tax law at FIU.