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LL.M. students win first place at ABA tax challenge

Published: February 3rd, 2014

Category: Feature


UF LL.M. students Julie Ickes, left, and Sara Heuer won first place at the ABA Section of Taxation Law Student Tax Challenge, LL.M. division in Phoenix. Professor Charlene Luke, center, coached the duo. (Photo by Elise Giordano)

UF LL.M. students Sara Heuer and Julie Ickes won first place at the ABA Section of Taxation Law Student Tax Challenge, LL.M. division in Phoenix. The Tax Challenge is a national competition involving a written competition followed by a final oral round for a select few teams with superior written work.

Heuer and Ickes were among the four LL.M. teams selected from a pool of 29 LL.M. teams to advance from the written competition to the final round held in Phoenix.

The ABA’s website describes the Tax Challenge as “an alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Law Student Tax Challenge asks two-person teams of students to solve a cutting-edge and complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice.”

Last year, Heuer competed in the J.D. division of the Tax Challenge, where she and her teammate advanced to the final round and received third place overall in the J.D. division of the competition. FlaLaw Online’s article regarding Heuer’s prior victory proved prophetic, “Next year could produce a formidable LL.M. team,” it said.

Heuer and Ickes were coached by Professor Charlene Luke.

“The students were incredibly hard-working and displayed tremendous tax knowledge in the face of one of the most difficult LL.M. problems the Tax Challenge has ever produced,” Luke said.

Before traveling to the final round in Phoenix, Heuer and Ickes practiced in front of not just their team coach but also tax professors Karen Burke, Monica Gianni, Omri Marian and Marty McMahon. This pre-competition practice proved invaluable at the final round of the competition, which was held in front of a panel of four highly respected tax professionals: Bill Alexander, Associate Chief Counsel (Corporate), Internal Revenue Service; Megan L. Brackney, a partner at Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP; Dick Lipton, a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP; and Robert E. McKenzie, a partner at Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

Ickes and Heuer are students in UF Law’s Graduate Tax Program, which is consistently ranked in the country’s top three. The program will hold its first tax institute Feb. 19-21. To learn more, visit




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