Ferguson Lawyer Coaches High School Trial Team to 12th Win

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For the 12th year, personal injury lawyer, Mark Sparks, coached Monsignor Kelly High School Mock Trial Team to victory at the 39th Texas High School Mock Trial Competition, then won 5th place in state finals.

BEAUMONT — Whether it’s a mock trial or a real one, Ferguson lawyer Mark Sparks knows how to win.

For the 12th year in a row, the personal injury lawyer coached the Monsignor Kelly High School Mock Trial Team to victory. His students wowed the judges at the 39th Annual Texas High School Mock Trial Competition March 2nd-3rd in Dallas, then won fifth place in state finals, competing with 26 of Texas’ best teams.

“I see my law license as I do the practice of law–a unique privilege. I aim to use it to do all I can to help people,” Sparks said.

That The Ferguson Law Firm partner has quietly donated thousands of hours over the years to the high school trial team is no surprise: Sparks won the Jefferson County Micky Mehaffy Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award in 2013.

“Mark is a guardian angel for many. His work with the Kelly High School mock trial team is but one example of that. He gives so much to others and asks for little, if anything, in return. We should all go and do likewise,” said the firm’s managing partner Chip Ferguson.

Sparks credits student dedication as the reason for the team’s high success rate.

“I’d like to take credit for the Kelly High School students’ amazing twelve-year winning streak at Regionals, but the kids themselves deserve the accolades, not me,” Sparks said. “Two of our witnesses were nominated for best witness at state finals, and our courtroom artist placed second in the state of Texas. These kids are amazing.”

The students commit several days a week—for several months—to learn and digest not only the case materials, but the rules of evidence and procedure, Sparks said.

“Together, we develop a theme and work up the direct and cross examinations of witnesses, then practice, practice, practice. We practice at least three days a week, and as Regionals near, we work weekends, too,” Sparks explained.

The kids learn professionalism, teamwork, public speaking and the importance of accuracy, he added.

Sparks is modest about his contributions.

“Coaching mock trial has been one of the best experiences of my life. As corny as it may sound, these kids have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them,” Sparks said. “I’ve also gotten to know some wonderful local judges, lawyers, theater coaches, and school sponsors who give so much of themselves to make this team what it is today. I am just so proud of these kids.”

Sparks graduated summa cum laude in 1995 from Baylor University with a double major in political science and philosophy. He attended law school at The University of Texas at Austin, graduating cum laude in 2 1/2 years. He is licensed to practice law in both Texas and California.

The Ferguson Law Firm is an eight-person, community-minded personal injury law firm that handles car, bus, truck and industrial accidents, product liability, maritime/offshore and burn injuries and wrongful death.

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