• What is Debate?

    Debate is a long-standing academic tradition that trains students to confidently advance well-crafted, well-researched, and compelling arguments in a competitive setting. The Law Magnet has long sought to imbue its scholars with the many benefits of this challenging activity, with teams from the school competing in Policy and Lincoln Douglas tournaments since the year of its founding. Competitive academic debate has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to: increase standardized testing scores in reading and critical thinking, to increase students’ chances of being accepted into top-tier colleges of their choice more effectively than any other extracurricular, and to improve student self-image and confidence. These trends can be seen in the success of Law Magnet debate alumni, who have consistently ranked in the top 10 of their graduating classes and – in 2017 alone – secured full ride scholarships to universities such as Vanderbilt and Columbia.

    In recent times, the Law Magnet has carved out a space for itself among the strongest debate programs in the state. Under the guidance of former coach Kris Wright in 2016, alumni Crayton Gerst and Vernon Johnson became the first debaters from Dallas ISD to claim the Texas Forensic Association’s State Championship title, defeating teams from schools such as Jesuit, Greenhill, Katy Taylor HS (Houston), Reagan HS (San Antonio), and Hendrickson HS (Austin) along the way. Crayton, Vernon and their peers – Dino de La O, Larry Taylor III, and Evan Gilbert – further demonstrated the capacity of Law Magnet as a premier educational institution by becoming the first and only debaters from Dallas ISD to qualify and advance to elimination rounds at the 2016 National Tournament of Champions, an event that is typically dominated by private schools from across the nation.

    Today, the Law Magnet debate team continues to excel, sending debaters to TFA and UIL State, the Tournament of Champions, and other national-qualifying tournaments on a yearly basis with the ongoing support and engagement of alumni such as Michael Vera, Evan Gilbert, Gabe and Rafael Sanchez, and Alex Baez. Derek Liles, a former national-level debater himself, now directs the team with the assistance of Patrick Lyons. Students who wish to take part in the opportunities afforded by the Law Magnet debate team may contact Mr. Liles at dliles@dallasisd.org. After school meetings are hosted on Mondays and Tuesdays after school (4:15 – 5:20pm). Debaters who demonstrate exceptional commitment may opt to join the debate class, where they will work with Mr. Liles to hone their argumentative and research-based every other afternoon.

    Contact Us

    Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet Debate Team

    Sponsor - Derek Liles

    Email: dliles@dallasisd.org