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Brad Vaughan and Beth Wilson

KNOXVILLE — There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition between husband and wife.

Just ask Beth Wilson and Brad Vaughan, married UT Knoxville College of Law students who are graduating together this week.

Although they are graduating together, Brad started a year before Beth, working on the first year of his MBA while she was a first level law student.

“I was able to give her some insight on how to make it through that year without having to worry about her strong performance knocking me down in the class rankings. Now, even though we’re still technically competing for positions in the class, that’s much less of a concern, and we think of our individual performances as being part of ‘Team Wilson-Vaughan.'”

Good thing for Brad, because Beth has given him a run for it.

“My grades are actually a little better than Brad’s but we’re both very proud of each other,” said Beth, who is graduating fifth in the class with highest honors. Brad also is graduating with honors.

Beth and Brad competed against each other in the final round of the this year’s Advocates’ Prize competition, a sort of intramural competition within the College of Law, which they say is the closest battle they’ve waged against each other.

Brad teamed up with another law school student, Chris Collins, with Beth competing against them on her own. While Brad ended up winning the prize for Best Oralist, Beth won the overall competition, which included oral arguments and brief writing.

“It’s a running joke among our law school friends that it would be entertaining to watch us argue about whose turn it is to do the dishes with all the ‘lawyering’ that happens,” Beth said.

But both will agree that they make a great team and have had a special understanding of the demands of the program.

“I think the best part about being in the same program is that we both understand very clearly the pressures that the other is facing and what it takes to perform well under that pressure. We’ve both come to understand early mornings and late nights, and even though we have completely different interests and work styles, we’ve managed to make all of that work together,” Brad said.

Somewhere among those late nights, both Beth and Brad have been able to get involved in a slew of extracurricular activities and rack up several honors and awards.

Beth was selected for College of Law Moot Court awards this year, as well as the McClung Medal, the Susan B. Devitt Award and the Judge James Haynes Prize. She also won the Ray Jenkins Trial Competition and was nominated to the Order of the Barristers, based on her moot court experiences.

Brad will be one of only five members of this year’s law class to graduate with a dual JD-MBA degree. Though a seemingly difficult feat, Brad graduated the MBA program with a 4.0 GPA. In the law program, he was selected for membership on the Tennessee Law Review and later served as an acquisitions editor for the publication. He also served as a member of the National Moot Court team, of which Beth was later a member for two years.

Brad and Beth met as undergraduates at UT Knoxville and became close friends when they shared a political communications class together.

“As it turned out, we had many mutual friends and similar interests,” Beth said. “We were both Baker Scholars, honors students, members of the Student Government Association, Issues Committee members and resident assistants.”

They started dating the summer after Beth graduated from undergrad and before she started law school classes. They married this past August and will graduate together at 5 p.m. Friday, May 14, in Thompson-Boling Arena.

And their hard work won’t end there.

The dynamic duo is preparing for the Georgia bar exam and have jobs already lined up in Atlanta.

Beth will work for Alston and Bird, in the ERISA litigation group. Brad will work with Smith, Gambrell and Russell.

For more 2010 UT Commencement stories, see

C O N T A C T :

Kristi Hintz, UT media relations, (, 865-974-3993)