The fifth-annual Excellence in Legal Research and Writing Awards Ceremony held in partnership with CEB (Continuing Education of the Bar) honored LMU Loyola Law School J.D. students for outstanding writing completed in their first-year Legal Research & Writing (LRW) classes in an event that began in Burns Lounge and culminated in a reception outside.
A panel of three alumni judges – Karin Bohmholdt ’04, Greenberg Traurig LLP; Selene Houlis ’20, judicial law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District; and Andy Jinnah ’13, Jinnah Law – selected two students to receive the CEB Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing: Madeleine Cale ’25 won best plaintiff brief and Colin Ryan ‘25 won best defense brief. The CEB award recognizes the top plaintiff brief and the top defense brief from last year’s first-year class and also comes with a cash prize from CEB for each of the winners.
CEB, a nonprofit program of the University of California, provides legal resources geared towards California practitioners. Associate Professor Stephanie Der, legal writing professor and host of the awards ceremony, noted that Loyola Law School is the first school outside the University of California where CEB is sponsoring its legal research and writing award.
Cale said she was shocked to win the CEB award for best plaintiff brief. Although this assignment had to be completed independently, she is looking forward to collaborating on her writing with professors and colleagues in the future.
“When you write something on your own and you’re not allowed to have other people edit it, it becomes your baby,” she said. “I look forward to being able to have other people edit me.”
For Ryan, the CEB award for best defense brief was a much-appreciated validation of the work he’s put into law school, especially as an older student pursuing a career change.
“It feels great to hit the ground running,” Ryan said.
A total of 18 students were also chosen by their professors to receive Loyola’s Outstanding First Year Brief Award:
- Jessica Babaknia
- Samuel Baker
- Thomas Bartholetti
- Timothy Brewster
- Madeleine Cale
- Emily Epstein
- Adam Garfinkel
- Mariana Gonzalez Davila
- Joseph Harel
- Marisa Harris
- Nick McKenna
- Jacqueline Moreira
- Lauren Mullarkey-Williams
- Baylor Perry
- Jake Raymond
- Evin Rolens
- Colin Ryan
- Leila Shamtobi
Before Interim Dean Brietta Clark announced the awards, Associate Clinical Professor Geoffrey Kehlmann ’14 led a discussion with Judge Brianna Fuller Mircheff ’05, about legal writing and her advice to students on how they can become better writers. She encouraged them to read great legal writers (her favorite is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan) and never be afraid to ask colleagues to edit their drafts.
Mircheff said it’s important that students not feel demoralized or, conversely, defensive, when someone gives them feedback on their writing.
“If you can go into writing assignments with the humility to think this is somebody who is taking the time to make me a better writer and learn from those experiences, you’re going to grow exponentially,” Mircheff said.