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3L Michael Smith Receives Writing Award for Michigan Law Review Note

By Lori Atherton
May 7, 2019

Michael Smith wanted his Michigan Law experience to include journal work. As a 2L, he joined the Michigan Law Review as an associate editor and eventually became an executive editor. As a 3L, he'll graduate from the Law School having won a distinguished writing award for a note he authored about Illinois state law.

Smith is one of 10 national law students who has been recognized with a Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award. Smith's piece, "Neither Limited nor Simplified: A Proposal for Reform of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 222(b)," appeared in Volume 117, Issue 3 of the Michigan Law Review. Smith will receive the award during the Burton Awards ceremony on May 20 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Burton Awards, which are affiliated with the Library of Congress, Law360, and the American Bar Association, recognize achievements in law, including exceptional writing. Award winners are selected by judges and professors from top law schools, including Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Ted Becker, director of Michigan Law's Legal Practice Program, selected Smith's note as the Law School's nominee for the award, and couldn't be happier that Smith won. Each Michigan Law journal had sent Becker one student-authored note, comment, or article for consideration. "Several Legal Practice professors and I reviewed the submissions, and we unanimously agreed that Michael's note easily satisfied the Burton Award criteria," Becker said. "His note demonstrates unqualified command of the relevant state law, and is clearly, cogently, and concisely written. It was a pleasure to read, and I'm thrilled that the Burton selection committee chose Michael to receive an award."

Smith, too, is excited about the honor, and noted that it's a testament to the hard work and dedication put forth by his Michigan Law Review colleagues. "It's an incredible group of folks on the Law Review," Smith said. "They really came together to help me write my note, and I don't know if this piece would have become what it is and be as successful as it is without their help. The recognition is as much theirs as it is mine."

The award caps off a positive Michigan Law experience for Smith, who was a quarterfinalist in the Oral Advocacy Competition as a 1L, placed fourth in this year's Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition, and served as an Admissions tour guide during his three years at the Law School. "Michigan is phenomenal, and I'm lucky to have gone here," Smith said. "I always tell visiting students about how friendly the people here are and how much they care about others. It's easy to leave after three years with a network of friends."

A Chicago-area native, Smith will return home after graduation to work as a litigation association at Kirkland & Ellis. 

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