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Rachel Simmonsen '11 Wins National Competition for Legal Writing

Rachel Simmonsen '11 received a 2012 Burton Award for legal writing June 11 at the Library of Congress.  The awards ceremony attracted more than 500 managing partners, public officials and law school deans to honor award recipients and hear a keynote address from retired US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. 

Simmonsen was honored for "Legislating after Janice M: The Constitutionality of Recognizing De Facto Parenthood in Maryland," an article she wrote for Professor Jana Singer’s seminar, Children, Parents & the Law; the article was subsequently published in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Review.

"It’s always gratifying to have your work recognized," Simmonsen said.  "But I never expected to earn national recognition like this. I'm still amazed."

"I owe much to Professor Singer for her excellent guidance and feedback through many drafts, and to the Law Review editors who provided superb and insightful comments while editing the piece for publication," Simmonsen said.   "I’m also very grateful to Professor Sherri Keene for nominating the piece for a Burton Award."

Simmonsen was one of 15 winners of a Legal Writing Education Award.  Judges included faculty from Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of California at Irvine School of Law.

"I speak for the whole law school community when I say we are enormously proud of Rachel and her achievements," said UM Carey Law Dean Phoebe Haddon. "The faculty with whom she worked most closely should be especially pleased."

Now a law clerk for the Honorable William D. Quarles, Jr. of the US District Court for the District of Maryland, Simmonsen in August will begin a clerkship for the Honorable Andre M. Davis '78 of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  "I’d like to do appellate work after my clerkships," Simmonsen said.  While a student at UM Carey law, she served as an associate editor of the Law Review and a member of the National Moot Court Team.

Burton Award Keynoter Justice Stevens also received the Book of the Year Award for Five Chiefs—A Supreme Court Memoir. Other awards were given for achievement in legal writing by members of law firms; in public interest law; and in legal communications.

Launched in 1999, the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement are held in association with the Library of Congress. The awards program is designed to reward major achievements in the law ranging from literary awards to the greatest reform in law.  The principal focus is awarding effective legal writing and law firm partners and law school students who use plain, clear and concise language in their writing.  The Foundation was established by William C. Burton, a partner in Sagat/Burton LLP, New York, who is the author of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus.


Jane Wilson

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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved