Alysha Bohanon (’17) Wins Burton Award for Legal Writing

March 16, 2017

The Burton Foundation has announced that Alysha Bohanon (’17) is the winner of a 2017 Distinguished Legal Writing Award—one of just 10 students from U.S. law schools to be so honored. In the 18 years since its creation, Law School students have snared a Burton Award nine times.

Bohanon’s winning entry—a note titled “Tweeting the Police: Balancing Free Speech and Decency on Government-Sponsored Social Media Pages”—explores “whether a government entity may remove … abusive comments from its page without violating the commenter’s right to free expression” and proposes “a new framework for contested speech cases, under which courts would first determine whether the audience can clearly distinguish between the government and private speakers.” Bohanon is editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review and a student legal writing instructor.

Christopher D. Soper, the Law School’s director of legal writing, says Bohanon worked hard and did very well during a first-year course on the topic. So he encouraged her to become a student legal writing instructor during her second and third years of study.

“We think that our upper-level students become better writers themselves when they help teach writing to the 1L class,” Soper said. “Moreover, our law journal note-writing course ensures that upper-level students get the same level of small-group feedback as they do in the first-year legal writing course. Alysha’s winning note is another great example of the excellent writing, and writers, our legal writing program produces.” 

Bohanon graduated summa cum laude from the University in 2014, earning degrees in journalism and English. After receiving her J.D., she’s interested in pursuing commercial litigation, insurance, and health law.

The Burton Foundation was established by William C. Burton, a former New York state assistant attorney general and a strong advocate of plain language in legal writing. The eight previous Law School legal writing honorees are: Andrea Miller (’15), Phillip Walters (’12), Eva B. Stensvad (’11), Noreen E. Johnson (’09), Emily C. Melvin (’08), Dan Robinson (’07), David Leishman (’06), and Kari M. Dahlin (’01).

Alysha Bohanon (’17)
Alysha Bohanon (’17)

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