4th Miami Law Student Receives Notable Burton Legal Writing Award

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Hannah Gordon

Hannah Gordon, 3L

Third-year law student Hannah Gordon was recently named a 2020 Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award winner. Gordon, who serves as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Miami Law Review, was one of 15 law students from around the country to receive this prestigious award, and the fourth Miami Law student to win.

Winning Paper Has Personal Roots

Gordon’s paper is titled “Cowboys and Indians: Settler Colonialism and the Dog Whistle in U.S. Immigration Policy.”

“The paper compares early Supreme Court cases defining the status of Native Americans to contemporary immigration policy that treats Central American and Mexican migrants--many of whom are of Indigenous descent--as ‘illegal" people,’” explains Gordon. “It was largely borne out of personal experience. I am Native American, but I am often mistaken for Hispanic.

“I also spent several years living in Honduras. The historic connection between Indigenous peoples north and south of the border was something I had been thinking a lot about before starting law school, and it certainly informed my legal education. Additionally, I am a fellow in the Immigration Clinic and pursuing a career in immigration law.”

Immigration Clinic and Miami Scholars Program as Driving Forces

Professor Rebecca Sharpless, director of the Immigration Clinic, was Gordon’s faculty advisor. “I am very grateful to her! I was ecstatic when I found out I had won. The article has been a labor of love for over a year, and seeing my hard work recognized is overwhelming.”

In addition to her work in the Immigration Clinic, Gordon is a Miami Scholar who has interned at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Georgia, Legal Services of Greater Miami in the Florida Keys, and Catholic Legal Services’ Asylum Clinic in Miami. She served as a research assistant for Professor Osamudia James and worked as an advanced legal writing tutor at the Dade Correctional Institution

More about the Burton Awards

Now in its 21st year, the Burton Awards were established to honor the finest accomplishments in law, including writing, reform, public service and interest, regulatory innovation, and lifetime achievements in the profession.

The winners are selected by law school professors from Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, and UC Berkeley School of Law, as well as William Burton, founder and chair of the program, Judge Edward Forstenzer, Superior Court of California (retired), and William Ryan, former member of the Department of Homeland Security and chair of the White House Plain Language Committee.

Gordon is the fourth Miami Law student to win a legal writing award in the past three years. J.P. Shami received the Law360 Writing Award in 2017, Nicole Chipi won the 2018 Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing, and Elizabeth Montano won the award in 2019.

Read about Miami Law’s Legal Communication and Research Skills Program

More on The Miami Scholars Program