Chris Bebenek ’11 has won the second annual Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law. At a recent luncheon ceremony, CEB Manager Johanna Sherlin announced Bebenek as the winner and presented him with a framed certificate and a check for $2,500.
A nonprofit organization of the California State Bar Association and the University of California, CEB provides practice guides, continuing education, and other resources to state bar members. It established the award last year to honor Berkeley Law students who demonstrate outstanding performance in the First Year Skills Program.
Bebenek and 11 classmates became eligible for the award after receiving Best Brief honors in their first-year Written and Oral Advocacy sections last spring. The other Best Brief winners were Laura Beckerman, Stephen de la Cruz, Ian Fein, Alek Felstiner, Jesse Ferrantella, David Kemp, Savala Nolan, Vivek Rao, Alexia Smokler, Andrew Wiener, and Aimee Yanno.
Like all first-year students at Berkeley Law, Bebenek completed the Legal Research & Writing class during fall semester. The class teaches students how to read cases, research legal problems, select precedent, and write legal memoranda on topics involving both state and federal law.
During the spring Written and Oral Advocacy course, students learn more advanced research techniques and how to write a brief. After receiving a hypothetical case based on an emerging federal issue, students are assigned a side, research the case law, and eventually submit a final brief and argue their position in a moot court setting.
Bebenek’s case dealt with Title VII protection for transgender individuals. He said the CEB award was particularly meaningful because he “had many chances to see just how high the quality of my classmates’ legal writing is, and the effort that went into everyone’s briefs.”
CEB assembled a panel of three Berkeley Law alumni to evaluate the briefs and choose the award recipient: Contra Costa Superior Court Judge David Flinn ’63; former State Bar of California president Palmer Brown Madden ’73; and California State Bar Board of Governors member Cheryl Hicks ’83, former president of the Alameda County Bar Association.