By Andrew Cohen
Dana Lueck-Mammen ’19 and Trevor Kosmo ’19 recently won the annual Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law. During a luncheon ceremony, each received a framed certificate and a $2,500 check from Stephanie Walker, CEB’s Product Strategy and Innovation Manager.
CEB is a joint committee of the University of California and the State Bar of California that provides practice guides, continuing education, and other professional resources to state bar members. It established the award to honor Berkeley Law students who demonstrate outstanding performance in the school’s Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program.
Lueck-Mammen, Kosmo, and 10 classmates became eligible for the award last spring after receiving Best Brief honors in their first-year Written and Oral Advocacy sections. The other Best Brief winners were Zoe Beiser, Caitlin Boucher, Amy Collier, Emily Hren, Annie Lee, Daniel Myerson, Kristina Sinclair, Erica Sun, Jordan Varberg, and Jessica Zausmer.
Like all first-year students at Berkeley Law, the Best Brief winners first completed the Legal Research and Writing class during their fall semester. The class teaches students how to read cases, research legal problems, choose precedent, and write legal memoranda on topics involving 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 a federal issue, they research the case law and submit briefs. The students then argue their position in a moot court setting. Kosmo (taught by Professor Michelle Cole) and Lueck-Mammen (taught by Professor Patricia Plunkett Hurley) conveyed deep appreciation for the training they received.
“I’m so grateful to Professor Cole, who helped me every step along the way,” said Kosmo, who plans to practice at the intersection of immigration and criminal law. “She pushed me to think deeply about the cases, be precise and concise, and continually revise my writing with a critical eye.”
Lueck-Mammen, pursuing a career in corporate law, noted that Hurley “was extremely helpful throughout the entire process. She was always very open to questions and gave great advice about using sources effectively and writing more concisely.”
Leaving their comfort zone
The case they addressed involved a Fair Housing Act claim. The plaintiff, a homeless veteran, claimed that the defendant homeless shelter violated his rights by refusing to accommodate his emotional support dog. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s requested accommodation was unreasonable, because accepting the dog would fundamentally alter the nature of the shelter’s services and negatively impact shelter employees and other guests.
“I was an English major, so the writing I was used to seemed completely different,” Lueck-Mammen said. “It was hard to learn such a new style of writing, but also really rewarding to gain new skills and see how the brief came together in the end.”
Lueck-Mammen’s brief represented the plaintiff homeless veteran, while Kosmo represented the defendant homeless shelter.
“I enjoyed thinking about creative policy arguments that could support my position,” Kosmo said. “Writing a defense brief, initially it seemed like I’d have to argue to restrict the rights of homeless people under the Fair Housing Act. But as I dug into the cases, I began to see the issue in a different way. I tried to shift the narrative by highlighting how the plaintiff’s requested relief could actually end up restricting rights for the larger homeless community in the long run.”
Three Berkeley Law alumni served on the CEB selection committee for the award: Judge Holly Fujie ’78 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Elaine Andersson ’82, of counsel at Lubin Olson and Niewiadomski, and Niki Moore ’06, chief executive officer of PracticePro.
Fujie said she is “always amazed at the quality of the briefs” in the competition. “They show a level of analysis and writing skills that would be impressive in briefs submitted in my courtroom,” she added. “Since the type of critical thinking and organization evidenced in these briefs is crucial to success in all legal fields, I know that Berkeley Law has prepared these students well for success, whatever their area of practice.”