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Honors and Awards

Emory Law student, alumnus, receive national awards for legal writing

Lisa Ashmore |
2023 Law360 Burton Awards Emory winners

Both the editor-in-chief of the Emory Law Journal and an alumnus from the Class of 1992 have won Burton/Law360 Awards for Distinguished Legal Writing this year. The raison d'être for the competition is to honor clear, concise writing in a profession not always known for it. Only 25 attorney articles and 25 student comments were chosen this year from a national field.

On June 12, Everett R. Stanley 23L and John J. Jacko III 92L will be honored at a black-tie gala hosted by comedian Seth Meyers in Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery. It’s the 24th annual event; past speakers have included Supreme Court justices. The Burton Board of Directors includes US Senators, federal appellate court judges, and Am Law 100 firm leaders.

Submissions are weighed by some of the nation’s sharpest legal writing scholars. This year, faculty from Harvard, Georgetown and UC-Berkeley were judges, along with, fittingly, William Ryan, former chair of the White House Plain Language Committee.

The contest is held in association with the Library of Congress, presented by Law360, and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association. Students must be nominated by their law school dean or designee. Attorneys from the nation’s 1,000 largest firms are nominated by their managing partner. So even nomination is an honor. 

Stanley was editor-in-chief of the Emory Law Journal this year, and won for his ELJ Comment, “A Peace Treaty for the Bar Wars: An Updated Framework to Determine Permissibility of Mandatory Bar Association Activity,” 72 Emory Law Journal 165 (2022).

Required bar association membership is an unsettled appellate issue that Stanley’s father, an attorney, mentioned as a possible compelling topic. Stanley said his favorite 1L class was Constitutional Law, and he thanked journal advisor Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law Fred Smith Jr., a constitutional law scholar, for guidance throughout the article writing process.

“I’m of the opinion that bar associations provide significant benefits to the legal profession and to society generally,” Stanley said. “And so I was passionate to write about it once I’d reviewed the case law and found a potential remedy. I spent countless hours researching, reading, writing, and editing. I’m hopeful that my work can have an impact on the ultimate disposition of this circuit split, and I’m honored that the Burton Awards recognized my Comment and saw the same importance that I see in this issue.” 

“All our journals publish outstanding work, but Everett’s Comment was exceptional,” said Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law Margo A. Bagley, who nominated Stanley. “It addresses a problem so complex that it’s yet to be settled by the federal courts, and more so, presents what seems to be a reasonable test.” 

Jacko won for his article, “The Doctrine of Implied Honesty in Contract: Is Neither a Slippery Slope nor a ‘New Vista’ of Contract Nullification That Should Concern Businesses or Franchisors.” 8 Emory Corporate Governance and Accountability Review 31 (2021). He’s a partner at Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl LLC, in its Philadelphia office.

While he writes frequently for professional publications, Jacko wasn’t on a journal at Emory Law, and doesn’t typically do academic writing. He credits EDGAR’s then editor Luke Meyerson 21L, who called late on a Friday afternoon three years ago.

“After he explained ECGAR’s focus, I told him that I think I have something that fits the bill,” Jacko said. “Thank you to Luke for making that fateful call that day.” The article was a recasting of work Jacko had written previously, but never published. 

“I felt that it represented my best writing,” Jacko said. He researched writing competitions and found the Burtons. “It was the only national writing competition for practicing lawyers that I could find. I then asked my firm’s managing partner if he would nominate it if he thought it worthy of nomination.”

“We are thrilled to see John recognized by the Burton Foundation for his outstanding legal writing skills,” said Managing Partner Pete A. Fuscaldo. “John has proven to be an outstanding litigator and top communicator; it is exciting to see him honored alongside some of the best writers in the legal profession.”

As for Jacko’s topic, he says: “The concept of honesty in contract always struck me as a fundamental underpinning of the entire legal concept of contracts. That there would ever be criticism of any right to ignore a contract’s notice of breach provision—if the breaching party committed dishonest acts that went to the heart of the contract—just struck me as both odd and wrong,” he said. “I was intellectually motivated to not just get to the correct answer, but to construct a scholarly deconstruction of the criticism in a 19th-century argument style.”

The first publication on Jacko’s biography is a 1996 article on worker’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was written for the Silent News, a small but historic newspaper for the deaf, which hints at another reason why recognition for writing is so meaningful to him.

“I am a child of deaf adults,” he said. “Verbal and written communication were not part of my early childhood in any conventional sense. I had wonderful mentors in high school and college that knew that I aspired to be a lawyer and really counseled me to work at improving my writing. For me, this recognition validates all of that focus and effort, and honors the forethought of those mentors.” 

Jacko is a litigator licensed to practice in four states, before three US Circuit Courts of Appeal, and eight US District Courts. In addition to his JD from Emory Law, he earned a BBA in finance at The George Washington University.

While at Emory Law, Stanley interned at the US District Court for Louisiana’s Eastern District and served as a research assistant for Professor Matthew Lawrence. He earned his undergraduate degree in public policy at Duke University. After graduation this spring, he’ll clerk one year for Judge Jay Zainey of the Eastern District of Louisiana, and from 2024–2025 for Judge Dana Douglas of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. After that, he’s scheduled to join Baker McKenzie in New York, where he was a summer associate.