Zachary Pohlman, a 2021 Notre Dame Law School graduate, has won first place in the Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation’s 2021 Award for Excellence in Legal Writing — one of the nation’s largest student writing contests.
His paper, “State Statutory Interpretation and Horizontal Choice of Law,” examines the question of whether a state court must interpret statutes passed by a sister state’s legislature according to its own statutory interpretation methodology or the methodology of the enacting state’s courts. In his paper, Pohlman argues that state courts should use the interpretive methodology of the enacting state’s courts under the most widely used choice-of-law approaches.
“I’m very grateful to have won the 2021 Judge John R. Brown Award. I’m especially grateful to all my professors at Notre Dame Law School who have encouraged me in my academic writing. Professor Pojanowski, in particular, helped me improve my article and sponsored me for the competition, and I’m thankful for his support,” said Pohlman.
Professor of Law Jeffrey Pojanowski said, “Zach’s paper is not the work of a law student; it could have been written by a promising junior professor. He brings together two very difficult fields — statutory interpretation and choice of law — to provide a theoretically informed answer to an important practical problem.”
Pohlman placed in the top five of the Judge Brown writing competition in 2020 with his paper “Stare Decisis and the Supreme Court(s): What States Can Learn from Gamble.”
While at Notre Dame Law School, Pohlman was editor-in-chief of the Notre Dame Law Review, was an oralist on the Moot Court Board, and served as president of the Future Prosecuting Attorneys Council. He was the 2021 Dean Joseph O’Meara Award winner, one of the three highest academic honors awarded by Notre Dame Law School to a graduating student. Pohlman is currently serving as a judicial law clerk for Judge Steven M. Colloton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The first-place Brown Award prize is $10,000. An additional award of $5,000 will be made to a scholarship fund designated by Notre Dame Law School.