Michelle Smit, 3L, wins Ladas Award from International Trademark Association


Author: Kevin Allen

Michelle Smit

Michelle Smit, a third-year student at Notre Dame Law School, was recently honored as a winner of the 2018 Ladas Memorial Award from the International Trademark Association (INTA). The international competition annually recognizes two students and one professional for papers on trademark law or a matter that directly relates to or affects trademarks.

A panel of judges selected Smit’s article, (Un)Common Law Protection of Certification Marks, as a winner in the student category. She wrote the article during her second year of law school, and the Notre Dame Law Review published it in fall 2017.

“This is a great achievement,” said Professor Mark McKenna, director of Notre Dame Law School’s Program of Study in Intellectual Property and Technology Law.

“INTA is an international organization, and only two students receive this award in any given year,” McKenna said. “It reflects the hard work Michelle put into her excellent article, and the intellectual property faculty are extremely proud of her.”

Smit said she was shocked when she received the email congratulating her for winning the Ladas Award. The paper was the first scholarly article she wrote, and she wrote it as part of the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement.

Smit thanked McKenna for serving as her faculty advisor on the article and encouraging her to enter the Ladas competition. McKenna won the 2007 Ladas Award in the professional category.

“Professor McKenna is such a great champion for students,” Smit said. “He has mentored me in my academic and career endeavors, and has informed me of relevant opportunities. I believe that winning the Ladas Award is a reflection, in part, of his and all the intellectual property faculty’s investment in my success, and the success of all students.”


As an undergraduate at Grand Valley State University, Smit spent two summers studying in China. She saw flagrant trademark violations during her time in Nanjing and Shanghai, and the experience sparked an interest in intellectual property law.

Smit took Trademark Law as an elective during her first year at the Law School and earned the highest grade in the class of 90 students. Her passion for intellectual property law grew from there.

After graduation, Smit will work as an intellectual property associate at Jones Day in Chicago. She will return to South Bend in 2019 to clerk for the Honorable Kenneth Ripple of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Ripple is also a faculty member at Notre Dame Law School.

The Ladas Memorial Award was established in memory of Stephen P. Ladas, a distinguished attorney and author. The award is funded by Ladas & Parry LLP, a global law firm that represents owners of intellectual property rights.