For the fifth time since 2006, a Thomas Jefferson School of Law student has won the highly prestigious Burton Award for Distinguished Writing. TJSL Alum Robert M. Sagerian ‘13 is the 2014 Burton Award winner for Legal Achievement for his distinguished legal writing.
“I’m really at a loss for words,” said Sagerian. “It's truly an honor and incredibly rewarding just to be considered for such a prestigious award. Advocating for those in need is my passion, my calling in the legal profession.”
Sagerian was selected in the law student category for his note titled “A Penalty Flag for Preemption: The NFL Concussion Litigation, Tortious Fraud, and the Steel Curtain Defense of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations act.” His note was published in the Fall 2013 edition of the Thomas Jefferson Law Review (Volume 35, Issue 2. 35 T. JEFFERSON L. REV. 229) and advocates on behalf of former and current NFL players and calls for the NFL to be held accountable. "Judge Brody's recent denial of the NFLs settlement figure echoes the idea of accountability. As we have seen, the NFL Concussion Litigation has forced changes to how the NFL game is played, trickling all the way down to the Pop Warner ranks,” said Sagerian. "It does not surprise me that Robert won this award," said Professor Lea Fields-Bernard. "After coaching him a year on the trial team I know him to be bright, determined and passionate. I look forward to seeing what other achievements he will make in the coming years."
This year, the Burton Awards selection committee handed out 15 law student awards from among all of the nation’s law schools. “Robert Sagerian wrote an excellent, timely, and important note,” said Professor Meera Deo. “As his Scholarly Legal Writing professor, I recall that he was highly motivated from the start. I am so proud of him and the TJSL team that helped him achieve this incredible goal.”
Sagerian will be honored for his article at an awards ceremony and dinner at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 9.
“Robert joins a distinguished group of TJSL winners of this award,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Keller. “It is wonderful to see the accomplishments of our students recognized in this way.” Other TJSL winners include: Jennifer Siverts '06 in 2006, Anne Knight '08 in 2008, Skye Resendes '11 in 2010, and Sean E. Smith '11 in 2011.
The Burton Awards, now in its 15th year, was established by William C. Burton to promote and reward the refinement and enrichment of good legal writing and the achievement of legal reform. Winners are chosen by a committee consisting of educators from the law schools of Harvard University, Columbia University and Stanford University, as well as leading members of the legal profession and the judiciary.
“It’s an absolute honor being selected for the prestigious Burton Award,” Sagerian said. “I think my selection as a Burton Award winner is a true testament to the high quality of instruction, faculty, and student body here at TJSL.”
Sagerian graduated Magna Cum Laude from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in December 2013. While in law school, Robert was Captain of the Trial Team that won the TYLA Regional Trial Competition. Robert was recognized in the 2014 Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities and earned the American Jurisprudence Award for Trial Practice. In addition, Robert served as a teaching assistant for the Legal Writing program and was invited as a guest judge for first year Oral Arguments. He formerly served as a law clerk at Gomez Trial Attorneys, advocating for those who suffered catastrophic injuries. While waiting for bar exam results, Robert currently holds a Graduate Law Clerk position in the Central Misdemeanor Unit at the San Diego Office of the Public Defender.