Attorneys win Distinguished Brief Award


WMU Cooley Law School says "research and writing" and "advanced writing" are two of the subjects covered in its required courses. Photo via

A law school publication in the region will recognize three West Michigan attorneys for their work in filing scholarly briefs before the Michigan Supreme Court.

WMU-Cooley Law Review, a publication of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, has selected local attorneys John Bursch, Conor Dugan and Matthew Nelson as recipients of its 2017 Distinguished Brief Award.

The awards will be presented at the Distinguished Brief Awards ceremony from 5:30-8 p.m. on July 27 at the Country Club of Lansing.

Now in its 32nd year, the award is given in recognition of the most scholarly briefs filed before the Michigan Supreme Court, as determined by a panel of judges and professors across the state. The purpose of the award is to promote excellence in legal writing.

The briefs are evaluated on the question presented, point headings, statement of the case, argument and analysis, style, mechanics and best overall brief.

The winning briefs will be published in an upcoming edition of the WMU-Cooley Law Review.

Award winners

John Bursch, an attorney at Caledonia-based Bursch Law, and Matthew Nelson, of Grand Rapids-based Warner Norcross & Judd, were recognized for authorship of an application for leave to appeal in Fremont Insurance Co. v. Gro-Green Farms Inc., which was submitted in the 2015-16 term to the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of Gro-Green Farms Inc. The case involves the use of debunked expert testimony to identify the cause of a barn fire.

Conor Dugan, of Warner Norcross, and Bursch were recognized for writing an application for leave to appeal in Reffitt v. Bachi-Reffitt, which was submitted in the 2015-16 term to the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of Kevin Reffitt. The case involves the question of whether insurance proceeds constitute marital property where the insurance policy was paid with non-marital funds and named only one spouse as a beneficiary.

H. William Stertz and Michael Korn, of Saginaw-based Stertz & Weaver, also received awards for authorship of the Fremont Insurance Co. v. Gro-Green Farms Inc. brief.

WMU-Cooley Law Review

Founded in 1980, the WMU-Cooley Law Review produces two publications per year and sponsors a lecture series, an annual symposium and the Distinguished Brief Awards.

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