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Law Student Honored with Prestigious Writing Award Mary Kate Nicholson ‘20L received second place in a national student legal writing competition sponsored by the Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation.

W&L Law student Mary Kate Nicholson ‘20L received second place in a national student legal writing competition.

Nicholson was honored with the 2019 Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing for her article “Left with No Name: How Government Action in Intra-Church Trademark Disputes Violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.” The writing competition is sponsored by the Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation.

Nicholson’s paper deals with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and its evolution and application in real property and intellectual property disputes. At issue is the use of the name of a national church denomination by a group that separated from the national church due to a policy disagreement. Nicholson proposes that court intervention into church trademark disputes runs afoul of the free exercise of religion clause.

“I came across this idea when I interned with the South Carolina Supreme Court my 1L summer,” said Nicholson. “The case in question was denied cert by the U.S. Supreme Court, and I knew there was a lot of controversy surrounding the issue. My hometown church went through similar struggles to those discussed in the Note, so I saw first-hand the real-world implications of the legal topic.”

Nicholson is a third-year law student at W&L, where she serves as Executive Editor of the Washington and Lee Law Review. She is from Greer, SC and attended the University of South Carolina for her undergraduate degree. After graduation, she will be an associate with Eversheds Sutherland in Washington, D.C.

Nicholson’s note was published in the Washington and Lee Law Review and is available online.