Megan McDermott

2016 American Inns of Court Warren E. Burger Prize for Writing

Megan McDermott has been selected to receive the prestigious 2016 Warren E. Burger Prize for Writing by the American Inns of Court. The award will be presented at the annual American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States on November 5, 2016; the event will be hosted by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Given in the name of the 15th Chief Justice and founder and first president of the Supreme Court Historical Society, the Warren E. Burger Prize is a writing competition designed to encourage outstanding scholarship that “promotes the ideals of excellence, civility, ethics, and professionalism within the legal profession,” the core mission of the American Inns of Court. The award annually honors those in the legal profession for their exemplary writing abilities with publication of the winning essay in South Carolina Law Review and a cash prize of $5,000.

In her winning essay, “Negotiating on Behalf of Low-Income Clients: The Distorting Effects of Model Rule 4.1,” McDermott observes that the prohibition of attorneys making false statements of material fact during negotiations may be at odds with the attorney’s duty to the client. She argues that sanctions-based rules requiring candor in negotiation may create barriers to settlement, to the particular disadvantage of low-income litigants.

McDermott joined the academic staff at University of Wisconsin School of Law in 2013 where she teaches civil procedure, bankruptcy, and professional responsibilities, by blending doctrinal learning with practical skills. She is pursuing her academic research interests in bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure, ethics, and civil procedure as an Honorary Fellow in the Institute for Legal Studies.

McDermott has also worked as a hearing examiner for Milwaukee County in the Department of Children & Families, conducting evidentiary hearings and issuing decisions in administrative appeals. Early in her career, McDermott litigated in a range of settings, including private practice at Covington & Burling, federal practice as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and administrative practice at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

McDermott earned her bachelor’s degree in classics magna cum laude from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar. She attended the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, where she served as articles editor of the California Law Review; co-president and treasurer of the Berkeley Law Foundation; and was named to the Order of the Coif.