Cramer Wins ABA’s Mendes Hershman Writing Award

  • Mendes Hershman Award
    Mendes Hershman Award  Mark Cramer J.D. '16 is the winner of the ABA Business Law Section's Mendes Hershman Award for his paper, "National Security Letters and Corporate Boards."  Colonial Photography
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Mark Cramer J.D. ’16 has a lot to be proud of as he graduates from William & Mary Law School this month. A new writing award is making that experience even better.

Cramer was recently announced as the winner of the Mendes Hershman Award for his paper, “National Security Letters and Corporate Boards.” The Award is given by the American Bar Association Business Law Section and covers topics concerning all aspects of business law, including corporate governance, securities regulation, employment law, bankruptcy, and corporate finance.

Cramer wrote the paper under Professor Rebecca Green’s guidance (with helpful insights from Professor Darian Ibrahim) in the fall 2015 semester for Independent Writing credit. He started with an interest in how companies, especially tech firms, responded to or worked with government requests for customer information pursuant to national security investigations.

“Mark asked difficult questions about corporate board liability when companies receive National Security Letters from the government,” said Green, Professor of the Practice, Co-Director of the Election Law Program, and Assistant Director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology. “Recently, there has been a lot of attention to whether companies must assist government investigations, for example in Apple v. FBI. Mark asked an inward version of this question: what duty of care do corporate board members owe management and shareholders in complying with National Security Letter requests.”

Papers submitted to the ABA for the award must come from students enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school’s J.D. program. They can be submitted in a class, seminar, or as an independent study; or a proposed law review/journal note, comment or article. They are judged on research and analysis, choice of topic, writing style, originality, and contribution to the literature available on the topic.

Depending on the topic, prior publication, and other factors, a previously unpublished first-place-winning essay may be considered for publication in a Section publication.

“I stumbled upon an interesting topic and had unexpectedly good timing,” Cramer said. “I am fortunate to have done so and grateful that the ABA found my paper worthwhile.”

Cramer says he benefited immensely from Green’s guidance, Ibrahim’s feedback, and the terrific courses offered by William & Mary in privacy law as well as corporate law.

“Our faculty’s expertise and teaching style made it easy to be captivated by the material, and I am proud that William & Mary has such a strong tradition of supporting academic research and writing by students,” Cramer said.

Hailing from rural southeastern Pennsylvania, Cramer graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2010 with a degree in history and political science. Before law school, he worked for three years for a defense contractor in northern Virginia, and as a law student served on the Law Review and Honor Council. After graduation, he will take the Delaware bar and join the corporate law firm Richards, Layton & Finger in Wilmington, Delaware.

As first place winner, Cramer will receive an award of $2,500.

“Winning this award is a great honor and a wonderful way to finish up my time at Marshall-Wythe,” Cramer said.

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation.  Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.