Students Recognized for Excellence in Rigorous Writing Exercise

Six Nashville School of Law students have been recognized for their writing achievement in the annual Robert Ballow Excellence in Writing Awards – a result of their performance in the Rigorous Writing Exercise. 

The top performers and their writing mentors are:

Kristi Dowden and Dean William C. Koch, Jr.
Kristi Dowden and Dean William C. Koch, Jr.


Click on the name of each paper to read the award-winning work.

The Rigorous Writing Exercise is a project all Nashville School of Law students embark on as a requirement of graduation. Working with a volunteer mentor from the legal community, students research and write a 15-20 page paper on the topic of their choice.

Each year, the students’ submissions are evaluated by a panel of legal writing experts, who determine finalists and award winners.

Robert L. Ballow

The award is named for Robert L. Ballow, Esq, who has endowed the award with a generous contribution that allows for a cash award to top three finalists annuallyMr. Ballow graduated from the School in 1963. He is the founding partner of King & Ballow, a national law firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, more than 300 daily newspapers, and 100 radio and televisions stations. Mr. Ballow has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1982 and one of the best 150 lawyers in Tennessee. He has been a member of the Media Law Reporter Advisory Board, the Labor Law Section of the American Bar Association, and the ABA Committee on Antitrust and Labor Relations.

For the first time this year, the School has selected a Mentor of the Year. Wayne Sutter, a 2014 graduate of the School, is the 2021 recipient. The honor is conferred in recognition of a mentor’s service to the Rigorous Writing Exercise Program.

Mr. Sutter’s selection as “Mentor of the Year” reflects his longstanding commitment. Mr. Sutter has continuously served as a mentor since the inception of the program in 2017 and frequently mentors more than one student at a time. Sutter serves as an Assistant District Attorney for Tennessee’s 15th Judicial District.