AALS Announces 2017 Scholarly Papers Competition Winners

Press Release
Jim Greif
[email protected]
(202) 296-1593

Washington, D.C. (December 1, 2016) – The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has announced the winners of the 2017 AALS Scholarly Papers Competition for law school faculty members who have been teaching for five years or fewer.

The competition’s selection committee recognized the following outstanding papers:

Christopher Walker, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
“Legislating in the Shadows”

Honorable Mention
Mila Sohoni, Associate Professor of Law at University of San Diego School of Law

In his article, Professor Walker explores the role of federal agencies in the legislative process, and in particular their role in providing confidential technical drafting assistance on draft legislation that originates from congressional staffers. The author examines the implication of his finding that federal agencies help draft the vast majority of legislation that the agencies ultimately administer and interpret. The article will be published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review next year, and a draft is available on the Social Science Research Network.

“I’m honored to have my work recognized by the committee,” Professor Walker said. “I’m also deeply grateful to the Administrative Conference of the United States, which commissioned the empirical study underlying this article, and to the many agencies officials who shared their experiences of assisting Congress in drafting statutes. I hope the findings uncovered in this article will help reframe the conventional principal-agent bureaucratic model as well as approaches to judicial review of administrative interpretations of law.”

Professor Sohoni’s article explores executive decisions to intensify the severity of enforcement of existing laws or regulations on a selected class of offenders or offenses as part of a “crackdown.” Each year, federal, state, and local prosecutors and agencies carry out thousands of crackdowns on everything from trespassing to insider trading to minimum-wage violations at nail salons. While recognizing the need for flexibility in enforcing laws, the author calls for a broad rethinking of the principles and the constraints that should frame the power to selectively and programmatically augment that enforcement. The article will be published in the Virginia Law Review next year, and a draft of the article is available on the Social Science Research Network.”

“I am delighted and honored that the committee chose my article for this recognition,” Professor Sohoni said. “The crackdown is a ubiquitous feature of public law’s administration, and I am grateful for the committee’s acknowledgement that my examination helps to shed light on broader questions of criminal enforcement and administrative discretion.”

The AALS Committee to Review Scholarly Papers for the 2017 Annual Meeting included distinguished legal scholars from around the country:

The competition has been spearheaded by the AALS for more than 30 years. The awards will be presented during the AALS Annual Meeting, January 3-7, 2017 in San Francisco.


About the AALS
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 179 law schools. Its members enroll most of the nation’s law students and produce the majority of the country’s lawyers and judges, as well as many of its lawmakers. The mission of AALS is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In support of this mission, AALS promotes the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, while seeking to improve the legal profession, to foster justice, and to serve our many communities–local, national and international.