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Justin Kesselman ’13 wins national trust and estate counsel writing competition

(Boston, 9/10/12)  New England Law | Boston: Justin Kesselman ’13 has taken first place in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) national Mary Moers Wenig 2012 Student Writing Competition. His winning paper, “Can State Law Remedies Revive Statutes Stricken by ERISA’s Preemption Provision?" will be published in an upcoming edition of the ACTEC Law Journal and he will receive a $5,000 prize.

Justin Kesselman '13        Justin Kesselman '13
The competition, open to all law students in the country, was created by ACTEC’s Legal Education Committee, which consists of law school professors who teach in the area of trusts and estates and practitioners who teach as adjuncts in the trusts and estates field.
Kesselman’s paper examined the soundness of a Uniform Probate Code provision that has been adopted by the legislatures of several states, including Massachusetts. “The provision’s stated purpose is to circumvent ERISA’s preemption of state statutes that revoke the beneficiary status of a retirement plan participant’s spouse upon divorce,” he said. “It does this by allowing beneficiaries to be paid according to federal rules but then requiring them to forward benefits to persons determined by state law. My paper questions whether this and similar remedies are likely to be preempted by ERISA.”
ACTEC is the most prestigious trusts and estates organization in the country for both practitioners and academics, according to Professor Kent Schenkel, who teaches Estate and Gift Tax; Estate Planning; and Wills, Estates, and Trusts. “Justin’s award is a stellar accomplishment,” he said.
Professor Eric Lustig, the author of several articles on tax policy issues, coached Kesselman on last year’s tax moot court team, which won the first runner-up Best Brief award and finished as a quarterfinalist overall in the National Tax Moot Court Competition. "Justin is a terrific student,” said Professor Lustig. “He did a great job on last year's tax moot court team, and he interned for Justice Cordy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last summer." (Hon. Robert J. Cordy also serves as an adjunct professor at New England Law.)
After he graduates next year, Kesselman hopes to obtain a clerkship and then go to a firm with a bankruptcy and/or estate planning practice.
ACTEC is a professional association consisting of approximately 2,700 lawyers from throughout the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. Fellows are selected on the basis of professional reputation and ability in the fields of trusts and estates and on the basis of having made substantial contributions to these fields through lecturing, writing, teaching, and bar activities. Professor Ronald Chester is a longtime member.

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