Winner of Prestigious Yale Law Writing Competition is Recent Miami Law Grad

Picture of Elizabeth Montano, J.D. '19

Elizabeth Montano, J.D. '19

Recent Miami Law graduate Elizabeth Montano was named one of two winners of the Yale Law Journal’s annual student essay competition, focused this year on emerging issues in immigration law. Montano, who served last year as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Miami Law Review, was also one of ten recipients of the 2019 Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award.

Montano’s essay, “The Rise and Fall of Administrative Closure in Immigration Courts,” will be published in the Yale Law Journal Forum in early 2020. The essay focuses on the laws surrounding immigration judges’ use of administrative closure, a case-management tool used to let individuals pursue more promising forms of relief.

“It is truly an honor to have been selected as one of the winners of the 2019 Yale Law Journal Student Writing Competition,” said Montano. “For over three decades, immigration judges used administrative closure to temporarily remove a case from the active docket while individuals facing deportation pursued more promising forms of relief that, if received, would make their removal proceedings obsolete.

“However, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions effectively ended this practice with his decision in Matter of Castro-Tum. This decision has caused severe consequences in the immigration court system. I am so proud of this essay and that I might be able to shed some light on an immigration issue that is often overlooked.”

Montano graduated summa cum laude in May 2019. In addition to her work with the University of Miami Law Review, she was a clinical student and a student fellow in the Immigration Clinic, where she worked on a legal challenge to Miami-Dade County’s policy of jailing people for ICE. Her clinical work earned her the 2018 CLEA Outstanding Clinical Student Award. Currently, Montano works as an Associate Attorney at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A., where she focuses on immigration-related litigation and deportation defense.

Montano is the third Miami Law student to win a legal writing award in the past two years. J.P. Shami received the Law360 Writing Award in 2017, and Nicole Chipi won the 2018 Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing.