Brian Tannebaum: The Prize

Stetson University College of Law, best known for its five for one beer specials on Thursdays, has  announced a new prize for first year law students.

Stetson University College of Law alumnus Brian L. Tannebaum ’94 has created an award for students who excel in their first-year criminal law course. The Brian L. Tannebaum High Grade Award in Criminal Law rewards Stetson students earning the top grade in each section of their criminal law class with a financial award of $500.

Yes, that would be the same mean, nasty Brian Tannebaum who writes about  criminal law issues,  professional ethics issues and, at Above the Law, small firm issues.

Holy crap! You mean he’s not just an angry old lawyer spewing hate and venom around the interwebz?

Welcome to the world of real people, where reality too often flies in the face of efforts to ignore unpleasant advice.  Brian Tannebaum doesn’t hate law students. He doesn’t hate young lawyers. In fact, he actually cares a great deal about them and their future.  You’re shocked? You shouldn’t be. 

Contrary to the cries of those impaled on sharp words, the purpose of his critiques aren’t to wound but to help.  He responds to the happy faces singing the praises of magic bullet solutions to age-old practical and ethical problems.  He doesn’t do this for his sake, as he’s already achieved substantial success.  No, you do not threaten him. No, you aren’t even close to threatening him.

And it goes beyond some walking-around money:

Student Kacie Hohnadell, who has won the award multiple times, described receiving the Brian L. Tannebaum High Grade Award as one of the most gratifying experiences of her law school career.

“It was very rewarding for my hard work and dedication to be recognized,” said Hohnadell. “In addition to receiving the award, I had the opportunity to have dinner and a wonderful conversation with Mr. Tannebaum. His generosity and encouragement were inspiring, and I truly enjoyed meeting him.”

Yes, inspiring. He’s not obliged to sit down with students, or take them to lunch. He doesn’t have to talk to them. But he does.

Despite what the apologists in the Happysphere say, there is an obligation that many experienced lawyers take very seriously, to try to help, encourage and inspire law students and young lawyers to be the best they can be.  We want them to succeed.  We want them to be zealous, ethical and enjoy a fabulous life. 

And Brian Tannebaum puts his money, and his time, where his mouth is.  And he endures the ignorant backlash of those who feel the sting of his words because he won’t let them get away with unethical or improper behavior.  And he does it all to help others.

15 comments on “Brian Tannebaum: The Prize

  1. Doug Cornelius

    It’s great that Mr. Tannebaum created the award. I have to admit that I curious how a student won the “award multiple times.” You would think that if the student had the highest grade he or she would not have to take the class again.

  2. SHG

    I wondered that as well. And then I thought, happy hour at Stetson? If that’s wrong, I’m sure some Stetson person will clear it up.

  3. JMS

    Wait! How did the same student win an award for getting the top grade in her 1L crimlaw section multiple times?

  4. Marc R

    “Student Kacie Hohnadell, who has won the award multiple times, described receiving the Brian L. Tannebaum High Grade Award as one of the most gratifying experiences of her law school career.”

    Criminal law was one of the better 1L classes, but I wouldn’t take it more than once.

    BT is a good guy. Dealt with him IRL. ATL commenters would flame Marty Lipton as being a “shitlawyer”; it’s no big deal.

  5. Onlooker

    “students earning the top grade in each section of their criminal law class”

    I know nothing about L school but this seems to be saying the the class is split into several sections and the top grade earner in each section is awarded $500. That would answer the question that others had (and I as well until reading it again).

    Does that make sense?

  6. Onlooker

    What I meant is that the course could be split into several sections of time (e.g. like quarters or even more than 4), not that the students are split into sections.

    I don’t have any idea whether that’s true or not, but it would explain the numerous awards to one person.

    I don’t know, and it’s certainly not worth any more of our time!

  7. SHG

    Law school classes are usually split into sections, as there are too many students (surprise!). so I assume that’s what it refers to.

  8. Andrea Lance

    I can vouch for him, I was one of the bajillion baby ASAs in County Court in Miami in 2006, had one of my first cases against him, and he was perfectly courteous. I follow him on Twitter and find his tweets amusing and very different from his courtroom presence.

  9. Kacie's Mom

    Kacie Hohnadell won multiple awards as a first year law student at Stetson, but only one from Mr. Tannebaum’s Firm. That information is incorrect.

  10. Mark Bennett

    Sure, Brian Tannebaum’s a nice guy in the real world, but he’s got an online reputation to maintain, so we don’t talk about that publ—


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