The University of Memphis School of Law’s academic journal, the University of Memphis Law Review, has honored the school’s top three law review scholars with a prestigious “Best
Note” award for their scholarly articles published in the school’s law review. This
year’s winners are Kyle Cummins, of Memphis; Emma Redden, of Germantown; and Everett
Hixson, of Chattanooga. Cummins is editor-in-chief of the law review, while Redden
serves as managing editor and Hixson as the research editor of the publication.
Writing a “note” may not sound like a particularly arduous or challenging task, but
don’t try telling that to these three University of Memphis law school students.“‘Note’
may be the worst possible terminology that any legal mind ever came up with to describe
this form of writing. It immediately conjures a picture of a post-it note,” said
Kyle Cummins, who won the best overall award for his note advancing a new theory for
allowing religious student groups at universities to regulate their membership.
A ‘note’ is an in-depth, student-written article that advances a novel legal argument.
A typical note runs 50-plus pages with more than 200 footnotes. The best notes are
selected for publication in the law review, a scholarly journal featuring articles
written by law professors, lawyers and, in the case of notes, students. The top three
published notes are recognized annually by the Best Note Awards.
“This was the largest and most comprehensive piece of research and writing I have
ever done,” said Redden, whose note tackled a possible conflict between Tennessee’s
recent photo ID requirement for voting and the federal Voting Rights Act. “It took
me weeks to wrap my head around the issues to make sure that I was contributing something
to the field. I had to do a lot of empirical research, which was a bit intimidating.”
Hixson’s note-writing may have been handed down genetically, as his father’s law review
note was published in 1985 when he was a law student at the University of Tennessee.
“My dad and I got into a competition about whose note was better,” Hixson said. “We
decided to settle it by having my younger brother read them and decide, but he never
gave us a winner so we might have to get him to read them again.” Hixson’s note addressed
a new Tennessee law that requires plaintiffs whose complaints are dismissed to pay
the defendant’s legal fees, a form of what is known in the law as the “loser pays
All three recipients graduate in May. Cummins has accepted a judicial clerkship with
U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson, and will join Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens,
& Cannada following his clerkship. Redden is going to work for the Baker, Donelson
firm, while Hixson is joining Duncan, Hatcher, Hixson & Fleenor.
The Best Note Awards were established in 2010 by Professor Andrew McClurg, the faculty
advisor to the law review.
“These students are the best of the best,” McClurg said, “and I thought it was appropriate
to recognize their enormous efforts and talent.
Each winner received a cash prize and a framed cover of the law review issue in which
their note is published.