University of Kanas Law graduate wins national writing prize

LAWRENCE – A recent graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law has won second place in a national writing competition for her paper on cryptocurrency regulations in  international trade.

Allie O'Neill
Allie O’Neill

Allie O’Neill, class of 2023, finished second in the 23rd annual Andrew P. Vance Memorial Writing Competition, which encourages students to explore current issues relevant to customs and international trade law. The competition, sponsored by the Customs and International Trade Bar Association (CITBA) and the University of Miami School of Law, was open to students enrolled in a juris doctor or master of laws program at any U.S. law school during the 2022-23 school year.

O’Neill’s paper explores digitizing the international trade and finance industry by utilizing the technology enabling cryptocurrency and blockchain, the implications of lack of regulation as financial technology (fintech) matures and a proposal for multilateral regulation in the global sphere as the underlying technology continues to evolve from white paper states to futuristic quantum. This field has interested O’Neill since her undergraduate days studying both economics and finance.

“My interest in emerging tech began when I was studying abroad in Dublin,” O’Neill said. “I was exposed to the concept of environmental sustainability and governance, which introduced me to sustainability concepts and frameworks. There are so many implications when it comes to the underlying technology in fintech and what it touches from intellectual property to copyright infringement to trade, criminal law and more.”

O’Neill is the fifth KU Law student in 16 years to take first or second place in this national competition. She received a $500 prize from the CITBA.

“The award is very validating because I didn’t expect anything from it,” O’Neill said. “It makes me want to write another paper because technology is constantly developing. Anything you write after three months is outdated.”

Originally from Reston, Virginia, O’Neill attended KU for both her undergraduate and law degrees. After her graduation from KU Law in May 2023 and her bar passage, O’Neill moved to Texas to serve as an associate at the regional corporate headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co, where she focuses on artificial intelligence and emerging tech, learning operational risk, strategy and governance.

“I want to stay in this space as long as I can,” O’Neill said. “JP Morgan is a bank, but it’s also a tech company. I have the unique opportunity to experience an interconnection between business, tech and law. It’s very niche.”

Past KU Law winners of the Andrew P. Vance Memorial Writing Competition:

  • 2018: Elliot Brewer, class of 2019, second place
  • 2016: Cody Wood, class of 2017, first place
  • 2007: Justin Waggoner, class of 2008, first place
  • 2007: Owen Grieb, class of 2008, second place