Butterworth Annual Prize

Butterworth Annual Prize for SCALE Student with Highest First-Year GPA

In 2017, Southwestern announced the establishment of the Guerin L. Butterworth Endowed Prize Fund for the First-Year Law Student in its Two-Year Accelerated J.D. Program (SCALE) with the highest grade point average.  Sterling Franklin, a trustee of Morris S. Smith Foundation and longtime friend of Guerin Butterworth, established the Fund with a $15,000 gift.  Mr. Franklin was a personal friend of Morris S. Smith (1910-1993) and has been a Trustee of the Morris S. Smith Foundation it was established in 1993.  Mr. Smith graduated from Southwestern (then Southwestern University) in 1933 with an LL.B.

Butterworth Prize Recipients

  1. 2019-2020

    Stephanie Zirulnikoff

    Image - Stephanie Zirulnikoff


    Stephanie is a first-generation college student. She received a B.A. in Political Science, cum laude, from the University of Florida. She moved cross-country from Miami, Florida especially for the SCALE program because of the challenge it offered in completing her J.D. in two years. Stephanie was an Oralist for the Moot Court Honors Program and a Staffer for Southwestern Law Review. She's interested in pursuing a career in entertainment law.


  2. 2018-2019

    Bret Golden

    Image - Bret Golden Butterworth Award 2019

    Bret Golden came to Southwestern Law School in 2018 after completing his undergraduate degree in less than three years at UCLA. SCALE’s rigorous 2-year program enticed him with the opportunity to take an intensive and expedited path to a career in law.  He participated in Southwestern’s London Summer Program in Entertainment Law and was named a Biederman Scholar. With his J.D., he hopes to pursue a career in entertainment to lessen the burden of legal hurdles on creative individuals. 

    His interests include sports since he was nine-days-old at his first UCLA football game, video games which he has always enjoyed with friends, and making ridiculous eye-roll-inducing law jokes while studying.

  3. 2017-2018

    Carina Miller '19

    L-R: Sterling Franklin, Guerin Butterworth, Jonathan Miller, Carina Miller, Dean Susan Prager, Harriet Rolnick (SCALE Dean)

    Ms. Miller holds a Ph.D. in Government with an International Relations specialty from Georgetown and remains interested in law and policy. Before attending Southwestern, Ms. Miller taught classes on human rights, Latin American Politics, and international law at Occidental College.  Ms. Miller especially enjoys SCALE's rigorous programming and small collaborative environment. 


  4. 2016-2017

    Michael Alfera ’18

    Image - Butterworth Award 2017 Alfera

    Mr. Alfera is a classical pianist, composer, and conductor and worked as a freelance musician for nearly a decade before coming to law school.  In 2014, he founded the L.A. Choral Lab (a performing arts nonprofit dedicated to performing and promoting new choral works by living/local composers).  He was an outstanding doctrinal student, Biederman Scholar,  and earned accolades for his intramural appellate advocacy skills as a writer (finalist) and as an oralist (honorable mention) in the Moot Court Honors Program.  Mr. Alfera plans to use his J.D. by counseling and representing musicians,  art nonprofits, and entrepreneurs.


  5. 2015-2016

    Maralle Messrelian ’17 magna cum laude

    Image - Butterworth Award 2017 Alfera

    Ms. Messrelian received a B.S. in Accountancy, cum laude, from California State University, Northridge. After several years of practicing accounting, she decided to pursue her passion for law.  Ms. Messrelian embraced the challenge of completing her J.D. in two-years and excelled academically and personally in SCALE's immersive program.


More about the Butterworth Prize:

IMAGE - SCALE Butterworth and Franklin
Guerin Butterworth with Sterling Franklin

Ms. Butterworth finished her first year in SCALE at the top of her class, was on Dean’s List both years, and was invited to participate in the Southwestern Law Review.  Now a solo family-law practitioner, Ms. Butterworth began her legal career in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office after being selected from hundreds of applicants for a coveted spot in the certified law clerk program.  She tried her first four jury trials while awaiting bar exam results.

Ms. Butterworth and Mr. Franklin met in 1987 when they were associates at Kirtland & Packard.  After a few years, they went their separate ways, but then they reconnected in mid-2016.  Sterling learned only then that Guerin had been first in her class in her first year at Southwestern Law School, in the SCALE Two-Year J.D. Program.  Sterling decided to honor Guerin by establishing the Guerin L. Butterworth Endowed Prize Fund.  

A student is eligible to receive a Butterworth Prize who (1) is enrolled in the second year of the SCALE Two-Year J.D. Program at Southwestern Law School; (2) had the highest grade point average at the end of the first year of SCALE.  If two or more students tie for the highest grade point average, the $500 will be divided between or among them.

The Butterworth Endowed Prize Fund was established for three purposes:  (1) to honor Guerin L. Butterworth; (2) to provide a cash prize and attendant publicity to the law student who has the highest first-year grade point average in the SCALE Two-Year J.D. Program each year; and (3) to encourage friends and alumni of Southwestern Law School to consider establishing and donating to similar endowment funds at Southwestern Law School.

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