For the second year in a row, a Belmont law student won the ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction. Frank Toub, entering his third year at Belmont, won the contest for 2022 with his short story “Dope Fiend.”
The story is Toub’s first stab at fiction writing. A former project engineer and Army veteran, Toub is entering his third career with his transition to law school on the GI Bill. In the ABA’s release on the contest, Toub said, “I always viewed attorneys as people who help others with really important problems in their life.” And he wants to do the same.
The ABA Journal Board of Editors selected the winner from finalists picked by ABA Journal editors and writers. The contest sought original fictional stories of no more than 5,000 words that illuminate the role of the law or lawyers in modern society. Entries were judged on creativity, plot exposition, legal insight and character development.
A mentor of Toub’s wife Alexandria told her, “If you can do something for another that means a lot to that person, but it costs you little, you should do it every time.”
One of the characters in Toub’s story acted on that same advice when she helped an alcoholic lawyer who was quick to label his client a dope fiend. Toub said he wanted to explore addiction “through the lens of an attorney who could clearly see his client’s issues but not see the issues in himself.”
Toub says many important people in his life have struggled with addiction, which left him with the notion that it’s easier to help others with their problems than it is to identify your own.
Although Toub hasn’t previously tried any other fiction writing, he hopes to find time for it in the future. “It’s a creative outlet that you don’t necessarily have—at least in law school. It felt very cathartic and good to get those ideas out of me for once,” he said.
Toub is working in a six-week internship for U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson, and he will serve as submissions and transcripts editor at the Belmont Law Review during his 3L year. After graduation, Toub plans to work at the Baker Donelson law firm where he worked as a summer associate this year.
“Dope Fiend” will be available to read on the ABA Journal website beginning the week of Thanksgiving.