Writing Competitions

Essay-writing competitions enable students to hone their legal research, writing and advocacy skills; produce a writing sample for prospective employers; and, possibly, have a published work that can be promoted on a resume. Below you will find a variety of writing competitions in an array of practice areas. The information listed below only offers a brief overview of each competition. Be sure to click the links to find official rules and information. Check back regularly as more writing competitions will be added.

April 25, 2013

New York State Bar Association — Elder Law Section — Elder and Special Needs Law Journal Diversity Writing Competition

Topic: Any law or legal issue affecting seniors and/or persons with disabilities, with a specific focus on historically underserved populations. Examples include, but are not limited to, access to education, health care and housing.

Length: None specified.

Prizes: There will be two $500 prizes. The winners will also be granted publication within the New York State Bar Association’s Elder and Special Needs Law Journal (ESNLJ). In addition, the winners will receive a complimentary one-year membership in the New York State Elder Law Section.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

Note: Please stop by the Office of Student Affairs for complete rules and details.

April 26, 2013

Smith — Doheny Legal Ethics Writing Competition

Topic: Entries should concern any issue within the general category of legal ethics.

Length: Entries must not exceed 50 pages, including notes, on 8½- by 11-inch paper, double-spaced, standard font.

Prize: $2,500

Eligibility: Open to all students with an interest in legal ethics.

May 1, 2013

National Association of Women Lawyers® 2012-13 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition

Topic: Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law.

Length: Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point font, Times New Roman font type. All margins must be at least one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook — A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or which are not in the required format may not be read.

Prizes: The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in NAWL’s Women Lawyers Journal in the summer of 2013.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

May 31, 2013

American Bar Association — Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence

Topic: Submissions must further the legal needs of victims of domestic violence or domestic violence victims and their children, or advance efforts to address the incidence, causes and effects of intimate partner violence.

Length: Submissions may be no longer than 7,500 words (typically 20-25 pages), including footnotes and other text but excluding author-identifying information, and must be double-spaced with 1-inch margins.


  • First Place — Publication in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, resolution from the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and honorarium
  • Second Place — Resolution from the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and national publicity
  • Third Place — Resolution from the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and national publicity

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

June 1, 2013

The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel — Ninth Annual Employee Benefits Writing Competition

Topic: Papers may be on any topic in the employee benefits field.

Length: Papers should not exceed 40 pages (double-spaced, in 12-point type, with an inch margin on each side), not including footnotes. Footnotes should be single-spaced endnotes starting on a separate page.

Prizes: Cash prizes will be awarded for up to two winning papers. The College may, in its discretion, decide to split prizes, to award additional prizes or to award fewer than two awards. Winners will be guests of the College during its annual black-tie dinner, to be held on November 9, 2013, in New Orleans.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

June 1, 2013

American Judges Association / American Judges Foundation — 25th Annual Law Student Essay Competition

Topic: Essays submitted for the 2013 competition MUST be under the topic of “Comparing Hearsay Rules in Different Courts.”

Length: Papers should be double-spaced and 10-25 pages in length. Extensive footnoting or endnoting is discouraged and is included in the paper’s length. Citations, footnotes and endnotes should be in accord with the current edition of The Bluebook — A Uniform System of Citation.

Prizes: The first-place prize for the contest is $3,000, the second-place is $1,500 and third-place is $1,000. First-, second- and third-place winners and their law schools will be presented with an award certificate. The winning essay may be published in AJA’s journal, Court Review.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

June 3, 2013

14th Annual LexisNexis James William Moore Federal Practice Award

Topic: The principal subject of the submitted paper must be federal civil practice and procedure, including the civil jurisdiction and venue rules of the federal courts. Submissions on the topics of federal courts management, federal appellate procedure, and alternative dispute resolution will also be acceptable. However, papers that deal primarily with criminal procedure will not be acceptable.

Length: All papers should be a minimum of 20 pages. Papers should be double-spaced (footnotes, single-spaced), presented on one side of 8½- by 11-inch paper. Times New Roman, 12 point.

Prizes: Cash prize of $2,000 and a four-volume set of Moore’s Federal Rules Pamphlets (approx. retail value: $350). The winning entrant’s law review or journal will receive $1,000.

Eligibility: Must have membership on a law review or journal.

June 7, 2013

Brown Sims Judge John R. Brown Award

Topic: In order to be considered, four copies of a current legal writing must be submitted to the Foundation. The article must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a law school faculty member or legal professional other than the author of the paper.

Prize: The stipend for the winner is $10,000.

Eligibility: Any law student currently enrolled in an accredited law school in the United States seeking a J.D. or LL.B. degree is eligible to receive the award.

July 1, 2013

The 2013 Tannenwald Writing Competition

Topic: Submitted papers must focus primarily upon technical or policy-oriented tax issues relating to any type of existing or proposed U.S. federal or state tax or U.S. federal or state taxation system (including topics relating to tax practice ethical and professional responsibility matters).

Length: Papers shall be 25-50 typewritten pages double-spaced (Times New Roman or Arial typeface), including footnotes and appendices (both of which may be single-spaced).

Prizes: Cash prizes will be awarded for the winning paper ($5,000), first runner-up ($2,500) and second runner-up ($1,500). Appropriate recognition will also be given to the faculty sponsors of winning papers. The Foundation may, in its discretion, decide to split prizes or award additional prizes. Provided that the first-prize paper has not been published or accepted for publication elsewhere, the Foundation has arranged for the publication of such paper in the Florida Tax Review (subject to the normal review and editorial processes of that journal).

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

July 15, 2013

2013 American Inns of Court Warren E. Burger Prize

Topic: Authors should address one or more aspects of excellence in legal skills, civility, ethics or professionalism within the legal profession. The selected issue(s) should be of contemporary significance with clear relevance to the legal community at large.

Length: Submissions must be original and unpublished works of 10,000-25,000 words including footnotes.


Eligibility: Open to all law students.