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Writing Competitions

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 use the links to find official rules and information. Check back regularly, as more writing competitions will be added.

November 15, 2014

Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni, Inc. — Securities Law Writing Competition

Topic: Any subject in the field of securities law.

Length: None specified.

Prize: First place, $5,000. Second place, $3,000. Third place, $2,000.

Eligibility: Students enrolled at any accredited law school in the United States for the fall semester of 2014.

January 15, 2015

Thomas Jefferson School of Law — James Crane III Disability and the Law Writing Competition

Topic: Any topic relating to disability law, including legal issues arising with respect to employment, government services and programs, public accommodations, education, higher education, housing and health care.

Length: Must not exceed 35 pages, including citation, any figures or tables, and the cover page.

Prizes: First place — $1,500 cash and consideration for publication in the Thomas Jefferson Law Review. Two Second place winners — $1,000 cash.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.

January 16, 2015

Pacific Legal Foundation — Law Student Writing Competition


  1. In Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (1992), the Supreme Court held that a land use restriction that eliminates all economically beneficial use of property effects a taking for which the owner is entitled to just compensation. But it held that compensation is not required when the restriction “inhere[s] in the title itself ... [as part of] background principles of the State’s law of property and nuisance.” What are, or should be, the limits on the power of courts to interpret these background principles?

  2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposes liability for discrimination if the plaintiff proves that the defendant employs policies that have a “disparate impact” on members of a minority group. Is “disparate impact” a proper test for determining that a defendant has engaged in illegal discrimination — or does imposing such liability itself violate the constitutional right to equal protection?

  3. In the past, environmental regulations focused primarily on local pollution concerns — for example, on protecting species in a particular location or preventing pollution of rivers and streams. But the focus of the environmental debate is increasingly shifting to global warming, a phenomenon that would affect the planet as a whole rather than a particular locale. In this new context, how should the government balance environmental protection against constitutional protections and property rights?

Length: None specified.

Prizes: First place, $3,000, recognition at the Annual Pacific Legal Foundation Gala, and PLF will pay for the winner’s reasonable travel costs to attend the gala. Second place, $2,000. Third place, $1,000.

Eligibility: Open to all law students.