Student Writing Competitions

A number of organizations sponsor writing competitions that are open to law students.  Many of these competitions have cash prizes, and may also include a funded trip to a meeting to receive the prize.  While all of the competitions below are open to students, some are also open to faculty and practicing attorneys, so be sure to check the competition rules to determine the  "competition."



Smith-Doheny Legal Ethics Writing Competition

Sponsor: Notre Dame Law School

Criteria: Law students are invited to submit papers on the topic of legal ethics.

Deadline: April 25, 2014

Amount of award: $2,500

Submission information:



LSAC Writing Competition

All law students in good standing are invited to participate in the Law School Admission Council's Writing Competition on best practices for recruitment and retention of students of color and students from other underrepresented groups in law schools.

All papers must be submitted no later than May 1, 2014.  One winning paper will be selected from each of the three qualifying categories of eligible students (1L, 2L, 3L).  Each winner will receive $5,000.

For more information on the topic, length and format, and evaluation criteria, visit


Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition

Sponsor: National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)

General criteria: Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law.   Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2013-14 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere.  Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the Summer, Fall or Spring semesters are eligible for submission.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.

Deadline: May 1, 2014

Amount of Award: 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 Fall 2014.

Submission information: See flyer.  Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the chair of the Writing Competition, Professor Jennifer Martin at



Sponsor:  IT-Lex, a technology law educational and literary not-for-profit.

Criteria:  IT-Lex is seeking submissions for its inaugural writing competition, sponsored by the law firm of Foley & Lardner.  Write about any issue within the areas of electronic discovery, privacy, social media, security, or wherever your technology interests lie.  Your 5,000-7,500 word papers will be read by a distinguished panel of articles editors, and the top three entries are guaranteed publication in the IT-Lex Journal, though other meritorious papers may also be published. 

Deadline: Entries must be submitted online at our website (URL below) by May 2, 2014.

Amount of Award:  First place will receive $6,000, second place $2,000, and third place $1000.  Plus, the winners will receive invitations to become Members of IT-Lex and to join the IT-Lex Law Review. 

Submission information:


2013-2014 National Student Writing Competition

Sponsor: American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law and The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers

Criteria: Students are invited to submit articles addressing any aspect of public or private sector labor and/or employment law relevant to the American labor and employment bar. Students are encouraged to discuss a public policy issue, practical implications of a leading case or doctrine, a statute or the need for statutory modification, or a common law doctrine. Articles may address U.S. law, international law of relevance to the U.S. labor and employment attorneys, or how a legal topic is treated in states across the country, but papers limited to a single state will not be considered. Papers must be analytical in nature, not merely a summary of the law. Students must present and discuss competent points of view with respect to the issue presented and must distinguish their conclusions from opposing positions with sound logic and reference to multiple sources.

Deadline: May 15, 2014

Amount of award: First Place: $1,500, Second Place: $1,000, Third Place: $500. The first-place winning article will be published in the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, and its author will be a guest at the annual CLE program of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Submission information:


2014 ABA Energy Law Student Writing Competition

Sponsor: American Bar Association

Criteria: Students are invited to submit a paper on any issue related to energy law. Students may advocate a position, educate an audience on an issue, analyze a case, etc. Students may use any previously unpublished work, including papers submitted for classes.

Deadline: May 16, 2014

Amount of award: In addition to cash awards, winning entries will be published nationwide in an ABA committee electronic publication.

Submission information:



IADC 2014 Legal Writing Contest

Sponsor: Int'l Association of Defense Counsel

General criteria: Entries must be the original work of a single author, not previously published, and must cover the fields of tort law, insurance law, civil procedure, evidence, or other areas of practical concern to lawyers engaged in the defense or management of the defense of civil litigation.

Deadline: May 16, 2014

Amount of award: $2,000 for first place; $1,000 for second place; and $500 for third place.

Submission information:


Andrew P. Vance Memorial Writing Competition

Sponsor: The Customs and International Trade Bar Association and Brooklyn Law School

Criteria: Law students are invited to submit a paper analyzing a current issue relevant to customs and international trade law. 

Deadline: May 23, 2014

Amount of award: First prize: $1,000. Second prize: $500.

Submission information: See flyer outside room 275.



KBA Annual Student Writing Competition

The KBA invites and encourages students currently enrolled at the University of Kentucky College of Law, the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, and the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law to enter the KBA Annual Student Writing Competition.

Criteria:  Students may enter their previously unpublished articles. Articles entered should be of interest to Kentucky practitioners.

Amount of Award:  First ($1,000); second ($300), and third place ($200) prizes may be awarded. The first place prize also includes possible publication in the Bench & Bar.

Deadline:  Entries must be received by June 1, 2014. 

Submission Information:   See For inquiries concerning the KBA Annual Student Writing Competition, contact Shannon H. Roberts at or call (502) 564-3795 ext. 224.  Submit entries with contact information to Shannon H. Roberts, Communications Department, Kentucky Bar Association, 514 W. Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40601-1812.


Employee Benefits Writing Competition

Sponsor: The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

Criteria:  Papers must deal with any topic in the field of employee benefits law.  As an illustrative example, a paper might address legal issues involving health benefits, pensions, 401(k) plans, severance, executive compensation, claims, appeals, current or former spouses' or domestic partners' benefits, collectively-bargained benefits, benefits in bankruptcy, ERISA litigation or fiduciary obligations. 

Deadline: June 3, 2014

Amount of award:  Two cash prizes of $1,500 for the top two submissions.  The law students who submit the wining papers will be our honored guests at our annual black tie dinner in Washington, D.C. on October 25, 2014.

Submission information: See competition rules.



Brown Award

Sponsor: The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation

Criteria: Law students are invited to submit current legal writing on any topic, accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a law school faculty member or legal professional other than the author of the paper.

Deadline: June 6, 2014

Amount of award: $10,000

Submission information:


2014 Tannenwald Writing Competition

Sponsor: The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and The American College of Tax Counsel

Criteria: Open to all full or part-time law students.  Papers on any federal or state tax-related topic may be submitted in accordance with the Competition Rules.

Deadline: July 1, 2014

Amount of Award: Cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 for the top three papers.

Submission information:



The Warren E. Burger Prize

Sponsor: American Inns of Court

Criteria: Students are invited to submit an original, unpublished essay on a topic of their choice addressing issues of legal excellence, civility, ethics, and professionalism.

Deadline: July 1, 2014.

Amount of award: The winning essay will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and will be published in the South Carolina Law Review. The prize will be presented to the recipient at the American Inns of Court annual Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States.

Submission information:



Mid-South Commercial Law Institute 2014 Writing Competition

Sponsor: Mid-South Commercial Law Institute

Criteria: Entrants should submit an essay, article or comment on current issues concerning a commercial and/or bankruptcy law topic.

Deadline: September 12, 2014

Amount of award: The first place writer will receive $3,000, plus publication of the submission at and in seminar materials. The second place writer will receive $1,500, plus publication of the submission at and in seminar materials. The third place writer will receive $500, plus publication of the submission at and in seminar materials. All three winners will receive free registration, a room, and up to $600 for travel expenses for the 2014 Mid-South Commercial Law Institute Seminar held December 4 and 5, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Submission information:


2014 James E. Beckley Securities Arbitration and Law Competition

Sponsor: The PIABA Foundation

Criteria: Law students are invited so submit a paper addressing any aspect of Securities law; Securities arbitration; The Federal Arbitration Act, Title 9, US Code, Section 1–14; or FINRA Code of Arbitration, effective April 16, 2007 and any changes or proposed changes to that Code.

Deadline: September 19, 2014

Amount of award: First place: $1,000 and publication in the PIABA Bar Journal. Second place: $750. Third place: $500.

Submission information:  


Farzad Family Law Scholarship

Sponsor: Farzad Family Law

Criteria: Students are invited to submit an essay that answers the following question: “Should the right to marry for same sex couples become a federal constitutional right by amendment to the United States Constitution or remain a State issue?”

Deadline: December 15, 2014

Amount of award: $3,000

Submission information: