Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Legal Writing Competition

Deadline: 05/13/2016

Competition Website

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice”

Legal Writing Competition


 The Philadelphia Bar Association is pleased to announce the Legal Writing Competition in honor of the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  In so doing, the Bar Association recognizes the importance of excellence in legal analysis and writing skills, and seeks to award a student enrolled in an ABA-approved Philadelphia-area law school for authoring a top-quality Competition submission.  The following information is provided to encourage your participation in the Competition.


This Competition is open to full-time and part-time law students who are in their second or third year of study at one of the following six institutions: Drexel University School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Rutgers School of Law – Camden, Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, Villanova University School of Law and Widener University School of Law (Delaware Campus).  Part-time law students in their third or later year of study are also eligible. Students must be in good standing at their institutions.  The submission may not have been published previously, although it may have been prepared in connection with a law school course or for a law journal.  The submission also may not have been submitted for any other competition during the time when it is under consideration for this Competition.  The submission must be the work of one author alone (joint submissions will not be considered), and the author must certify that the submission has been prepared without substantial editing from others.


Candidates may submit a law review quality submission on any topic relating to rights, privileges and responsibilities under federal law.


The author of the First Place submission will receive a cash award of $2,500, the publication of the winning submission in The Philadelphia Lawyer, on the Bar Association’s web site and/or in an appropriate Bar Association publication. The winner of the First Place award will be invited to a meeting of the Philadelphia Bar Association, at which time the award will be presented.

If the Bar Association, in its discretion, determines that it is appropriate, the Bar Association may also award Second and Third Place prizes.  The authors of the Second and Third Place entries will be announced in The Philadelphia Lawyer.

The Bar Association reserves the right to require editing of the First Place submission if necessary to ensure that the submission is of publishable quality.  The Bar Association also reserves the right to make no award.

Previous Award Winners

(Visit www.philadelphiabar.org, click on “publications and resources” and then follow the links to the appropriate issue of The Philadelphia Lawyer.)


Katherine Doris-Marie Tohanczyn, Villanova University School of Law, 2015 – “Who Should Call the Shots? Proposing Federal Oversight of Mandatory Childhood Vaccinations”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2016)


Mark T. Wilhelm, Villanova University School of Law, 2015 – “In the Name of Electoral Integrity: the Evolving Constitutionality of Voter Identification Laws”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2015)

Matthew G. Tom, Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, Class of 2013, “Application of the Exclusionary Rule in Immigration Proceedings: Not Just Egregious Violations, Recommendations for Meaningful Protection of Civil Rights”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2013)


Mark Franek, James E. Beasley Temple University School, Class of 2013, “Bending Toward Justice”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2012)


Katrina Young, James E. Beasley Temple University, Class of 2011, “Reforming Welfare Reform:  A Call to Amend the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in a Way That Recognizes, Respects, and Values All Families While Effectively Alleviating Poverty,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2011)


Justine Elliot, James E. Beasley Temple University, Class of 2010, “Working Above the Law:  Why a Legislative Solution to the Hoffman Plastic Compounds Decision is Long Overdue,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2010)


Elizabeth Yaeger, James E. Beasley Temple University, Class of 2009, “A Fair Day in Court: Why Attorney General Holder Must Affirm the Right to Effective Assistance of Counsel in Immigration Proceedings,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2009)


Mary Clark, James E. Beasley Temple University, Class of 2009, “The ‘American Dream’ Deferred: The Problem of Inadequate Mental Health Care in Immigration Detention Centers,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2008)


Joshua Mankoff, James E. Beasley Temple University, Class of 2008, “Can Military Commissions Impose the Death Penalty on Enemy Combatants?” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2007)


Nicholas G. Kondraschow, Villanova University School of Law, Class of 2006, “A Private Civil Litigant’s Right of Access to Wiretap Evidence Disclosed at an unrelated Suppression Hearing in the Third Circuit,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2006)


Joey Shabot, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Class of 2006, “Transacting Terror: The Regulation of Terrorist Financing and Procedural Due Process,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2005)


Regina Cocco, James E. Beasley Temple University School of Law, Class of 2005, “Does the Actual Innocence Exception Apply to Non-Capital Sentencing?” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Summer 2004)


Kimberly Bartman, James E. Beasley Temple University School of Law, Class of 2003, “Not Exactly What Congress Intended,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2003)


A committee of practicing attorneys, professors and judges will evaluate the submissions for the purpose of granting the awards. The submissions will be judged anonymously. The following criteria will be evaluated by the Competition judges:

  • Originality and importance of topic
  • Thoroughness of research
  • Depth of analysis
  • Organization of analysis
  • Writing style
  • Form, quality and placement of citations
  • Conformity with rules of the Competition


All submissions:

  • Must be no longer than 20 pages or 5000 words, whichever is shorter. The 5000-word limitation refers to the text of the submission; footnotes may be a maximum of 2000 words (in addition to the 5000 word maximum for text).  Do not use endnotes.
  • Must be in 12-point Times New Roman font.  Footnotes must be in no smaller than 10-point Times New Roman font.
  • Must use citations that conform with either Darby Dickerson & the Association of Legal Writing Directors, The ALWD Citation Manual:  A Professional System of Citation (4th ed., Wolters Kluwer 2010) or Harvard Law Review Association, et al. A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed. 2010).
  • Must be in seminar paper or law journal article format only; submissions in the form of a memorandum, brief, judicial opinion or other type of legal document are not acceptable.
  • May not be previously published or currently accepted for publication in any publication other than in connection with the Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Legal Writing Competition.
  • Must have 1” margins on all sides.
  • Must be submitted in electronic form via e-mail to dpetit@philabar.org  unless submission of a hard copy is requested and approved.  Requests for submission of a hard copy should be made by e-mailing dpetit@philabar.org or by calling (215) 238-6367.
  • Must be submitted with only the title on the first page of the submission.  Each submission shall be accompanied by a separate one-page document stating the author’s name, law school, expected date of graduation, telephone number(s), e-mail address(es), mailing address(es) and an abstract of no longer than 100 words describing the thesis of the submission. This document, which shall be signed by the person submitting the entry, shall also certify the word count of the submission and certify that the work is solely the work of the author.  The author must also certify that the text of the submission is no longer than 5000 words, and the footnotes are no longer than 2000 words.
  • Other than as noted on the one-page document identifying the author and describing the submission noted above, the submission may not otherwise refer to the identity of the author or the author’s law school.  This includes direct identification by name, or indirect identification by, for example, reference to the size or location of the law school, and the like.
  • Receipt will be acknowledged.
  • A submission that does not comply with any of the above requirements will be rejected without further review.
  • Must be received by no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2016.


Determination of the First, and if chosen, Second and Third Place Awards, will be made in August 2016 and winners will be announced as soon as possible thereafter.  The winner of the First Place award is expected to be presented with the award at an event selected by the Philadelphia Bar Association.  The Bar Association will waive the cost of attendance at the program; however, the winner is expected to bear any travel and accommodation costs associated with attending this event.

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