The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel Tenth Annual Writing Competition
Since 2005, the College has sponsored a writing competition for law students, to encourage them to learn about employee benefits. Papers may be on any topic in the employee benefits field. Two monetary prizes are offered, one funded by Susan Serota, in honor of her father, Sidney M. Perlstadt, an Emeritus Fellow, and the other funded by Fiduciary Counselors Inc. in honor of Clarin Schwartz, its first General Counsel who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Winners also receive an employee benefits treatise published by BNA Books. If deemed suitable by the editors, one or more of the winning papers may be published by the BNA Pension and Benefits Reporter or in the BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal.
The College’s writing contest award winners are selected each year by the ACEBC Writing Contest Committee from among eligible submissions. Submissions have been received from a wide variety of law schools from across the nation. Winners will be honored at the College’s annual black tie dinner, held this year on October 25, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Each year the eligible submissions are circulated among a group of initial reviewers consisting of ACEBC Writing Committee members and other ACEBC Fellows who volunteer to perform that task. Each initial reviewer provides his or her evaluation on the papers on score sheets based upon the factors identified in the contest rules. Those factors are as follows: (i) Analysis (i.e., depth and creativity of legal analysis); (ii) Research (i.e., thoroughness of legal research); (iii) Writing (i.e., organization/writing style); (iv) Difficulty (i.e., difficulty of subject matter); (v) Policy (i.e., consideration of policy implications); (vi) Other factors; and (vii) Overall impression.
Three to five finalists are selected based on the committee’s evaluation of the initial reviewer’s comments. All of the papers selected as finalists are reviewed by the entire committee. Each committee member submits a score sheet ranking the finalist’s submission according to the same factors described above. The Chair compiles a composite score sheet showing the rankings of all committee members. This composite score sheet forms the basis for the committee’s final deliberations.
Before notifying the winners, a committee member is selected to perform a rigorous check of the citations contained in the winning papers. Once the papers clear this cite check, the committee reports its recommendations to the Board of Governors for final approval of the awards. No one involved in the process other than the committee’s chair is informed of the identity of the student author of any paper or of the author’s law school until the committee completes its deliberations.
The writing competition has been successful in many ways but one measure is that several of the competitors have gone on to practice employee benefit law after their graduation from law school.
Questions about the Writing Competition should be directed to Brian Dougherty, Chair of the ACEBC Writing Competition Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.