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Law Essay Competitions

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Feeling like a winner?

There are lots of opportunities to try out your writing expertise throughout the year...sometimes for money (oh and prestige and worldwide fame of course...).

Times Law Award

The biggest of these is The Times Law Award; an annual award of £3500 for a 1000 word essay on a given topic.

We're very proud of the incredible number of City students and alumni who have performed so well in this competition over the years. In recent years we have seen the following successes:

Genevieve Woods (1st) in 2017 and Joshua Brown (1st) and Gavin Dingley (2nd) in 2016.

2014 saw first and third place taken by current City students, with second awarded to a BPTC alumnus. George White (1st) and Lara Hassell (3rd) are both BPTC students (Lara completed the GDL at City in the previous year) and James Beeton (2nd), a BPTC alumnus. The 2014 essay question was Morality versus legality: when is war justified?. All winning essays can be found online, and the news story on the City website.

In 2013 City GDL students secured first and second place in the competition. Andrew Lomas won overall, with Lara Hassell taking second prize with their essays on Privacy and the press: Is state regulation in the public interest? A detailed account of Andrew and Lara's success can be found via the City website.

in 2012 both first and second prizes, as well as two runners-up prizes were won by lawyers with links to City. The title of the essay was as topical as ever: Cameras in court: justice's loss or gain? First prize was taken by James Potts, City GDL and BPTC alumni and now pupil barrister at 4-5 Grays Inn Square. Read James' essay. Second prize was taken by Thomas Coates, then a City GDL student. Read Thomas's essay.

In 2011 first prize was won by Anthony Pavlovich, from City's Graduate Diploma in Law course. Anthony addressed the question Justice under the axe: can the Government's cuts be fair?

In 2010 first prize was won by a City GDL student, Anita Davies, (who went on to take the BPTC with us). Anita addressed the question: Supreme Court UK: radical change or business as usual? This very prestigious award usually has a judging panel of gravitas; this one included Jack Straw; Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the President of the Supreme Court; Lord Grabiner; James Harding, Editor of The Times and David Cavender, QC, of One Essex Court.

Anita's winning essay, described by Jack Straw as "an engaging, erudite piece of prose". can be seen on the One Essex Court website.

In 2006, Amy Rogers, another City GDL student won the award with her essay on Terrorism v human rights: Where do you draw the line?, Sarah Love (City GDL), won joint first prize in 2005 with The shape of things to come? Will Clementi be good for consumers but bad for lawyers?, James Brilliant (City BVC) won it in 2004 with Constitutional reform: will the justice system benefit? Mathew Guillick (City GDL) in 2002 with International terrorists: what role should the law play? and finally in 2001, Jonathan Davey(City GDL) with Ethical dilemmas who should decide - lawyers, scientists or God?. Not a bad record eh?

All previous prize winners (including runner-ups) of The Times Award can be found on the One Essex Court site, who the awards are held in association with.

The Graham Turnbull Memorial International Human Rights Essay Competition

An annual competition named after Graham Turnbull, an English solicitor who did much to promote respect for human rights. Graham was killed in 1997, working as a human rights monitor on the United Nations Human Rights Mission in Rwanda.

Open to law students, trainee solicitors, pupil barristers and all solicitors/barristers within 3 years of admission/call.

The competition asks for essays of no more than 2000 words in length and awards the winner of this prestigious award £500 from the Graham Turnbull Memorial Fund.

Previous winners include Niall Coghlan (2013), then a GDL student from City.

Find out more about the deadline for the current year's competition via the Law Society Human Rights Community.

Deadline is 15 November 2018, with entrants asked to address the following question:

Is technology an opportunity or a threat for human rights lawyers? Does it increase or reduce risks for lawyers in carrying out their duties and in what circumstances might technology be used to mitigate such risks?

Bar Council Law Reform Essay

Sponsored by the Bar Council Scholarship Trust, this competition is open to students and pupils and requires entrants to write a piece of less than 3000 words proposing the case for a law reform which is desirable, practical and useful. Top prize is £4000 which could come in very handy for funding some part of your legal education.

City GDL students have won in previous years: Daisy Ricketts (2011) and Calum Docherty (2010) were both successful. Calum proposed the reform of copyright law in Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Reforming Fair Dealing in English Copyright Law and Daisy with Strengthening the Rule of Law: Reforming the Scope on Parliamentary Privilege. In 2012 City student Mek Mesfin was runner-up in the CPE category and in 2013 Ross Beaton, a City GDL alumni won the overall prize. You can see all previous winners and read their essays via the Bar Council website.

Phoebe Whitlock won in the GDL category for 2016's competition with an entry entitled Rivalling Silicon Valley: The case for the reform of Software Patents. Take a look at the CityNews story about this. For the 2017 competition, GDL student Clarissa Wigoder won first prize with her essay Spare the rod: Why the law on corporal punishment needs to be reformed, and Daniel Fox was named runner-up with his piece: I hate being idle: Asylum seekers and the right to work.

Take a look at their entries (and all other winners) via the Bar Council website. The information usually comes out in April and the deadline for entries is always late September.

JLD Essay Competition

Open to its members, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society, have an annual competition for those registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This includes LPC students and those qualified and working as paralegals. The deadline is normally around the end of November each year.

This year's essay title (deadline for submissions is 30th November) is as follows:

How will the rule of law be affected by advances in legal technology?

Maximum words = no more than 2000 words

For inspiration you might wish to look at the winners from previous years, these are linked to below, along with the essay titles for that year.

Where is the line between legitimate accountability and calling judges ‘enemies of the people’? 2017 Winners

How do you think Brexit will affect junior lawyers? 2016 Winners

Should there ever be a case for absolute anonymity in legal proceedings, and if so, why and for whom? 2015 Winners (including Anna Dannreuther, trainee solicitor and City GDL alumni. Well done Anna!)

UKELA Andrew Lees Prize

Named for a former Friends of the Earth Campaign Director (Andrew Lees, a leading environmental campaigner who died unexpectedly in 1994) this prize has been going many years. You can view previous winners on the site and the winner normally receives support for travel and attendance at the UKELA annual conference as well as see your work published in their members' journal.

The deadline for submissions is usually around early April of each year.

Find out more about the competition and associated rules on the UKELA website.

The 2018 competition pivoted around the following statement: ‘The right to a healthy environment is a fundamental human right’

ARDL Marion Simmons QC Essay Competition

Annual essay competition from the Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers. Students (undergraduates and postgraduates, trainee solicitors and pupil barristers) are asked to write no more than 3000 words on a topic. The 2018 title was as follows:

The purpose of regulation is the protection of the public, not to act in the public interest: discuss.

First prize winner takes home £2000, second prize winner £1000 and third prize £500. Details of the competition are normally released in October, with a deadline for submission in April.

CEPLER Student Essay Competition

The Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research at Birmingham Law School (CEPLER) launched its national law student essay writing competition in 2014. The winner (City GDL student Chris Richards) received an iPad mini and the opportunity to have their essay published on the CEPLER website as a CEPLER Working Paper. He had just 1500 words to tackle the following title: “In an age of austerity, access to justice is a luxury", and received comments like this from the judges:

"Chris' submission was a beautifully written, well-argued and original essay which all three of us chose as the best in a competitive field". (The Chief Executive of Birmingham Citizen's Advice Bureau Service)

In 2015 students were asked to tackle the following question:

"A 'brexit' would be a serious threat to London as the centre of globalised legal services. Discuss" Deadline was 19th November 2015. The winning entry can be seen via the CEPLER website.

More info and the competition rules can be found via the CEPLER website.

Want inspiration? Read Chris's winning entry via the University of Birmingham's ePapers repository.

FIDE Essay Prize

The UK Association for European Law also run an essay competition, with the winner securing a bursary to attend the biennial FIDE CONGRESS Conference, which usually takes place in May.

Last year students were asked to write no more than 2000 words (including footnotes) on the following:

The future EU-UK relationship will be like no other – a bold and bespoke new model is therefore needed. Discuss

Submissions are judged by a panel from the UKAEL committee, who will award the winner registration at the conference in addition to £600 towards accommodation and travel. The winner of this prize in 2018 was William Spence, GDL student at City. In 2014 another City student (BPTC) took the prize, Niall Coghlan. You can read both their essays via the UKAEL website. Niall has had a great year for developing his European Law expertise - he was also part of the team that won the European Human Rights Moot in Strasbourg.

Commonwealth Law Student Essay Competition

This competition happens every two years, and is open to all students registered on an undergraduate degree course.

In 2018 the organisers, the Commonwealth Legal Education Organisation (CLEO), asked for 2500 words maximum on the following:

In the context of the Commonwealth Principles, how can the law achieve a balance between the freedom of the media to report and criticise the government and/or judiciary, and the need for respect, responsibility and regulation in reporting?

Find out more and access the rules online.

Future Legal Mind Award

Launched in 2014 by the National Accident Helpline in association with Lawyer2b magazine, this competition offers £5000 towards future studies to one undergraduate and one postgraduate law student. In addition there's a work experience placement at the London or Manchester office of solicitor firm Colemans-CTTS.

Entrants need to submit an essay of up to 1000 words - the winning essays will be published in full on the Lawyer2B website.

Find out more via the National Accident Helpline website. Worth registering on the website in order to be alerted of the essay titles, once launched in early November 2015.

The 2015 winner in the postgraduate category was Lukas Hamilton-Eddy (City GDL student); by registering with Lawyer2b you can read his winning essay.

The 2016 prize was again won by a City GDL student, Tom Phillips. He wowed judges with his essay on the future of legal services for firms and consumers. You can read Tom's essay by registering with Lawyer2B via their website. Another City student, Pavlos Artemios Xagoraris also made the finalists stage. Pavlos is in the first year of his Graduate Entry LLB. Katherine Strange (GDL) was a finalist in 2017.

Property Bar Association Essay Competition

This competition was launched in November 2015 and asks students each year to write a 1000-word essay, with the winner taking home £1000, a copy of Megarry & Wade AND their essay published in the Estates Gazette.

The question for 2017-18: 'Has leasehold has its day?' (deadline 5th January 2018 at 6pm).

Arabella Adams (City GDL) won the 2017 competition.

Legal Cheek Blogging Prize

For 2018 the focus of this competition was Privacy Law. Who knows what 2019 will bring! Details are likely to be released in April with a deadline the following month.

Entrants are been asked to write no more than 1000 words on the topic, with a return transatlantic flight on offer for the winner! The sponsor is BARBRI International.

ELSA Amicus Essay Prize

This competition asks entrants to address the following question in no more than 1500 words: “Using the landmark judgment of Soering v UK as a starting point, critically analyse the position of the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning extradition of individuals facing death penalty in states which are not members of the Convention”

Amicus ALJ, with assistance from ELSA UK and ELSA Ireland, will compile a shortlist of essays on the recommendation of the Panel. This shortlist will be sent for consideration by the final judge and Amicus ALJ Trustee, Mark George QC, who will declare the winning essay and the runner-up essay.

First prize is a Work Experience Placement in Amicus ALJ’s London office, duration and date to be decided between both parties. Additionally, the winning essay shall be featured in the upcoming edition of the Student Comparative and European Law Review (SCELR). The author of the runner-up essay will be awarded a prize of £150 worth of OUP books or a Law Trove module, at their discretion, courtesy of Oxford University Press. Both entrants will be awarded complimentary membership of their respective ELSA national group for the upcoming term.

Find full details of the competition via the SCELR website but any questions should be directed to info@scelr.com. Deadline 7th Dec 2017.

SCL Student Essay Prize

The Society for Computers and Law annual essay competition asks entrants to write a maximum of 2000 words in order to be in with a chance of winning a free place at the annual SCL Conference, publication of your essay in the SCL Computers and Law magazine and £250.

The 2018 competition asks students to address the following question:

“Are state legislation and case law, or Internet Service Provider action, more important to the enforcement of rules on Internet users? Discuss with respect to key internet platforms’ Terms of Service and privacy policies.”

Find all the information you need to enter (instructions/rules) via the SCL website but deadline is 5pm on the 1st June 2018.

Michael Mustill Essay Prize

This biennial prize was established by The International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC), in association with St John’s College, Cambridge, to commemorate the life and work of Lord Mustill, one of the great figures of arbitration.

It is open to all postgraduate students (not just students of law) and asks for submissions of no more than 6000 words. The prize is £10,000. Uniquely students are given free reign; asked to write on any aspect of the law and practice of arbitration in England and Wales.

Find out more about the prize via the IDRC website, where you can also find out who won in 2018 and read the accompanying speech by Michael Payton.

The European Centre for Space Law Essay Competition

Bit different this one! The ECSL's competition challenges students to think critically about a particular topic in space law and policy and to present cogent arguments in support of a position.The 2017/18 competition asked students to address 'The Rescue and Return Agreement in times of non-governmental spaceflights'.

First prize winners will receive a trip to attend the ECSL Practitioners’ Forum and Young Lawyer Symposium (at the European Space Agency HQ), an annual ECSL Membership and see the publication of their essay on the ECSL website.

Find out more and read the winning entries from previous years on the ECSL website