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July 07, 2021

Law Students: Enter the 2021 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pursuit of Justice Legal Writing Competition

Deadline extension: All submissions must be received by no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, August 2, 2021.

Second- and third-year law students from Philadelphia area law schools are invited to enter our annual legal writing competition.

The Philadelphia Bar Association is pleased to announce the 2021 Legal Writing Competition in honor of the late 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 writing 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.


The Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Legal Writing Competition is open to full-time and part-time law students who completed their second or third year of study by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year at one of the following six institutions: Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Rutgers Law School, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and Widener University Delaware Law School. Part-time law students who were in their third or later year of study during the 2020-2021 academic year are also eligible. Students must be or have been in good standing at their institutions. Other than being published in a law review or journal at the student’s law school, as described further in the fifth bullet point of the Rules section below, the submission may not have been previously published. 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 and the publication of the winning submission in The Philadelphia Lawyer and on the Bar Association’s website 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, it 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.


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. All submissions will be transmitted to the judges electronically with author and law school identifying information and related metadata removed. If, nonetheless, a judge recognizes a submission or its author, the judge shall refrain from evaluating that specific submission. With that exception only, each judge shall independently evaluate all submissions on a form provided, applying the following established criteria:

  • 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

After all evaluation sheets are completed and returned by the judges, the Bar Association will average all scores and the submission with the highest overall score will receive the first place award. If the Bar Association chooses to give second and third place awards, the submissions with the next two highest overall scores will receive those awards.


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 the Association of Legal Writing Directors & Carolyn V. Wilson, The ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (7th ed., Wolters Kluwer 2021) or Harvard Law Review Association, et al. A Uniform System of Citation (21th ed. 2021).
  • 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 will not be accepted.
  • May not be previously published or currently accepted for publication in any publication other than in connection with the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Legal Writing Competition other than a journal or law review of the participant’s school.
  • Must have 1” margins on all sides.
  • Must be submitted in electronic form via e-mail to unless submission of a hard copy is requested and approved. Requests for submission of a hard copy should be made by e-mailing 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 or actual 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.
  • All submissions must be received by no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.


Determination of the first, and if chosen, second and third place awards, will be made in August 2021 and winners will be announced shortly 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 for the recipient; however, the winner is expected to bear any travel and accommodation costs associated with attending the event.


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


Sarah R. Fishel, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, 2021 – “When They Come Home: Federal Responsibility for Offender Reentry,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2021)

Alexander Rojavin, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2020 – “Out of the Looking Glass: Reassessing the Foreign Agents Registration Act to Counter 21st Century Foreign Information Warfare,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2021)


Amy Chin-Arroyo, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2020 – “Silenced Voices: Indigenous Asylum Seekers in the U.S. Immigration System,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2020)


Bridget Whan Tong, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, 2018 - “What’s in a Name?: Matal v. Tam & the Right to Own Disparaging Words,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2019)


Lizzy Wingfield, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2017 – “How Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students May Challenge Philadelphia Charter Schools’ Gendered Dress Codes” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2018)


Kyoung Williams, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2017 – “Killing Her or Letting Her Die: The United States Supreme Court Makes the Constitution an Obstacle to Implementing the Due Diligence Standard in Lenahan v. the United States”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Winter 2017)


Katherine Doris-Marie Tohanczyn, Villanova University Charles Widger 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 Charles Widger 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 Beasley School of Law, 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, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2013 - “Bending Toward Justice”, The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2012)


Katrina Young, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 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, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 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, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 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, Temple University Beasley School of Law - “The ‘American Dream’ Deferred: The Problem of Inadequate Mental Health Care in Immigration Detention Centers,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2008)


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


Nicholas G. Kondraschow, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, 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, 2006 - “Transacting Terror: The Regulation of Terrorist Financing and Procedural Due Process,” The Philadelphia Lawyer (Fall 2005)


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


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

Download Annoucement PDF for Printing

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