Richard Grand Legal Writing Competition
2017 Competition Rules
Who May Enter
All current students of the James E. Rogers College of Law may enter the competition. J.D. students, LLM students, SJD students, MLS students, visiting students, and transfer students may enter. The top four student participants will receive cash prizes of:
- First Place - $2500
- Second Place - $1500
- Third Place - $1000
- Honorable Mention - $750
Dates and Times
The competition runs from noon on Friday, October 27, 2017, to 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 6, 2017. The problem will be posted on the College of Law web site no later than noon, October 27. All entries must be submitted by email to Debbie Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 8:00 a.m. on November 6. No late entries will be accepted.
All entries must be submitted anonymously, using a competition number and not a name. To obtain your competition number, e-mail Debbie Martin at email@example.com. Tell her that you are participating in the Richard Grand Legal Writing Competition and that you would like a competition number. Please also tell her your name, your phone number, and whether you are a 1L, 2L, 3L, MLS, SJD or LLM student. Ms. Martin will e-mail you your competition number. Place this number on every page of your entry. We recommend that you obtain your competition number in the first day or two of the Competition. That way, if we need to send an e-mail with a clarification or correction, we will be able to reach you.
Note: If for any reason you are unable to obtain a competition number before the November 6 submission deadline, just email your entry to Debbie Martin by the deadline. Ask her to assign you a number and add it to every page of your entry. She will make sure that your entry is transmitted to the judges anonymously, with no trace of your identity on the entry.
Before November 6 at 8:00 a.m., please email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send it as an e-mail attachment in Word only. Write your competition number on each page of your entry. If you submit your entry more than once, we will accept the last one we receive.
If a question arises about this competition, you may choose to resolve it yourself by including an explanatory note with your entry. If you need to speak to someone to resolve a question, please send an e-mail to all of the following three addresses:
Include your phone number in the email. One of us will be on call throughout the competition to check e-mail regularly and answer questions within a reasonable amount of time.
Important: If you feel that disclosure of your identity with your question will compromise the anonymity of your entry, please send your question only to email@example.com. Ms. Martin, who will not be involved in the judging of the competition, will either (1) answer your question directly, or (2) remove all indications of your identity before seeking an answer from Professor Salmon or Professor Dysart. (For instance, if your question involves a format question, please send the question to all three email addresses. If your question involves the subject or content of your entry, please send the question only to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Judging and Awards
Entries will be judged for accuracy, clarity, brevity, and content. A winning entry will tell a story; it will be both well-written and interesting. Professors Susie Salmon and Tessa Dysart will evaluate the entries and choose four finalists. Then, a panel of outside judges will rank the finalists to determine the order of the awards. The awards will be announced in January 2018.
- Submit your entry anonymously. Do not put your name anywhere on the e-mail attachment that contains your entry.
- The work must be entirely your own. You may receive no advice concerning the competition from anyone. No one else may read, proofread, or critique your writing for this competition.
- Your entry must be your own original work prepared exclusively for this competition. You may not enter work that was written—in part or in full—prior to the beginning of this competition.
- All entries must be typed, double-spaced, with 13-point font or larger. Block quotes may be single-spaced. The maximum length of the paper is 2000 words. Margins must be one inch or larger. Papers that exceed these limitations will not be judged. Include page numbers and your competition number on every page of the entry.
- While we ask that your entry be neat and carefully proofread, please know that your entry will be judged primarily on its substantive content. Be accurate, succinct, and clear. Tell a story. Be human. Dare to be interesting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How long do you think it will take to write an entry for this competition?
Answer: We think an excellent entry can be written in parts of one or two days. We do not anticipate that you will spend all your extra time during the ten days of the competition working on your entry.
Question: How important is proofreading, punctuation, spelling, and the like?
Answer: Those things are less important than the story your entry will tell. But we do suggest that you carefully proofread your entry. Professors Salmon and Dysart will look primarily for an interesting, well-written entry. Their decisions will not be influenced by one or two minor proofreading errors. We cannot guarantee, however, that the outside judges—the ones who will determine the order of the awards—will not take minor proofreading errors into account when making their decisions.
Question: In the first days of the competition, I received a competition number. I later decided not to enter the competition. Should I tell anyone?
Answer: Yes. Please send an email to email@example.com to let us know that you will not be submitting an entry. That way, we won’t think we misplaced a submission.
Question: What kind of writing style is preferred?
Answer: We anticipate that we will read and enjoy a variety of writing styles among the entries submitted. We are looking for good writing—effective writing— interesting writing—and not for any particular style of writing. Your own personality may certainly come into play.
Question: May I discuss my entry with my friends and family?
Answer: Only very limited discussion is allowed. The Rules of the competition permit you to disclose to others the general nature of the competition, your participation in the competition, and the topic of your entry. Anything beyond these general disclosures is not permitted until the competition officially terminates at 8:00 a.m. on November 6, 2017. You may receive no advice from others concerning the competition, other than brief, general discussions regarding your participation. No one else may read, proofread, or critique your writing for this competition.
Question: Do you recommend any particular style manual?
Answer: For this competition, we neither require nor recommend any particular style manual. You will be fine if you follow the general conventions of the English language. Most serious writers—and nearly all publications—do use a style manual. Style manuals answer questions about punctuation, grammar, numbers, abbreviations, spelling, capitalization, spacing, and more. Here in the legal writing office, we use The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style by Bryan Garner. You can find copies of The Redbook on reserve in the law library.
Question: I have a punctuation question. May I ask someone in the legal writing office?
Answer: No. All writing and style decisions must be your own. You may, however, consult online sources or print sources to help you answer your questions. A dictionary, thesaurus, or style manual may be helpful.
Question: May I be creative? May I use metaphor, simile, and literary references in my entry?
Answer: Absolutely. You may use literary devices to capture the interest of your reader and to communicate your story in vivid, memorable prose.
Question: Who will see my entry? May I request that it be kept confidential? May I share it after the competition?
Answer: Professors Salmon and Dysart will read all entries and choose the top four entries to send to the outside judges. Portions of the winning entries will be read at the awards ceremony, and with the author’s permission, full entries may be shared with law-school faculty, staff, and students. The law school will not publish any entries either in print or electronically. After the competition, however, you are welcome to submit your entry to a publication of your choosing or otherwise share it with a wider audience.