Author Archives: Joseph Walz, Esq.

Writing Competitions

Happy New Year!

We hope you all had a great break!  Now that you have rested and recuperated, why not take some time to enter a writing competition?  Below is a list of upcoming competitions, most of which offer cash prizes.  Feel free to visit our office to discuss any documents you write.  (For additional information, please follow the links below the titles.)

Good luck!


Citizen Amicus Project
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should be 500-1000 word opinions about the following constitutional question, before the Supreme Court this term in Florida v. Jardines: whether law enforcement’s use of narcotic detection dogs in front of a home, without a warrant, violates the homeowner’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.
First Prize: $500
Award: The winning author will “receive . . . consideration of having his/her submission included in the [American Bar Association’s] Criminal Justice Section newsletter.” The second and third place winners will receive a recognition plaque. NOTE: The deadline for submitting opinions is “before the Supreme Court issues its decision in the case.” Oral argument will occur on October 31, 2012, so the Court will issue its decision sometime after that date.
Deadline: 01/11/2013
Contact Information:
Steven R. Morrison
Assistant Professor
Co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Student Activities Committee
University of North Dakota School of Law
215 Centennial Drive Stop 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202

American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources Student Writing Competition
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address “a question of legal and/or policy significance relating to the . . . role of public lands and oceans in America’s energy future. The topic is not confined to any particular type of public land or issue in energy or environmental law or policy.”
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $500
Third Prize: $250
Award: The first place entry will be published in the symposium edition of the Public Land & Resources Law Review. Students submitting the first, second and third place entries will be invited to attend the Public Land Law Symposium, where their selection as winning entries will be announced. Their travel and hotel costs will be covered.
Deadline: 01/14/2013
Contact Information:
Bradley Jones

The IEL Hartrick Scholar Writing Competition
Web Site »
Topic: Papers should address “any topic related to energy development . . . includ[ing], for example, topics concerning oil and gas law, alternative energy resources, energy regulation, and environmental regulation of the energy industries.”
Award: The person(s) selected as the winner(s) will not only receive the cash award described above, but will also receive travel expenses to attend the IEL’s Oil & Gas Law Conference and the Career Paths for Young Attorneys in the Energy Sector Symposium, and recognition at both the Conference and the Symposium.
Deadline: 01/1/2013
Contact Information:
Lilly Hogarth
Project Manager
Institute for Energy Law
5201 Democracy Drive
Plano, TX

Ladas Memorial Award competition
Web Site »
Requirements: Subject of the paper must be trademark law or a matter that directly relates to or affects trademarks.  Eligible papers may include both original unpublished manuscripts and published articles that are submitted to INTA by the submission deadline.  Published articles must have been first published no longer than one year prior to the deadline.  Paper must be a product of the author’s original thought and scholarship.  Paper may be co-authored.  More than one paper may be submitted for consideration.
Award: A US $2,000 cash award, a set of Stephen P. Ladas’s three-volume treatise, Patents, Trademarks, and Related Rights, an invitation to the INTA Gala, where Association leaders and volunteers recognize award winners, and reimbursement up to US $1,000 for travel to the Gala.  Winning papers are published in The Trademark Reporter, INTA’s legal journal.

Deadline: 01/18/2013
Contact Information:

Scribes Law-Review Award Competition
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Each year, Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers – sponsors a competition to recognize an outstanding note or comment written by a law student who is associated with a student-edited law review or journal. This award has the dual distinction of being the only award presented at the National Conference of Law Reviews and the only national award for student authors that places no limitation on subject matter.
Award: The winning journal and the author of the winning note or comment will receive a plaque.
Deadline: 01/18/2013
Contact Information:
Norman E. Plate
Executive Director
Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers
Thomas Cooley Law School
P.O. Box 13038
Lansing, MI 48901

Louis Jackson National Student Writing Competition in Employment and Labor Law
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address a topic that relates to the law governing the workplace, e.g., employment law, labor law, employee benefits, or employment discrimination. STUDENTS MUST CONTACT PROFESSOR ROBERTO CORRADA BEFORE SUBMITTING ENTRIES TO THIS COMPETITION. DO NOT SUBMIT ENTRIES DIRECTLY; THEY MUST BE APPROVED BY A SCOL FACULTY MEMBER OR COMMITTEE.
First Prize: $3000
Second Prize: $1000
Third Prize: $1000
Award: The authors of the top three papers will, in addition to receiving cash awards, have their entries published.
Deadline: 01/22/2013
Contact Information:
Professor Martin H. Malin
Louis Jackson Writing Competition
c/o Institute for Law and the Workplace
IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
Illinois Institute of Technology
565 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL   60661

American Indian Law Review Writing Competition
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address “any issue concerning American Indian Law or indigenous peoples.”
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $500
Third Prize: $250
Award: The American Indian Law Review will publish the first-place paper. It will recognize all three winners on the Review’s masthead and give each winner a copy of Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.
Deadline: 01/31/2013
Contact Information:
David E. Bruger
Writing Competition Editor
American Indian Law Writing Competition
American Indian Law Review
300 Timberdell Road
Norman, OK 73019

International Humanitarian Law Student Writing Competition
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address international humanitarian law.
Award: Two winning authors will present their papers at an expert conference at American University with travel and accommodation expenses covered. These winners will also receive a complimentary registration at the American Society of International Law’s annual meeting, and a one-year membership with that organization.
Deadline: 01/31/2013
Contact Information:
Dean Claudio Grossman
American University Washington College of Law
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian law
4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016


The Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should discuss regulatory or administrative law, broadly construed. Appropriate subjects include empirical or comparative analyses of the effectiveness of specific regulatory regimes or of deregulation, doctrinal investigations of the development of administrative law rules or principles by courts and administrative agencies and the effects of that development, and normative analyses of how particular regulatory or administrative regimes or deregulation advance or fail to advance values of fairness, participation, and transparency.
First Prize: $1500
Award: The winning papers will receive special recognition at the ACS National Convention, on the ACS website, and potentially through other means agreed upon by the authors and ACS. For example, in the past, ACS’s two journals, the Harvard Law and Policy Review (HLPR) and Advance, considered publication of winning pieces that met their word-limit requirements.
Deadline: 02/11/2013
Contact Information:
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
Attn: Cudahy Writing Competition
1333 H St. NW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Constance Baker Motley National Student Writing Competition
Web Site »
Topic: Papers should “further[] and promot[e] a progressive vision of the Constitution, law, and public policy.” Possible topics include, but are not limited to, civil liberties, consumer rights, criminal justice, free speech, immigration, privacy, racial equality, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, human rights, and labor law.
First Prize: $3000
Award: The winning paper will appear in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. There will also be two runners up who will receive $1000 each.
Deadline: 02/22/2013
Contact Information:
The American Constitution Society
1333 H St, NW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Bert W. Levit Essay Contest
Web Site »
Topic: The 2013 Contest Essay Hypothetical involves questions about a law firm’s potential malpractice exposure when it relied upon a third-party vendor to provide document review services for a client, which ultimately resulted in the release of privileged documents.
Award: Cash award of $5,000.  All-expense paid trip to the Spring 2013 National Legal Malpractice Conference in New Orleans, LA, on April 24–26, 2013.
Deadline: 02/22/2013
Contact Information:


Trandafir International Business Writing Competition
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address “[a]ny topic of contemporary international business or economic concern with a legal nexus.”
First Prize: $2000
Award: The winning essay will also be published in “Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems,” a journal of the University of Iowa College of Law.
Deadline: 03/01/2013
Contact Information:
Samuel Griffin
Trandafir International Business Writing Competition
University of Iowa College of Law
Boyd Law Building, Room 185
Iowa City, IA   52242

Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest
Web Site »
More Information (PDF) »
Topic: Papers should address the following topic: “Is Democracy for Sale? Have Citizens United’s holdings run amok? Legal challenges left to Super Pacs? Can funding disclosure be required?” NOTE: YOU MUST SUBMIT AN INTENT TO ENTER FORM BY 1/31/2013.
First Prize: $5000
Award: The author of the winning essay will receive, in addition to the cash prize above, recognition in the Public Justice newsletter and on the website, and a free Public Justice Foundation membership for the contest year.
Deadline: 03/31/2013
Contact Information:
Erica Robertson
Outreach Coordinator
Public Justice Foundation
1825 K Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC   20006


Why am I here? Remembering why you came to law school.

            The clock says “2:37 a.m.”  You have already been working on your memo for three times as long as you thought you would need, and you still have less than half of it completed.  It is due in less than fifteen hours, but you also have class, reading for class, and reviewing for class, and you wouldn’t mind sleeping a little and eating something at some point.  Then your computer crashes, and you think, “What exactly was it that made me think Law School was a good idea?”

            Maybe your matriculation into law school was your grandmother’s dying wish.  Maybe you really liked the show Boston Legal.  Maybe your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather were all lawyers.  Maybe you graduated from undergrad thinking, “Geez, that whole real-world thing’s looking kind of intimidating.  I don’t have a job, and I don’t really know what I want to do; guess I’ll go to law school!”  Or, maybe you really, really, really want to be a lawyer. 

            As you can probably guess, not all of those reasons are going to provide the same level of motivation when you are working into the early morning hours.  They won’t all offer as much help when you are trying to finish your outlines, or preparing for moot court auditions, or completing a comment to write onto law review.  However, one question you should ask yourself when you are penciling more and more tasks into your law school planner is, “Do I really need to do this?” 

            Try to know the difference between what you think you have to do and what you really have to do.  Keep in mind why you came to law school, what your goals are.  If an extracurricular activity won’t help you reach those goals, maybe you can cut yourself some slack and not do it.  If you know with unassailable certainty that you will never want to be a trial attorney, you probably can skip the trial team auditions.  If you have no interest in international law, the Caribbean Law Clinic might not be a good use of your time.  Many law students have a long history of being overachievers who feel as if they are failing or letting someone down if they don’t participate, and excel, in every activity available.  In law school, that isn’t necessary and could even be detrimental.  You will want good grades and practical experience, and extracurricular activities can be impressive for employers, but if you do too much, everything may suffer, and none of it will be as impressive as you hope.  Law school is tough; there’s no reason to increase that unnecessarily.

            Unfortunately, some of the least fun aspects of law school are the most necessary.  You cannot avoid reading, briefing, outlining, or studying.  Some classes are mandatory.  While you can use your reason for coming to law school to help you avoid unnecessary activities, you can also use it to help motivate you through the unavoidable challenges.  Think about how every case you read brings you that much closer to being an attorney.  Every outline you complete gets more lawyerly knowledge into your head.  Every class you complete gets you that much closer to the day that judge swears you in.

            (I am sure some of you may not believe that last paragraph; if you want to work for the state attorney’s office, you may not see the value in studying for your Property class.  Don’t let the subject matter fool you, though.  Each class plays a part in the total rewiring of your brain.  You may not be able to recognize the transformation, but each class you take contributes to your future ability to think like a lawyer, a skill you will need in whatever field you practice.  Stay focused on the goal of being the best lawyer you can be and try to do your best in each class, even the ones you think are boring or irrelevant.)

            Almost no law student completes his or her time in law school without facing the “why am I here” question as least once.  Plan ahead and get your answer ready.  Try to make your goal as specific as possible and consider putting reminders in places around your study space to keep you motivated.  A framed copy of the Constitution or a post-it exclaiming, “Get the bad guys!” could help keep you motivated at 2:37 a.m.  (Not that I condone pulling all-nighters.)  And if somewhere along the way, you realize that law school might not be right for you, that’s okay, too.  Many goals are reachable by many different paths.  Try your best to know what you want and why you want it, and then do your best to stay focused on that goal.  Feel free to come by the Academic Success Department to discuss any of the issues you may be facing, from how you should be outlining to answering that “why am I here question.”  We are always here to help in any way we can.  Good luck!

How to Create a Study Group

Since you began law school, you have probably heard dozens of people recommend studying with a group.  Well, those people are right; listen to them!  However, that may be easier said than done.  How should a student create a study group?  Many students have no idea how to begin.  Keep reading for some advice about creating a study group. 

First, have any groups already been created for you?  Often during orientation or on the first day of class, administrators or professors place students into groups.  If this happened to you, you’re practically done; your study group already formed.  Talk with the group, determine who is interested, and then make a plan. 

You may think this is a very haphazard way to create something as important as a study group, but it isn’t that risky.  Most students in law school had to be smart, hard workers to make it that far.  The odds against getting an ignorant slacker are in your favor.  Also, if you do have someone who doesn’t want to put for the effort, he or she will usually decline the initial invitation or drop out after a couple meetings. 

If you weren’t lucky enough to have a study group handed to you, don’t worry; creating your own won’t be that difficult.  First, you may not want to start by populating your group with your friends.  You like your friends.  You get along with your friends.  You don’t mind spending time with your friends.  All of that is true, but all of that could be a problem.  One of the main complaints students have about study groups is that they never get any work done.  Before many groups can discuss what constitutes a valid contract, the conversation has devolved into a discussion of who punched whom on the latest episode of Real Housewives of Whatever County.

Your study group is like a business partnership.  You are there to accomplish a specific task, and the better you focus on that task, the more helpful the time with the group will be.  Sure, you can have a good time with your study group, and if none of you has trouble focusing, studying with your friends can be great, but if you can think of any reason why a friend group wouldn’t work, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere.

So whether you need a whole team of total strangers for your group or you and your buddy are looking for a couple folks to round it out, the next step is to watch and listen while you are in class.  Which students always seem to be prepared?  Depending on your personality, you may want to avoid the “gunners,” but finding students who are clearly as serious as you are about learning the law is important.  If you can tell that a student hasn’t prepared for class, you can probably feel safe betting he or she won’t prepare for your study group.  If a student never knows an answer, never has his book, and often doesn’t even come to class, you probably want to choose someone else.  However, that doesn’t mean you only need the absolute smartest people in your group.

Some students think they should only have the very brightest people in a study group, but a more varied group will likely be more beneficial.  When students are studying, they likely have two settings: either they understand or they are confused.  If a student is confused, he or she will need a group member to help clarify the confusion.  If a student understands, he or she could be the one to clarify for others.  Often, the best way to prove you really know something is to try to explain it to someone who doesn’t understand.  By varying the ability level of the members of your study group, you increase the likelihood that you will get to play both roles at different times, which will help ensure that you understand the material by the end of the semester.

Once you have your group, or while you are finalizing membership, you should agree to a set of rules.  What will your goals be?  What must each member prepare for each meeting?  What will the format of your sessions be?  If a group member cannot abide by the rules, he or she should probably leave the group.  If a student isn’t contributing, the rest of the group will quickly become frustrated with that student reaping any benefits.  (Watch for a future post explaining how to “break-up” with a study group.)

Study groups can be a very important and beneficial part of the law-school learning process.  Many students have had bad, or at least mediocre, experiences with study groups in the past.  However, if you follow the simple steps above, you will be able to form an efficient study group, and you will quickly see how helpful it can be.  If you have any questions about how to form a study group, what to do once you have one, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to come by the Academic Success Department.  We’re ready to help!