2020 Law Essay Writing Competition

Topic: Court Secrecy

Law Essay Competition
Prizes: $5,000

Competition Details:
The Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Competition is sponsored by R. Ben Hogan III of Hogan Law Office, PC, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Gerson H. Smoger of Smoger & Associates in Dallas, Texas, and Oakland, California. It is administered by Public Citizen.

Topic Guidance:
In your essay, COURT SECRECY may be treated broadly or very specifically. However, underlying your essay should be how secrecy may or may not affect unsafe products, problematic practices, or behavior that should be discouraged. For instance, you may consider the practice, risks, or remedies of entering into or signing documents such as: 1) protective orders; 2) confidentiality orders or agreements; or 3) non-disclosure agreements.

Essays may also discuss the benefits of any of these, as well as any existing or suggested limitations.

Essays also may (again at your discretion) address topics such as how subsequent courts should deal with or have dealt with items that have been made secret either by courts in prior related or unrelated litigation or between parties whose precise dispute is not before the court that must weigh the secrecy provided by the previously signed agreement or order.

For example, an essay could advocate that it should be considered unethical conduct for a lawyer or judge to sign a protective order or confidentiality agreement that does not make an exception for evidence of public safety hazards, dangerous product design, or unsafe practice.

Essays can also discuss secrecy imposed by forced arbitration agreements.

Submission Deadline:
Submissions must be emailed on or before Saturday, April 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, to Amanda Fleming at afleming@citizen.org. Papers emailed after this date will not be considered.

The competition is open to all current law students, post 2015 law graduates, and all masters of law students. Co-authored submissions are eligible; if selected, the co-authors will share the prize. Each submission must be an original, unpublished academic work, but simultaneous submissions will be accepted.

Submissions must be emailed as Microsoft Word documents. They may be full-length law review articles or shorter academic essays and should use footnotes (not endnotes). The word count may be between 6,000 and 25,000 words, not including footnotes.

Judging Process:
A panel of lawyers, including law professors and practitioners, will judge the submissions based on depth of analysis, quality of writing, originality, and thoroughness.

Winning Submission and Prizes:
The winner will be notified by email. The winner will receive $5,000. Only one winning paper will be chosen and only one prize awarded.

Please contact Amanda Fleming, afleming@citizen.org with any questions.