Public Interest Essay Competition - University of Pennsylvania Law Review

Announcing the University of Pennsylvania Law Review’s Second Annual Public Interest Essay Competition

The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is pleased to announce its second annual Public Interest Essay Competition. The Competition is a national writing competition for student‐authored articles on the topic of social justice and the public interest. The winner will be awarded a $5,000 grant to implement the public interest proposal advocated in the article.

The University of Pennsylvania Law Review has both a professional and educational mission: it serves the bench, the bar, and the academy by providing a forum for the publication of original, high quality legal research while also providing educational experiences for its Editors. The Law Review is committed to improving the surrounding community in Philadelphia and the national legal community as a whole. Through this Competition, the Law Review seeks to expand this opportunity and further its dual mission by publishing serious legal scholarship focused on social justice and by supporting important public interest work that moves the law forward.

“We are thrilled to be continuing our Public Interest Essay Competition into its second year and are excited about tailoring the Competition in a way that allows our authors to implement the public interest solutions that they advocate,” said Chet Eckman, Editor‐in‐Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Volume 165. “As the oldest student law journal in the country, we hope to provide a fitting forum for publishing exemplary work that explores issues related to the public interest and highlights budding legal scholars. This year we have redesigned the prize from a cash award to a grant that will advance work in the public interest. This change will further the central ideals of our home institution Penn Law, public service, and preeminent scholarship.”

Competition Details


One winning essay will receive a grant $5,000 to support the public interest work of the author or a non‐profit organization. The essay will be published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online. The author will be required to submit a short progress report six months after the grant is awarded. This report will also be eligible for publication.


Submissions must focus on a specific legal issue within the public interest. This encompasses any issues relating to social justice or advancing the general welfare and good of the public. Topic selection will be one of the criteria judged. In addition, this year the author(s) must include a brief grant proposal for $5,000 to support public interest work related to a topic. The author(s) may request support for a non‐profit institution, a pro bono clinic, or for her own direct public interest work.

Deadline for submission

The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is accepting submissions for its first annual Public Interest Essay Competition. The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 20, 2016, at 5:00 PM EDT, via the online submission portal.


The competition is open to all current law students (Classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018) from any ABA‐accredited American law school as well as recent graduates of such institutions from the classes of 2010 through 2015. Submissions are limited to one per person and must be an original, unpublished academic essay. The essay may not be submitted for consideration for publication in another journal during the judging period


Essays must be submitted in PDF format and include footnote citations. Submissions must be no longer than 6,000 words, including all footnotes. All submissions will be considered anonymously. Students must ensure that their essays do not contain any identifying information. Any essays that include identifying information, such as name, class year, or institutional affiliation, will be disqualified.

The grant proposal must be 800 words or less and request support to go directly to a non‐profit organization, a pro bono clinic, or for the author’s own direct public interest work. The cause supported must be germane to the essay topic and the best proposals will be designed to implement the legal theory on which the author expounds. The proposal must include a six‐month budget and contact information for the primary recipient of the funds. If the author proposes to support a non‐profit or clinic, she must include overall budget information for that institution in addition to its contact information.

Judging process and winner notification

A selection committee from Volume 165 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review will consider all submissions anonymously. The best submissions will demonstrate originality and superior literary effort that advances and serves the interests and understanding of a specific topic within the broad arena of public interest and the law. That submission will include a thoughtful proposal for how the grant could help to implement the theory proposed. The winner will be announced in the fall of 2016, to be designated the distribution of the $5,000 grant, and be published in Volume 165 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online. The winner will be asked to submit a progress report detailing the use of the grant and its outcomes six months after the distribution of the award. This report will also be eligible for publication.