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Legal Writing Contest

About Legal Writing Contest

All J.D. candidates currently enrolled in accredited law schools are eligible to participate in the IADC Legal Writing Contest. Entrants must write on subjects in the fields of tort law, insurance law, civil procedure, evidence or other areas of the law of practical concern to lawyers engaged in the defense, or management of the defense of civil litigation. The contest is judged by a committee of the IADC.



First Place US $2,000 and plaque
Second Place US $1,000 and plaque
Third Place

US $500 and plaque

Honorable mention



Winning and honorable mention entries are considered for publication in the IADC's quarterly academic publication, the Defense Counsel Journal. The judges also may award honorable mentions. 

Past experience has shown that teachers of litigation-related subjects are in an ideal position to stimulate student interest in legal writing and to encourage participation in the IADC Legal Writing Contest. Each year a number of the entries appear to have been prepared initially for various courses or seminars, and the caliber of the papers has been high. These faculty members are in an excellent position to encourage their students to enter the IADC contest.

Deans, professors, and law review editors are urged to publicize the IADC contest and to encourage participation in it.

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Contest Rules 

  1. Eligibility. The International Association of Defense Counsel 2017 Legal Writing Contest is open to students who, at the time of submission of their entries, are enrolled as J.D. candidates in accredited law schools.
  2. Subject Matter. Entries must be submitted in the English language on a subject of practical concern to lawyers engaged in the defense or management of the defense of civil litigation, such as relevant aspects of tort law, insurance law, civil procedure, evidence, damages, alternative dispute resolution procedures, and professional ethics.
  3. Authorship and Publication. Entries must be certified by the entrant on the IADC entry form to be the original and sole work of the entrant. At the time of submission, the entry must not have been published or accepted for publication, and the author must be free to execute the assignment of copyright to IADC referred to in Rule 7.
  4. Judging. The contest will be judged by a committee of the IADC, whose decisions will be final. In addition to the monetary award winners, the judges may designate entries worthy of honorable mention.
  5. Judging Standards. Articles will be judged on the following factors: (1) the choice of subject matter, as measured by its significance, international or national relevance, and timeliness; (2) the amount of work and effort, as measured by the entry's comprehensiveness and analysis; (3) the 5. quality of the legal analysis, as measured by its objectivity and balance; and (4) the writing quality, as measured by clarity of expression, brevity, and literary construction. Entrants also should consider the points made in the contest guidelines.
  6. Monetary Awards. Monetary awards will be made as follows: US $2,000 to the first place winner, US $1,000 to the second place winner, and US $500 to the third place winner. Honorary mentions receive no monetary awards.
  7. Plaques and Publication. Authors of monetary award articles and of those awarded honorable mention will receive commemorative plaques, and their articles will be made available for publication in Defense Counsel Journal, IADC's quarterly law review. At the time of submission, entrants must execute the assignment of copyright in the entry certificate. IADC will copyright articles published in Defense Counsel Journal, but release the copyright assignment back to entrants whose works are not published. Acceptance for publication in any publication other than Defense Counsel Journal prior to notice to the author of an award in this contest will disqualify the entry. Entrants are expected to notify IADC promptly of such prior acceptance by another publication.
  8. Deadline for 2017 Entries. Entries must be received on or before Friday, May 19, 2017.
  9. Directions for Transmission. Entries, together with the completed entry form, must be sent to the International Association of Defense Counsel, via electronic mail to Melisa Maisel Vanis at

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Contest Guidelines

  1. Substance
  • Choice of Subject. Rule 2 allows for a broad range of topics, provided it is one of practical concern to lawyers engaged in the defense or management of the defense of civil litigation. Unusual subjects are desirable if of sufficiently widespread interest beyond the borders of any state or province.
  • Balance. Entries should be of law review type and quality, not briefs. Authors' opinions should reflect consideration of both sides of the issues.
  • Original Work. Compliance with this requirement of Rule 2 permits borrowing from the writings of others, provided due attribution is given. An article must not parallel its sources too closely in form or content, and direct quotations must always be shown as such.
  • Sole Authorship. Entries must be the work of a single author. An entry does not fail the "single author" test merely because it has been graded by a professor who has offered advice on it. Sole authorship cannot be claimed, however, if, for example, a paper has been rewritten in part by another person, or if another has contributed research to the paper.
  • Legal Analysis. A major factor is the quality of legal analysis reflected by an article. Clear thinking and expression are key faculties of a good lawyer. While lawyers and judges alike are seldom capable of resolving questions of law solely by the cool light of reason, unclouded by predilections or prejudices, they must justify their conclusions with sound reasoning and pertinent authorities.
  1. Form
  • Organization. Any well-written article must be organized and presented in a logical and orderly manner. This is best accomplished by initial preparation of an outline that (1) disciplines the author's thought processes; (2) provides a table of contents; (3) supplies headings for quick reference; and (4) eliminates the need for lengthy introductions and conclusions.
  • Hallmarks of Fine Writing. The three hallmarks of fine legal writing are simplicity, clarity, and brevity. 
    • Simplicity. A simple writing style befits legal writing because it is easily understood and does not overtax the reader's powers of concentration. Just as long sentences, laden with dependent clauses, should be avoided, so, too, lengthy paragraphs should be avoided.
    • Clarity. Yale Professor John Berdan used to tell his English composition class that a fine writing is like a windowpane: seen through, but never seen.
    • Brevity. While the IADC Legal Writing Contest imposes no strict word limitation, brevity is to be desired, although it is a mixed virtue. A well-written law entry should include all points necessary to full treatment of the subject. Past experience has shown that most entries are unnecessarily prolix and repetitious. Trim off the fat; leave the bone and sinew.(Suggested word limit: 12,000 words, including footnotes)
  1. Miscellany
  • Entries must be submitted via email in English in Microsoft Word format to Melisa Maisel Vanis at Footnotes should appear on the page referenced in the text. Avoid excessive footnotes. Use The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th edition) for style.
  1. Cicero's Advice
  • The winning entries will be those that best heed the 2,000-year-old advice of the Roman orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero: "Be clear, so the audience will understand. Be interesting, so the audience will listen. Be persuasive, so the audience will agree."

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Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions for the IADC Legal Writing Contest.

2016 - 1 - First Place, David Howard
University of Texas School of Law 
“International Arbitration in Bankruptcy Proceedings: Uncertainty in the Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements”

2016 - 2 - Second Place, Calvin Hancock
University of Toronto Faculty of Law 
“The Gospel Standard: the Standard of Review in Housen, the Trouble Applying it After Sattva, and How we Reconcile the Two”

2016 - 3 - Third Place, Meredith Lussier
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law 
“An Unclear Dichotomy: Attribution Protocols in Legal Scholarship vs. Legal Practice”

2016 - Honorable Mention, Philip Pence
University of Illinois College of Law 
“First, Do No Harm: How the Medical Malpractice Reform Debate Ignores Patients' Interests”

2016 - Honorable Mention, Natasha Mukhtar
Queen’s University Faculty of Law 
“Examining the Link between Defamation, Discrimination and Charter Values in Bou Malhab v. Diffusion Metromedia CMR

2015 - 1 - First Place, Paul Covaleski
University of Iowa College of Law
"Skipping Class: Exploring the Rise and Fall of the American Class Action Suit"

2015 - 2 - Second Place, Knial Piper, II
University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law
"Cyber Warfare and the Use of Force"

2015 - 3 - Third Place, Charlotte Green
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
"How Government Subsidized Cybersecurity Insurance Can Encourage Enrollment in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Framework, While Also Improving the Overall Cybersecurity Insurance Market"

2015 - Honorable Mention, Louie Whit Carmon
Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law
"No Cents in Doing it Again: The Importance of Disclosing Insurance Coverage at Discovery"

2014 - 1 - First Place, Lauren Gailey
Duquesne University School of Law
"I'm Sorry" as Evidence? Why the Federal Rules of Evidence Should Include a New Specialized Relevance Rule to Protect Physicians

2014 - 2 - Second Place, Rosby Carr
Ohio Northern University School of Law
Quite a Scratch: How Failure to Obtain a Clawback Agreement Could Lead to Legal Malpractice

2014 - 3 - Third Place, Danielle O’Boyle
St. John's University School of Law 
The Concerns of Secrecy and Non-Release in Multi-Defendant Settlement Agreements

2014 - Honorable Mention, Jessica Rose
University of British Columbia 
Game Changer: Lower Court Judges' Newfound Freedom to Overturn Canadian Supreme Court Precedent through the Bedford Test

2013 - 1 - First Place, Abraham Gitterman
University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law
Ethical Issue and Practical Challenges Raised by Internal Investigations in the Life Sciences Industry

2013 - 2 - Second Place, James Doring
Duquesne University School of Law
Daubert and E-Discovery: The Search for Reliability

2013 - 3 - Third Place, Ellen Clarke
University of Georgia School of Law
A Duty to Over Preserve? How Disregarding Foreign Data Privacy Laws May Keep Litigants Out of a Jam

2013 - Honorable Mention, Abbye Lawrence
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Collateral Estopped in Attorney Disciplinary Proceedings: A Hobson's Choice

2013 - Honorable Mention, Brian Farkas
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Hitting a Brick Wall in Process Convergence: The Delaware Court of Chancery and the Boundaries of ADR for Business Courts

2013 - Honorable Mention, S.L. Owens
University of Wisconsin Law School
Avoid the Urkel Defense (Did I Do That?): Win Against Recklessness on an Affirmative Defense Post Safeco Insurance Company of America versus Burr

2012 - 1 - First Place, Kathleen Dapper
Villanova University School of Law
Nothing Is Certain Except Death and Taxes: But in the District Courts, Not Even Taxes Are Certain for e-Discovery Costs

2012 - 2 - Second Place, Diana Ovsepian
Loyola Law School Los Angeles
The Questionable Effect of Informal And Instantaneous Electronic Communications on the Validity of 'No Oral Modification' Clauses: Are Texts, Tweets, and Email Destroying the Sanctity of Contract Law?

2012 - 3 - Third Place, Atina T.E. Rizk
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, University of Memphis
True or False: Defamation through Deceptively Edited Video or Audio Clips

2012 - Honorable Mention, David Dill
Washington University in St. Louis
Ready, Set, Action! Managing the Risk of Executive Agreement Interference in Foreign Tort Litigation

2012 - Honorable Mention, Caitlin Milo
Florida Coastal Law School
Oil & Anarchy: The Role of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in the Demise of Mass Tort Funds

2012 - Honorable Mention, Nicole Farbes-Lyon
St. John's University School of Law
On Equal Footing: How Equitable Estoppel Can Preserve Signatory and Non-Signatory Rights to Litigate and Compel Arbitration after Arthur Andersen LLP v. Carlisle

2011 - 1 - First Place, Terri K. Benton
Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law
Where Do I Fit In? Citizenship Claims and the §1332 Diversity Statute in Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. Osting-Schwinn

2011 - 2 - Second Place, Emily Ousley
University of Missouri School of Law - Columbia
’Act’ to the Future: California District Court Applies 1986 Act to Facebook Discovery Dispute

2011 - 3 - Third Place, Louise N. Smith
Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law
Employers Beware: Civil Rico Provision Creates Private Enforcement of Immigration Laws

2011 - Honorable Mention, Sean Wion
Tulane University Law School
Wisdom On The Horizon: Strategies For Limiting Tenuous Claims and Identifying Viable Claimants in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

2011 - Honorable Mention, Anne Marie Esposito
St. John’s University
Are Corporations Liable for Human Rights Violations?

2011 - Honorable Mention, Michael C. Mims
Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Applying the Proper Set-Off Rules in FELA and Jones Act Cases After AmClyde, Ayers, and Schadel

2010 - 1 - First Place, F. Elliotte Quinn
Emory University Law School
A Real Class Act: The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005’s Amount in Controversy Requirement, Removal, and the Preponderance of the Evidence Standard

2010 - 2 - Second Place, Jonas Matthew Williamson
University of Maryland Law School
Should Attorneys General Apply Ethics Rules to Civil Cases? Answering Challenges to the Politicization of Mass Products Tort Litigation

2010 - 3 - Third Place, Michael Foy
Santa Clara University School of Law
From Chem-Dyne to Burlington Northern: Apportioning Cleanup Costs in the New Era of Joint and Several CERCLA Liability

2010 - Honorable Mention, Joanna Slusarz
Rutgers School of Law – Newark
No Fishing Poles Allowed in the Office, Plus Other Suggestions on How to Limit "Fishing Expeditions" to an Outdoor Weekend Activity and Away from the Realm of E-discovery

2009 - 1 - First Place, J. Benjamin Lambert
University of Tulsa College of Law
Professional Liability and International Lawyering: An Overview

2009 - 2 - Second Place, Aaron Ries
University of Houston Law Center
Railroad Tort Liability After the 'Clarifying Amendment.' Are Railroads Still Protected Through Preemption?

2009 - 3 - Third Place, Hannah Weiner
Duke University School of Law
Arbitration Theory and the American Tort System

2009 - Honorable Mention, Alejandro Cruz
University of Virginia Law School
'Mistaken Identity': Reading Mistakes Back into Rule 15(c)

2009 - Honorable Mention, Justin Craig
University of Pennsylvania School of Law
The World Wide Web vis-a-vis Personal Jurisdiction: A Potentially Sticky Situation

2009 - Honorable Mention, Richard Scherer, Jr.
University of Buffalo School of Law
Grab a Drink and Pass the Blame: An Argument Against Social Host Liability

2008 - 1 - First Place, Jamie L. Wershbale
Florida Coastal School of Law
Tort Reform in America: Abrogating the Collateral Source Rule across the States

2008 - 2 - Second Place, J. Alex Bruggenschmidt
Indiana School of Law-Indianapolis
Asbestos for the Rest of Us: The Continued Viability of Statutes of Repose in Product Liability

2008 - 3 - Third Place, Christian N. Elloie
Southern University Law Center
Are Pre-Dispute Jury Trial Waivers a Bargain for Employers over Arbitration? It Depends on the Employee

2008 - Honorable Mention, Rakhi Patel
UCLA School of Law
Taking the Next Step Forward: A Practical Evaluation of the Hague Choice of Court Agreements Convention

2008 - Honorable Mention, Andrew Batog
Barry University School of Law
The Post-Sinochem World: An Argument for Changing the Standard of Review in Forum Non Conveniens Dismissals

2007 - 1 - First Place, Dorothy E. Schmidt
Lewis & Clark Law School
A Dark and Stormy Night: The Mystery of the Missing Science in Fingerprint Indentification

2007 - 2 - Second Place, Gretchen E. Eoff
University of Denver College of Law
Losing the Battle in the War on Attorney-Client Privilege Through Selective Waiver: Viewing the Selective Waiver Quagmire Through the Lens of the 10th Circuit's Opinion in In Re Qwest Communications

2007 - 3 - Third Place, Timothy P. Stone
William Mitchell College of Law
The Rise and Fall of Options Backdating, From Executive Windfall to Executive Pitfall

2007 - Honorable Mention, David Mitchell
Stetson University College of Law
An Examination of Current Trends in Punitive Damages: Has the Remedy Outlived its Usefulness?

2007 - Honorable Mention, Zachary Wang
Boston College
Ethics and Electronic Discovery: New Medium, Same Problems

2007 - Honorable Mention, Miriam Richter
University of Miami
The DPT Litigation: Bad Vaccines or Bad Law? An Argument for the Adoption of the Third Restatement of the Law Torts: Products Liability Section 6

2006 - 1 - First Place, Jessica C. Jarreau
Southern University Law Center
Dying Declarations in an Ever-Changing World: A Peek into the Implications of Expansion

2006 - 2 - Second Place, Rosalyn Tang
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Insurance Law-Frank's Casing's Effect on Reimbursement of Settlement and Defense Costs in Texas

2006 - 3 - Third Place, Rebecca Ballard
Indiana University School of Law
You Get a Line, I'll Get a Pole, We'll Go Fish'n In the Plaintiff's Gene Pool

2006 - Honorable Mention, Daniel C. Lindner
New England School of Law
Money Laundering Between States: A Comparison of United States, Israeli and International Money Laundering Control Mechanisms

2006 - Honorable Mention, Amber M. Czarnecki
Michigan State University College of Law
Ethical Considerations Facing Defense Attorneys Working Within the Tripartite Relationship of Insurance Law - Who Does the Attorney Represent and What Does that Mean?

2005 - 1 - First Place, Jaclyn Carole Hill
Loyola University School of Law, New Orleans
The Learned Intermediary Doctrine and Beyond: Exploring Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising Liability in the New Millennium

2005 - 2 - Second Place, Juan Castaneda
Notre Dame Law School
The Jury's Dilemma: Playing God In The Search For Justice

2005 - 3 - Third Place, Donald P. Blydenburgh
Brooklyn Law School
Inconsistent Verdicts in Products Liability Cases: How the Law Prohibits Them, Why Juries Render Them and Why Some Courts Permit Them

2005 - Honorable Mention, W. Russell Taber
Vanderbilt University Law School
Reexaming Bifurcation in Mass Tort Litigation

2005 - Honorable Mention, Joseph Mack
University of Maryland School of Law
Nullum Tempus: Governmental Immunity to Statutes of Limitation

2004 - 1 - First Place, Daniel London
Brooklyn Law School
Red Riding Hood Is an Economic Loss Tortfeasor: Three Courts, the Negligence Woods and the Economic Loss

2004 - 2 - Second Place, Adam Clanton
U.C. Hastings College of the Law
Uncertainty in Federal Removal Procedure: What Kind of Paper Will Trigger the 30-day Period?

2004 - 3 - Third Place, Darlene S. Wood
Duquesne University School of Law
International Commercial Arbitration and Punitive Damages: Where Delocalization Stops and Mandatory Rules Begin

2004 - Honorable Mention, Paul J. Krause
Marquette University Law School
Disregarding ‘Manifest Disregard’: The Benefits of Watts on the Standard for Vacating Arbitrators’ Decisions

2004 - Honorable Mention, Amy J. Vroom
Valparaiso University School of Law
Fast Food or Fat Food: The Skinny on Food Manufacturer Liability for Obesity

2004 - Honorable Mention, Nitin Sud
University of Houston Law Center
Punitive Damages: Achieving Fairness and Consistency in Light of State Farm v. Campbell

2003 - 1 - First Place, Cordell A. Hull
Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Extraterritorial Considerations when Assessing Punitive Damages

2003 - 2 - Second Place, Eric S. Askanase
Columbia Law School
The Qui Tam Provision of the Civil False Claims Act: A Criminal Punishment in Civil Disguise Gets Medieval on the Constitution

2003 - 3 - Third Place, Chad Egan Burton
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
EEOC v. Waffle House: Employers Win--Again

2003 - Honorable Mention, Helynn Stephens
Tulane University Law School
The Price of Pro Bono Representation: An Examination of a Lawyer's Duties and Responsibilities

2003 - Honorable Mention, Josh Romero
Northwestern University School of Law
The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund: A Victim-focused Analysis

2002 - 1 - First Place, Amanda M. Rose
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall)
Life After SLUSA

2002 - 2 - Second Place, Jill Jensen-Welch
Drake University Law School
Suing the Bastard Boss: Are Supervisors Who Create a Hostile Working Environment Personally Liable for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

2002 - 3 - Third Place, Brian C. McManus
Suffolk University Law School
The Admissibility of Subsequent Remedial Measures in Strict Liability Actions

2002 - Honorable Mention, Brian Lowenberg
University of Houston Law Center
Civil Procedure as a Fetish: The Lack of Equity in Evaluating the Amount-in-Controversy Requirement in the Context of Class Actions Seeking Injunctive Relief

2002 - Honorable Mention, Carrie A. Daniel
William Mitchell College of Law
The Heeding Presumption in Products Liability Failure-to-Warn Cases: A Defense Counsel Guide to defeating the Presumption

2002 - Honorable Mention, James R. Jebo
University of Richmond School of Law
Overcoming the Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Doctrines in Bad Faith Denial of Insurance Claims Suits: A Selected Survey

2001 - 1 - First Place, Justin Lee Heather
Northwestern University School of Law
"Liability for Direct-to-Consumer Advertising and Drug Information on the Internet" Defense Counsel Journal, October 2001, p. 412.

2001 - 2 - Second Place, Monica Renee Matter
Wayne State University Law School
"Emerging DTC Advertising of Prescription Drugs and the Learned Intermediary Doctrine" Defense Counsel Journal, January 2002, p. 79.

2001 - 3 - Third Place, C. Todd Hagins
University of South Carolina School of Law
"Sands in an Hourglass: Solving the Puzzle of Times Limits for Removal to Federal Court" Defense Counsel Journal, October 2001, p. 421.

2000 - 1 - First Place, Sarah A. Toops
Stanford Law School
"Ethically Representing Thousands of Plaintiffs: Conflict Problems in Mass Tort Toxic Harm Cases" Defense Counsel Journal, October 2000, p. 462.

2000 - 2 - Second Place, Gary W. Flanagan
New York University School of Law
"Expanded Grounds for Judicial Review of Employment Arbitration Awards" Defense Counsel Journal, October 2000, p. 488.

2000 - 3 - Third Place, Basil Loeb
Marquette University Law School
"Abuse of Power: Disregarding Traditional Legal Principles to Invalidate Tort Reform" Defense Counsel Journal, October 2000, p. 501.

1999 - 1 - First Place, Dean M. Harts
William Mitchell College of Law
"Reel to Real: Should You Believe What You See?" Defense Counsel Journal, October 1999, p. 514.

1999 - 2 - Second Place, Michael B. Kent Jr.
University of Georgia Law School
"Daubert, Doctors and Differential Diagnosis: Treating Medical Causation Testimony as Evidence" Defense Counsel Journal, October 1999, p.525.

1999 - 3 - Third Place, Robert D. Fleming
Cumberland Law School Samford University
"Hazards of Expert Witnesses: Disclosing Work Product and Limiting Testimony" Defense Counsel Journal, October 1999, p. 538.

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