The Yale Law Journal

Announcing the Eighth Annual Student Essay Competition

Lily Moore-Eissenberg
22 Apr 2024

The Yale Law Journal is excited to announce its eighth annual Student Essay Competition. The Journal’s Student Essay Competition challenges the next generation of legal scholars and practitioners to reflect on emerging legal problems. The Competition is open to current law students and recent law-school graduates nationwide. Up to three winners will be awarded a $300 cash prize. Winning submissions will be published in the Yale Law Journal Forum, the Journal’s online component. All Forum Essays are fully searchable and available on LexisNexis, Westlaw, and our website. Last year’s winning Essays can be viewed on our website.

Competition Topic: Emerging Issues in Criminal Law

This year, we invite submissions focusing on novel developments in criminal law and procedure, broadly understood. We encourage submissions on a range of topics, including corrections and prisons; policing; prosecution; private and public defense; racial disparities in the criminal legal system; the criminalization of queer and trans individuals; crimmigration; abolitionism; mass incarceration; capital punishment; youth justice; felony disenfranchisement; drug policy; evidence; and any related areas. We hope to receive both clinical and academic submissions.

Eligibility and Submission Details

The competition is open to all current law students and recent law-school graduates (JDs and LLMs from the Classes of 2022-2027) from any ABA-accredited law school. Each individual may submit only one piece. Submissions must be previously unpublished Essays and may not be submitted to other publications during the competition period. 

The deadline for submissions is September 6, 2024 at 5pm ET. Submissions must be no shorter than 4,000 words and no longer than 8,000 words, including footnotes.

Essays must be submitted via the Journal’s online submissions portal. When asked to select “Submission Type,” please select “Student Essay Competition” (do not select “Forum Essay (Students)”).

Please submit your Essay as a Word document. Your submission file should be titled “YLJ Essay Competition - [ESSAY TITLE]” and include a header with “YLJ Essay Competition” in the main text of your document. To ensure anonymized review, please do not include any identifying information, including name, class year, or institution, in your Essay’s body or metadata. Failure to anonymize your Essay may disqualify it from consideration by the Selection Committee.

The Selection Committee will consider all submissions anonymously. Winners will be announced in October 2024. Authors who submit winning Essays commit to publication in the Yale Law Journal Forum and agree to participate in our full editing process. This process involves both structural and substantive suggestions, as well as sourceciting for content and adherence to Bluebook style.

Disbursement of the cash prize to each winner is subject to any applicable tax reporting and withholding requirements.

Please direct questions about the Student Essay Competition to the Managing Editors, Beatrice (Bea) Brown ( and Deja Morehead ( We look forward to reading your submissions!