Call for Submissions for Student Essay Competition

Summer 2020: What comes next?

The Virginia Law Review (VLR) Online is excited to announce its first-ever essay competition. This competition is open to all current law students (including LLMs) and recent graduates (from the Classes of 2017–2020) from any ABA-accredited American law school. We will choose up to three winning submissions, each of which will be awarded a $300 cash prize (subject to any applicable tax reporting and withholding requirements).

Competition Topic: In the past seven months, the world has experienced the spread of a novel coronavirus, the rise of protests combatting police brutality against Black Americans, and the specter of military deployment in US cities. The goal of this competition is to consider, in the law, what comes next. This topic is intentionally broad, but submissions should focus on how events in 2020 have exposed shortcomings or previously misunderstood dynamics of the American legal regime. A non-exhaustive list of potential topics includes: the intersection of the pandemic and freedom of association, religious liberty, and prisoners’ rights; the interplay between policing and equal protection, the right to privacy, and the use of force; and the dynamics of power among the executive branch and the military, the states, and the population at large. We are interested in exploring how the law will account for and respond to the events of 2020, and we welcome any novel topic addressing that issue.

Rules: Each individual may submit no more than one piece, and submissions must be previously unpublished. Jointly-written pieces will be accepted. Pieces do not need to be exclusively submitted to VLR Online during the competition window; however, if you choose to publish the piece elsewhere, you must inform VLR Online by emailing Online Editor Jack Vallar ( within 24 hours of accepting. Students may not receive advising from VLR Online or Notes and Comments advisors on their pieces. Pieces may reflect conversations and light comments from professors and other students. They should not, however, be heavily edited by anyone other than the author(s).

Length: Pieces published as part of the VLR Online’s Essay Competition are lightly-footnoted and must be no more than 5,000 words in length (including footnotes).

Deadline: All pieces must be submitted by September 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. 

Submission: Pieces must be emailed to in .docx format. The document must abide by these guidelines:

1. The document should include a cover page containing:

  • The title of the piece;
  • An abstract of 250 words or less; and
  • A word count for the piece, both with and without footnotes.

Though not required, it may also be helpful for the abstract to explain why the submission addresses an issue that is topical and important.

2. The file must be the [Piece Title], and the subject line of the email must be “VLR Online Essay Competition Submission”.

3. Any identifying information must be removed from the body of the document as well as the personal information embedded in the digital file by following the instructions below. This includes removing identifying information typically included at the beginning of a Note in a * footnote. Correctly following all instructions will maintain each author’s anonymity.

  • Word 2010, 2013, 2016: Go to File, select “Info”, click on Check for Issues”, click on “Inspect Document”. In the dialog box, click “Remove All” and close box. Save document.
  • Word for Mac 2016, 2018: Go to Tools, select “Protect Document” or select “Protect Document” button on Review tab. Save document.

In addition to the document above, all submissions must include the following information in a separate document, which is to be attached to the same email in .pdf format. The PDF should be titled “[Piece Title].Confidential”. This separate document should be a single page and include:

  • Your name, phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address;
  • The title of your submission; and
  • A signed statement (an electronic signature will be accepted) that your piece was not heavily edited by anyone other than the author(s).

Please note that current UVA Law students whose pieces are accepted for publication will be extended invitations to join the Virginia Law Review.