Stanford Law Review Online Student Essay Competition

The Stanford Law Review Online is excited to announce our student essay competition! 

Two winners will each receive a $500 prize and publication of their up to 5,000 word essay. We encourage submissions from all current students (including LLMs) and recent graduates of any ABA-accredited American law school. We especially encourage submissions from those who have not yet published academic works.


Our theme this year is the ulterior or unintended effects of legal decisions. The law and those who practice it wield considerable power over the lives of the average person. It would be comforting to believe that those who make and interpret laws act with deliberate and benevolent purpose. But that is not always the case. Occasionally, perhaps even often, legal decisions have unintended or ulterior consequences. Sometimes those consequences can be humorous, such as a resident flaunting a Homeowner’s Association rule about paint color by plastering gaudy wallpaper on the outside of her home. Other times, those consequences can be much more tragic, as with exclusionary zoning laws that ensure an absence of affordable housing in affluent areas, exacerbating existing inequities and contributing to evictions and homelessness.

The Stanford Law Review invites current law students and recent alumni of any law school to discuss a legal instrument–including a contract clause, a court judgment, or a federal regulation–that had an unexpected or ulterior effect. We welcome submissions that apply this prompt to policing, the topic of SLR’s forthcoming symposium in coordination with Stanford BLSA.


Our competition is open to current law students, LLMs, and graduates of the classes of 2020, 2019, and 2018 from ABA-accredited American law schools. Submissions are limited to one essay of up to 5,000 words (inclusive of footnotes) per person.

Submissions must be unpublished and exclusively submitted to this competition during the competition window, lasting from date of submission to date of final publication decision.

We will begin accepting pieces immediately and will close the submission window on January 4, 2021 at 11:59 PM. We aim to notify all applicants of publication decisions by January 18, 2021.

Please submit your essay as a Word document attachment in an email to Carly Grimes at This word document must be blinded. Your name must not appear in the document and you must follow instructions for removing identifying metadata available here: 

Direct any questions about the competition to Carly Grimes,