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Contest Guidelines

Entrant Criteria:

  • Author of the paper must be a student enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school’s J.D. program, in good standing, at the time of submission.
  • A student does not need to be a member of the Business Law Section to enter the contest.

Submission Criteria:

  • Papers must be written in 2022-2023 or the current academic year.
  • The paper may be specifically prepared for this contest; submitted in a class, seminar, or as an independent study; or a proposed law review/journal note, comment or article.
  • Papers submitted are normally 20-30 pages long, but in any event should not exceed 100 pages of double-spaced typed text, including footnotes.
  • Papers that have been submitted to or published by a student publication are acceptable for submission to the contest. The submission entry form must indicate to which publications the work has been submitted and if it has been published.


The papers will be judged on research and analysis, choice of topic, writing style, originality, and contribution to the literature available on the topic. Depending on the topic, prior publication, and other factors, a previously unpublished first place winning essay may be considered for publication in a Section publication.


  • First Place: $1,000 cash prize.
  • Second Place and Third Place: eligibility to have their essays considered for publication in Business Law Today, the premier digital platform of curated, peer-reviewed content for the ABA Business Law Section.

Outstanding First Place papers may also be included in The Business Lawyer, a quarterly publication which is the premier business law journal in the country.

Application Process

Applications for 2024 are closed. Applications for 2025 will open in April 2025.

To enter the contest, you will need the following information:

  1. Your contact information
  2. Final essay to be submitted to the Mendes Hershman Student Writing Contest in .PDF or .DOC format, not to exceed 2 MB
  3. Contact information for a law school faculty member to verify your submission (note that this person will be contacted by the Section to verify your submission to the contest)

Please contact Chad Johannes with any questions.

Topic Areas

"Business Law" is a broad category. Without attempting to define the area precisely, the subject is intended to include matters within law school curricula in courses entitled:

  • Agency
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business Law
  • Business Organizations
  • Commercial Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Contracts
  • Corporate Finance
  • Corporate Govenrnance
  • Corporations
  • Creditors Rights
  • Employment Law
  • Financial Institutions
  • Insurance Law
  • Oil and Gas Law
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Remedies
  • Secured Transactions
  • Securities Regulations
  • Uniform Commercial Code

Previous Winners

2023 Winners

  1. First Place: William Robertson Dorsett, Columbia Law School, New York, NY
    “Contracting for Default:  engineered Credit Default Swap transactions, the auction mechanics that enable them, and responsive proposals to amend (i) Bankruptcy's disclosure requirements; and (ii) ISDA's Credit Derivatives Definitions”
  2. Second Place: Zachary Hunt, Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY
    "Port in a Storm: Colorado's "Safe Harbor" Settlement as a Template for Online Lending Reform
  3. Third Place: Max Londberg, University of Miami School of Law, Wesley Chapel, FL
    “Hiring Criteria and Title VII: How One Manifestation of Employer Bias Evades Judicial Scrutiny”

2022 Winners

  1. First Place: Wai-Lin Danieley, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
    “Meme Regulation: Analyzing the SEC’s Concerns Regarding Digital Assets and Non-Fungible Tokens”
  2. Second Place: Nicholas Mack, Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville, TN
    "The COVID-19 Pandemic Highlighted the Need for Mandated ESG Disclosures: Now What?”
  3. Third Place: Matthew Shalna, University of Miami School of Law, Wesley Chapel, FL
    “Thou Shalt Not . . . Vaccinate? Evaluating Trans World Airlines v. Hardison’s “De Minimis” Standard in the Wake of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates”

2021 Winners

  1. First Place: Julia Thibault, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA
    “America's Oldest Drug Cartel: Civil RICO Action In Re Insulin Pricing Litigation and the Case for Overruling the Indirect Purchaser Rule”
  2. Second Place: Benjamin Seymour, Yale Law School, Brooklyn, NY
    "Corporate Purpose and the Separation of Powers”
  3. Third Place: Kristen Kelbon, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova, PA
    “Creating an Effective Vaccine to Prevent Congressional Insider Trading: Legislation is Needed to Cure Deficiencies of the STOCK Act”

2020 Winners

  1. First Place: Tara A Mollhagen Shepherd, University of Kansas School of Law, Lawrence, KS
    “Lien This Way or That: The Trouble with Categorizing a Lien as Judicial or Statutory”
  2. Second Place: Andrew Kingsbury, Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY
    "Patenting Pot: The Hazy Uncertainty Surrounding Cannabis Patents”
  3. Third Place: David Tersteeg, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL
    “Legislative and Regulatory Obligations on Corporate Attorneys: Production Data in the World of Sarbanes Oxley and General Data Protection”

2019 Winners

  1. First Place: Dhruv Chand Aggarwal, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
    “Federalism, Indemnification, and the Soul of American Corporate Law”
  2. Second Place: Rachel Miller, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, IN
    "A Material Problem with Cybersecurity Disclosures”
  3. Third Place: Kelly Krause, Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee, WI
    “Turning Wisconn Valley into the Next Silicon Valley: Reforming Wisconsin Non-Compete Law to Attract High-Tech Employers”

2018 Winners

  1. First Place: Kristopher Kalkowski, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
    “Recognizing an Overcorrection: A Proposal for Nevada’s Policy on Non-Compete Agreements”
  2. Second Place: Lisa Bei Li, The George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC
    "Entire Fairness: A Call to Preserve Delaware Doctrine”
  3. Third Place: Emily C. Atmore, University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
    “Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg: Outdated Employment Laws Are Destroying the Gig Economy”