June 28, 2018

Rules and Entry Information

Overview and Purpose | Rules and Entry Information 
Past Winners

Subject Matter of Essays

The subject may be any aspect of family law. The primary focus of each essay should be an issue of law, although some interdisciplinary material may be useful in addressing a legal issue. Family law includes dissolution of marriage and other intimate relationships, relationships of persons of the same sex, parentage, custody, child support, division of property, alimony (maintenance), attorney's fees, adoption, dependency, termination of parental rights, rights pertaining to procreation, and alternative dispute resolution of Family Law issues. Family Law generally does not include Juvenile Justice, Probate, Labor, Immigration Law, and sociology topics unless those topics are related to more traditional Family Law subjects. Since winning entries may be published in Family Law Quarterly, entrants are encouraged to write on subjects of national interest. Essays on such subjects usually include citations to the law of several jurisdictions. However, if the law in one state reflects a significant development or trend, that too could be an appropriate subject for an entry.

Essays should be limited to approximately 5,000 words (25 double-spaced, typewritten pages including footnotes). Longer essays will be judged unfavorably, and those longer than 28 pages will be disqualified. Essays scheduled to be published, and essays that have previously been published, are ineligible for consideration.

The essay format was selected to stimulate creativity of thought. Entries will be judged on the basis of originality, quality of analysis, quality of research, style and organization, and practicality and timeliness of subject.


Each entry shall be the original work of a single individual. The ideas and work reflected by each essay must be the author's own. The author must perform all of the key tasks of identifying the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the paper. The author may accept a reasonable amount of advice from others. For example, the author may obtain a professor's opinion that a proposed topic is a good choice, that a detailed outline should be reorganized, or that a first draft omits a significant subtopic. The author must limit the amount of such advice sought or received, so that the final essay truly reflects the author's own ideas and work, not another's.

Authors may submit only one (1) entry per contest-year; we do not accept multiple submissions.


Eligibility of Contestants

Contestants must be J.D. students in good standing at ABA-approved law schools who are:

  • second or third-year full-time students;
  • second through fourth-year part-time students; or
  • first-year students enrolled in schools where the subject of family law is part of the first-year curriculum;
  • 21 years of age or older at the time of submission;
  • Citizens or legal permanent residents of the U.S.

Employees of the ABA, and its respective affiliates and immediate family or household members of such employees are not eligible. Eligibility determinations will be made by the ABA Section of Family Law; all decisions regarding eligibility are final.


First Place

  • $1,500.00
  • Certificate of Recognition as First-Place Winner
  • Consideration of essay's publication in Family Law Quarterly
  • Consideration of essay's publication on the ABA Section of Family Law website
  • Letter to Law School Dean
  • One-year complimentary ABA Section of Family Law membership

Second Place

  • $750.00
  • Certificate of Recognition as Second-Place Winner
  • Consideration of essay's publication in Family Law Quarterly
  • Consideration of essay's publication on the ABA Section of Family Law website
  • Letter to Law School Dean
  • One-year complimentary ABA Section of Family Law membership

Third Place

  • $350.00
  • Certificate of Recognition as Third-Place Winner
  • Consideration of essay's publication in Family Law Quarterly
  • Consideration of essay's publication on the ABA Section of Family Law website
  • Letter to Law School Dean
  • One-year complimentary ABA Section of Family Law membership

Winners will be notified before the ABA Annual Meeting in early August. Winners must be a member of the ABA to receive a free Section of Family Law membership. (Law students enrolled in ABA-approved law schools may join the ABA for free.) No substitutions for prizes will be permitted, except at the Section’s discretion. Winners must submit a completed W-9 to receive their cash prize. The full fair market value of the prize will be reported on a 1099, if applicable. Winners are responsible for all taxes, if any, in connection with receiving a prize.

Entry Procedure

1.        Download the Schwab Entry Form and fill it out.

2.        Return the completed entry form by e-mail to familylaw@americanbar.org with Schwab Entry as the subject.

Your completed entry form must be received by Friday, April 12, 2019, so we may assign you a number. No submissions after April 12, 2019 will be accepted.  

3.        The ABA will then e-mail you an electronic copy of the entry form with an assigned number.

4.        Place the assigned number in the upper right-hand corner of each page of the essay. (Contestant's name must not appear anywhere on the essays.)

5.        Send one (1) electronic copy of the essay and the completed entry form (with assigned number and your signature) to familylaw@americanbar.org,  Subject: Schwab Essay Submission

Please Note: We will only accept one (1) entry per author; we do not accept multiple submissions.

 DEADLINE: All entries must be e-mailed on or before April 26, 2019. Remember, in order to be assigned a number, you must send us your entry form by April 12, 2019. These dates must be strictly adhered to.

The ABA will confirm receipt of entries via e-mail.

Questions regarding the contest should be directed to the ABA Section of Family Law at 312-988-5145.

Notification of Winners


First, second, and third place winners will be notified by the ABA that they have won via the e-mail and U.S. mail addresses listed on their entry form. If winner(s) do not respond to notification within 10 business days or if their e- mail or U.S. mail is returned as undeliverable, another winner(s) will be chosen. Winner(s) from the level(s) below the non-responding or returned e-mail address winner(s) will be notified that they will move up to the appropriate level, and a new winner(s) will be chosen for that vacated place(s) from the other entrants to the contest.  Example:  first and second place winners do not timely respond to notification that they have won.  The  third place winner will then be notified that he/she has become the first place winner, and new second and third place winners will be chosen and notified.

License/ Grant of Rights

By entering, the winners grant to the ABA the following rights: (1) the exclusive worldwide right of first publication of their entry in any and all ABA media or form of communication; (2) the non-exclusive worldwide right, in ABA’s sole discretion, to use, transcribe, publish reproduce, distribute, sell (as part of an ABA publication) or display the entry, alone or in conjunction with other materials; (3) the right to edit the essay to conform to the publication’s standards of style, technological requirements, language, grammar and punctuation, provided the meaning of the essay is not materially altered; and (4) the non-exclusive worldwide right to use the winner’s name and likeness in connection with the essay or this Writing Competition without further compensation. Additionally, at the ABA’s discretion, the winning entrant must execute a separate licensing agreement giving the ABA the publication rights enumerated above and the right to use the article for any other purpose related to the ABA mission. At the ABA’s sole discretion, if the winner fails to sign the agreement within 10 business days of receipt, the prize will be considered forfeited and another winner named.

View Complete Contest Rules