2011 Freedom and Justice
Legal Writing Competition

Washington Legal Foundation’s “Freedom and Justice Legal Writing Competition” challenges law school students to assess legal issues pertaining to economic liberties.


Contest Two Winner: Mollie Brunworth, 2L, Charleston School of Law (Proposed Change To Civil Lawsuit Pleading Standard Strays Far From Original Federal Rule)

Contest One Winner: Saurabh Vishnubhakat, 3L, Franklin Pierce Law Center (Protecting The Public From Itself: The Unconstitutional “Say No To Drug Ads” Act)


“To what extent does the Constitution limit the severity of the civil punishment that may be imposed on those convicted of a misdemeanor under the Park Doctrine?”

Under the Park Doctrine, responsible corporate officers may be held criminally liable for the actions of their subordinates, even if the corporate officer neither participated in nor knew of the wrongdoing, and even if the subordinate was acting in violation of company policy. See United States v. Park, 421 U.S. 658 (1975). The Supreme Court has upheld the Park Doctrine in limited cases where the penalties are small and there is no grave damage to the defendant's reputation. See, e.g., Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246 (1952); United States v. Dotterweich, 320 U.S. 246 (1952). Given this framework, to what extent does the Constitution limit the severity of the civil punishment that may be imposed on those convicted of a misdemeanor under the Park Doctrine?


Eligibility. Any law student enrolled in a part-time or full-time J.D. program from an ABA accredited law school as of January 1, 2011, may participate.

Length. Essays should be more no more than 1200 words, including citations, title, and cover page information. (Papers exceeding 1200 words will not be read.) There is no minimum word requirement.

Format. Essays should be typed in Times New Roman, size 12 font, and double-spaced on 8 x 11 paper. Essays should be saved as Microsoft Word documents or PDFs.

Submission. No student may submit more than one essay. Papers may not be jointly authored.

Cover Page. The author's information should appear ONLY on the cover page (the body of the essay cannot include the author's information for fair judging purposes).

Please use the following format:

Name    ex. Joe Smith
School and Year      State Law School, 2L
Email address      smith@state.edu
Phone number      555-565-5656
Date      June 15, 2011

Citations. Citations must be in footnote format and conform with the rules of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation, Eighteenth Edition.

Due Date. Essays must be submitted electronically by 5:00 PM EST on Friday, August 26, 2011 to contest@wlf.org. You will receive an automatic receipt of confirmation upon completion.

Judges. Essays will be scored separately by senior members of WLF's Legal Studies and Litigation Divisions.

Scoring. The following criteria will be considered when grading the essay:

  • Presents a clear, precise, well-written paper and a high quality of citations
  • Delivers the requisite substantive information
  • Accurately analyzes the relevant law and uses a thorough legal analysis
  • Argues persuasively, with reference to relevant law and facts

The winning essay will be published as a Washington Legal Foundation LEGAL OPINION LETTER. For an example of a published LEGAL OPINION LETTER, please see: Shannon Thyme Klinger and Michele L. Keegan, "Absent Proof of Causation, Federal Court Dismisses Qui Tam Suit On Off-Label Speech," February 11, 2011.

Winning Essays. The winning essay will be published by WLF and widely distributed to federal and state judges; electronic and print media reporters; state attorneys general; attorneys practicing in the respective field, both in private and corporate practice, as well as influential academics. The winner will be provided with a letter from the President of WLF to his or her law school Dean.

Announcement of Winning Essays. The winning essay will be announced by October 3, 2011.

Academic Honesty. Entries must be original, unpublished work. The essay must be the work of the submitting student without substantial editorial input from others. All references and quotations from other papers must be cited. Any form of plagiarism will be reported to the student's law school. WLF retains publishing rights on winning essays.

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