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Writing Competitions & Other Vocational Uses for Seminar Papers

As you get ready to hunker down for finals, you may be wrapping up seminar papers and briefs. Before you put those documents in lockdown on your hard drive, do two things:

1. Do a quick search for essay contests in which you might earn Fabulous Prizes. Those prizes can be money and trips to bar conventions where you can meet people who do work that you want to do and who will appreciate your writing. You may, as many of our grads can attest, be forced to sit at the head table with dignitaries, be photographed for the bar section's magazine or website, and your paper might be published.

Google "Law Student Essay Contests" and you will find a number of sites including: Lewis & Clark Law School's Writing Competition Site

ABA Law Student Division Awards, Competitions, Grants & Scholarships Site

American College of Trusts & Estates Counsel

2. Look at your paper as a marketing piece. You may have written something that could be vocationally useful if you can create a version that is accessible, useful, interesting, and -- if you are lucky -- compelling to practitioners. How do you do this?

a. Identify lawyers working in the field (www.martindale.com, professional journals, names attached to reported cases; your professional memberships, etc.);
b. Read your paper carefully and create four short bullet points that will be useful to practitioners. Depending on the structure of your paper, you may have to do some extra work to create these points;
c. Draft a short email explaining how you came to write the paper (which you will attach but not expect the lawyer to read), and then include your four bullet points and an offer to discuss the topic.

I was recently told by a very experienced lawyer that it would be extra compelling if the lawyer had worked on one of the cases that you cite. You won't always be able to do that, but if it happens, go with it.

Of course you will have a professional signature block with your name and address, phone and email, so that your target can contact you.