Award Amount

$500, publication

In 1943, Selma Moidel Smith was admitted to the California Bar and that same year joined the National Association of Women Lawyers. Since 1899, the mission of the National Association of Women Lawyers has been to provide leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocate for the equality of women under the law. To serve NAWL's mission, Selma Moidel Smith chaired or served on more than 20 different committees. Selma Moidel Smith also authored the 'Centennial History of NAWL' in the 1999 Summer issue of the Women Lawyers Journal. As a testament to her service, in 1999, Selma was honored with NAWL's Lifetime of Service Award and in 2005, we created the Annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law students' writing on issues concerning women and the law.

Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at an ABA-accredited law school during the 2021-2022 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the summer, fall, or spring semesters are eligible for submission. Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.

The Rules for the Competition are as follows:


Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning, in their opinion, the most pressing issue related to advancing equality in the legal field. Topics can include but are not limited to: examining race, gender, sex, feminism, LGBTQIA+, pay equity, equal education, or employment opportunity in the legal profession, the Equal Rights Amendment, etc.


Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or that are not in the required format will not be read.


NAWL Women Lawyers Journal Editorial Board Members will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.


Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to NAWL Operations Coordinator, Devon Payne, at

Submission and Deadline

Entries must be received by Friday, August 26, 2022. Entries received after the deadline will not be considered. Entries must provide a cover page providing the author’s name, the title of the essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and permanent mailing address. Entries must be submitted via email as a Microsoft Word document to


The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the 2022 Fall/Winter issue of the Women Lawyers Journal. Read the most recent winning paper, “Meritorious Diversity An Analysis of the Relationship Between Diversity in State Judiciaries and Judicial Selection Methods” written by Madelyn Cox-Guerra of the University of Minnesota School of Law here.