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2017 Student Contest - Rules


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Goals: The goals of the State Bar of Texas Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section ("REPTL") Student Writing Contest ("Contest") are to encourage and reward law student writings on real property, probate, and trust law subjects of general and current interest. As part of this effort, REPTL will sponsor the Contest, which invites law school students to submit to REPTL original essays on a general or current topic dealing with real property, probate, or trust law. The Contest is designed to attract students to the real property, probate, and trust law fields, and to strongly encourage scholarship in these areas.

Who May Enter: The contest is open to any law school student in good standing, over the age of 18, who is currently attending, or has graduated within the last 8 months from, a law school physically located in the State of Texas. Each entrant must have begun classes in furtherance of a law degree.

Deadline: Entries must be received by REPTL no later than 9:00 AM, January 12, 2018.

Essays: Entrants must submit an article on a current or general topic dealing with real property, probate, or trust law. "Real property, probate and trust law" is a broad category containing numerous practice disciplines. Without attempting to define the area precisely, the subject is intended to include matters within law school curricula in courses entitled: Property; Estate and Gift Tax; Wills and Decedents' Estates; Real Estate Transactions; Real Estate Development; Environmental Law; Elder Law; Land Use Planning; Federal Taxation; Real Estate Finance; Employee Benefit Plans; Planning, Drafting and Negotiating Commercial Real Estate Transactions; Taxation and Regulation of Non-Profit Organizations; Business Succession Planning; Life Insurance and Other Insurance Products; Trusts and Trust Law; Wealth Management; Fiduciary Income Taxation; Estate Planning; and Probate and Estate Administration. REPTL will interpret the scope of the subject broadly to ensure that the Contest affords the greatest degree of flexibility in writing on these subject areas. Entrants are encouraged to write on subjects of State of Texas interest. Entrants must submit their own original article. If any article is found not to be an original, it will be disqualified from the Contest. In addition, the entrant’s name, the article, and the evidence showing that it was not authored by the entrant may be turned over to the entrant’s law school and the appropriate Board of Law Examiners.

Specifications: Articles must be submitted electronically in Adobe pdf format, as an attachment to an e-mail message to with the subject line, "WRITING CONTEST ENTRY" (in all caps), formatted for standard, 8.5 x 11 inch paper and double spaced. All margins must be one inch. Articles must not exceed 25 pages of double-spaced typed text, including footnotes. Only one article may be submitted by each entrant. Entrants should write articles in traditional law review style, presenting a scholarly discussion with full citation to authority in footnotes. Lengthy lists and outlines normally are not appropriate within the text of the article; however, they may be included as appendices to a textual discussion. For example, if the law of all states on a subject is surveyed, the article may compare analytically how and why the law differs between jurisdictions. A listing of the law by jurisdiction within the body of the article would generally not be appropriate. If such a listing of the law by jurisdiction would be of particular value to the reader, it may be included in an appendix to the article. Entrants should write articles in the active voice and in the third person. Articles should conform to The Bluebook-A Uniform System of Citation and to the Texas Law Review Manual on Style.

Prizes: First-place winners in the Probate and Trust category and in the Real Estate category will receive $3,000.00 cash and a one-year free membership in the Section. The first-place winner's article will be considered for publication in the REPTL Reporter, and may appear in an upcoming issue. No substitutions will be permitted, except at REPTL's discretion, in which case a prize of equal or greater value may be substituted. REPTL may also choose in its sole discretion to make additional awards, including second place, third place, and/or honorable mention, to recognize other high quality submission(s). REPTL may determine in its sole discretion that no entry in one or both categories is of high enough quality to receive the first-place award. Any taxes are the responsibility of the winners.

Entries: All expenses involved in preparing and submitting an entry are the entrant's responsibility. Winners must relinquish all rights to REPTL to reproduce entries in any medium and without restriction. Essays submitted must have been created by the entrant and must never have been published in any other medium, printed or electronic.

By entering, the winners give REPTL the right to reproduce any article submitted in any medium without time, use, or territorial limitation, as long as such is for noncommercial purposes. Entries will not be returned. All entries submitted to REPTL become the property of REPTL.

Entrants must submit their articles with a title page included. The title page should contain only the article’s title and the entrant's name. The entrant's name is not to be on any page of the submitted article except for the title page. Entrants' identities will not be known to the judges. In addition to the article, each entrant must complete and submit an official entry form published by REPTL that will provide the title of his or her article and date, the entrant's printed name and signature, law school, year of expected graduation, and all permanent and temporary addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Forms that require signatures should be printed, signed, scanned and then attached to the e-mail message which submits the writing contest entry.

The entrant's signature verifies: (1) that the entrant has read the competition rules and accepts the conditions stated; (2) that the article is written by the entrant; (3) that the entrant releases REPTL from all liability; and (4) that the entrant releases the use of his or her article and name for publication in any medium and for editorial, advertising, and promotional usage, without compensation, in connection with the promotion by REPTL of this and succeeding contests sponsored by REPTL. Entrants must also submit the requisite publication release form attached to the official entry form. Official entry forms and releases are available from the Section's Website at If the title page, official entry form, and the required release forms are not all fully completed, signed, and submitted with any entry, the entry will be disqualified. Proper submission of all required forms constitutes acceptance of all conditions set forth in these rules.

Tennessee Residents Only: The entry form for Tennessee residents will exclude the requirement that the entrants allow the use of their names in any medium, and for editorial, advertising, and promotional usage, without compensation, in connection with the promotion by REPTL of this and succeeding essay contests sponsored by REPTL.

Judging: Applicants shall expect articles to be judged on the basis of research and analysis, choice of topic, writing style, originality, and contribution to the literature available on the topic. Winners will be selected on or before February 1, 2018, by a panel of judges appointed at the discretion of the Section. The decision of the judges shall be final. REPTL will attempt to notify all winners by mail and/or e-mail and announce the awards prior to February 16, 2018.

Restrictions: Void where prohibited. Any paper must not have been previously published in or on any medium over which the student authorized, directly or indirectly, to be published in a copyrighted medium or form. Essays prepared for law school credit are eligible provided they are the entrant's original work. Each entry shall be the original work of a single individual. Jointly authored essays are not acceptable. Although the entrant may obtain some guidance from others, the work must be that of the entrant. The ideas and work reflected by each article must be the entrant's own. The entrant must perform all of the key tasks of identifying the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the essay. The entrant may inform another of the entrant's progress in performing these tasks, and accept a reasonable amount of responsive advice. For example, the entrant 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 unwisely omits to cover a subtopic or to raise and respond to criticisms of the entrant's thesis. The entrant must limit the amount of such advice sought or received, so that the final article truly reflects the entrant's own ideas and work, not another's. Section officers and State Bar of Texas staff and the panel of judges shall not participate in this process.

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