Short Essay Contest for High School Students

The Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association is now accepting entries for its Short Essay Contest for High School Students.   This year’s essay topic is: “Discuss measures that youth can undertake to advance equity and civil rights at a grassroots level.”  Please see the official rules below.


Who May Enter

The contest is open to high school students enrolled in public, private, parochial and charter schools and home-schooled students of equivalent grade status (grades 9-12) in Maryland.

Essay Length and Format

Essays must be a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 750 words, not including title and contact information. While not required, proper use of endnote citations and bibliographies is encouraged.  If used, endnote citations and bibliographies will not be included in the word count or considered in judging.  Essays must be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or PDF file. The following formatting guidelines are required:

  • Use 12 pt. Cambria or Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, with one-inch margins
  • DO NOT include a title page, page headers, or footers
  • Include your name, address, telephone number, high school, and grade on the first page only
  • Include page numbers on each page
  • If used, place all in-text, numbered citations at the end of your essay as endnotes, followed by a bibliography
  • Name your file as follows: Firstname Lastname.ext (example: John Smith.doc; John Smith.pdf)

Entry Submission and Deadline

Essays must be submitted online at [email protected]. Entries will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 27, 2023.  Late submissions will not be considered. Winners will be notified no later than May 8, 2023.


A judging committee comprised of federal judges and FBA board members will decide on the top three essays submitted.  Each student is limited to one (1) essay submission.

Essays will be evaluated based on the following criterion: originality (30%); language arts skills (30%); faithfulness to the theme (30%); and clarity (10%). 


The first-place winner will have their essay published on the FBA MD website and in the FBA MD newsletter.  Cash prizes will also be awarded as follows:

First place: $1,000; Second place: $500; Third place: $250

Publication Release

As a condition of entry acceptance, all publishing rights are retained by the Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the association reserves the right to copyright material in its name and to reprint it in any publication or media as it sees fit.


Adherence to all U.S. copyright laws and fair use practices is required.


Reasons for disqualification include: incomplete or improperly formatted entries, off-topic essays, providing false information, committing plagiarism, not meeting the submission deadline, and not providing a release form if requested. Evaluators must recuse themselves from any entry that would present a potential conflict of interest (i.e., submissions from a friend or family member).