Columbia Undergraduate Law Review


Open to all 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students worldwide

Type(s) of Writing

Academic research with legal analysis

Related Subject(s)

Legal Issues, Political Issues 

Expected # of References


Word Limit



June 2024


The Columbia Undergraduate Law Review (CULR) High School Essay Competition is a distinguished platform that provides high school students with the opportunity to showcase their legal acumen and writing prowess. Organized by Columbia University's Undergraduate Law Review, this competition encourages young minds to delve into legal issues, analyze complex cases, and articulate their perspectives on contemporary legal matters. The competition serves as a bridge between high school students' interest in law and the academic rigor of legal scholarship. 

Participants in the CULR High School Essay Competition are tasked with crafting essays that demonstrate a deep understanding of legal principles, thoughtful analysis of case law, and the ability to present well-reasoned arguments. The topics for the competition span various legal domains, including constitutional law, criminal law, international law, and more. This not only challenges the participants to explore diverse legal landscapes but also prepares them for the intellectual rigor they may encounter in future legal studies. 

Winners of the Columbia Undergraduate Law Review High School Essay Competition receive recognition for their exceptional legal scholarship, potentially sparking a passion for the law that may influence their academic and career trajectories. The competition, therefore, plays a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of legal scholars and professionals, fostering a commitment to the principles of justice and critical thinking among high school students. 


Essay Prompts


Prompt: Education and the Law: A Way Forward 

Education has long been viewed as the great equalizer, breaking boundaries that separate race, gender, and social class in the relentless pursuit of knowledge. While the law has served as a transformative force in how citizens interact with the educational system, it has also been weaponized to deny equal access to a vital public good to historically-marginalized groups. International treaties have been successful in helping eliminate unjust discrimination and in expanding equal access to education, especially for women and girls. Civil rights legislation, First Amendment jurisprudence, and other constitutional principles have all impacted the public education system in the United States. The proliferation of book bans and restrictions on the teaching of pedagogical theories attempt to use the law to restrict learning. 

Given the various ways in which the law affects educational opportunities in the United States and around the world consider one of the following questions: 

• How has the law been used to expand or deny equal access to education, especially for marginalized groups? 

• What should be the role of the law in determining school curricula? 

• How can schools strike a delicate balance between affording legal rights to their students while preserving an environment conducive to learning? 

Discuss these questions with reference to at least one court case or legal document (treaty, legislation, etc.), which can come from any legal system (state or national courts in any country or international courts and tribunals). Please feel free to draw from any of the aforementioned topics and/or bodies of law in your response.