July 27, 2018

PLF announces law school writing competition winners

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

Today Pacific Legal Foundation officially announces the winners of this year’s PLF law school writing competition. We received entries from some of the top law schools in the country on a variety of topics near and dear to PLF’s heart, including the “democracy voucher” anti-American concept last seen in Seattle, economic liberty, and due process.

But before we recognize this year’s winners, we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the team members who make the writing competition so successful. Out front and first we want to recognize the PLF’er who makes sure everything that needs to get done gets done to make the competition flow from beginning to end year over year: Brien Bartels. Brien has worked on the program for several years and he keeps it organized and on track.

Each year we have excellent PLF attorneys who volunteer to serve as judges in the competition, and this year Meriem Hubbard and Larry Salzman filled the judicial role (along with the author of this blogpost).  Thank you to both of them for raising their hand (when we asked for volunteers) and then judging the entries carefully and seriously. We review the entries anonymously—we don’t know the schools or credentials of the essay writers when we review the essays. The top three entries stood out and once the winners were revealed to us it was obvious why they stood out: each of them are (or were) top students in their schools, as you can see below.

With no further ado, here are your winners:

First Place

Brandon Wong, a member of the Class of 2019 of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, won the First Place award of $5,000 for his article, Democracy Vouchers: A Well-Meaning Constitutional Violation.

Prior to law school, Mr. Wong graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015 with Highest Distinction in General Scholarship. He is on the board of Penn Law’s chapter of the Federalist Society, having served as its most recent Symposium Director and current Vice President of Internal Affairs. He is currently a summer associate at Venable, LLP in Washington, D.C., where he intends to practice after graduation. In the future, he hopes to clerk for a federal judge. An avid follower of political and election law, Mr. Wong admires PLF’s zealous commitment to freedom of speech and expression.

Second Place

Valerie Hammel, a third-year law student at St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, New York, won the Second Place award of $3,000 for her article, Economic Liberty.

Prior to law school, Ms. Hammel worked as a financial analyst at a global investment bank. While in law school, Ms. Hammel interned at the Securities and Exchange Commission in the NY regional office and worked at Shearman & Sterling, LLP as a real estate extern. She was also a judicial intern for a United States District Court Judge. Valerie, like Brandon, is also spending her summer in our nation’s capital—she is clerking for the Congressional Budget Office.

Third Place

 Dustin Romney, a member of the fall Class of 2017 at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, took home the Third Place prize and $1,000 for his piece entitled, Real Due Process or Charades Due Process for Economic Regulation? A Simple Textual Interpretation of the Due Process Clause.

Dustin Romney graduated from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in December of 2017. While in law school, Mr. Romney served as president of the Federalist Society. He clerked at the Goldwater Institute and at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. He was also a moot court finalist in the Spritzer Appellate Oral Argument Competition. After graduating from law school, Mr. Romney was hired as an Assistant Attorney General in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.


Thank you to everyone who entered the competition this year and one last hearty congratulations to the three winners. Look for an announcement about the coming school year’s competition soon.

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