Sacramento, California; July 27, 2018: Pacific Legal Foundation announced the winners of its 2017-18 annual law student writing competition today. The student writing competition demands rigorous reasoning and writing on important legal issues that are engaging the courts and the academy. Awards totaling $9,000 will be given to three law students whose publishable essays address these key constitutional issues before our nation’s courts.

PLF received many excellent submissions from law schools across the country and we proudly recognize the three winners as the best of the best.

First Place

Brandon Wong, a member of the Class of 2019 at 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 New York regional office, and she worked at Shearman & Sterling, LLP as a real estate extern. She was also a judicial intern for a United States District Court judge. Ms. Hammel is spending her summer in our nation’s capital, where 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 for his piece entitled, “Real Due Process or Charades Due Process for Economic Regulation? A Simple Textual Interpretation of the Due Process Clause.”

While in law school, Mr. Romney served as president of his school’s chapter 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.


This year’s judges for the competition all serve as senior attorneys at PLF.

Meriem Hubbard has been with PLF for 18 years in its Sacramento office. She litigates cases involving property rights, public finance issues, and preferences in government hiring, contracting, and education.

Larry Salzman litigates economic liberty and property rights cases. He also serves as an adjunct clinical professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, in Orange County, California, where PLF’s Liberty Clinic project sponsors a trial litigation program for students.

Mark Miller, based in PLF’s Florida office, litigates in nearly all of PLF’s practice areas and has managed the PLF Law Student Writing Competition for the last three years.

Brien Bartels, a paralegal in PLF’s Bellevue, Washington, office, handles the administrative side of the competition.


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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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