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Become a part of legal history – enter the Morris L. Cohen competition

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Become a part of legal history – enter the Morris L. Cohen competition

Would you like the chance to win a trip to Chicago and present a paper this July at a national conference? Then enter the Tenth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition!

‘That the Future May Learn from the Past’

Morris L. Cohen was an attorney, law librarian, and law professor who published important books on legal history such as A Bibliography of Early American Law. The American Association of Law Libraries Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section (LH&RB for short) wants to encourage new scholarly writing on legal history in the hopes of discovering future Morris Cohens.

This is the chance to network with librarians from law firms, law schools, and government institutions across the country.

That’s why we, along with Gale Cengage Learning, sponsor this annual competition.  I work at William & Mary Law School, located near Colonial Williamsburg. The motto of the foundation that runs Colonial Williamsburg is “That the Future May Learn from the Past,” and I think that’s a great way to describe how legal history applies to the law today.

History lays a foundation for the cases, statutes, and regulations in force today. Legal analysis of all sorts invokes history: What were the Founders thinking when they wrote the Constitution? How has an area of law changed over the years? How far back in time does an idea go, and from where? Victorian England? The Roman Empire?

Legal history also involves the rare books that history was written in and properly organizing and maintaining those historical materials for future generations. Seeing the notes an important historical figure made in their books, or just knowing what books could be found in the libraries of previous generations lawyers and judges, can shed light on why the law is the way it is now.

What should you write about?

The Cohen Competition welcomes unpublished essays on all aspects of legal history, rare books, and legal archives. Previous Cohen winners have written on diverse topics from small-debt litigation in colonial New York to the anti-sex-trafficking movement to the U.S. Attorney General’s duty to defend acts of Congress.

To the winner…

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. The winner will receive a $500 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting.

This is the chance to network with librarians from law firms, law schools, and government institutions across the country. The conference is a great chance to learn what law librarianship is all about – whether you’re interested in joining the profession or in learning how librarians can help you as another member of the legal world.

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law Review, American Journal of Legal History, University of South Florida Law Review, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

Step right up

We look forward to your entries. To find out more information about the competition, go to our website. This page has the entry form and information on eligibility and essay requirements. Essays must be sent by April 16, 2018. Good luck!

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Fred Dingledy Fred Dingledy is senior reference librarian at William & Mary Law School and is co-chair of the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition Committee of the American Association of Law Libraries Legal History & Rare Books Special Interest Section.