Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Novelists Michael Connelly and Denise Hamilton to Judge First JLE Legal Fiction Contest December 15, 2011
Novelists Michael Connelly and Denise Hamilton to Judge First JLE Legal Fiction Contest

Presenting a rare opportunity for writers to have their work read by internationally known best-selling authors, the Association of American Law Schools' Journal of Legal Education (JLE) and Southwestern have announced the first JLE Legal Fiction Contest. Submissions must be original short works of fiction related to law school or the practice of law, and winning entries will be published in a future issue of the JLE.

The panel of distinguished judges will include Michael Connelly, author of bestselling legal-themed novels such as The Lincoln Lawyer, The Brass Verdict, The Reversal and the newly released The Drop. His recent book, The Fifth Witness, featured a character called "Bullocks" who is a recent Southwestern graduate. In agreeing to participate as a judge, Connelly said, "I'm excited to be involved because it's been fun for me to include Southwestern in my novels. But I am also a reader and always looking for good storytellers. I think this should be interesting. I'm looking forward to what comes in."

Connelly will be joined on the panel by author Denise Hamilton (Damage Control, The Last Embrace), writer Marshall Goldberg ("L.A. Law," "Paper Chase," "Newhart," "It's Gary Shandling's Show") and Charles Rosenberg (legal consultant to "Paper Chase," "L.A. Law," "The Practice" and "Boston Legal," and author of the recently released legal thriller Death on a High Floor).

The contest is open to lawyers and non-lawyers, academics and non-academics - anyone setting a fictitious story in a legal setting (law school, law firm, courtroom, legislature, judge's chambers, etc.) or focusing on a law-related character (lawyer, law professor, judicial clerk, etc.). According to Marshall Goldberg, "The long hours, the ethical conflicts and the differing notions of justice all force hard choices upon law students, practitioners, judges and academics - and these struggles can make powerful fiction." 

Submissions must be in prose form (no screenplays or scripts), previously unpublished, under 5,000 words (approximately 20 typewritten pages) and submitted by March 15, 2012. Entries will be reviewed anonymously and judged on originality, quality of writing and depth of character. The ten winners will be announced in June 2012, and their stories will be published in the Journal of Legal Education: The Fiction Issue in early 2013. Additionally, the ten winners and ten runner-up entries will be posted online. Authors will retain copyright ownership. More information on the JLE Legal Fiction Contest is posted online.

In applauding the creativity of the Journal of Legal Education editors at Southwestern in designing the competition and recruiting such an impressive panel of judges, Susan Prager, Executive Director of the Association of American Law Schools, said that she is "eager to see the first published pieces in the competition" and predicts that "these will prove of enduring interest and value." She added: "I only wonder if we will need to deliver more copies of the Journal to our member law schools!"

Assistant Dean Molly Selvin, the managing editor of the JLE and coordinator of the contest said, "In some quarters the legal world is considered stiff and colorless. The Journal of Legal Education and Southwestern believe this contest will help dispel that misimpression, and happily welcome all submissions."

The Journal of Legal Education (JLE) is a quarterly publication of the Association of American Law Schools and is currently edited at Southwestern under the supervision of co-editors Dean Bryant G. Garth and Professor Gowri Ramachandran. The primary purpose of the JLE is to foster a rich interchange of ideas and information about legal education and related matters, including but not limited to the legal profession, legal theory and legal scholarship. With a readership of more than 11,000 law teachers and about 500 subscribers internationally, the JLE offers an unusually effective way to communicate to the legal education community. More information and past issues of the JLE are available online.