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We are pleased to announce that the OWLSS International Women’s History Month Essay Competition is now open! 

'My hope for the next 100 years is that the parity which women have achieved in joining the profession will lead both women and men to do whatever they can to promote the cause of women’s equality in the future – not all women are feminists but many men are and that gives us hope for the future.’  (Lady Hale at the BACFI Denning Lecture 2019, Athenaeum, Pall Mall, London, 4th Dec 2019)

What is the most important change which should occur in the legal profession by 2121? Why? 

The competition is designed to give the students an opportunity to give expression to their vision of the future of the law profession as they imagine it and to provide some exposure to the type of work they will be expected to do at a university level in terms of independent thinking and writing skills - we hope that participation will not only encourage students to pursue higher education (including at Oxford) but also help a young generation of aspiring lawyers visualise the ideal they would want to work towards in their future careers. 

Entry Criteria:

All students (of any gender identity and religion) currently enrolled in Year 11/12/13 at a UK state school and aged 16+ are welcome to enter the competition.

What are we looking for?

It is strongly advised that students pursue their own lines of argument in their responses. The entries will be marked against a set of criteria including attention to the question asked, structure, clarity and persuasiveness of the argument, identification of multiple lines of argument and creativity. It is to be noted that there are many angles from which the essay question can be approached - the quotation provided does not form part of the essay question, but rather a starting point for students’ own research. 


The responses to the essay question need not focus on women’s rights - as long as the essay presents a clear argument using specific examples, discussion of any area of possible changes is welcome. The entrants are not expected to be familiar with any areas of law in a capacity greater than that expected from their own research - the essays will be marked on the strength of the argument and its creativity, and therefore original argument about the future of the legal profession is encouraged rather than attempting to engage in a detailed analysis of the present law.


Word Limit:

Entrants are invited to submit a response which should be between 750 and 850 words (including footnotes and captions). The judges will be instructed to disregard any parts of the submissions exceeding the word count.   All sources must be appropriately acknowledged and cited (any academic citation format is accepted, as long is it used consistently), and a bibliography – including websites consulted – should be attached (though excluded from the word count). Entrants are expected to submit their own work - consultation with teachers, family or others is accepted, as long as the ideas included remain substantially the participant’s. Any works used must be attributed to their authors. 


he three winning essays will be awarded prizes of respectively £75 for first place, £50 for the second, and £25 for the third. The authors of the winning and the commended entries will also receive certificates of their placement. As well as monetary prizes all participants will be invited to an exclusive event where our outstanding panel of judges will be discussing their journeys into law to provide access for state school students to gain an insight into the profession of law. This will allow all participants to network and gain valuable insights from some of the most established women in the field of law while celebrating International Women's History Month!


This competition closed on Sunday 14th March 2021. We hope to run more like this in future! Please keep an eye out...


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