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$100k Competition for Law Students' Supreme Court Arguments

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 14, 2017 6:57 AM

When someone asks a law student for a legal opinion, it's usually somebody like your uncle at the dinner table wanting advice about a traffic ticket.

Well, "Uncle" Philip R. Shawe just upped the ante for soliciting legal opinions from law students. And unlike your real relative, he's even offering to pay for it.

Shawe, co-chief executive officer of TransPerfect Global, has offered $100,000 to the law school students who prepare the best argument to the United States Supreme Court regarding the sale of his company. He's calling it, "The Philip R. Shawe Scholarship Competition," but it's definitely not your typical law school competition.

Easy Money

The competition is based on a real case recently decided by the Delaware Supreme Court, and Shawe wants to appeal the decision. That's right, if you win the competition, your brief might make it to the U.S. Supreme Court before you graduate from law school.

For scholastic purposes, let's cut to chase: first place is $65,000; second is $25,000 and third is $10,000.

As for substantive matters, contestants must address the U.S. constitutional issues with the Delaware courts' powers to adopt a forced sale remedy when shareholders of a privately-held corporation are deadlocked.

Briefs should not simply reiterate arguments made in the Delaware Courts, but develop new legal and policy arguments about the court's decision to appoint a custodian and to direct the sale of the corporation under Delaware General Corporate Law §226.

With a 15-page limit, that's more than $4,000 a page. If you are a law student, go for it because you'll probably never make that much as a lawyer.

Some Limitations

The competition is open only to second- and third-year law students, so put your pencils down now if you are under the bar or already passed it. There are other particulars to know about, like the April 20, 2017, deadline.

Not to be a buzz-kill or anything, but there is also the matter of the unlicensed practice of law. The U.S. Supreme Court does not have a rule about students contributing to legal scholarship in briefs to the court. However, nobody can file a brief or make an appearance in the high court without first being admitted.

And of course, you cannot lawfully give legal advice to anyone without being a licensed attorney. Not even to your Uncle Phillip.

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