Warren E. Burger Prize Rules

The American Inns of Court created the Warren E. Burger Prize writing competition to encourage thoughtful consideration of the practical application of the highest principles of professionalism in the American legal community. Through this competition, significant contributions to the body of scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence are recognized and rewarded.

Burger Prize Topic

Authors should address one or more aspects of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence within the legal profession. The selected issue(s) should be of contemporary significance with clear relevance to the legal community at large.

Burger Prize Dates

Submission deadline: Postmarked no later than July 1
Winner Announced:
August 31
Presentation: In October during our Celebration of Excellence, which is held annually at the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.

Burger Prize Submission Information

  • Submissions must be original and unpublished works of 10,000-20,000 words including footnotes.
  • Either independent or collaborative submissions are allowed.
  • Please designate co-authors if more than one participant drafted the final submission.
  • Research assistants shall be acknowledged by name in an appropriate footnote.
  • Each author or co-author may participate in only one entry per year.
  • A complete submission includes an electronic file containing both the completed cover page and the essay.
  • Incomplete submissions will not be considered.
  • Submissions should be sent by e-mail to Cindy Dennis.

Burger Prize Cover Page

An electronically-signed cover page should be attached to the submission. The completed form should be typed or printed legibly.

Style Requirements

  • Authors should submit essays as a MS Word document, letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) with one inch margins. The body text should be 12 point Times New Roman (or equivalent) double-spaced. Please use footnotes rather than endnotes. The footnotes should be 10 point Times New Roman.
  • Only the first page of the manuscript should contain the name of the essay. It should be in bold face, centered in the first line of the paper. The author's name or other identifying marks or references must not appear anywhere in the body of the paper.
  • Guidelines for the body of text should generally conform to any good style guide, such as The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Footnotes and citations should conform to The Bluebook—Uniform System of Citation.

Review Process

  • Submissions will be received, registered and checked for completeness. Cover page information will be entered into a database and the essay will be assigned a tracking number, which will be used to identify it during the entire review and judging process.
  • Incomplete submissions and submissions postmarked later than July 1 will not be considered.
  • Authors will be notified via e-mail (usually within 7-10 days) that their submissions have been received.
  • The winner will be announced on or before August 31 and all authors will be promptly notified.

Review Criteria

Entries will be reviewed according to a uniform system of evaluation. Review criteria includes:

  • Incorporation of the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and civility in the paper
  • Perspective and objectivity
  • Organization in a clear and logical manner
  • Appeal and persuasiveness
  • Presentation and quality of literary construction
  • Originality


  • Membership or affiliation with the American Inns of Court is not a requirement for consideration.
  • Current and former trustees and employees of the American Inns of Court, and their immediate families may not serve as authors or co-authors of papers submitted.
  • Previous Warren E. Burger Prize writing competition winners are ineligible for new submissions.


Contact Cindy Dennis, Awards and Scholarships Coordinator, at (571) 319-4703 or send an e-mail to Cindy.