News and Information
November 04, 2013

2014 High School Essay Contest Explores Fallout from Social Media Posting

Does a school have the right to suspend a student based on information from other students’ social media postings? Does a student have the right to sue a person for secretly filming and posting activities that lead to the student’s suspension?

Those are the questions the Virginia State Bar is asking students to address in this year’s Law in Society essay contest.

Virginia high school students are invited to submit essays for a chance to win the Law in Society competition and cash prizes. The contest is co-sponsored by the Virginia State Bar's Litigation Section and the VSB Communications Committee. The deadline for submissions is February 13, 2014.

The essay contest asks students to address a situation where an 18-year-old male student is filmed drinking at a party. An older student films the scene, e-mails it to the younger student’s school principal, and posts the film and pictures to social media websites. The student is then suspended from school based on the information seen on the websites.

All Virginia students age 19 or younger and enrolled in grades 9–12 or a home-school equivalent are eligible to submit an essay.

Essays are limited to 750-1,000 words, and are judged on how well they demonstrate the student’s understanding of the role and value of the legal system in everyday life. Entries will be judged by attorneys, judges, and educators. The purpose of the contest is to awaken an interest in law and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution.

The first place winner will receive $2,300 and the winning essay will be published on the VSB website. Other awards include $1,850 (second place), $1,350 (third place), and honorable mentions of $250 each. All winners receive a plaque and copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Awards will be presented in May at the winners’ schools.

More information, including contest rules and last year’s winning essay, is posted at


Updated: Nov 04, 2013