News and Information
November 13, 2007

Annual Essay Competition to Explore Students’ Right to Privacy

Where should the line be drawn between a student’s right to privacy and an academic institution’s duty to protect its students? It’s a question that has been debated nationally in 2007 and one that the Virginia State Bar and its Litigation Section are asking the state’s high-school students to consider for its 2008 essay contest, the Law in Society Award Competition.

This is the sixteenth year that the VSB has sponsored the essay competition, the aim of which is to increase awareness and appreciation of our legal system among high-school students. Entries, which are limited to 1,000 words, are based on a given hypothetical and judged on how well they demonstrate the student’s understanding of the role and value of the legal system in our everyday lives.

The 2008 hypothetical, titled “Balancing a Students’ Privacy Rights with an Academic Institution’s Duty to Protect the Student Body,??? focuses on the story of Deanna Randall, a fictional high-school senior with a history of mental illness and a desire to continue her education at a large university. Students will be asked to explore the issue of medical-records privacy from Deanna’s perspective as well as her prospective university’s. Entries will be judged by a volunteer panel of attorneys and judges from across the state.

In an effort to increase participation in this year’s contest, the VSB is implementing a new prize structure and increasing the number of prizes to be awarded. The first round of judging will select the top three essays from each of ten regions in Virginia. Those entries will be designated finalists, and the authors will each receive a certificate of achievement and a dictionary/thesaurus set.

All finalists will then be eligible for the Grand Prize awards, which will be determined by the second round of judging. First Place will earn either a $2,000 U.S. Savings Bond or $1,000 cash, Second Place will be awarded either a $1,500 savings bond or $750 cash, and Third Place will win either a $1,000 savings bond or $500 cash. An Honorable Mention of either a $200 savings bond or $100 cash will go to the top essay from each region not represented by a Grand Prize winner.

The competition is open all students enrolled in grades 9–12 of a Virginia high school who are aged 19 or younger and to home-schooled students of equivalent grade and age levels. For more information on the contest, including rules and entry forms, visit

The Virginia State Bar is the government agency that regulates the legal profession. It is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia. It is supported through the licensing dues paid by all Virginia lawyers, and it is governed by a council of lawyers elected or appointed from every judicial circuit in Virginia.

Updated: Nov 13, 2007