Scharps Memorial Legal Essay Competition

By Suzanne Lazar ’16, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection

December 22, 2017

The Benjamin and David Scharps Memorial Awardwas established in the will of Hannah S. Hirschhorn in honor of her brothers, Benjamin and David Scharps who were attorneys. The gift for the award was accepted by the SUNY Board of Trustees in 1974. The funds have been used to award juniors or seniors who are prelaw or have an interest in legal studies. As per the bequest, the prize is awarded to a student who writes the best legal essay on the subject determined by the Chancellor or designee. First Prize is $1500, Second Prize is $1000.

Competition for the prize is open to all SUNY students in their *Junior or *Senior year.

Award applicants will submit a 2,000-word essay that is responsive to the chosen topic. Submission is to be sent in standard essay format. End notes and footnotes are acceptable. No pictures or illustrations are to be included. Preferred essay format is described below. A maximum of three essays per campus are allowed.

Students at Empire State College who are interested, should submit their essay to Danielle Boardman, coordinator for student life. The campus president will appoint a single faculty or staff coordinator who will conduct an internal review of the essay and endorse each one submitted indicating the he or she has read the essay and considers it of high quality and representative of the best of that campus. This is done by letter sent to SUNY University Life. The essay will then be submitted to SUNY Office of University Life.

The SUNY Office of University Life in consultation with the Selection Committee will make final recommendations. The winner of the competition will be announced in the Spring.


Deadline for entries (SUNY Empire State College students) January 29

Deadline for entries (all SUNY campuses): February 12

Winner(s) selected: March 2018

Specific Instructions for Essay Participants

Essay Parameters

This is a closed-universe essay question, meaning that only the facts as they are written, and the authorities provided, should be considered when you prepare a response to the essay question posed.

The facts presented should be considered as undisputed. In your analysis, you must accept the facts as-is, meaning you must take them exactly as they are written. You are not permitted to make up any facts that are not provided in the record, or make any assumptions based on the facts as they are presented.

While completing this essay task, you should refrain from looking to any other sources for information.  

Additional outside research may interfere with completing the task as instructed, which is to analyze and evaluate the issues presented and to draw a legal conclusion using only the sources cited in the authority. 

Additionally, you are not permitted to cite from any authority other than the law and cases provided in the ‘Authorities’ sections.  This means you cannot use or rely on newspaper articles, law review articles, or any other sources which you believe are be relevant to the question presented.  The purpose of prohibiting other sources in your analysis is to see how effectively you are able to craft a legal argument using only the sources of information provided to you. 

Additionally, outside sources may lead you believe there is a right or wrong answer.  However, for purposes of this essay, there is no right or wrong conclusion to each of the questions posed, and your essay will not be evaluated based on the conclusion you reach.  Instead, your essay will be evaluated based upon your analysis that leads to your conclusion in each of the three issues.  Therefore, you should attempt to compare the facts of the cases provided in the authority to the facts of the instant case as a persuasive tool to reason why a court may decide one way or another. 

Your essay should be 2,000 words or less.

Evaluation Methodology

Your essay will be judged based upon how effectively you’ve articulated the law and court cases, and applied them to the fact pattern provided to reach a conclusion.  You will be evaluated based upon how well you articulate the law, and the reasoning you offer to support your conclusions for each issue. 

Please be sure to include any proper citations when citing a law or a case as you will be evaluated on your ability to attribute a particular law or reasoning to a source.

For a copy of the application or for more information about the essay competition, please contact Danielle Boardman by email or (518) 587-2100 ext. 2255.

*For clarification on Junior/Senior year eligibility, please contact Danielle Boardman.

Other News

Happy New Year from The Student Connection Team: New Issues Return Jan. 25, 2018, By Suzanne Lazar ’16, student, School for Graduate Studies; editor, The Student Connection

Creative Corner

Social Corner

Article Contributors

Danielle Boardman

Suzanne Lazar

Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.