Awards & Grants

Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

The Legal History and Rare Books Section (LHRB) of the American Association of Law Libraries, in cooperation with Gale, a Cengage Company, announces the annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Cohen’s scholarly work was in the fields of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint students with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and law librarianship. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The competition is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Both full- and part-time students are eligible. Membership in AALL is not required.

The winner will receive a $1,000 prize from Gale, a Cengage Company and will present the essay at an LHRB-SIS sponsored webinar. The winner and runner-up will have the opportunity to publish their essays in LHRB-SIS’s online scholarly journal Unbound: A Review of Legal History and Rare Books.

Interested parties should download and read the following documents


  • 2019-2023


    Winner: Eric Eisner, a May 2023 graduate of Yale Law School, for “Violence and the Land: Indigenous Power and Property Law in the Ohio River Valley.” Eric will present his winning paper via webinar after the AALL Annual Meeting, specifics forthcoming.

    Runner-up: Jennifer W. Reiss, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, for “Property, Propriety, and Publicity: A Different Look at Pope v. Curll (1741).”


    Winner: Jake Christopher Richards, Doctoral student in history, Cambridge University (UK), for “Abolition as a Sovereign Project: the Auditoria Geral da Marinha, Legal Geography,and the Testimony of Slaves in Ending the Illegal Slave Trade to Brazil, 1850-1856.” Jake will present his winning paper via webinar after AALL Annual Meeting, specifics forthcoming.

    Runner-up: Nikko Price, Yale Law School, Class of 2020, for “Federalism’s Founding Father: George Washington’s Peculiar Vision for his New Nation’s Government.”

  • 2009-2018



    Winner: Christopher Szabla, Doctoral student in history, Cornell University, for “A ‘Natural’ Right to Freedom of Movement in an Age of Sovereign Border Control: The Liberal Dialectic in the Jurisprudence of August Wilhelm Heffter.”

    Runner-up: Sarah Winsberg, doctoral student in history, University of Pennsylvania, for “’He Declared Himself to be Partner’: Legal Boundaries Between Owner and Worker, 1780-1860.”


    Winner: Gonzalo E. Rodriguez, a rising third-year student at the University of Alabama School of Law, for “Protecting Inland Waterways, from the Institutes of Gaius to Magna Carta.” Mr. Rodriguez presented his paper at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.


    Winner: Jillian Slaight, doctoral student in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for “Seductive Arguments: Law, Elopement & the Erosion of Parental Authority in Pre-Revolutionary France”. Jillian presented her essay at the 2016 AALL annual meeting in Chicago.

    Runner-up: Adam Giancola, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Canada) class of 2017, for “The Development of Recusatio Iudicis and the Rise of Aequitas”.


    Winner: Sung Yup Kim, doctoral student in history at the State University of New York, Stoney Brook, for “‘Those Innumerable Litigations of a Civil Nature Arising among the Lower Sort’: Justices of the Peace and Small Debt Litigation in Late Colonial New York.” Sung Yup presented his essay at the 2015 AALL annual meeting in Philadelphia.

    Runner-up: Nicholas Handler, Yale Law School, class of 2015, “A Constitutional Case for Legislative History: The Neglected Journal Clause.”


    Winner: Bonnie Shucha, Assistant Director of Public Services at the University of Wisconsin Law Library, “White Slavery in the Northwoods: Early Sex Trafficking and the Reformation of Law in the Late Nineteenth Century” (available on SSRN). Bonnie presented her essay at the 2014 AALL annual meeting in San Antonio.

    Runner-up: Emily Ulrich, Graduate Student in the Medieval Studies Program at Yale University, “‘Commoning’ the English Common Law Treatise: Investigating Three Fourteenth-Century Copies of the Britton”.


    Winner: Sarah Levine-Gronningsater, PhD Candidate in American History at the University of Chicago, “Louis Napoleon’s Secret Service: Gradual Emancipation, Antislavery Legal Culture, and the Origins of the Lemmon Slave Case (1852-60)”.

    Runner-up: Matthew Axtell, PhD Candidate in History at Princeton University, “Customs of the River: Legal Change and Shifting Hydrology in the 19-Century Steamboat Economy” (available on SSRN). Matthew presented his essay at the 2013 AALL annual meeting in Seattle.


    Winner: John E. Beerbower, 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law, “Ex Parte McCardle and the Attorney General’s Duty to Defend Acts of Congress,” 47 U.S.F. L. Rev. 647 (2012-13).

    Runner-up: Zoey F. Orol, 2L at New York University School of Law, “Reading the Early American Legal Profession: A Study of the First American Law Review,” 87 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1523 (2012) (available on SSRN). Zoey presented her essay at the 2012 AALL annual meeting in Boston.


    Winner: Jed Glickstein, 1L at Yale Law School, “After Midnight: The Circuit Judges and the Repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801,” 24 Yale J.L. & Human. 543 (2012) (available on SSRN). Jed presented his essay at the 2011 AALL annual meeting in Philadelphia.


    Winner: Justin Simard, JD/PhD candidate in the American Legal History Program at the University of Pennsylvania, “‘The Citadel Must Open Its Gates to the People’: Judicial Reform at the 1821 New York Constitutional Convention”. Justin presented his essay at the 2010 AALL annual meeting in Denver.


    Winner: Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, PhD Candidate in Medieval History at Stanford University, “A Case Study of Canon Law in the Age of the Quinque compilationes antiquae: the Trial for Balaruc”. Ben accepted his award at the 2009 AALL annual meeting in Washington, D.C. and gave an interview about his essay in the 2009 Summer issue of the LH&RB newsletter.