CANCELLED: Due to COVID-19 this competition was unable to be properly advertised. As such it has been determined to cancel the competition for 2020. Information for the 2021 Beckley Student Writing Competition will be published in early 2021. Thank you for understanding.
This is a writing competition for students interested in Securities Arbitration and Securities Law sponsored by The PIABA Foundation. First Prize is $1000, Second Prize is $750, and Third Prize is $500. Competition winner(s) will be posted online at www.piabafoundation.org. The PIABA Bar Journal Board-of-Editors will publish the first place paper, and may, at their option, print additional submissions.
The submission may address any aspect of Securities law; Securities arbitration; The Federal Arbitration Act, Title 9, US Code, Section 1-14; or FINRA Code of Arbitration, effective April 16, 2007 and any changes or proposed changes to that Code. The writing can be based in theory or practice, but should ultimately advocate a position on the topic area chosen.
The competition is open to all students who attend a law school in the United States. Full-time students who are not law students but who write law-related papers as part of a course at an American law school are also eligible. Employees of PIABA (except for students working less than 20 hours per week) are not eligible to enter the competition.
The author must have performed all the key tasks of researching, writing, and revising the paper for himself or herself, but may have received a reasonable amount of advice from academicians or practitioners. Except for any discussions or other activities that occur as part of course activities approved by the student’s professor, the author must avoid collaboration with other students. If the paper is written as an assignment in a legal writing class and if the student was assigned to produce the paper along with a partner, the student may submit the paper but must identify the portions for which the student was the sole author. Only those parts of the paper will be evaluated. Under no other circumstances may any of the written product be produced by another.
Criteria and Judging
All entries will be judged anonymously by the Competition Judges, who will select the winning submission(s). The PIABA Foundation will notify the award winner(s) in early October. The Judges reserve the right not to award any prizes if it is determined that no entries are of sufficient quality to merit selection that year.
Entries will be judged based on the following criteria: quality of research and authority provided; accuracy and clarity of the analysis; compliance with legal writing standards and technical quality of writing, including organization, grammar, syntax, and form. Strong preference will be given to articles that advocate pro-investor positions, provide updates on or surveys of securities or ADR law, and/or are consistent with The PIABA Foundation’s mission of promoting the education and interests of the public investor in securities and commodities arbitration, protecting public investors from abuses in the arbitration process, and making securities and commodities arbitration fair through legislative reforms to arbitration forum providers.
Purposes of the James E. Beckley Securities Arbitration and Law Writing Competition
The purposes of the competition are to promote greater interest in and understanding of the fields of securities arbitration and securities law and to encourage excellent legal writing skills in law students.
Submissions should be on one of the topics listed above. The text of a submission must be double-spaced, with twelve-point font and one-inch margins. Any Question(s) Presented section, the Statement of the Facts / Statement of the Law section, the Argument section, and/or the Conclusion together are a minimum of 15 pages and a maximum of 30 pages. If the submission covers both a topic among those listed above and a topic not listed above, only the topic listed above will be evaluated. Submissions will not be penalized for arguing a position that would limit investor rights rather than expand them.
The submission deadline is 5 pm eastern on September 18, 2020. Submissions are accepted via the online submission portal only (see, Submit your paper below). The contestant's name and other identifying markings such as school name are not to be on any copy of the submitted entry. The PIABA Foundation will assign a random number to each entry and will record this number on all copies of each submission. Neither the contestant's identity nor his or her academic institution will be known to any Competition Judge. Each entrant may submit only one entry. The first place winner is invited to accept the James E. Beckley Writing Competition in-person at the President’s Dinner at the PIABA Annual Meeting on October 22, 2020. Second and Third places, as well as any Honorable Mention(s) are announced during the President's Dinner.
About James E. Beckley
James E. Beckley – a passionate securities arbitration activist and an accomplished scholar – was well known for defending and promoting the rights of public investors. Along with his advocacy skills, he was as a prolific and outstanding writer. Mr. Beckley served on the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration, an organization created at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission to maintain and update the Uniform Code of Arbitration for securities arbitration, and to serve as a sounding board on issues of fairness in arbitration. At the time of his death in 1999, Mr. Beckley was the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (“PIABA”) President. This competition and award has been established to honor his legacy.