Public Citizen is organizing a Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Competition on the Topic ‘Non-disclosure provisions in Settlement Agreements: Should courts enforce public policy disfavoring them?’

Essays may focus on these or other related questions:

  • The impact of nondisclosure agreements on claims of harassment or discrimination.
  • Political and/or constitutional limitations.
  • Differences among states.
  • Strategies for challenging nondisclosure agreements.
  • Impact on public safety of non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses in product liability settlement agreements.
  • Ethical and public policy arguments against settlement agreement provisions which hide safety defects from the public.

The Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Competition is sponsored by R. Ben Hogan III of Hogan Law Office, PC, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Gerson H. Smoger of Smoger & Associates in Dallas, Texas, and Oakland, California. It is administered by Public Citizen.



Submission Deadline:

Submissions must be emailed on or before Saturday, April 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, to Amanda Fleming at Papers emailed after this date will not be considered.


The competition is open to all current law students and all masters of law students. Co-authored submissions are eligible; if selected, the co-authors will share the prize.

Each submission must be an original, unpublished academic work, but simultaneous submissions will be accepted.


Essay submissions are sought on the topic “Non-disclosure provisions in Settlement Agreements:  Should courts enforce public policy disfavoring them?”


Submissions must be emailed as Microsoft Word documents. They may be full-length law review articles or shorter academic essays and should use footnotes (not endnotes). The word count may be between 6,000 and 25,000 words, not including footnotes.

Judging Process:

A panel of lawyers, including law professors and practitioners, will judge the submissions based on depth of analysis, quality of writing, originality, and thoroughness.

Winning Submission and Prizes:

The winner will be notified by email. The winner will receive $5,000. Only one winning paper will be chosen and only one prize awarded.


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