November 2014— The Pennsylvania Bar Association Plain English Committee awarded its Golden Pen Award to Alyssa Phung Au, a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Second place went to Zachary Laplante, also a Pitt Law student.
The Golden Pen Award was created to recognize the importance of excellence in legal analysis and writing skills. Each entrant is asked to redraft two sets of jury instructions provided by the committee so that they are both accurate and comprehensible to a juror. Participants must also include no more than five pages of commentary explaining their revisions. The law firm of Sheller P.C. is the funder of the competition, and the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation is the co-sponsor.
The competition is open to full-time and part-time law students currently enrolled in one of the eight Pennsylvania law schools: Duquesne University School of Law; Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law; University of Pennsylvania School of Law; University of Pittsburgh School of Law; Temple University School of Law; Villanova University School of Law; and Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg campus) as well as all students at Rutgers-Camden Law School and Widener University Law School (Delaware campus). The competition is also open to all law students at other schools who are Pennsylvania residents. A student must be in good standing at his or her law school, and he or she must certify that the entry is solely his or her own work.
Au received $1,000 for winning the competition and Laplante received $500 as the runner-up.