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New law essay prize launched

A new law essay prize for secondary school students has been launched at Jesus College Cambridge.

The prize will be awarded each year for an essay that shows an outstanding understanding of, and ability in, the field of law. The prize is open to students worldwide who are in their final or penultimate year of school. The inaugural Lord Toulson Essay Prize in Law is sponsored by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

The 2016 essay question is "Why do we punish criminals?" It is intended to give students a chance to engage with important legal debates and explore the kind of issues that they would be exposed to in a Cambridge law degree. Essays will be assessed on the ability to think critically about the question and the quality and originality of the argument made.

The winning student will receive £300, with £200 for second place and £100 for third place. Up to five essays may also receive an honourable mention. The winner and all runners up will be invited to attend an award ceremony at Jesus College in July 2016.

Jesus College Law Fellow Claire Fenton-Glynn said, “The aim of the prize is to give students the chance to explore the kind of issues that they would be exposed to in a Cambridge law degree. We hope it will encourage more students to think about law as an academic subject, and consider studying it at university.”

Lord Toulson is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. He was educated at Mill Hill School, London, and at 16, he came to Jesus College to study law. He worked as a barrister for many years, before being appointed as a judge of the High Court in 1996. From 2002 he served as the Chairman of the Law Commission of England and Wales, and in 2007, was promoted to the Court of Appeal. In 2013, he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He is an Honorary Fellow of the College.

The competition closes on 20 May 2016. Essays may be up to 1,500 words in length, including any footnotes and headings.