ONLD Essay Contest


The Oregon New Lawyers Division’s Law Related Education Subcommittee announces the second annual Law Day Art Contest, which gives students an opportunity to share their creative vision of the Magna Carta’s enduring principle that no one, no matter how powerful, is above the law.  The art contest is open to all Oregon middle school and junior high students.  Teachers may choose to integrate the contest into existing curriculum, or encourage students to submit entries on their own. 

This year’s Law Day Theme is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.”  The 2015 theme asks students to reflect on the importance of the Magna Carta, which was sealed in England in the year 1215, exactly 800 years ago.  Since then, it has become an international symbol of the rule of law, and inspired many basic rights that Americans enjoy today, including the right to due process, the right to travel, and the right to a trial by jury.   

The term “rule of law” is commonly understood to mean that no ruler is above the law.  A group of rebellious English nobles wrote the Magna Carta to limit King John’s power and protect themselves from his abuse.  The Magna Carta spelled out guaranteed rights and required the King to follow established laws, rather than governing according to his desires. 

In a 2011 speech to England’s Parliament, President Obama said: “Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta.”  Some of the most basic principles of the United States Constitution can be traced to the Magna Carta.  Both the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution guarantee that prisoners will have their day in court and cannot be imprisoned indefinitely without being informed of the charges against them (also known as the right of habeas corpus).  Both documents also provide for a right of trial by a jury composed of one’s equals, and protect the right to travel freely inside and outside the country.  Finally, both documents state that legal process must be followed before people can be deprived of their life, liberty, or property.  These principles guarantee individual rights and place the law above the personal preferences of a country’s leaders.  

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about your art:

  • What is the right to a trial by jury important? Why is it important to have your peers, or equals, decide if you should go to prison for a serious crime?

  • What would happen if government leaders could ignore the law and make decisions based on their own feelings or opinions?

  • Why is the right to travel important to you?


  • First place: $200, Certificate of Achievement, and artwork will be framed and displayed (along with a plaque containing information about the contest and the student's name, school name, and grade level) in the Oregon State Bar Center from June-December 2015.

  • Honorable Mention (2): $100 and a Certificate of Achievement 


  • All entries must be submitted on 8 x 10 or 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

  • Entrants may use an art material in creating their entries, including but not limited to crayon, watercolor, marker, pen, ink, pen and charcoal, and may also submit photographs..

  • Entries must be “flat” and two-dimensional so as to fit inside a picture frame.

  • All entries must depict this year’s Law Day theme.

  • Entries must be submitted to the following address and postmarked no later than May 1, 2015:

Oregon State Bar
ONLD Art Contest
16037 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd.
P.O. Box 231935
Tigard, OR 97281-1935

  • Each entry must contain the following information on the reverse side of the artwork:

    • Student’s full name

    • Student’s address and home telephone number

    • Name of the student’s school

    • Student’s grade level

  • Failure to abide by these rules will result in disqualification of the entry.

  • Entries will not be returned.

About Law Day

Law Day is a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law and how the legal process contributes to the freedoms that Americans share. It was first celebrated in 1958, and is usually accompanied by thousands of programs aimed at youth and adults throughout the country. Each year, a theme is chosen to spotlight a particular aspect of the legal process. For more information, check out the ABA’s website at


Oregon New Lawyers Division
503-620-0222 or toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-8260, ext. 384