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Law students can join the National Association of Women Lawyers for free. We recognize the importance of access to our resources and network early in your career, and we encourage your membership and active participation. As a member of NAWL, you unite with lawyers throughout the United States who are proud to be engaged in the practice of law and wish to work together to support the empowerment of women in the legal profession and gender equity under the law.

Section Headers - Membership Benefits


NAWL membership as a law student gives you, at an early stage of your career, access to career development, networking, and mentoring opportunities with lawyers in many practice areas and career stages.

Career Development

Law student members can attend NAWL's three yearly conferences for free. Designed to facilitate connection and to foster essential skills and resources for career growth and satisfaction, our conferences provide a place to learn and build your network.


We encourage law student members to participate in NAWL's Committees, Affinity Groups, and events, where they can develop and exercise teamwork skills and take on leadership roles.


NAWL is a great place to amplify your voice. Our Advocacy and Amicus Committees work to put NAWL's mission in motion. Some of our recent topics include reproductive justice, pay equity, gender-based violence, and racial equity.

Continued Learning

NAWL members not only enjoy the NAWLTalks Podcast, Women Lawyers Journal, and NAWL research reports, but they also produce them. Read, listen, and get involved to keep up to date with the latest in the legal profession.


Section Headers - Awards and Opportunities

Selma Moidel Smith Writing Competition

In 1943, Selma Moidel Smith was admitted to the California Bar and that same year joined the National Association of Women Lawyers. Since 1899, the mission of the National Association of Women Lawyers has been to provide leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocate for the equality of women under the law. To serve NAWL's mission, Selma Moidel Smith chaired or served on more than 20 different committees. Selma Moidel Smith also authored the 'Centennial History of NAWL' in the 1999 Summer issue of the Women Lawyers Journal. As a testament to her service, in 1999, Selma was honored with NAWL's Lifetime of Service Award and in 2005, we created the Annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law students' writing on issues concerning women and the law.

Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at an ABA-accredited law school. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the summer, fall, or spring semesters are eligible for submission. Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.

The Rules for the Competition are as follows:


Entrants should submit a paper identifying a historical individual or event and explaining how this individual or event aligns with NAWL's mission. The mission of NAWL is to provide leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocate for the equality of women under the law. We invite writers to explore NAWL's History page for inspiration.


Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or that are not in the required format will not be read.


NAWL Women Lawyers Journal Editorial Board Members will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.


Contact Devon Payne at

Submission and Deadline

Entries are due February 1 each year. Entries received after the deadline will not be considered. Entries must provide a cover page providing the author’s name, the title of the essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and permanent mailing address. Entries must be submitted via email as a Microsoft Word document to


The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the 2023 Fall/Winter issue of the Women Lawyers Journal. Read the most recent winning paper, “Meritorious Diversity An Analysis of the Relationship Between Diversity in State Judiciaries and Judicial Selection Methods” written by Madelyn Cox-Guerra of the University of Minnesota School of Law here.

Outstanding Law Student Award

The National Association of Women Lawyers ("NAWL") accepts nominations each spring for the Outstanding Law Student Award from all ABA-accredited law schools.

Each year, we ask the faculty to identify a third-year law student who meets the below selection criteria. Upon approval by NAWL, the nominated student will be given a certificate of recognition and acknowledged in an issue of the Women Lawyers Journal.

We invite you to select one student nominee, of any gender identity, from your current graduating class who best exemplifies the following characteristics:

    • Contributes to the advancement of women in society.
    • Promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession.
    • Exhibits motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm.
    • Demonstrates high academic achievement.
    • Earns your respect and that of your colleagues.

Your nomination should include a brief letter outlining why the student merits selection and a copy of the student's resume. Nominations missing one or more of these components may not be considered.

The award recipients will be recognized in the Women Lawyers Journal and will receive complimentary registration to NAWL's Annual Meeting in July. 

Nominations are due the first Friday in May. Nominations received after that date will not be entitled to the benefits associated with this award. Only one student per law school may be nominated. Multiple submissions will result in NAWL's arbitrary selection of one.

Please send your Outstanding Law Student nomination to Devon Payne at

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