2017 Austern Writing Competition

The H. Thomas Austern Writing Competition is intended to encourage law students interested in the areas of law affecting FDA-regulated industries: food, drugs, biologics, cosmetics, dietary supplements, medical devices, and tobacco.

Winners are awarded: $750 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third, and a complimentary one-year FDLI membership. Top papers will be considered for publication in the Food and Drug Law Journal.

Students enrolled in a JD Program at any of the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools or a 2016-2017 academic year graduate are eligible to participate. A committee comprised of FDLI members who are practicing attorneys and law professors judge the papers. Top papers will receive a monetary prize, FDLI membership, and are considered for publication in the Food and Drug Law Journal.

The 2017 competition is now closed; winners will be announced late-Fall. The 2018 competition will open for submissions in December.


  • Papers should provide an indepth analysis of a current legal or regulatory issue concerning FDA regulated industries: food, drugs, animal drugs, biologics, cosmetics, diagnostics, dietary supplements, medical devices or tobacco. FDLI welcomes the submission of papers prepared for course work, but entrants must pay attention to competition details and edit such papers accordingly.
  • Students must register for submission through the online competition portal; all papers must be submitted within the portal.
  • Students will submit an abstract.
  • No author identifying information may be included in the body of the text. The author’s name should only be shared when registering.
  • Papers may not exceed 100 pages (double spaced, one-inch margins).
  • Papers must be unpublished.

Judging Considerations

  • Thoroughness and depth of legal analysis
  • Originality and difficulty of topic
  • Evaluation of judicial precedents, statutes, and regulations
  • Quality of thesis/argument
  • Quality of legal research
  • Writing style
  • Conciseness; quality will be valued over quantity
  • Form and quality of citations
  • Conformity with requirements of competition

2016 Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 H. Thomas Austern Writing Competition:

  • First Place: “Superfoods” or “Frankenfoods”? The Biotechnology Debate, Ayah Sultan, Harvard Law School
  • Second Place: Conflicting Disclosure Obligations under the Federal Securities and Drug Regulatory Regimes, Joe Milner, Harvard Law School
  • Third Place: Killing U.S. Slowly: Curing the Epidemic Rise of Cancer Drug Prices, Emily White, Boston University School of Law
  • Honorable Mention: The Influence of OIRA Review on FDA Regulatory Acts, Colleen Campbell, Harvard Law School

About H. Thomas Austern

Thomas Austern, a practitioner of food and drug law with Covington & Burling for more than 50 years, was known in the field as the “Dean of the Food and Drug Bar.” He played a critical role in the drafting and negotiation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act among many other contributions to the field. Austern was a strong supporter of FDLI, serving on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Food Drug Cosmetic Law Journal from its inception until his death in 1984.