2021 Law & Policy Memo Competition

Presented by NYU Wagner Review and co-sponsored by

NYU Law’s Journal of Legislation & Public Policy

Identify and respond to an aspect of the December 2020 coronavirus omnibus bill.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been impossible to understate, with Americans facing direct and indirect impacts in nearly every area of the public and private sector. The immense challenges of the past year have produced a rare, overwhelming consensus in support of dramatic action, and Congress has responded, passing five distinct relief bills in 2020; they are currently negotiating a sixth. The most recent of these bills to pass was rolled into the omnibus spending bill funding federal government operations through September 2021.

While omnibus spending bills often have disparate elements written into them, the 2020 year-end bill that included the most recent round of COVID relief was a high-water mark for this kind of legislating. The final enacted law included provisions dealing with a panoply of policy issues, many of them tenuously related to COVID relief: intellectual property, medical billing, bankruptcy, housing, election administration, tax, Pell grants, and energy are just some of the policy areas that saw notable changes in law.

In addition to these changes, the bill’s legislative process itself has drawn both criticism and praise. Advocates of the process have argued that it provided a unique opportunity for collaboration and policymaking in an environment that does not provide many chances for either; skeptics respond that the process made a mockery of Congress’s responsibility to debate, discuss, and deliberate on each law it passes, and merely provided an opening for special interests to shoehorn their preferred language into law under cover of night.

As we grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have faced direct and indirect impacts in nearly every area of the public and private sector. With two stimulus checks in place, the possibility for additional help from the government is pending. As law and policy students from different specializations, we want to hear your ideas about how to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prompt: Identify and respond to an aspect of the December 2020 omnibus bill. You can address one of the changes laid out above, but you are not limited to those topics. Briefs about the substantive particulars of the bill, the legislative process by which it was passed, or the implications of the bill for legislative strategy and functioning going forward are welcome. We understand that you will not have space to respond to every issue in your brief; we value clarity and insight over breadth. 


First Place: $300
Second Place: $200
Third Place: $100


  • Policy or Strategy Memo
  • 1,000 – 3000 words
  • Open to every Wagner and Law student

Key dates:

  • Submission deadline: April 4 at 11:59 PM
  • Finalists Announced: April 13th

Contest Rules:

  • Any memos aligning with the above theme are welcome. Participants are encouraged to approach the prompt from their policy area of interest/expertise.
  • Participants must submit original work; secondary sources referenced must be cited.
  • All entries will go through a two-round feedback process before judging.

NYU Wagner Review Policy Competition Rubric

For more information, and to enter a submission, email wagner.review@gmail.com

Must be enrolled in a graduate level course at NYU Wagner or Law at the time of the competition to apply.