Recent Fordham Law Grad Eyes Writing Prize


Recent Fordham Law graduate Maraiya Hakeem ’17 is awash in excitement and nerves this month for 65,000 reasons that have nothing to do with taking the bar or starting her legal career.

Hakeem was recently named one of the top 25 participants in the Philip R. Shawe Scholarship Competition, and she will learn later this month whether her brief was selected among the finalists. Competition finalists will make oral arguments before a four-judge panel at a mock hearing and ceremony in New York City. The competition’s winner will receive a $65,000 grant.

“It’s one of those things when so much money is involved where you think, ‘Oh my goodness, I hope I argued this issue enough,’” Hakeem said, noting she has thus far resisted the urge to pick through her brief.

The Shawe competition featured mock appeals examining the constitutionality of the Delaware Chancery Court’s ordering of the dissolution and forced sale of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and technology solutions. Shawe, the co-CEO of TransPerfect, sponsored the competition.

Hakeem, who worked as a grant writer prior to law school, learned of the Shawe competition through a general Google search for writing competitions—a method she encourages other Fordham Law students to use, in addition to checking the New York State and New York City bar association web sites periodically.

In Shawe, Hakeem was tasked with showing, in a logical and persuasive manner, how the court ruling failed to uphold the Takings and Due Process clauses of the Fifth Amendment. She said she was proud of the paper’s clean, clear writing—a style she cultivated in courses taught by Judge Denny Chin ’78 and Professor Robin Lenhardt, among others.

Earlier this year, Hakeem displayed her talents for written and oral arguments when she competed in New Orleans among the final four of the First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law. She also has a forthcoming article for the New York State Bar Association Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal, which she initially wrote for a competition.

Hakeem will sit for the bar in July, and afterward move to Boston to begin a one-year compliance fellowship with GE. But first, she hopes to celebrate a victory in the Shawe competition.

“It’s a really great beginning to my legal career—to have this opportunity and share it with the Fordham Law community,” Hakeem said, crediting Fordham’s faculty and staff for supporting her from the moment she was accepted into the Law School.


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