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The Baxter Family Essay Competition on Federalism

Call for Papers
Federalism: What makes it work (or not!)
The Baxter Family Essay Competition on Federalism 2022-2023

McGill University’s Faculty of Law and the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism are proud to announce that the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism will be returning for a fourth edition in early 2023. This prestigious bi-annual competition is made possible through the generous support of Rachel Baxter (BSc’84, BCL’88) and Colin Baxter (BCL’90, LLB’90).

The Essay Competition seeks to promote informed debate on federalism by students and young professionals from around the world. The Competition is open to law and political science students/PhD candidates, junior scholars and practitioners who graduated in these disciplines.

Over the first three editions, we received on average thirty high-quality submissions, with authors originating from a total of twenty-two countries and with various degrees of experience. We enthusiastically expect that the 2023 edition will again attract a rich diversity of contributions.

The three winners will be given the opportunity to present their paper at a Symposium in May 2023 in Montreal. First-, second- and third-place winners will receive prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000 (CAD) respectively.

The prizes are awarded by a stellar international jury:

Participants are invited to submit an original essay related to the fourth edition’s overall theme, Federalism: What makes it work (or not!), by February 6th, 2023.

This broad theme welcomes reflections about the institutional, political and cultural elements that explain successes and failures of federalism, whether small scale or at the macro level. We particularly welcome analyses which explore the potential and pitfalls of cooperative federalism. Comparative angles are especially encouraged.

Submission Guidelines – 2023 Edition

Author eligibility

  • All undergraduate or graduate students in law or political science students, as well as junior scholars, lawyers or practitioners who graduated in these disciplines with five (5) years of working experience or less, from anywhere around the world.
  • To be eligible, authors must either
    • Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in law or political science;
    • Hold a law or political science degree and have obtained their most recent degree (in law or political science, or otherwise) after February 6th, 2018; or
    • Have been admitted to the Bar (or the local equivalent) after February 6th, 2018.
    • Papers may be co-authored, to the extent that each author is eligible. If the submitted paper is selected, the Prize would be divided between authors.

Criteria for submission

  • Original text in English or in French;
  • Maximum of 8,000 words for texts in English and of 8,800 words for texts in French (including, in both languages, references). The word count should appear on the first page;
  • Text not yet submitted for publication as of February 6th, 2023;
  • Main text written in 12-point font, double-spaced, with 2.5 cm (1 inch) margins on all sides;
  • Numbered in the upper right corner;
  • Submitted in Microsoft Word format;
  • The main text should be anonymised;
  • Must include complete references in footnotes;
  • Must include an abstract summarizing the main question and main conclusions (maximum 200 words).
  • It should be accompanied by a distinct document that includes
    • title
    • author’s name
    • author’s contact information (e-mail, phone number, address)
    • statement affirming the eligibility for the Competition (University affiliation or date of graduation)
    • unpublished status of the paper;

Deadline for submission of essays: February 6th, 2023, at 11:59 pm, Eastern Standard Time (Montreal time). Submissions are to be emailed to Professor Johanne Poirier, Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, at

The prize-winning papers of the 2017, 2019 and 2021 editions of the Baxter Family Competition on federalism may be found at

For more information, please contact Professor Johanne Poirier at