August Steinhilber Award

Appellate Brief of the Year

Awarded at the ELA Annual Conference

Deadline: August 15, 2021


To recognize outstanding brief writing in an appellate court case involving education law. The award is named after the late August "Gus" Steinhilber, Jr., ELA's President in 1977 and the longtime Associate Executive Director and General Counsel of the National School Boards Association.


Appellate brief filed in court between July 1 of the year precededing the Annual Conference Year and June 30 of the Annual Conference year. The author(s) need not be ELA member(s). Amicus curiae briefs as well as party briefs are eligible.


Because ELA is a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, selection will be made without regard to the brief's legal position or the party on whose behalf it was written. The award is granted on the basis of excellent legal writing as determined by the Steinhilber Award Subcommittee of ELA's Awards Committee. Criteria shall include:

  • Quality of writing, including logical structure and flow of argument; conciseness and clarity; and artfulness of expression; and
  • Quality of analysis, including presentation of the theory of the case and its limits; presentation of the doctrinal context; relevance to the court; use of relevant authority; and discussion of relevance to education law and to education generally.


Any ELA member may nominate a brief. In addition, the Steinhilber Award Subcommittee may, at its discretion, review eligible appellate briefs and select an outstanding brief which has not been formally nominated. Self-nominations will not be accepted. The nominating ELA member should submit 1) a letter of nomination that includes an endorsement attesting to the nominee’s eligibility and specifying the meritorious nature of the brief, and 2) a copy of the brief itself or a hyperlink link to it, with information as to its filing.

Please submit the nomination by email to ELA's Awards Committee, at . Please include the name of the award in the subject line of the email message.


The Steinhilber Award Subcommittee reviews and evaluates nominated and other eligible briefs and selects the award recipient, if one is granted for the year.  While the subcommittee will make every attempt to select a meritorious brief each year, the award will only be given if the committee finds an exemplary brief.


The award recipient will receive:

  • A presentation of an award plaque during the ELA Annual Conference;
  • Complimentary Annual Conference registration for the year of award; and
  • One year's complimentary ELA membership.