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YouTube-savvy students can win up to $500 for law history video

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The Tennessee Bar Association is planning its first-ever YouTube video contest to encourage middle and high school students to explore the state’s rich legal history.

Titled “Tennessee’s Unique History of Law and Liberty,” the contest challenges students to create a three-minute video that tells the story of an event, circumstance or person that illustrates a way in which the Tennessee constitution or legal system has played an important part in the state’s history.

“One of the great dangers to our liberty is that a large segment of the public lacks comprehension of the structure of our government,” said Sam D. Elliott, Tennessee Bar Association president and Chattanooga lawyer.

“By means of this video contest, the TBA wants to encourage students to gain understanding about our system, our state and its history in a fun and cutting-edge way,” he added.

Elliott, known for his scholarly study of Tennessee in the Civil War era, has made civics education a focus of his term.

Students will compete for cash prizes for themselves and their sponsoring organizations.

For middle school students, prize amounts are $250 for first place, $125 for second place and $75 for third place.

For high school students, prize amounts are $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

In addition, the two first-place winners will have their videos shown to leaders of the state’s legal community at the TBA’s 2011 convention in Chattanooga next June.

The sponsoring organizations of the two first place winners also will receive a cash prize of $500.

The contest is open to individual students or groups of students from any Tennessee high school, middle school or home school.

Entries must be submitted by Jan. 14, 2011, and winners will be announced in conjunction with Law Day on May 2, 2011.

More information about the contest — including a sample video, entry rules and forms, and resources for students — is available at www.tba.org/2010video contest.

The Tennessee Bar Association is one of the largest professional associations in Tennessee with more than 11,000 members.

Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service.

Its membership roll represents a spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.