Click on the links below to read more about awards and scholarships given by LWI:
The 2012 Blackwell Award:
The tenth annual Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award winner is Professor Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon.
Professor Rowe has served the legal writing community in many capacities, including as a past member of the ALWD and LWI Boards of Directors, as past chair of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research, as past ALWD Liaison to the ABA Council, as current chair of the ABA’s Communication Skills Committee, and as the mastermind of many informal events to welcome and support new legal writing directors. But what won her the unanimous support of the Awards Committee and both the ALWD and LWI Boards was what she does behind the scenes. Suzanne is a tireless advocate for our profession, in big and small ways: from her work with the LWI ad hoc committee monitoring the ABA Standards Review revision process to the unsolicited e-mails of praise and thanks she frequently sends to her colleagues around the country.
The Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award is annually bestowed at the AALS conference. The Boards of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) jointly created this Award to honor the life of our colleague, Tom Blackwell.
The 2011 Golden Pen Award:
The 2011 Golden Pen Award has been awarded to Prof. George Gopen, a Professor of English at Duke University, both for his role in the initial efforts to professionalize the teaching of legal writing in law schools and for developing the “Reader Expectation Approach” to legal writing.
Professor Gopen was originally hired in 1975 at Utah as an undergraduate professor of English. Because of his J.D. degree from Harvard University, he was asked to design a special writing course for Pre-Law Students at Utah, which he later described in an article in the Journal of Legal Education, A Course in Composition for Pre-Law Students, 29 J. Legal Ed. 222 (1978). He became an early critic of how legal writing was taught in law schools, publishing A Question of Cash and Credit: Writing Programs at Law Schools, 3 J. of Contemp. Law 191 (1977). In 1978, he wrote one of the first text books suitable for a law school course on Legal Writing, Writing From A Legal Perspective (West 1978).
Together with Joseph Williams (a previous Golden Pen awardee), he formed a consulting firm, Clearlines, and thereafter were hired by law firms and corporations throughout the country to hold four-day seminars teaching lawyers the writing skills they lacked. During those years, he developed the "Reader Expectation Approach" which suggests that the writer should focus exclusively on reader expectations.
With the formation of the Legal Writing Institute, Professor Gopen jumped into our field with vigor and made an instant impact. He was keynote speaker at one of the first Legal Writing Institute conferences, and elaborated, to glowing reviews, on his reader expectation theory. The LWI speeches he gave then and at later meetings encouraged legal writing teachers to recognize that they were doing more than teaching students the format and style of legal documents: that they were actually teaching the art of effective writing. They were writing professionals, trying to instill the best abilities and skills, not just those that would satisfy a reader looking at the words used and the basic grammar.
Prof. Gopen also continued his work on behalf of legal writing by arguing for increased status and recognition for legal writing professors in the legal academy. The fact that the ABA is, in 2010, seriously considering outcome assessments as an accreditation standard demonstrates how ahead of his time was Professor Gopen.
Professor Gopen served on the Board of the LWI for several terms. In that position, he encouraged the use of an annual survey to determine the status of programs from year to year and to enable directors or teachers to use the data to try to gain enhancements to their programs. At the 1986 LWI conference, in perhaps his most passionate plenary LWI speech, he implored the members of our profession to respect themselves and to demand respect from the rest of the legal education academy.