Click on the links below to read more about awards and scholarships given by LWI:

Blackwell Award

Golden Pen Award

Hecht Award

LeClercq Courage Award

Legal Writing Scholarships


LWI's policy on awards is available here.

2015 Awards:


The 2015 Blackwell Award:

The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce that the 2015 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing has been awarded to Helene Shapo, Professor of Law Emerita at Northwestern University School of Law. The Blackwell Award was presented during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Boards of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) jointly created this distinguished award to honor the life of our colleague, Tom Blackwell. The award is presented annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing by demonstrating:

  • an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence;
  • a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs;
  • and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.

 Helene exemplifies these qualities and has been a pioneer in the legal writing field. As explained in her nomination letter:

[T]hroughout her 35-year career in the LRW field, she has quietly but firmly pushed for both more and more diversified course offerings and for more credits for those courses, better faculty salaries and status, and greater job security.

In just about every way possible over her incredible career, Helene has been an innovator and a leader in our field. Through her writing, speaking, service, and curriculum design, she has been a guiding light in advancing the discipline of Legal Writing, improving the way it is taught to students, and improving the status and security of Legal Writing faculty.

The 2015 Golden Pen Award

The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Michael A. Ponsor, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is the recipient of the 2015 Golden Pen Award.

Judge Ponsor was recognized for his contributions to the cause of excellent legal writing, both in his opinion writing and in his teaching as an adjunct at Western New England University School of Law and at Yale, his alma mater. Demonstrating his commitment to teaching future lawyers, Judge Ponsor has for the last 20 years taught persuasive writing and advocacy skills in an upper-level simulation course.

Judge Ponsor presided over the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in 50 years, and recently wrote a well-received novel, The Hanging Judge, about the legal and moral issues involved.

The nomination of Judge Ponsor recognized him as

[a] respected and compassionate jurist as well as an exceptional writer, teacher, and mentor . . .. He has engaged the judiciary, current and future lawyers, and the public in a much-needed dialogue about two major challenges facing the criminal justice system:  the death penalty and the extremely high rates of incarceration in the United States.

2015 LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Scholarship Grants

LWI and ALWD select recipients of competitive scholarship grants, also funded through generous donations by LexisNexis, that reflect the three organizations’ commitment to the professional development of legal research and writing professionals. Recipients are full-time or adjunct professors teaching legal writing who demonstrate great promise in their pursuit of a particular scholarly project.

The Boards of Directors of LWI and ALWD are pleased to announce that the grant winners and names of the proposals for 2015 are as follows:

Deborah Borman, De-grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis

Jennifer Cooper, Making It Stick for Law Students: The Science of Successful Learning In Law School

Mark Osbeck, Research Memoranda, Data Analytics, and the Future of Case Forecasting

Linda Shashoua, In Defense of Deference, Appellate Review In the Modern Video Age