Golden Pen Award 2003

Legal Writing Institute Honors Linda Greenhouse

On January 4, 2003, the Institute gave its third Golden Pen Award to Linda Greenhouse, the well-known and widely read Supreme Court Correspondent for The New York Times.

The ceremony was again held during the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. And we returned to the National Press Club, where we gave our first award to Arthur Levitt, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The ceremony was held in the dark-paneled First Amendment Room, with a bright fire in the fireplace.

Joe Kimble, chair of the Outreach Committee, welcomed guests and converted some examples of Greenhouse's writing into legalese. Steve Johansen, President of the Institute, presented the award. He noted that Greenhouse's clarity and grace was reflected in her recent address entitled "The Day Anthrax Came to the Supreme Court." The language on the hand-engrossed plaque included the following about Greenhouse: "Through her keen insight and lucid style, she not only makes the law more accessible to the public but also serves as model for legal writers everywhere. Her own example has greatly advanced the cause of better legal writing."

In her remarks, Greenhouse quoted from William Zinser's "Writing to Learn": "Writing teachers are lucky if 10 percent of what they said in class is remembered and applied. The bad habits are just too habitual. They can be cured only by that most painful of surgical procedures: operating on what the writer has actually written. Only there, where a writer is at his most vulnerable, having put some part of himself on paper, does she make the connection between principle and practice."

We publicized the event in some old ways and some new ways. We sent out a general press release. We posted an invitation on several listservs, and we posted notices and distributed Institute brochures during the AALS meeting. And for the first time, we sent printed invitations (with the Institute logo) to all law-school deans, all the members of the Institute, and a list of journalists provided by the Supreme Court's Public Information Office.

With every Golden Pen Award, more and more people learn about the Legal Writing Institute.