2018 Golden Pen Award Recipient

Dr. Terri LeClercq

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The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is delighted to announce that Dr. Terri LeClercq is the recipient of the 2018 Golden Pen Award.  LeClercq is the former Writing Specialist at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.  She is an author.  And she is an advocate.  In 2013, she published Prison Grievances: When to Write, How to Write, a graphic novel that instructs criminal defendants and prisoners on how to write more effective petitions. 

The Golden Pen Award honors those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing.  These contributions may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents, improving the quality of legal writing instruction, advocating for better writing within the legal community, outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing or legal topics, or exceptional writing in law practice.  The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of LWI, but active members are considered in exceptional circumstances.

The LWI Awards Committee recommended LeClercq for the 2018 Golden Pen to recognize her advocacy on behalf of prisoners’ rights.  LeClercq was once arrested for participating in a peaceful protest against the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.  After retiring from UT Law in 2010, Terri brought to fruition a lifelong goal.  She successfully not only taught prisoners about their rights but also how to improve their own circumstances by communicating clearly about their grievances with the system.  Besides Prison Grievances, LeClercq is also author or co-author of two books, Guide to Legal Writing with Style and Expert Legal Writing along with over 100 articles on rhetoric and composition.  She continues to consult with practitioners in law firms, agencies, and courts, trying to turn their writing back into English.  The LWI Board unanimously approved this recommendation.

Previous recipients of the Golden Pen award are Arthur Levitt, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Don LeDuc, Dean of the Thomas Cooley Law School; Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times; the late Honorable Robert E. Keeton of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Richard Wydick, Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Law; the Honorable Ronald M. George, the Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, and the Honorable James D. Ward, Justices of the Supreme Court of California and the California Court of Appeal; the Honorable Ruggero J. Aldisert of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; the National Association of Attorneys General; William C. Burton, Esq.; George Gopen, Professor of the Practice of Rhetoric in the English Department at Duke University; Jeffrey Rosen, Professor of Law at The George Washington University and President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center; Ken Adams, author; the Honorable Michael A. Ponsor of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Ross Guberman, author; Dahlia Lithwick, journalist.

The LWI Board is grateful for the work of the LWI Awards Committee in identifying nominees and making recommendations to the Board.  The Committee includes C0-chairs Kirsten Dauphinais and Myra Orlen, and members Brenda Gibson, Margaret Hannon, Greg Johnson, Mary Nagel, and Suzanne Rowe.