The Golden Pen Award

The Golden Pen Award recognizes individuals or organizations for significantly advancing the cause of professional legal writing. Anyone who has made an extraordinary contribution to improving legal writing may be nominated for the Golden Pen. Further, the contribution may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents; engaging in outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing or in exceptional writing for law practice; improving the quality of legal-writing instruction; or advocating for better writing within the legal community.

2024 Winner: Joseph Kimble Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Cooley Law School



The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute is pleased to announce that Joseph Kimble is the recipient of the 2024 Golden Pen Award.

Joseph Kimble's commitment to promoting plain language in legal writing has been extraordinary, with a global impact that has helped countless people understand their rights and duties. Although the Golden Pen Award is usually given to someone who is not a member of the LWI community, Joe's remarkable achievements and unique contributions transcend legal writing academics, warranting this special recognition. 

Joe's tireless efforts to promote clear legal language are reflected in his decades-long work with the Michigan Bar Journal's "Plain Language" column, his founding role in the Center for Plain Language, and his role as a drafting consultant to the Judicial Conference of the United States. His contributions have been honored with multiple awards, such as the Burton Award for Reform in Law and the Plain Language Association International Award. Joe's impact extends internationally, with over 175 seminars and presentations in various countries, and his scholarship is vast, with articles in notable journals and multiple books on the subject of plain language.  

Further, Joe’s advocacy for the fair treatment of legal-writing professors has set a precedent by convincing his school to put writing faculty on tenure track, leading to broader recognition and equality for legal-writing professionals. This groundbreaking work has helped other legal-writing professors fight for their rights. Overall, Joe's relentless dedication and significant contributions to plain language and legal-writing education make him an exemplary recipient of the Golden Pen Award. 

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 Chair Colin Black and members Cindy Archer, Janet Dickson, Caroleen Dineen, Lindsey Gustafson, Tamara Herrera, Liz Kukura, Karen Mika, Hilary Reed, and Nancy Soonpaa.

The Golden Pen Award will be given at the 2024 LWI Biennial Conference at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis in July. You can join us in congratulating Joe by emailing him directly at