Courage Award

Terri LeClercq has been and continues to be a daring and courageous legal writing specialist, teacher, and scholar. She has stood up for colleagues fighting battles against their schools' hierarchies, was arrested for peacefully protesting foreign military officer education at Ft. Benning's School of the Americas, and advocates for prisoners' civil rights. Her words and deeds embody the courage that this award seeks to foster.

Terri created the Courage Award to honor "courage writ large"concerning legal writing. Through the award, the Legal Writing Institute seeks to honor a member who has demonstrated courage by doing, despite fear, something that most people would not do. Such courage ight be demonstrated in any of the following ways: 

  • Personal Courage: The recipient might have done something extraordinary that reflects a commitment to the legal writing profession. A professor who overcame great adversity to teach legal writing or who overcame such adversity while continuing to teach legal writing would exemplify personal courage. 
  • Moral Courage: The recipient might have stood up to authority for a principled reason and despite personal or professional risk of ostracism or other negative consequences. An example of moral courage might include a professor who supported or stood up for a colleague or advocated to get a new type of controversial or out-of-the-box text published. 
  • Civil Courage: The recipient might have done something for the world at large despite personal adversity or other circumstances that required courage as defined above. For example, a recipient may have taught in a developing or emerging nation or worked on issues of political or social justice.

When submitting your nomination for an award recipient, please answer the following question: What is your definition of courage, and how do the nominee's actions fit? 

2022 Winner: Nantiya Ruan, Professor of the Practice of Law & Director of the Workplace Law Program, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) announces with enthusiasm that Professor Nantiya Ruan is the recipient of the 2022 Courage Award. She is a Professor of the Practice of Law and Director of the Workplace Law Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  

The Courage Award is aptly named by pioneering and courageous legal writing colleague Terri LeClercq, who founded the award to recognize "courage writ large" concerning legal writing. This award honors members of our community who have “demonstrated courage by doing, despite fear, something that most people would not do.” Professor Ruan’s recognition is based on her courage in two spaces — her courage demonstrated in her scholarship on hierarchical microaggressions as well as her courage demonstrated in her work for the homeless. Professor Ruan’s article Papercuts: Hierarchical Microaggressions in Law Schools is a fascinating recount of microaggressions often faced in academia (including those personally experienced) and provides recommendations to combat them. Additionally, Professor Ruan has worked tirelessly for the homeless of Denver. She advocated for proposed legislation known as “Initiative 300,” which would have allowed all unsheltered individuals the right to eat, sleep, and rest on public areas in Denver. While the initiative did not receive sufficient votes to become law, due to the efforts of Professor Ruan and other community advocates like her, it was on the ballot in 2019. Undeterred, Professor Ruan has now proffered expert testimony in a civil rights action challenging the constitutionality of the current law barring urban camping. Indeed, this is the courage writ large that Terri LeClercq envisioned when she created the Courage Award. For those reasons, the Board is proud to announce Professor Nantiya Ruan as recipient of the 2022 Courage 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 Brenda Gibson, and members Andrew Carter, Janet Dickson, Kathryn Mercer, Samantha Moppett, Dyane O’Leary, Suzanne Rowe, and Mark Wojcik.