Blackwell Award

Jointly created with the Association of Legal Writing Directors, this award honors 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. The Blackwell Award is presented at the annual January meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). 

2022 Blackwell Award Call for Nominations

2021 Winner: Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb

Headshot Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb

2021 Blackwell Award The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce the winner of the 2021 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing:

Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb

Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb is a Professor of Law at UIC Law. Professor McMurtry-Chubb researches, teaches, and writes in the areas of critical rhetoric, discourse and genre analysis, and legal history. She has lectured nationally on structural discrimination in educational institutions and the workplace. Teri is a leader in designing curricula to facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Professor McMurtry-Chubb is a past president of ALWD and has served as a mentor for countless members of the legal research and writing community. She is the author of several books, book chapters, and articles. She is a past recipient of the LWI Phelps Award for Scholarship in Legal Communication, an award presented annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing by demonstrating (1) an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence; (2) a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs; and, (3) an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.

Without a doubt, Professor McMurtry-Chubb exemplifies the Blackwell Award qualities in several important ways. Her award nominator explains Professor McMurtry-Chubb's qualities well:

Teri has been an inspiration and a mentor to a countless number of legal writing teachers and scholars . . . . She is accomplished in all of the areas that the Blackwell Award recognizes, including . . . motivating students at several institutions to excellence, crossing the country on a regular basis to teach other educators and institutions on anti-bias initiatives and curriculum, much of which she has developed herself through her scholarship. She is a leader, a thinker, a writer and a teacher extraordinaire. She has done everything I can imagine to bring up younger teachers and scholars and her powerful positivity lit the way for many professors of color in our field.

2020 Blackwell Award Winner

             Brad Clary

     The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce the winner of the 2020 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing to

                                                Brad Clary

This distinguished 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.

Brad is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, who has served the legal writing community for thirty-seven years at his home institutions, as the President of ALWD, as a principal contributor to the second edition of the Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs (ABA, 2d ed. 2006), as ALWD Liaison to the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and much more. 

     As stated in his many nomination letters, Brad exemplifies these qualities in several important ways.  Here are just a few excerpts from several nominators: 

“Brad Clary’s contributions to the legal writing academy over the past thirty-seven years deserve to be recognized . . . .  Brad’s innovation has transformed the Minnesota program into the best it can possibly be. . . . He has increased morale from the student and teacher perspective by always offering sound counsel to any student or instructor who stops by his office (his door is always open) . . . . He has created a legal writing program that produces award-winning students, dedicated lawyers, and talented attorney instructors.”      

“I am pleased to nominate Brad Clary from the University of Minnesota School of Law for the Blackwell Award. Brad is the sort of person who quietly does things because they need to get done. He would never think he did anything extraordinary, but he has accomplished great things for our discipline. He embodies the values the Blackwell Award represents.” 

“I fell in love with teaching, in part because every discussion Brad and I had about the class I taught was focused on outcomes for the students. We talked then about how, even in the early 2000s, legal writing and its teaching were under-theorized and very incompletely researched. He encouraged me to do something about it.”

“Additional evidence of Brad’s dedication to the legal writing field are two ground breaking

conferences, both held at University of Minnesota Law School, the Erasing Lines Conference and the Acknowledging Lines Conference. These conferences, which may be best described as bookends, have helped frame the issues confronting legal writing faculty.”

The Blackwell Award Reception will be held at the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. in the Governor’s Boardroom, Omni Shoreham Hotel, in Washington, D.C.  

2019 Blackwell Award Winner

            Terry Pollman

The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce the winner of the 2019 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing to

                           Terry Pollman

This distinguished 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.

Terry’s service to the legal writing community has been vast.  She has been a member of ALWD since its inception and has served both on the Board of Directors and as President.  She has acted as Assistant Editor-in-Chief as well as Managing Editor of the Journal of Legal Writing and was instrumental in moving that journal online.  Terry is also a co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference and the West Coast Rhetoric Group.

In all aspects of Terry’s career, she has devoted herself to building our discipline, mentoring junior faculty, and inspiring young minds.  From encouraging us to develop a common legal writing language, to helping map the scholarship of our discipline, and advocating for better conditions for legal writing faculty, Terry’s scholarship has made an outstanding contribution to our community.

The Blackwell Award Reception was held at the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting in January.  The Award was presented by Jodi Wilson, President of ALWD and Kristen Tiscione, President of LWI.