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). 

2017 Blackwell Award Winner

Melissa Weresh

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The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce the winner of the 2017 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing to: Melissa Weresh

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.

As stated in her nomination letter, Mel exemplifies these qualities in several important ways:

Each time Mel stands before colleagues at a conference presentation, we see again what an outstanding teacher she is. She is creative, engaging, demanding, and supportive. . . . She has literally influenced the content of legal writing programs nationwide. She has written two books for first-year students: Legal Writing: Ethical and Professional Considerations and Iowa Legal Research. On an individual level, she “nurtures and motivates” her students. . . .

Mel’s work on outcome measures has influenced law schools broadly. As it became clear that the ABA would adopt standards requiring outcome measures, Mel immersed herself in the relevant literature. She has explored processes for implementing outcomes measures throughout the law school curriculum and shared her findings at national conferences and as a guest speaker at individual schools.

The Blackwell Award Reception will be held at AALS at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, 8 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Kim D. Chanbonpin, President of LWI & Wanda M. Temm, President of ALWD