Emerging Scholar

LWI presents this award biennially to a legal writing professor whose outstanding scholarship strengthens and builds our discipline.  The award will be presented at the LWI Conference or, if necessary, at a legal writing conference near the recipient.  With this award, we hope to foster a new generation of scholars while recognizing the rich diversity of our community. 

Unlike the Phelps Award, this award is limited to a professor’s first or second full-length, published article on legal writing doctrine or pedagogy.  Anyone can nominate an eligible candidate, and eligible candidates can nominate themselves.    The Awards Committee reviews the submissions and recommends an award recipient to the LWI Board based on the quality of the candidate’s scholarship.

In the spirit of recognizing the many individuals who make significant contributions to the field of legal writing, the committee especially encourages a diverse and inclusive pool of nominees.  Members of the LWI Board of Directors and the LWI Awards Committee are ineligible for nomination until at least one year after completing service.

2022 Winner: Brad Desnoyer, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is delighted to announce that Professor Brad Desnoyer is the recipient of the 2022 Emerging Scholar Award. The Board created this award in 2019 to help foster a new generation of scholars in our field. The award is limited to a professor’s first or second full-length, published article on legal writing or pedagogy.

Professor Desnoyer is receiving the award for E-Memos 2.0: An Empirical Study of How Attorneys Write, 25 J. Legal Writing 213 (2021), his second full-length law review article relating to legal writing doctrine. In the article, Professor Desnoyer builds on the existing scholarship recognizing that 1) email is now a practicing lawyer’s primary means of communicating legal analysis; and 2) this means that the legal writing classroom should offer students training on how to draft effective E-memos.  But while the existing scholarship offers an evolving set of “best practices” for teaching E-memos, there is little data to inform the questions presented— how long and in-depth? how formal? how many citations? And this is where the article makes its fine contribution:  it reports on the results of an empirical study, designed by Professor Desnoyer, that sought to identify what, exactly, the modern practicing lawyer expects in a well-drafted E-memo.  Some results might surprise:  respondents in the study generally preferred E-memos that offered in-depth analysis over summations. (Less surprising: attorneys over forty had the highest preference for E-memos that approximate traditional written legal memos).

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, Samantha Moppett, Dyane O’Leary, Suzanne Rowe, and Mark Wojcik.