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August 18, 2008

Oregon Law’s LRW Program Celebrates 30th Anniversary

The Legal Research and Writing (LRW) program at Oregon Law is celebrating 30 years of being a leader in the field of legal writing education.  

The LRW program formed in 1978 when Professor Emerita Mary Lawrence was hired to initiate the groundbreaking new program. Since its inception, the LRW Program has garnered numerous awards and accolades. Most recently, the program was ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report‘s 2009 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools.  This ranking is among all 193 American Bar Association approved law schools throughout the country.

Professor Lawrence led the program until 2000 and remains active in legal writing organizations nationally. She currently is the senior editor for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. Associate Professor Suzanne Rowe took the reigns as director of the LRW program following Professor Lawrence’s retirement, and continues the program’s tradition of excellence.

The award-winning LRW program teaches students the skills necessary to research legal sources, analyze the law, apply law to a client’s facts, organize a legal argument, and communicate that argument in writing. The program emphasizes precision and accuracy in legal writing as well as conciseness, clarity, and flawless demonstration of critical ideas.

The first-year LRW course is often the first time students get their feet wet at life as an attorney. After submitting an appellate brief in the spring semester, students present an oral argument in front of volunteer judges and attorneys from Eugene and across the Northwest. Many of the volunteer judges and attorneys are Oregon Law alumni who come back year after year to observe the evolving quality of the law school’s first-year students.

In addition to the oral argument, the Oregon Supreme Court visits the law school each year to hear some of the best advocates in the state argue actual cases in front of LRW students — an event that began with Professor Lawrence. Students engage in question-and-answer sessions with the justices during this visit and get a first-hand look at the importance of legal writing skills.

This year, the LRW Program is building upon its excellent reputation with the addition of visiting professor Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff. An Oregon Law graduate, Fordyce-Ruff co-authored the recently published book Idaho Legal Research with Professor Rowe. Fordyce-Ruff’s appointment further reduces student-teacher ratios in the first-year LRW course and allows the program to offer more upper-level writing and research courses.

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