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August 10, 2009

Journal of the Legal Writing Institute Names Award for LRW Pioneer Mary Lawrence

Thirty-one years since she pioneered Oregon Law’s Legal Research and Writing program, Professor Emerita Mary Lawrence continues to garner national recognition.

Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, the country’s largest organization of legal writing teachers, recently announced the establishment of the Mary Lawrence Award. Honoring Professor Lawrence’s lifetime of teaching and service, the award will be given to outstanding academics who, like Mary, have dedicated their lives to teaching, scholarship, and service. Professor Emerita Mary Lawrence

Kristin Gerdy, editor in chief of the journal and professor at Brigham Young University Law School, said the award would be handed out periodically to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of legal writing.

“This person will demonstrate the very qualities that Professor Mary Lawrence personifies: innovative teaching, pioneering scholarship, and consummate professionalism,” Gerdy added.

Each year, the journal’s board of directors will consider recognizing an individual who meets the criteria. The award will be presented at the following Legal Writing Institute or Journal of the Legal Writing Institute event.

Suzanne Rowe, director of Oregon Law’s Legal Research and Writing Program, noted that this award is further recognition of Professor Lawrence’s seemingly endless contributions to the field of legal writing.

“This award demonstrates yet again Mary’s national contributions and her continuing impact on legal writing,” Professor Rowe said. “She was one of a handful of professors who literally developed the field of legal writing. In doing so, she put Oregon at the forefront and made us a leader in this emerging field. The award also shows the personal impact she has had over the past 30 years. Many legal writing professors nationwide look to her as a leader, mentor, and friend.”

Oregon Law’s LRW program was formed in 1978 when Professor Lawrence was hired to initiate the school’s groundbreaking new curriculum. She created a program with a major focus on legal analysis, and emphasis on statutes and agency regulations. This unique program combined Professor Lawrence’s training in both English and law to teach writing as a “thinking process,” emphasizing self-editing skills. In founding the current curriculum, she created one of the first programs in the nation that employed full-time instructors who were law graduates. This is now the model nationwide.

Professor Lawrence led Oregon Law’s program until her retirement in 2000, and remains active in legal writing organizations nationally. She makes presentations at national conferences, and she serves as a mentor to many legal writing professors and former students. Professor Lawrence has received both the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Award, and the Marjorie Rombauer Award. In 2008, she was elected senior editor of Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute.

In response to the announcement of the award, Professor John Bonine noted Oregon Law’s eternal gratitude for Professor Lawrence’s hard work and dedication to the school.

“Mary is a real hero to the cause of clear and effective writing and UO Law is forever in her debt.”

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