Michael R. Smith
Professor of Law
Director of Legal Writing
Director of the Center for the Study of Written Advocacy
B.S., Florida State University (1982), summa cum laude
J.D., University of Florida College of Law (1985), With Honors, Order of the Coif, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sr. Research Editor - U. Fla. L. Rev.
Michael Smith has been a Professor of Law and the Director of Legal Writing at the University of Wyoming College of Law since 2006. In 2008, Professor Smith was named the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law. Professor Smith administers the law school's legal writing program and teaches classes in Legal Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and Advanced Persuasive Writing.
Professor Smith is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of legal writing and written advocacy. His primary areas of scholarly interest are the psychology of persuasion and, more generally, the cognitive processes underlying effective legal writing. He has written extensively in these areas and has given numerous presentations, both in the United States and abroad. In 2002, Professor Smith published his book, Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing (Aspen 2002). This multi-disciplinary book has been hailed as a groundbreaking work in the area of persuasive legal writing and, as one reviewer noted, "a must read for every legal writing and advocacy teacher."* The second edition of the book was published in 2008.
On September 19, 2008, Rutgers Law School-Camden and the University of Wyoming Law School hosted a conference celebrating the release of the second edition of Professor Smith's book. The event A Dialogue About Persuasion in Legal Writing & Lawyering featured panels of nationally recognized scholars who gave presentations that explored or built on topics from Professor Smith's book. Professor Smith was the guest of honor and the keynote speaker at the event, which was held on the Rutgers campus in Camden, New Jersey.
In 2009, Marquette University Law School recognized Professor Smith as a "leader and innovator" in the field of legal writing and invited him to spend a semester at Marquette as a distinguished visiting professor. Professor Smith served as the Robert E. Boden Visiting Professor of Law at Marquette during the fall 2009 semester.
Before joining the University of Wyoming College of Law, Professor Smith taught in two nationally ranked legal writing programs. Immediately prior to coming to the University of Wyoming, he was an Associate Professor of Law at Mercer University School of Law, where he helped design Mercer's innovative legal writing curriculum. In 2005, the first year legal writing programs were rated, Mercer's program was rated number 1 in the nation (tied with Seattle) by U.S. News and World Report. Since then, the program that Professor Smith helped to design at Mercer has consistently ranked in the top five in the nation. Before joining Mercer, Professor Smith taught legal writing at Temple University School of Law. Temple's legal writing program, too, has consistently been ranked in the top five in the country. Before joining the Temple faculty, Professor Smith was on the law faculties of two other law schools: The University of San Diego College of Law (1992-1996); and The University of Florida College of Law (1990-1992). Prior to teaching law, he practiced law in Pensacola, Florida with the law firm of Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith & Cutler and in Newport Beach, California with the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Professor Smith is also actively involved in national and international legal writing organizations. In 2006, he was elected to a four-year term on the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI). LWI is an international organization of legal writing professionals with over 2000 active members worldwide. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), a national organization of legal writing directors representing every major law school in the country. Citing his prominent role in the field of legal writing and in the development of legal writing scholarship, the executive committee of LWI appointed Professor Smith to the Advisory Board for the Legal Writing e-journal on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Law & Rhetoric e-journal on SSRN. Professor Smith is also a founding member of the editorial committee of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (J.ALWD).
* Kathryn M. Stanchi, Moving Beyond Instinct: Persuasion in the Era of Professional Legal Writing (A Book Review of Advanced Legal Writing by Michael R. Smith), 9 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 935, 936 (2005).
Teaching: Advanced Persuasive Writing, Appellate Advocacy, Legal Research & Writing
Affiliations, Associations, Consultation:
Association of Legal Writing Directors
- Board of Directors (2003-2005)
- Founding Member, Editorial Committee for the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (2002 - Present)
The Legal Writing Institute
- Board of Directors (2006-2010)
- Chair, Committee on Committees (2006 - Present)
- Member, Upper Level Legal Writing Committee (2002 - 2006)
American Bar Association
- Member, "Beyond the First Year" Subcommittee, ABA Communications Skills Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (2002 - 2006)
AALS - Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research
The Florida Bar (inactive)
The State Bar of California (inactive)