Professor Michael R. Smith receives the Mary S. Lawrence Award

Professor Michael Smith

It was announced in December that Professor R. Smith is the 2019 recipient of the Mary S. Lawrence Award. Professor Smith was nominated by his peers in the legal writing community and was selected for the award by the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI).

The Mary S. Lawrence Award recognizes an individual for a combination of pioneering scholarship and innovative curriculum or program design.  The award is named for Professor Emerita Mary S. Lawrence, longtime Director of the Legal Writing and Research Program at the University of Oregon School of Law and an early Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section (AALS) on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.

Professor Smith is the Carl M. Williams Professor of Law & Ethics; Director of Legal Writing; and Director of the Center for the Study of Written Advocacy at the University of Wyoming College of Law. He joined the law school in 2006 and is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of legal writing and written advocacy. The College of Law has benefited immensely throughout his tenure and has been ranked in the top 15 best law schools for legal writing by U.S. News and World Report, and has consistently remained in the top third of the rankings.

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. This multi-disciplinary book has been hailed as a groundbreaking work in the area of persuasive legal writing and is still considered a leading text on the subject. Indeed, in his nomination for the award, many legal writing professors at other institutions acknowledged that they design their courses around his book rather than find a text to suit their course.

In addition to his scholastic achievements, Professor Smith has also excelled in his pedagogy. His leadership in innovative curriculum design has been influential for other professors and professionals in the field. The application of his instructional techniques and talent for program design has been cultivated throughout his thirty-year teaching career, with experience teaching persuasive legal writing at five different institutions in higher education.

The College of Law is exceedingly proud of Professor Smith for his many accomplishments in the areas of persuasive legal writing, research, and instruction, and congratulates him on this well deserved honor and recognition.


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