UW College of Law Professor Wins National Legal Writing Grant

July 12, 2010
Man smiling
Michael Smith, the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming.

University of Wyoming College of Law Professor Michael R. Smith is one of four scholars nationwide to receive inaugural J. ALWD (Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors) Visiting Scholar grants to encourage and support his cutting-edge scholarship in legal writing. The application process was highly competitive.

Nationally recognized as an expert in the areas of legal writing and written advocacy, Smith is the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the UW College of Law Legal Writing Program.

"This achievement is a well-deserved recognition of his preeminent place in the field of legal writing," College of Law Dean Steve Easton says.

Smith's primary areas of scholarly interest are the psychology of persuasion and the cognitive processes underlying effective legal writing. He will use the grant to continue his research to be presented this fall at Rutgers School of Law-Camden. The project's working title is, "Overcoming Adverse Cognitive Stock Structures in Statutory Interpretation."

"This project will explain how many issues of statutory ambiguity stem from the cognitive phenomenon of 'stock structures,'" he says. "It will explore strategies legal advocates can use in their efforts to overcome adverse stock structures implicated by statutory language."

J.ALWD developed this new grant program to extend ALWD's commitment to support, strengthen and encourage scholarship that focuses on the study and practice of professional legal writing.

Smith  teaches classes in legal writing, appellate advocacy and advanced persuasive writing. He is actively in national and international legal writing organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), an international organization of legal writing professionals with more than 2,000 active members worldwide.

At the recent LWI conference in Marco Island, Fla., Smith was cited for his outstanding presentation on the subject "Ethos: Establishing Credibility in Persuasive Legal Writing." The presentation was based in part on his book, "Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing (Aspen Publishing 2008).

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