Professor Christine Nero Coughlin (JD ’90) receives Legal Writing Institute’s 2017 Mary S. Lawrence Award

Photo of Professor Christine Nero Coughlin (JD '90)

The following announcement about Professor Christine Nero Coughlin (JD ’90), director of the law school’s Legal Analysis, Research & Writing (LAWR) program, being the 2017 Mary S. Lawrence Award recipient was released by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) on May 3, 2017.  The award will be presented to Professor Coughlin  at the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) Conference in July. 

“The recognition is made even all the more special because of the bond between Mary and former Dean of Students Debbie Parker (JD ’83),” Professor Coughlin says. “I know Mary served as a role model, friend and colleague to Debbie when she was establishing our full time legal research and writing program.”

The Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is delighted to announce that Christine Nero Coughlin (JD ’90) is the recipient of the 2017 Mary S. Lawrence Award. Professor Coughlin is the director of the Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research Program at Wake Forest University (WFU) School of Law.  She also has appointments in the WFU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she is a core faculty member of the Wake Forest Center for Bioethics, Health & Society, as well as the WFU School of Medicine’s Translational Science Institute.  The award will be presented during the 2017 Association of Legal Writing Directors Biennial Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in July 2017.

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. For her scholarship and her pioneering work in legal writing education, Mary received the first Distinguished Service Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research; the inaugural Marjorie Rombauer Award from the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD); a joint LWI/ALWD Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education.

The LWI Awards Committee recommended Professor Coughlin for the 2017 Mary S. Lawrence Award to recognize her impactful scholarship, especially her lead authorship of the first-year legal writing text A Lawyer Writes; her curricular innovations at Wake Forest, especially those springing from her cross-appointments with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine; and her influence in our field as a mentor.

Professor Coughlin’s nominator noted: “One of Chris’ most unique contributions to Wake Forest specifically, and to legal education generally, is fostering dialogue between legal writing teachers and ‘doctrinal’ teachers.  Chris believes that legal writing underlies every other legal discipline and that all scholarship is ‘legal writing scholarship.’”

The LWI Board is grateful for the work of the LWI Awards Committee in identifying nominees and making recommendations to the Board.  The Committee includes C0-chairs Myra Orlen and Kirsten Dauphinais, and members Brenda Gibson, Margaret Hannon, Greg Johnson, Mary Nagel, and Suzanne Rowe.

Professor Laura Graham (JD ’94) wrote the following in an email to the law school, “I don’t need to tell you all how beloved Professor Coughlin is as a teacher, a colleague, a mentor, and a friend to all of us here at Wake Forest Law. She brings out the best in everyone she encounters, and I know we all are happy that the national legal writing community has formally recognized what we at Wake Forest have always known. Please join me in congratulating Professor Coughlin on this remarkable and very much deserved award!”