Elon Law to host legal writing visiting scholar

Professor Ruth Anne Robbins from Rutgers Law School will deliver a faculty presentation, contribute to a scholarship forum, and lead a Harry Potter-themed conversation on effective legal writing through a grant from the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

One of the nation’s leading experts in legal writing will visit Elon Law this fall as part of the Association of Legal Writing Directors Visiting Scholar Program.

Professor Ruth Anne Robbins of Rutgers Law School is renowned for her work on document design for lawyers, and her Sept. 23-24 visit to Elon Law will include a faculty presentation, a scholarship forum, and a Harry Potter-themed conversation on the power of narrative storytelling in legal documents.

The Association of Legal Writing Directors created its Visiting Scholar Program as the discipline of legal writing started to develop a more prominent role in legal education.

“Professor Robbins has extensive experience in several areas and will be talking about three very different things while she’s here,” said Professor Sue Liemer, director of Elon Law’s Legal Method and Communication Program. “But everything is related to one idea – the way we communicate as lawyers. If you can’t communicate in a way that many people understand, if you can’t get your story across, you’re not winning your case.”

Robbins is co-editor in chief of “Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD” and co-founder of the international biennial conference series, “Applied Legal Storytelling.” She served as the President of the Legal Writing Institute from 2008-10 and on its Board of Directors from 2004 through 2016.

Robbins was so far ahead of others on the topic of document design for lawyers, Liemer said, that for many years the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit posted one of her articles on its website to teach the appellate bar.

For Robbins, legal writing is about more than appropriate spacing, footnotes, and headers in a brief. It’s about the science of conveying an idea or an argument in a way that the greatest number of people understand your thought.

Infographics and document design offer lessons that are transferable to many different audiences, she said: juries, judges, legislators, and the general public.

“You shouldn’t be teaching students about the past way of doing things,” Robbins said, “but instead teaching them for their future careers.”

Elon Law is one of just three law schools to host an ALWD Visiting Scholar in 2019-20, along with the University of Oregon and the University of Houston Law Center.

About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. With a focus on learning by doing, it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-connected, full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their legal careers.