Friday, October 13, 2017
Darby Dickerson Wins the 2018 AALS Section Award for Her Significant Lifetime Contributions to Legal Research and Writing
Darby Dickerson, Dean of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section Award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the field of legal research and writing. The award was created in 1995 and conferred for the first time at the 1996 AALS Annual Meeting. The award has sometimes been described as a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Legal Writing Education."
Darby Dickerson began her full-time academic career in 1995 as a legal writing professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida. She soon became Director of Stetson’s Legal Writing program. She was one of the first legal writing professors to become dean of a law school. She has now served as the dean of three law schools—first Stetson, then Texas Tech University School of Law, and finally The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Dean Dickerson, now with many career accomplishments and public accolades, began teaching legal writing without job security or status. During the early years of her career, in addition to training students to succeed in practice, Dean Dickerson was a leader in professional organizations including the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), and the American Bar Association (ABA), working to bring recognition to legal writing professionals. Over her time as a dean, she has worked to improve the status of professors who teach legal writing at her law schools and has appointed many legal writing professors to associate dean and other high administrative positions. She has also worked to ensure pay equity for those who teach legal writing.
Dean Dickerson authored the first four editions of the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation, a book praised for improving the teaching and learning of legal citation in the United States. Over the years, proceeds from the Manual helped ALWD fund summer scholarship grants for legal writing professors. Her academic and professional articles demonstrate a lifelong dedication to creating and sharing knowledge about the legal profession, including the ethics of legal writing, law school pedagogy, and the lawyer’s (and law professor’s) place in society.
Dean Dickerson is now a nationally-known leader in legal education. Besides serving on the Executive Committee of the AALS, she is also a Past Chair of several AALS sections, including the Deans’ Section and the Section on Institutional Advancement. She is also a past ALWD director. For many years she served as Managing Editor of Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute.
In 2005, she received was the second person to receive the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the Darby Dickerson Award for Revolutionary Change in Legal Writing, named by the Association of Legal Writing Directors to honor her contributions to legal writing. And in 2016, National Jurist Magazine named her one of the “most influential people in legal education.”
Dean Dickerson is the Immediate Past President of Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers. She is also an elected member of the American Law Institute and Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. She is active in the American Inns of Court, having been part of three Inns: the Mac Taylor Inn in Dallas; the Ferguson-White Inn of Court in Tampa (where she served on the Executive Board and as President); and the Texas Tech University School of Law Inn of Court in Lubbock (where she was a founding member and on the executive committee). She has also been active in bar activities at the local, state, and national level.
Darby Dickerson received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of William & Mary, and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. After graduation, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and then practiced commercial litigation with the law firm now known as Locke Lord in Dallas, Texas.
The 2018 Section award will be presented to Dean Dickerson at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego during the luncheon for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. That event will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2018, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. That luncheon is a ticketed event and tickets should be purchased when registering for the AALS Annual Meeting.
The 2018 AALS Awards Committee was made up of Linda Berger (UNLV), Janet Siegel Brown (Northwestern), Alyssa Dragnich (Arizona State), J. Lyn Entrikin (University of Arkansas at Little Rock), Suzanne Rowe (Oregon), Helene Shapo (Northwestern), and Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago). The award nominee was then approved by the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, which is chaired by Sabrina DeFabritiis (Suffolk). The Chair-Elect is Suzanna Moran (Denver), who will become Section Chair at the 2018 AALS Annual Meeting. The Section Secretary is Wendy Adele Humphrey (Texas Tech School), who will become the Section Chair-Elect. The immediate past Section Chair is Bob Brain (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles). Other members of the Section Executive Committee are Rebekah Hanley (Oregon), Allison Martin (Indiana University-McKinney School of Law), Joseph Mastrosimone (Washburn), Anne Mullins (North Dakota), and Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech).
Here is the cumulative list of the 20 individuals who have won the Section Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research for lifetime contributions to the field of legal research and writing. (Some years are missing because the award was not presented that year.)
- 1996 – Mary Lawrence (Oregon) [first recipient of the award]
- 1997 – Ralph Brill (Chicago-Kent)
- 2002 – Helene Shapo (Northwestern)
- 2003 – Laurel Currie Oates (Seattle)
- 2005 – Marilyn Walter (Brooklyn)
- 2006 – Terri LeClerq (Texas)
- 2007 – Anne Enquist (Seattle)
- 2008 – Eric Easton (Baltimore)
- 2009 – Richard K. Neumann, Jr. (Hofstra)
- 2010 – Joe Kimble (Thomas Cooley)
- 2011 – Elizabeth Fajans (Brooklyn)
- 2012 – Susan Brody (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) and Mary Barnard Ray (Wisconsin) [two winners that year]
- 2013 – Terrill Pollman (UNLV) and Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii) [two winners that year]
- 2014 – Jan Levine (Duquesne)
- 2015 – Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago)
- 2016 – Suzanne Rowe (Oregon)
- 2017 – Linda B. Berger (UNLV)
- 2018 – Darby Dickerson (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago)
Congratulations to Dean Darby Dickerson.