Widener Law professors awarded competitive summer research grants

 Five members of the Widener Law legal writing faculty are spending their summer working on projects made possible by their selection in a competitive grant process.

The Widener faculty members captured four of seven scholarships, awarded through an anonymous, competitive process, by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute. The nonprofit organizations work to promote innovation in teaching and scholarship dedicated to the discipline of legal writing.

Scholarship grants are given each summer to selected members of the legal writing community who have shown interest in, and commitment to, producing scholarship. This year 21 grant proposals were reviewed anonymously by peers within the legal writing community. After seven proposals were selected based on merit, the recipients and their schools were revealed.

The five Widener professors who were selected for four grants, and the titles of their research projects, include:

  • Alison Donahue Kehner and Mary Ann Robinson: “Mission Impossible, Mission Accomplished, or Mission In Progress?:  An Empirical Study of the Professionalism Movement in American Law Schools.”

  • Jean K. Sbarge: “No Swedish Bikini Team Screensavers:  Teaching Professionalism in the Legal Writing Classroom and Beyond.”

  • Jennifer Lear: “Plain English for Legal Writing Professors:  Creating Legal Writers Through Six-Trait Instruction and Assessment.” Her award was funded by LexisNexis.

  • Amanda Smith: “Preparing for Practice from Behind the Bench.”

  • Kehner, Robinson and Sbarge all teach on Widener Law’s campus in Wilmington, Del. Lear and Smith teach on the school’s Harrisburg, Pa. campus.

The remaining three grants went to professors from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the University of Iowa.

“This is a great two-campus achievement for Widener,” said Dean Linda L. Ammons. “Legal writing is a vital component of law school education and we take great pride in the ways our innovative faculty prepares Widener students for the legal profession. These professors are people whose ideas get noticed by colleagues at schools across the nation and their enthusiasm for this work carries over into the classroom. I can’t wait to see their work from this summer. It will benefit legal educators around the country.”