Professor Helene Shapo to be Honored with Blackwell Memorial Award

September 09, 2014

Helene Shapo, professor of law emerita, will receive the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in the field of legal writing. A member of the Northwestern Law faculty since 1978, Shapo specializes in legal writing, trusts and estates, and family law. She was the Law School’s director of legal writing from 1978 to 1999.

The Blackwell Award is presented annually by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute for demonstrating an ability to nurture and motivate students, a willingness to help legal writing educators improve their teaching and legal writing programs, and an ability to create and integrate ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.

A pioneer in legal writing education, Shapo coauthored one of the first books for use in teaching an integrated research, writing, and analysis curriculum. Now in a sixth edition, Writing and Analysis in the Law is one of the most widely used legal writing texts in the country.

Her other books include Writing for Law Practice (now in a second edition), Law School Without Fear (now in a third edition), and Family Law: Cases, Materials and Problems (now in a third edition). Shapo is also one of the founders of the publication Perspectives, where she still serves on the editorial board and is responsible for the column, “Brutal Choices in Curricular Design.” In 2010 she was honored with the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education.

“In just about every way possible over her incredible career, Helene has been an innovator and a leader in our field. Through her writing, speaking, service, and curriculum design she has been a guiding light in advancing the discipline of legal writing, improving the way it is taught to students, and improving the status and security of legal writing faculty,” said Judy Rosenbaum, clinical professor of law and director of the Communication and Legal Reasoning program at the Law School from 2000 until 2009.

Shapo will receive the Blackwell Award during the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in Washington, DC, in January 2015.