CAMDEN — Before pen touches paper, fiction writers start with an idea that is molded into a plot, setting, and theme. A Rutgers–Camden law professor says the idea-generating practices used by fiction writers can also be valuable tools for legal writers.
Pam Jenoff, a clinical assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, is the recipient of a $5,000 summer research grant from the Association of Legal Writing Directors that will fund the research and writing of her article, “Novel Ideas: Importing Fiction Writing Process and Techniques to Enhance Legal Writing.”
Jenoff explains, “I’m interested in the writing process and what novelists do to jumpstart, shape, and revise their work. How can we apply those ideas to legal writing?”
Jenoff is well-versed in both legal and fiction writing. The Cherry Hill resident teaches “Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research” at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden and is the author of several works of fiction, including The Kommandant’s Girl, The Diplomat’s Wife, Almost Home, and A Hidden Affair. Her latest novel, The Things We Cherished, will be released by Doubleday in July.
“Legal writing and fiction writing tend to be large scale writing projects in which one tells a story in order to evoke a reaction from the reader,” Jenoff says. “I want to bridge the gap between formulating ideas and getting them on paper in a way that build upon the writer’s strengths and helps him or her develop.”
For example, Jenoff says, “Fiction writers often use free-association writing to get their ideas flowing, and it’s an activity I often use in class to help students avoid writer’s block.”
Each year, the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) holds a national competition to award legal writing scholarship grants for teachers of legal research and writing.
These grants enable educators to explore ideas and to produce scholarship that will assist others in the field. Funding was provided for five summer research projects this year. Grant recipients are guaranteed a presentation slot at the national conferences of either ALWD or LWI.
“I’m honored that the organization feels this project has merit and that I can join the company of other Rutgers–Camden professors who have also received this distinction,” Jenoff says.
Four other Rutgers School of Law–Camden faculty members have received ALWD/LWI legal writing scholarship research grants for the following articles:
· Sarah Ricks, clinical professor of law, in 2003 for “The Perils of Unpublished, Non-precedential Federal Appellate Opinions: A Case Study of the Substantive Due Process State Created Danger Doctrine in One Circuit,” 81 Wash. L. Rev. 217 (2006).
· Ruth Anne Robbins, clinical professor of law, in 2003 for “Painting With Print: Incorporating Concepts of Typographic and Layout Design into the Text of Legal Writing Documents,” J. ALWD 2 (2004): 108-150.
· Sheila Rodriguez, clinical associate professor of law, in 2007 for “Using Feedback Theory to help Novice Legal Writers Develop Expertise,” 86:2 U. DET. MERCY L. REV. 207 (2009).
· Carol Wallinger, clinical associate professor of law, in 2007 for “Moving From First to Final Draft: An Empirical Look at Offering Autonomy Supportive Choices to Motivate Students to Internalize the Writing Process,” 54 Loyola Law Review 820 (2008).
Rutgers–Camden law professors have also won three ALWD legal writing teaching grants. Robbins was rewarded the grant in 2009, and Wallinger and clinical associate professor of law Jason Cohen in 2010.
“I think it is a real testament to the quality of our faculty that we have been recognized with so many of these grants,” says Rayman L. Solomon, dean of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden.
A Committee of legal writing professors from around the country blindly reviews grant applications. Mentors on the Committee provide guidance to applicants but do not decide who receives a grant.
Since 2006, Ricks has co-chaired the Legal Writing Scholarship Grant Committee. Her role is to mentor applicants, not select them.
Jenoff received her undergraduate degree from George Washington University, her master’s degree from Cambridge University, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse