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Better writers make better lawyers say experts at Lone Star Legal Writing Conference held at UH Law Center


Lone Star Regional Legal Writing Conference co-hosts from Texas Tech School of Law and University of Houston Law Center

May 06, 2024 — More than 50 legal writing faculty and teaching professionals from around the country attended the 2024 Lone Star Regional Legal Writing Conference this April at the University of Houston Law Center. Co-hosted by Texas Tech School of Law, attendees at the event participated in presentations on legal writing, research, advocacy, pedagogy, and peer tutoring.

Hillary Reed, a Lawyering Skills and Strategies Clinical Professor at UHLC, welcomed guests to the conference for a day of “legal writing presentations, fellowship and collegiality.”

UHLC Dean Leonard M. Baynes talked about the important responsibility of legal writing professors.

“You are on the vanguard with our students,” said Baynes. “Writing is an important skill that lawyers and law students need to have. Thank you for your leadership in bringing this Lone Star Legal Writing Conference together. It is important as an institution, as a law school, for us to bring people together to discuss different issues.”


Presentation on “Legal Writing in Action: Ten Courtroom Essentials to Know About Every Case”

Expert Insights

The Honorable Tanya Garrison, Judge of the 157th Judicial District Civil Court in Harris County, and Katherine Vukadin, Professor of Law at the South Texas College of Law Houston, gave the plenary presentation on “Legal Writing in Action: Ten Courtroom Essentials to Know About Every Case.”

Garrison offered legal writing tips for lawyers and law students to advance in their careers, emphasizing real-world application within the judicial system. She observed that young lawyers lack critical writing skills for motions, stressing the need to consider the judge's perspective. Garrison advised starting with essential background information, context and key facts to guide judges.

“I’m looking for those central questions for what is the issue that I need to resolve. That information needs to be on page one. Because then I know what I’m reading, I know exactly what I’m doing, I care about what I’m reading, and I know what is important,” Garrison said.

Vukadin discussed ways she had implemented Judge Garrison’s advice in the legal writing classroom and underscored the importance of knowing your reader’s constraints and goals, noting “we tell our students that they have to cut through the noise and get to the point.”

She also encouraged judges to engage with the legal writing community and make known the skills they would like young lawyers to master. Through these connections, the legal writing community can better prepare students for success in practice.

Student Panel “The Power of Peer Tutoring in Legal Writing & Research”

Student Panel

Student Perspectives

UHLC legal writing fellows Kiley Evans, Lola Solis, and Alyvia Todd discussed “The Power of Peer Tutoring in Legal Writing & Research,” on a panel shedding light on how the UHLC writing center is a pivotal resource for law students looking to improve their legal analysis and writing skills.

Todd, a UHLC 3L, reinforced how students feel more at ease at the writing center when seeking help with their course assignments. The peer-to-peer teaching structure helps to dwindle stress and create connections among students through their coursework.

“The writing center is a bit of a different environment than the classroom and it can help people feel more comfortable,” Todd said.

Solis, a UHLC 2L, affirmed the support and guidance that writing fellows have provided to students. The shared commonality of the writing fellows having already taken the law classes that their peers are currently taking has helped in assisting students in their writing and alleviating anxiety in their peers.

“It speaks for itself how accessible the writing center is for students,” Solis said. “I think that having the opportunity to go to someone outside of the classroom who has already gone through the law courses is one of the benefits of being a writing fellow. Allowing students to be vulnerable and to open up outside of the classroom.”

Evans, a UHLC 2L, underscored the flexibility that the writing center offers to students to work with their schedules by offering virtual office hours.

“I think something that has helped is that we offer virtual office hours. I like that we have that flexibility to help students,” Evans said.

The writing fellows host weekly office hours, visit Lawyering Skills and Strategies (LSS) classes, help LSS professors with assignments, and host student workshops throughout the school year.

The Lone Star Conference, once a staple in legal writing circles, was revived by the Texas Tech School of Law and the UHLC in 2023 in Lubbock, Texas. Both institutions collaborated to host the conference in Houston. LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters sponsored the 2024 event.

The next Lone Star Regional Legal Writing Conference will be hosted at Baylor Law School in 2025.


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