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Distinguished ASU Law legal writing professor, former associate dean of academic affairs retires after 27 years of teaching

photo of Judy Stinson

Professor Judy Stinson, who implemented the transition to ASU Law’s current Legal Method and Writing Program and served as its director from 1997 to 2011, is retiring after 27 years of teaching.

December 02, 2020

Following a distinguished legal writing career with numerous accolades, Professor Judy Stinson is retiring this year from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. A new annual lecture series – the Judy Stinson Lecture – is being created in her honor.

Stinson, who implemented the transition to ASU Law’s current Legal Method and Writing Program and served as its director from 1997 to 2011, has taught for the past 27 years. Highly regarded for her dedication to students, Stinson received the 2013 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing. The prestigious honor is given annually by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute.

“Judy’s tireless involvement with ASU Law students over nearly three decades was critical for taking the law school and, in particular, its writing program to national prominence,” Dean Douglas Sylvester said. “A law school is only as great as its graduates, and our graduates can only be great if we have a fantastic legal method program. Judy’s legacy is that we have, and will always have, one of the best programs in the world.”

Tamara Herrera, ASU Law associate dean of academic affairs, was one of the Blackwell Award nominators who wrote this of Stinson: “Anyone who knows Judy can attest that Judy has an inexhaustible amount of energy that she channels into nurturing and motivating her students. When it comes to students, Judy does not know how to say ‘no.’ She has an open-door policy and is available day and night for her students, whether it is to assist on a current assignment or advise on course or career choices. (It is not uncommon for a student to email Judy at 2 a.m. and receive a response immediately!) Judy’s involvement with the students does not end upon graduation. Judy has past students all over the country who keep in touch with her for guidance and support.”

Hanna Reinke, ASU Law 2L and a former student of Stinson, said, “The transition to law school can be daunting, but Professor Stinson’s positive energy and unyielding patience was so refreshing. I feel very fortunate to have begun my legal studies under her mentorship and look forward to staying in touch for years to come.”

Added Shayna Frieden, who took Stinson’s Legal Method and Writing class last year and has served as her teaching assistant this past semester, “As a professor, Judy motivates the class with her in-depth knowledge and ability to guide students toward reaching the best answer, and her sense of humor makes her class all the more engaging. As her TA, I had the opportunity to get to know her on a more personal level. She is enjoyable to work with, so much fun to talk to and truly very kind, genuine and supportive. It has been a privilege to be her student and assistant, and I am grateful to be her friend.”

A previous president of ALWD and member of its board of directors, Stinson also is a recipient of the Rocky Mountain Award. With Suzanne Rabe and Terry Pollman, she co-founded the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference in 2000.

Stinson was instrumental in hiring every other legal writing professor at ASU Law after she built the current Legal Method and Writing Program. She also served as director of ASU Law’s Academic Success Program from 1997 to 2006 and as associate dean of academic affairs from 2011 to 2017. She was then executive associate dean from 2017 to 2018. In 2019, ASU awarded her the Distinguished Professorship in Legal Method, a fully endowed $1 million professorship.  

She is the author of “Examples and Explanations: Legal Writing,” now in its third edition (with Pollman as co-author) and “The Tao of Legal Writing,” as well as numerous articles.

The Judy Stinson lecture series will be an annual event featuring a legal writing scholar hosted by ASU Law. Each lecture will be open to the public and will be livestreamed. The inaugural lecture will be delivered by Linda Berger, emeritus professor of law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in spring 2021.