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Writing Resource Center

NOTE:  If you'd like someone in the Writing Center to review one of your drafts after Spring Break, please get in touch with Nancy Jones to set up an on-line appointment.  Thank you!  You can e-mail her at:  

The Writing Resource Center, located on the fourth floor of the Boyd Law Building, serves as an extension of the classroom and of the first-year Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research Program. The WRC is staffed by a director whose PhD work focused on the teaching of writing and by upper-level law students. The Center provides one-on-one tutorial assistance for writers working on course assignments, journal articles, writing samples, and the like. Students come to the Center by recommendation of faculty members or through self-referrals and are able to gain help with rhetorical, stylistic, and grammatical concerns that arise in their writing. Additionally, members of the staff work with students on general writing improvement and on strategies for dealing with everything from overcoming writer’s block to adapting material for various audiences. Typically, more than two-thirds of all first-year students and more than one-third of all law students make use of the Writing Resource Center in any given year.

Legal Writing Competitions

There are more than 150 legal writing competitions hosted around the country each year. A wide range of companies, organizations, and law schools sponsor these competitions, which usually focus on a particular topic or practice area. Prizes range from cash to travel to publication of the winning papers.

For up-to-date lists of current legal writing competitions, including deadlines and prizes (some upwards of $20,000), visit the following sites:

For many years, the Writing Center has kept track of legal writing competitions around the country, posting them on our website and on the bulletin outside room 480.
At least two websites now provide more extensive portals to the competitions than the Writing Center has been able to compile.  iCompete Writing, for example, created and hosted by Suffolk University in Boston, displays the competitions by topic or by the month of the submission deadline.  Each entry displays the name of the competition, its deadline, the prizes, and a link to an official page with more information.

Similarly, the Legal Essay Contest Catalog of Richmond School of Law filters by categories, prize amount, and deadline, with convenient links to the various competition websites.

In light of the easy access these sites provide, the Writing Center will step back from compiling our own listing.  From time to time, we will feature selected competitions, such as those sponsored by Iowa Law journals.  Otherwise, we urge you to visit the sites above to learn about the many legal writing competitions around the country—and the corresponding publication possibilities and prize money.

Useful Links

The following are useful links for writers of legal and non-legal documents alike.

Blue Book Citation
Online Dictionary
Another Dictionary (with grammar and "word of the day")
Common Errors in English
Strunk and White Manual


The Writing Resource Center provides helpful handouts on topics such as: Case Synthesis, Memo v. Brief, IRAC, Résumé/Cover Letters, Plagiarism, That/Which, Passive Voice, Top Ten Errors, and the Bluebook. These handouts provide legal writers with excellent information about getting started and writing well.


Director: Nancy Jones, Ph.D.
Research Assistants: Kayleen Asmus (2L), Eric Dirth (2L), Logan Eliasen (2L), Anne Hartnett (3L), and Kendall Salter (2L)


The center is open 9 - 4:30 Monday-Thursday, and 9 - 4 Friday throughout the academic year. The Center is located on the fourth floor of the Boyd Law Building in room 480.

By Mail
Writing Resource Center
University of Iowa College of Law
480 BLB
Iowa City, IA 52242

By Phone

By E-mail
Nancy Jones