Rachel H. Smith

Professor of Legal Writing
B.A., University of CaliforniaJ.D., University of California at Berkeley School of Law

Rachel H. Smith joined the law school faculty in 2016. She teaches Legal Writing.

Rachel is the author of two legal writing books: The Handbook for the New Legal Writer (with Jill Barton) and The Legal Writing Survival Guide. Both books aim to demystify the process of legal writing and serve as a source of encouragement for beginning and more experienced legal writers. Rachel has presented at national and regional legal writing conferences on topics including teaching with positivity, using popular non-fiction in the legal writing classroom, and the pedagogy of using examples. In 2009, Rachel received a grant from the Association of Legal Writing Directors to prepare a series of legal writing podcasts called “Perk Up Your Pens.”

Before coming to St. John’s, Rachel was a founding member of the Legal Communication and Research Skills faculty at the University of Miami School of Law. In addition to teaching the first-year legal writing course, she developed a popular course on Advanced Techniques in Written Persuasion. Before that, she was part of the Legal Analysis Research and Writing Faulty at Santa Clara University School of Law, where she was twice awarded the Legal Writing Teacher of the Year Award.

Rachel received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. After graduation, she worked as a litigator in the San Francisco office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP where she worked on a variety of intellectual property disputes for toy, tech, and casino gaming companies. 

The Handbook for the New Legal Writer with Jill Barton, Wolters Kluwer 2d ed. 2019.

The Legal Writing Survival Guide, Carolina Academic Press 2012.

Review of The Legal Imagination by James Boyd White, 18 Scribes J. Leg. Writing 145 (2018-2019).

The Unparalleled Benefits of Teaching Parallelism, 32 The Second Draft 26 (Spring 2019).

More Than Words, Review of My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, 14 Legal Comm. & Rhetoric: JALWD 159 (2017).

Finding Joy in Commenting, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Newsletter 16 (Summer 2017).

The Care and Feeding of Law School Research Assistants, 25 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing 101 (2017).

From Students to Colleagues: The Legal Writing Classroom Can Create Conscientious and Empathetic Practitioners, The Second 
Draft, Winter/Spring 2015. 


An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Teaching Persuasive Writing Through a Settlement Offer Email Assignment, with Alyssa 
Dragnich, 23 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing 85 (2014). 


Perk Up Your Pens Legal Writing Podcast, available at http://perkupyourpens.tumblr.com.  


"The Evolving Legal Writing Curriculum," with Jill Barton at the Empire State Biennial Legal Writing Conference, May 2019.

"Thinking Deeper," at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference, August 2018.

"Pink Collar Pedagogy," at the LWI Biennial Conference, July 2018.

“A New Approach to Research Assistants,” at the Southeastern Regional Legal Writing Conference, January 2016.

“Honest to Blog: Using Blogs to Instill a Sense of the Professional Audience,” at the Western 
Regional Legal Writing Conference, September 2014. 


“Thinking Deeper,” with Jill Barton at the LWI Biennial Conference, July 2014. 


“Do As I Say,” at the Southeastern Regional Legal Writing Conference, April 2014.