Writing Center

Established in 1999, Writing Center at St. John's School of Law is a place where our students can:

  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Practice writing exam essays
  • Edit scholarly pieces
  • Submit papers to writing competitions
  • Find publication sources for articles
  • Polish briefs and memoranda for use as writing samples
  • Practice proper citation form
  • Hone grammar skills
  • Get help with any general writing problems

The Writing Center is staffed by some of the Law School's best writers. These Writing Consultants are passionate about writing, have a sharp eye for detail and are always willing to help.

Located in room 1-10, right down the hall from the Library, the Writing Center is open Monday through Friday for walk-ins or by appointment. This service is available to all St. John's Law students.

In addition to our walk-in hours, consultants are available by appointment. Please stop by the Writing Center or email us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation. We will make every effort to accommodate weekend hours.

Message from the Director

In 1999 I had a student with brilliant creativity but terrible writing skills. I spoke with then-provost of the University, Dr. Willard Gingrich, who referred me to the director of the University's Writing Center, Dr. Derek Owens. I sent my student there, but he came back abashed that he was being tutored by undergrads.With Derek’s encouragement, I started the Writing Center here, in a tiny room inside the library. We started with tutoring and workshops. Slowly, the Writing Center became a force in the law school.

In late 2007, Deans Mary Daly and Andrew Simons offered us the space vacated by the library’s computer lab, which had fallen into desuetude. Dean Simons asked me to sketch a plan for the new space, and throughout academic 2007-08, we worked with George Pietramala, the architects, designers, electricians and technical people. The construction started in May; in the late summer the workers broke through the first-floor wall to install the glass doors; and the new Writing Center opened in the Fall of 2008.

The Writing Center Consultants are the law school’s top students and best writers. They keep the Writing Center open for walk-in hours almost all week, helping students to brainstorm about ideas, improve their research and writing skills, spruce up their writing samples, and practice exam essays. The Consultants conduct workshops on writing, bluebooking, outlining, grammar and conciseness. Former Consultants (nearly 100, when added to the current crop) form a network of smart, prosperous alumni at firms, clerkships and government offices.

In 2007 we began encouraging students to enter writing competitions, with admirable success. Some have won cash prizes (as high as $5,000); some have had their papers published; and one was honored in the Library of Congress. Currently, students  have papers circulating in the competition pipelines all the time. In 2008 the Writing Center sponsored a reading by Daniel Serrano (2001) from his novel, Gunmetal Black, and interviewers from the Latino press interviewed him here. Our next initiative is to help students get their papers published. The Writing Center energizes us. Our warm space in its prominent first-floor location trumpets the law school’s make-no-mistake message about good writing.

Margaret V. Turano
Associate Academic Dean and Professor of Law

Writing Competitions

Each year, St. John's law students excel in writing competitions. There are competitions on virtually every topic: from administrative law to religious freedom, from labor law to women’s rights, from intellectual property to gun control. Some offer cash prizes (as much as $10,000) and others publish the winning papers. No matter what the prize, winning a writing competition is a great way to hone your writing skills, explore a new area of law, and enhance your resume.

The Law School's Writing Center compiles, organizes and updates a list of current writing competitions. In order to access this list, students must sign up for the Writing Center's TWEN site. Those students already enrolled on TWEN can view the list via the Writing Competitions tab on TWEN.

If you have any questions regarding competitions, feel free to stop by the Writing Center or email us at [email protected].

Past Winners

Paul Bonewitz

Congratulations to Paul Bonewitz, who has won the 2008 Burton Award for his paper "Beyond Confusion: Reexamining Trademark Law's Goals in the World of Online Advertising."  He was honored at the Burton Award's ninth anniversary event (expenses paid) held at the Library of Congress on June 16, 2008.

Michal Gasparski

Congratulations to Michal Gasparski, who won $500 for his paper "Financial Planning Association v. SEC: The Effects and Aftermath of the D.C. Circuit Court's Decision," which will be published in the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association Law Journal.

Jon Kelly

Congratulations to Jon Kelly, who won first prize ($2,000) in the 2008 New York State Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Student Writing Competition.  His paper is entitled, "Why the Concept that Time Shifting is a Fair Use Should Have Died with the Betamax: A Modern Examination of Fair Use and the Secondary Liability of Cable Providers in Cartoon Network LP v. CSC Holdings, Inc."

Melissa King

Melissa King, "Recouping Costs for Repairing "Broken Windows": The Use of Public Nuisance by Cities to Hold Banks Liable for the Costs of Mass Foreclosures"

($1,500 first prize in the 2009 ABA Torts Trial and Insurance Practice Section, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago)

Justin Lacour

Congratulations to Justin Lacour he has won $1,500 and honorable mention for his note "Unclear Repugnancy: Antitrust Immunity in Securities Markets After Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC V. Billing" in the 2009 William F. Swope Antitrust Writing Competition.

The law firm Jones Day paid Justin’s expenses to attend the ABA's Antitrust Division's Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., where he mingled with several antitrust lawyers and was introduced to the head of Pakistan’s antitrust agency.

Justin is the 9th student to win a writing competition since Simeon Mann’s win early last year.

Christopher Manion

Congratulations to Christopher Manion, who won the Law Student Legal Ethics Award ($750) in the 2008 writing competition of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Legal Education & Admission to the Bar for his paper "The Waterboarding Debate."

Simeon Mann

Congratulations to Simeon Mann, who won first prize ($5,000) in the 2007 competition sponsored by the Associate of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni for his paper "Too Far Over The Hedge: Why The SEC's Attempt To Further Regulate Hedge Funds Had To Fail and What, If Any, Alternative Solutions Should Be Considered."

Alyssa Porco

Alyssa Porco, “An Analysis of the United States’ Asylum Standards:  Should We Treat Female Genital Mutilation as a Form of ‘Continuing Persecution”?”

($750 prize in the 2009 Law Student Legal Ethics Award, New York State Bar Association).
Liane Aronchick

Congratulations to Liane Aronchick, who has won second place ($750) in theCalifornia State Bar Association 2008 International Law Section Writing Competition for her paper "Going Public: The Prosecution of Rape under International Law and Its Effect on the Public-Private Divide."

Felicia Rovegno

Congratulations to Felicia Rovegno, whose paper, "The Mystery Unraveled of Why Hate Crimes against People with Disabilities are Unreported, Underreported, and Not Prosecuted," has been accepted for publication in the Midwest Black Law Students Association Law Journal.

Beth Rubenstein

Beth Rubenstein, “It Will Take More Than Hall v. Nalco to Eradicate the Ambiguities of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978: When Will the Law Overcome its Impotency?”

Has won both the ABA Labor Law Competition and $5,000 first prize, 2009 Judge Bernard S. Meyer Scholarship Writing Competition.

Evan Zucker

Congratulations to Evan Zucker, who placed in the top five of the national 2008 Judge John R. Brown Award Writing Competition for his paper, "The Applicable Commitment Period: A Debtor's Commitment to a Fixed Plan Length."

Scott Maxwell

Scott Maxwell has won first prize in Professor William R. Ginsburg Memorial Essay Contest for his paper "Protecting the Environment? EPA’s Dubious Reasoning for Denying a California Emissions Waiver Application."

The New York State Bar Association is paying his expenses to the Environmental Law Section's annual meeting October 2009 to collect the award and his $1000 cash prize. The New York Environmental Lawyer will publish the paper in its Spring or Summer 2010 issue.

Matthew Stuart

Congratulations Matthew Stewart '3L, whose paper "Saving Our Ecosystems: The Threat of Invasive Exotic Species and the Need to Act Now" won second prize in the 2009 William R. Ginsberg Memorial Competition.