Darby Dickerson, Dean of The John Marshall Law School, received the 2018 Association of American Law Schools Section Award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. Created in 1995, the award, sometimes described as “a lifetime achievement award in legal writing education,” was presented on January 4 at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego. Dickerson is the third recipient from The John Marshall Law School.
A nationally recognized leader in legal education, Dickerson serves on the AALS Executive Committee. She is a Past Chair of several AALS sections, including the Section for Law School Deans and the Institutional Advancement Section; a former Director of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and Immediate Past President of Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2007. Also starting on January 4, she will serve as Chair of the AALS Deans Forum Steering Committee.
In 2005, Dickerson received the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the Darby Dickerson Award for Revolutionary Change in Legal Writing, named by ALWD to honor her contributions to the profession. And in 2016, National Jurist magazine named her one of the “most influential people in legal education.” A prolific writer, Dickerson is the author of the first four editions of the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation, as well as more than 60 articles, book chapters and essays.
She began her full-time academic career in 1995 as a legal writing professor at Stetson University College of Law. In 1996, she was named Director of Stetson’s Legal Writing program. During the early years of her career, Dickerson emerged as a leader in professional organizations, such as ALWD, the Legal Writing Institute and the ABA, working to bring recognition to legal writing professionals.
Dickerson was named Interim Dean of Stetson University College of Law in 2003, and was named Dean in 2004. After leaving Stetson in 2011, she served as Dean and the W. Frank Newton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law before becoming Dean of John Marshall in December 2016. She was one of the first legal writing professors to serve as dean of a law school, and over her career, she has worked to improve the status of legal writing professors by appointing legal writing professors to associate dean and other administrative positions.
Dickerson earned her B.A. and M.A. from The College of William & Mary, and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. After graduation, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and then practiced commercial litigation with the law firm now known as Locke Lord in Dallas, Texas.