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Drake Law’s Legal Writing Program Ranked 11 in the Nation

Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

Drake University Law School has been named among the best legal writing programs in the country in U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 rankings of accredited law schools. This year, Drake’s legal writing program is ranked eleventh in the nation and tied with the University of Michigan for best in the Midwest. The Law School is often recognized for the strength of its legal writing program, consistently ranking among the top 20 in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”

Drake Law School equips students with the legal writing and research skills they need to succeed in the profession. “We have always been proud of our legal writing program,” said Drake Law Dean Jerry Anderson, “and this ranking is evidence of our continuing strength and leadership in this area. Our mission is to prepare ‘complete professionals’ and the ability to communicate effectively and present precise legal analysis are key components of any successful legal career,” said Anderson.

Drake’s legal writing faculty members, Professors Melissa Weresh and Danielle Shelton, are respected leaders in their field who continually engage with other professionals and ensure that Drake’s program is up to date and meets the standards of legal education. Last fall, Drake hosted the 2023 Central States Legal Writing Conference in September. The theme, Embracing New Challenges and Opportunities: Ready for Impact, explored how current trends such as student and faculty wellness, ABA Standard 303, and ChatGPT can enhance teaching and student development.

Professor Weresh has long been a leader in the legal writing community. She was awarded the 2023 Association of Legal Writing Directors’ (ALWD) Linda Berger Award for Excellence in Legal Writing Scholarship. Professor Weresh emphasizes the collaborative approach taken by the Drake faculty, noting “For many years the legal writing faculty have worked closely and effectively with one another to ensure that our students have excellent training in legal communication. Like the team-based learning approach we employ in the classroom, we enjoy a strong sense of collegiality and cooperation with one another.”

Professor Danielle Shelton, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, has taught Legal Writing at Drake since 2003 and uses her background as a litigator to contribute to Drake’s rigorous legal writing program. Professor Shelton was recently awarded the Madelyn M. Levitt Distinguished Community Service Award for her work in advocating for marginalized communities, evidenced by her efforts to overturn unfavorable court orders affecting victims’ rights, drafting legislation to address legal gaps, promoting inclusivity for victims with mental disabilities through research and legislative advocacy, actively supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Drake Law, and dedicating extensive volunteer service to animal welfare organizations.

Of Drake’s legal writing program, Professor Shelton says, “Drake is committed to creating practice-ready lawyers—lawyers who can effectively represent clients from Day 1 out of law school. Strong legal writing skills play a crucial role in that, and our legal writing program teaches students the fundamentals and rigors of how lawyers write.”

In the overall U.S News rankings, Drake Law continues to climb, reaching its highest ranking ever (#82) in this year’s list.

Additional information about the rankings and methodology can be found on the U.S. News & World Report website.

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