Susan Salmon Named Director of University of Arizona Law Legal Writing Program: “This Is My Dream Job”

Alejandra Cardenas Cuestas

Susan Salmon, Director of Legal WritingThe University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law is proud to announce that Clinical Professor of Law Susan Salmon is its new director of legal writing. Salmon had been assistant director of legal writing since 2010 and succeeds longtime director Suzanne Rabe, who retired in May.

“This is my dream job. I’ve wanted to do this since I was in law school,” says Salmon. “It’s such a privilege to watch that trajectory—a student coming in the door on new-admit day, growing in skill and experience as a law student, walking across that stage at graduation, and then launching into law practice. It’s incredibly exciting and rewarding to be a part of that.”

Dean Marc Miller says it is exciting to have found the most capable and visionary director for the program in Arizona Law’s own hallways.

“Susie Salmon is deeply respected and knowledgeable about legal writing—in the College of Law, throughout Arizona, and throughout the country,” says Miller. “Her vision builds on a strong and well-established program while responding to changes in the profession, new technologies, the need to expand advanced writing and drafting, and the evolution of degrees beyond the JD. Our goal is to have the best legal writing program in the country, and we’re well on our way.”

Salmon’s vision for the program involves ensuring that each first-year law student learns legal analysis and writing from someone dedicated full-time to that endeavor.

This fall, five new career faculty members join the program, which previously relied more heavily on part-time professors of practice.

“Arizona Law’s legal writing program continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of the practice and of our students,” Salmon says. “We will continue to work with the practicing lawyers who have always enriched our program, but having a core team of faculty who are totally invested in the subject matter and the program allows us to be nimble, collaborative and creative in ways that can only benefit our students and the profession.”

[Related: Five New Faculty Join University of Arizona Law Legal Writing Program]

The new Arizona Law Writing Center is one example of the type of collaboration Salmon envisions. Started as a pilot program in spring 2017, in cooperation with the University of Arizona ThinkTank Writing Center, the Arizona Law Writing Center coaches students in any of Arizona Law’s degree programs on any type of writing, from appellate briefs to law review notes.

Salmon also hopes to collaborate more with the university’s rhetoric and composition program and to diversify the legal-writing curriculum, while maintaining the small class sizes—often 15 or fewer students—which facilitate the individualized, personal attention from faculty that characterizes so many of Arizona Law’s programs.

“Effective, ethical written communication is an indispensible tool for any lawyer,” Salmon says. “If you develop those skills as a student, you can really distinguish yourself in the profession. Our goal is to provide an excellent education in legal analysis and writing that prepares students for practice, that emphasizes knowing your purpose and your audience, and that centers on the client and the client’s needs. We want everything we do to be tethered to the real world of law practice as much as possible.”

About Susan Salmon

Susan Salmon is a nationally recognized expert on moot court and the co-author of “The Moot Court Advisor’s Handbook.” Her scholarship explores how longstanding practices and values in legal education affect access to justice, bias in the profession, and the legal profession as a whole.

She was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), a non-profit professional association of directors of legal reasoning, research, writing, analysis, and advocacy programs from law schools throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia.

“I’m excited to get involved at the policy level to focus on the issues that affect students and my colleagues across the country,” says Salmon about her ALWD work. “We look at how what we do in legal skills training affects the profession as a whole, and that’s exciting to me.”

Salmon also writes a popular monthly column on legal writing—"The Legal Word"—for Arizona Attorney, the magazine of the State Bar of Arizona. She remains active in the legal community, serving on the steering committee of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and on the organization's state board. She remains an active member of the State Bar of Arizona.

Salmon received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Los Angeles and her Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She practiced law in California and Arizona for nine years before joining the Arizona Law faculty full-time in 2010.