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Legal Research and Writing Faculty

Nicole Chong
Director and Professor of Legal Writing

"Learning legal writing is an ongoing process that may seem daunting to first year law students.  Penn State Law’s legal writing faculty help students on an individual basis to help each student become more comfortable with writing for law practice.

Michele Vollmer
Associate Professor of Legal Writing, Director of Explore Law Program

"Penn State Law's 1L legal writing program teaches students to become excellent, not average, legal writers. We help students acquire the tools they need, at both the pre-writing and editing stages, to achieve a written analysis that is analytically exhaustive and meticulously organized. Our students consistently tell us that their writing skills were instrumental to their success in obtaining employment from a wide variety of employers."

Barbara Brunner
Professor of Legal Writing

"Justice Scalia has noted an 'immense difference between writing and good writing' and has emphasized that converting the former to the latter "takes time." In Intense Legal Writing and Drafting, we take that time, so that each student in the course can become an excellent legal writer."

Anna Sewell
Visiting Assistant Professor of Legal Writing

"Our LL.M. legal writing program uses realistic client simulations to teach students the common law analytical skills they need to succeed in the international legal market."


Lara Fowler
Sr. Lecturer, Penn State Law; Research Fellow, Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment

"Writing and communicating clearly is an incredibly important skill. Learning how to work with complex material, organize it, and convey it in a written document is critical to the practice of law."


Mary Kaye Polacheck
Writing Specialist

"Language is the tool of the lawyer’s profession."



Camille Marion
Professor of Legal Writing, Co-director, Semester in Washington Program




Legal Research Faculty

Steven Hinckley,
Associate Dean for Library and Information Services, Director of the Law Libraries, Professor of Law




Gail Partin
Law Librarian, Associate Director, Law Library

“Highly competent legal research skills and a thorough understanding of research strategies are essential for success in all areas of legal practice.  The key to continued success is the awareness that those competencies require a lifelong commitment to skills acquisition and reinforcement in order to deliver value and excellence to your clients and organizations throughout your career.”  

photo of Judy Swarthout

Judy Swarthout
Associate Law Librarian, Collection Management and Reference

“The mark of a well-educated person is not necessarily in knowing all the answers, but in knowing where to find them.”


Kim Kelmor
Assistant Law Librarian, Reference and Assistant Director of the Law Library

“The majority of law school, especially the first year, involves handing law students carefully selected pieces of law and using that to teach students how to think like a lawyer as applied to a specific subject area. In practice, no matter what area of law -- whether it is civil or criminal, litigation or transactional, domestic or international – no client brings a stack of law and asks the attorney to interpret it.  In our legal research offerings throughout the curriculum our students learn the efficient and effective research of the law that must precede effective application of the law.”

Laura Ax-Fultz
Assistant Law Librarian, Access Services and Reference​

“The Penn State Law Library Faculty teach the research component of the first year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing course. We provide training in the vital research skills that law students will hone and use in law school. Mastery of these research skills enhances the student’s ability to craft precise and rigorous arguments. The ability to construct meaningful legal arguments is an important foundation for a successful legal career.”

Mark Podvia
Associate Law Librarian, Reference and Archivist

“Neither the best writing nor the best oral advocacy will save your case if you rely on faulty research."