Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Gene Crawford '03 Wins National Writing Competition

Burton Awards program
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The Burton Award honors legal professionals and law students for excellence in legal writing. Winners are chosen based on their use of clear language and avoidance of unnecessarily complicated legal terminology. Gene was recognized for his student note in the Ohio State Law Journal, "Fit For Its Ordinary Purpose? Tobacco, Fast Food and the Implied Warranty of Merchantability." The article describes how tobacco litigation has changed implied warranty law, and how those changes may affect future litigation against fast food companies.

Gene's writing formula is simple. Read good briefs and books, trust your natural communicating style, and approach writing seriously. He follows his own advice.

Always a reader, Gene devoured legal texts in school, as well as the briefs he encountered in summer clerkships with Dayton and Columbus firms. Gene's personal reading taste is eclectic and runs the non-fiction gamut from Kissinger's Diplomacy to Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World. He particularly likes the work of historian David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Truman and John Adams.

Throughout law school, Gene resisted retooling his communication style so he could "write like a lawyer." Instead, he refined his natural writing style consistent with his theory that good writing is "effortless to read. The simpler the better," says Gene. "In an increasingly complex world, readers need to expend their energy on ideas, not the writing."

From his earliest days as a political science major at West Point, Gene approached each writing assignment as an opportunity to do the best job possible. In his earlier career as a field artillery officer and more recently as a law student, Gene developed a reputation as a serious writer. Characteristically, he used a topic suggested by Professor Whaley to develop the best piece of writing he was capable of producing. The result was the 59-page paper that won Gene the College's Donald S. Teller Memorial Award for writing that contributed most significantly to the Ohio State Law Journal. The article ultimately won Burton Award honors. Most recently, Gene's writing skill won him a judicial clerkship offer. Gene will clerk for the Hon. Jeffrey S. Sutton '90 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit beginning this fall. Alumni wishing to congratulate Gene can reach him at

Gene joins a group of Moritz students who are winning national writing competitions in record numbers. In the past three years alone, Alyssa H. Shenk '02 received the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution's student articles prize, and an honorable mention in the James B. Boskey Essay Contest sponsored by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution; René L. Rimelspach '01 and Stephen Anway '02 each won first prize in the Boskey Essay Contest in their respective graduation years; and Jared Gross '03 received second place in the Louis Jackson Memorial Student Writing Competition in Labor and Employment Law.