Browning wins national legal writing award

Marilyn Tennissen Apr. 29, 2009, 5:47pm

Dallas attorney and Southeast Texas Record columnist John Browning was recently named the winner of the 2009 Burton Award for Distinguished Achievement in Legal Writing.

According to a press release, the Burton Awards, patterned after the Pulitzer Prize, were established by the non-profit Burton Foundation in 1999 to reward effective legal writing, particularly the use of "plain, clear and concise language" as opposed to "archaic, stilted legalese."

Articles, primarily from law reviews and academic publications, authored by partners at the top 1,000 law firms in the country were judged by an academic board that included distinguished scholars from Harvard Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and the University of California Law School at Irvine, as well as judges from various state and federal appellate courts.

Browning was recognized for a series of three 2008 articles he authored as part of his weekly syndicated newspaper column Legally Speaking: "Lyrical Law," "When Judges Get Cute" and "For Better or Verse: Poetic Justices."

The series focuses on the use of song lyrics, humor, pop culture, and verse in judicial opinions. As the series points out, "It's not enough for a judge to be right; to have an impact, he or she must also be read and remembered."

This is believed to be the first time the Burton Awards have chosen a newspaper column for this accolade, according to the press release.

"Legally Speaking" garnered a Press Club of Southeast Texas award for the Southeast Texas Record in 2008, and Browning brought home an award last year from the Houston Press Club as well. In 2007, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

Earlier this month, Browning was named among the 63 newly-elected members of the prestigious American Law Institute, and will be recognized for that honor at a formal ceremony during the Institute's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in May.

In addition to the award-winning column, Browning is the co-author of three law-related books, including the two-volume treatise Texas Employment Law. A partner with the Dallas office of the national law firm Gordon & Rees, he is also a frequent contributor to national and regional legal publications on a wide variety of subjects.

He serves as a contributing editor for Dallas CEO Magazine (writing the "Legalities" column); as senior writer for American Trial Lawyer magazine; and pens the "Courting Success" column for the Houston Business Journal.

Browning received his bachelor of arts degree with general and departmental honors from Rutgers University in 1986, where he was a National Merit Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1989.

Browning is "AV" rated by his peers, the highest commendation issued by Martindale-Hubbell for legal ability, ethics, and professionalism.

He was selected as a "Texas Super Lawyer" by Law & Politics and Texas Monthly in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Browning was inducted as a Charter Fellow of Litigation Counsel of America, a trial lawyer honorary society.

He has extensive trial, arbitration, and summary judgment experience, and has represented companies in a wide variety of industries throughout Texas and on a pro hac vice basis in other jurisdictions.

The 10th anniversary Burton Awards event will be a black tie gala held at the Library of Congress on June 15.

Among the presenters/guest speakers will be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and television producer and screenwriter David E. Kelley, creator of such series as "Ally McBeal" and "Boston Legal."

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