Core Grammar

Authors & Acknowledgments

About the Authors

Ruth Ann McKinney, M.Ed., J.D., is an Emeritus Clinical Professor of Law and former Assistant Dean at the University of North Carolina School of Law where she directed the first-year legal research and writing program and the academic success program for more than twenty years. Professor McKinney is the author of Legal Research: A Practical Guide & Self-Instructional Workbook (5th ed. 2008) and Reading Like a Lawyer (2d ed. 2012), and she is the original senior editor of the national ASP website,

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds a doctorate in Rhetoric and Composition and clerked for a federal judge. She has led CLE seminars in writing and is a frequent presenter at professional conferences. She is the author of A Short Guide to Writing About Law (2010) and has another book forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Together, the authors have over twenty-five years of experience teaching writing to college students and professional-level graduate students. If you have questions about the program or suggestions for future editions, we would welcome your comments.


It takes a village to raise a child, and the authors have learned that it takes almost as many people to create an online grammar-teaching tool for legal writers and aspiring legal writers. We do not have the words to thank the remarkable team of IT professionals, artists, and editors who made Core Grammar for Lawyers (CGL) come to life: Firestream Media, Claudia Fulshaw Design, and Carolina Academic Press.

All of the following groups and individuals contributed significantly to the program over its year of development:

  • Carol Thomson, owner of Firestream Media, LLC, developed the web application for the program and led a team of creative professionals on the original Core Grammar for Lawyers team. That team includes Claudia Fulshaw (proprietor of Claudia Fulshaw Designs), who created all the graphic design elements for the program, and Emily Gillcoat, who was the key PHP developer for the program. We also thank Amanda Price, Ashley Bennett, Nathan Cox, and Jessie Landerman, all of whom worked tirelessly and collaboratively on the project. Finally, the team wishes to thank Topsail Technologies for its technical expertise.
  • We are indebted to our warm-hearted and innovative publishers at Carolina Academic Press, Keith Sipe, linda lacy, and Scott Sipe for believing in the project from the beginning. Special thanks to Scott Sipe who led the publishing team with consistent good humor, to Martha Hopper for publicity and being a member of our beta-testing team, and to Suzanne Morgen and Zoë Oakes for contributing to the beta-testing team as well.
  • Our team of educational testing experts, led by Professor Gregory Cizek of the UNC School of Education who was supported by Dan Bowen, did a remarkable job teaching us about test development and also calibrating the CGL Trial Test responses from over 4,000 test-takers nationally—all without losing their sense of humor. And we are indebted to Susan Case of the National Conference of Bar Examiners for her early lessons in test-question design and her willingness to review early drafts of our Lesson objectives and corresponding test questions. Additionally, we were the happy beneficiaries of valuable professional input from the following legal writing faculty and directors who generously shared ideas about the concept and lesson objectives at the inception of the project: Lisa Eichhorn of the University of South Carolina, Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon, Christine Coughlin of Wake Forest University, Suzanne Rabe of the University of Arizona, Sue Liemer of the University of Southern Illinois, Nancy Wanderer of the University of Maine, Barbara McFarland of Northern Kentucky University, Grace Wigal of West Virginia University, and Terri LeClercq, originally from the University of Texas.
  • We would like to give special thanks to Lynda Gerbe and Bret Gerbe, and our initial team of student research assistants and professional staff at the University of North Carolina School of Law: Franklin Davis, Margaret Kopp, Victoria Perez, Joshua Styles, and Doug DeBaugh and Kimberly Vasbinder, without whom CGL could not have gone forward. In addition, the following UNC Law Research Assistants contributed significantly as alpha-testers, beta-testers, and proofreaders: Kim Brow, Erin Edwards, Ashley Holmes, Tarik Jallad, Isaac Lew, and Latisha Williams. These individuals were joined by Jon Cochran and Marcus Purdie as well as by attorneys Stephanie D'Atri and Alice McNeer who each contributed a professional's perspective to the program's final content.
  • The following faculty served as lead alpha-testers and beta-testers, contributing significantly to the quality of the finished program: Barbara McFarland at Northern Kentucky University School of Law, Elton Fukumoto at Syracuse University School of Law, Marisa Campbell, Director of the Paralegal Program at Meredith College, Thomas Myers at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and Jon McClanahan at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
  • We warmly thank the wide community of legal writing professors in law schools and paralegal programs around the country for their outpouring of help developing the CGL multiple-choice tests and beta-testing CGL. The following professionals also aided in the pre-trial test stage: Jon Cochran, Stephanie D'Atri, Susan McKinney, Marie McKinney, George McKinney, Marie McKinney, Marcus Purdie, and Ashlie West, and Sarah Schell. We are also indebted to over 4,500 law students, pre-law students, and paralegal students who participated in the Trial Test to develop the multiple-choice questions used by present CGL students to assess their competencies through the program.
  • We continue to be grateful for the ongoing input of faculty contributing insightful updates to CGL as they and their students work with the program. Notably, in 2012, we are indebted to Dionne Anthon at Widener University School of Law and Catherine Wasson at Elon Law School for their suggestions, now incorporated in the program.
  • The ADA-compliant version of the program was developed through a collaborative effort led by Lynda Gerbe, ADA Publication Coordinator; Erin Jo Adair, UNC Educational Technology Specialist; UNC Law Research Assistants Andrew Salek-Raham and John Dougherty; and attorney Stephanie D'Atri. The ADA team received considerable, invaluable advice from Tiffany Bailey, Assistant Director of UNC's Department of Disability Services and is grateful for her contagious dedication to providing equal educational access to all students.
  • Our heartfelt thanks to our colleagues at the University of North Carolina School of Law, especially Dean Jack Boger, Professor Craig Smith, and Professor Jon McClanahan, who have encouraged CGL and helped in its development. And we would be remiss not to specifically thank Patty Frey, the administrative assistant to UNC Law's Writing & Learning Resources Center, for her invaluable and infallible assistance and her commitment to helping students succeed.
  • Finally, and with massive understatement, we thank our families. To our husbands and our children, our parents, and our extended families for being there in more ways than we can count.

If we have missed anyone, we hope you know how much we appreciate your support and input—and we hope that you will let us know about our oversight so we can make our list complete.