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. There, she directed the first-year legal research and writing program and the academic success program for more than twenty years. She is the original senior editor of the National Law School Academic Support Professional Project ( and, before retiring, was a frequent speaker at the annual Academic Success workshops sponsored by the Law School Admissions Council. Additionally, Professor McKinney presented frequently at national and regional legal writing conferences for the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors. She received the 2014 Section Award from the Academic Support Section of the American Association of Law School (AALS) and the Outstanding Service Award from the UNC Law Faculty in 2012. In addition to the Core Grammar series, she is the author of Reading Like a Lawyer (CAP 3rd ed. 2022) and Legal Research: A Practical Guide & Self-Instructional Workbook (West 5th ed. 2008).

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D. is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, N.C. and has taught university writing for nearly twenty years. After law school, she clerked for a federal district court judge and then went on to earn her doctorate in rhetoric and composition. In addition to the Core Grammar series, Dr. Pryal is the series editor, with Alexa Z. Chew, of The Complete Series for Legal Writers (, which includes The Complete Legal Writer (CAP 2d ed. 2020, co-authored with Prof. Chew), The Complete Bar Writer (CAP 2020, co-authored with Prof. Chew), The Complete Pre-Law Writer (CAP 2022, co-authored with Prof. Louis A. di Leo). She is a frequent keynote speaker and leads professional seminars on mental health and neurodiversity and is the author of A Light in the Tower: A New Reckoning with Mental Health in Higher Education (University Press of Kansas 2023) and Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education (Blue Crow Books 2017).

Together, the authors have over forty years of experience teaching university-level writing. If you have questions about the program or suggestions for future editions, we welcome your comments.

Acknowledgments for the Fifth Edition (2023)

This Fifth Edition of Core Grammar for Lawyers enjoys an updated look and feel as well as the addition of new features and content to help faculty and students alike. Grammar is not static. It evolves over time. With this edition, as with prior editions, we have been careful to ensure that the content keeps pace with current expectations in legal writing.

We again enthusiastically thank Carol Thomson, founder of FireStream Media, Inc., for leading the program’s technical development with exceptional skill, patience, competence, and humor. We thank developer Emily Gillcoat whose exceptional creative problem-solving skills are visible on every screen, and graphic designer Claudia Fulshaw, founder of Claudia Fulshaw Designs, for her consistently flawless ability to create a fresh, calm user interface for this new edition while maintaining the appeal of the original.

We continue to deeply appreciate our collaborative relationship with Scott Sipe, our publisher at Carolina Academic Press, who believed in the potential of this program from its inception. His ability to work under pressure with patience and humor is impressive. We are also deeply appreciative of the attention that the staff at Carolina Academic Press has paid to Core Grammar over many years. For this fifth edition, we especially appreciate Ryland Bowman’s conscientious and skillful handling of the details of the text and Chase Baity’s skill in ensuring that our changes in this edition made it online without a flaw.

This edition, as with all earlier editions, is the product of generous input from colleagues around the country. Stephen Tollafield, Director of Research & Writing at UC Law San Francisco; Professor Annie Chan of the Legal Writing Program at St. Thomas University College of Law (Miami); Associate Dean Catherine E. Bennett, Director of Legal Writing at the Kern County College of Law; and Professors Christine Coughlin and Laura P. Graham of Wake Forest University School of Law each contributed valuable ideas for the development of new content as well as opinions about what content to keep as is. The authors are grateful for their thoughtful input as we approached this new edition. As a result of their positive ideas, we have been careful to make only those changes that were necessary to keep Core Grammar clear and current.

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

Acknowledgments for the Fourth Edition (2019)

CGL has grown in scope and sophistication over the years since it was introduced in 2011 thanks to the input of a team of individuals committed to helping law students become the best writers they can be. This Fourth Edition has brought a fresh look and feel to the program, updating the user experience and the user interface while also offering additional features to faculty. This growth is possible because of the sound input of contributors acknowledged below in earlier editions and because of the creative efforts of some of those same individuals – and new contributors – in this edition.

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We again wholeheartedly and unreservedly thank Carol Thomson, founder of FireStream Media, LLC, for leading the program's technical development with exceptional skill, patience, competence, and humor. We thank developer Emily Gillcoat whose exceptional creative problem-solving skills are visible on every screen, and graphic designer Claudia Fulshaw, founder of Claudia Fulshaw Design, for her consistently flawless ability to create a fresh, calm user interface for this new edition while maintaining the appeal of the original. And we continue to deeply appreciate our collaborative relationship with Scott Sipe, who believed in the potential of this program from its inception, as well as the members of the publishing team at Carolina Academic Press who have been supportive of our work for many, many years. We are especially appreciative of proofreader Ryland Bowman's conscientious and skillful attention to the final details of the text in this edition. In addition, we thank Professor Emerita Coleen Barger, author of the 6th edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, for generously providing us with updated information about the ALWD Guide's latest edition.

This edition, as with all earlier editions, is the product of careful work from a team of alpha and beta testers including Professor Alexa Chew from the University of North Carolina School of Law as well as students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Syracuse, Loyola, Capital, and Southern Illinois. The following law students, computer experts, and professional editors all contributed in important ways to the final version of this Fourth Edition, and we deeply appreciate their insights and suggestions: Alyssa Alexander, Sarah Anderson, Chase Baity, Chayra Eddie-Zarate, Sara Farnsworth, Davis Fussell, Rebecca Gibson, Victoria Hanohano-Hong, Sarah Hornbach, Erin Kelly, Arthur Iannacone, Deon McCormick, James McGuire, Patricia Martin, Rachael Meier, Alison Ortega, Tyra Pearson, Carolyn Schweitzer, Dhana Shah, Caitlin Sipe, Karrie Virgin, Stacey Walker, Thomas Walker.

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.

Acknowledgments for the Third Edition (2016)

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.

The authors first want to enthusiastically thank again each of those individuals identified below in our "Acknowledgements for the First and Second Editions" who made this vision a reality.

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The authors next want to thank all of the dedicated law school faculty and professional staff members who have used this tool so effectively to help their students experience success as legal writers. We also wish to express our respect for the thousands of students who have used the program to ensure that their own writing, and that of other professionals with whom they work, communicates their ideas with clarity and grace.

Of particular note for this Third Edition, we are deeply grateful for the consistently creative and dedicated work of Carol Thomson, owner of FireStream Media and developer of the original Core Grammar program as well as the Second Edition, who again led the technology team and served as Project Manager for this Third Edition with her signature energy and commitment to excellence. Additionally, our admiration of and deep appreciation for the significant contributions of Emily Gillcoat in this and all prior editions of Core Grammar cannot be overstated. Additionally, we continue to appreciate our collaborative relationship with Scott Sipe and the members of the publishing team at Carolina Academic Press, many of whom have worked with Core Grammar for Lawyers since its inception. We are particularly grateful for the detailed editing support of Tara Oden at Carolina Academic Press for this edition.

This Third Edition has benefitted significantly from the advice and input of our colleagues Dean and Professor Emerita Judith Wegner of the University of North Carolina School of Law, Professor Sue Liemer of Elon University School of Law, and Professor Barbara McFarland of Northern Kentucky University's Chase College of Law. We are also grateful for the keen editing eye of Legal Writing Specialist Holly Krohel of the University of San Diego School of Law whose careful eye for detail added immeasurably to the accuracy of the present edition. Additionally, we deeply appreciate the advice of Norman Bier, Director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, and of Ross Strader, Director of Learning Engineering at Lumen Learning, for their advice and guidance regarding the successful integration of in-Lesson exercises in this latest edition of the program. Psychometrician Dan Bowen has continued to share his gift for working with numbers to ensure that our Pre-Test and Post-Test questions are both secure and valid.

Finally, the authors and the development team for this Third Edition are deeply grateful to the following individuals who served as alpha testers and beta testers (and, in some cases, as both) for this updated edition of Core Grammar for Lawyers: Sarah Ballard, Isabelle Chammas, Ashley Coates, Catherine M. Fafone, Lynda Gerbe, Rebecca Gibson, Keith Hartley, Alex Murphy, and Carolyn Schweitzer, Caitlin Sipe, and Sarah Hornbach Sipe. The present student and faculty experience is directly linked to their careful assessment of the smallest details of the program's content, and we are grateful for their considerable experience, flawless eye for detail, and shared interest in clear writing.

Acknowledgments for the Second Edition (2014)

The authors warmly thank the following individuals for their significant contributions to the 2014 release of Core Grammar for Lawyers (CGL) in a tablet-accessible format:

  • Carol Thomson, owner of FireStream Media and developer of the original Core Grammar program, put together and led the technology team that made this conversion possible. In addition, Carol was the project manager who kept all aspects of the project on track. To call her team leader is an understatement: without Carol Thomson, the Core Grammar program would not be what it is today. We are deeply appreciative of her gifts and hard work.
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  • We also thank the entire technology team. The technology team for this new iteration of Core Grammar included, again, Emily Gillcoat, who was the key PHP and HTML5 developer for the program, and Claudia Fulshaw (of Claudia Fulshaw Design), who adapted her original graphic designs as needed. In addition, we thank Michele Sager, FireStream Media's tester, for her significant input during the program's development.
  • The entire Carolina Academic Press community deserves our warm and enthusiastic thanks. In particular, Scott Sipe, senior editor for the Core Grammar series, has worked with unfaltering patience to make sure the needs of students and faculty are addressed at every turn. His commitment to this learning tool and his significant editorial input have helped shape Core Grammar for Lawyers from its inception to its current iteration as a tablet-friendly learning tool. We also thank Charlsey Rutan of the CAP marketing team for her confidence in CGL and her ability to address the needs of the legal writing community through marketing. We also thank Jessica Newman and Beth Hall, also of the CAP marketing team, for their faith in the Core Grammar system and their commitment not only to CGL but to Core Grammar for College as well. Finally, we thank Meredith Jones, Chris Harrow, and Jae Aoh of the Carolina Academic Press team for their care and competence as Alpha and Beta Testers during the first stage of development of this new iteration of CGL.
  • A number of gifted editors contributed to the final product for this new edition. We are particularly grateful to Carolyn Schweitzer for sharing her remarkable editing gifts with us in all aspects of the program's development, most particularly in converting the original Flash instructions to their new form as instructions that can be used on current tablets. We would be remiss also if we did not acknowledge her remarkable eye for detail and ability to ensure consistency throughout the program. In addition, we thank Ryland Bowman of Carolina Academic Press who gave us valuable feedback on Lesson edits and contributed invaluably to the final program.
  • Finally, we are enormously grateful to each member of our alpha and beta testing teams, all of whom hold advanced degrees and have work experience that made them uniquely qualified for this challenging task: Alpha testers Matt Dicker, Ryan Fairchild, Laura Krcmaric, Molly Martinson, and Caitlin Sipe, and Beta Testers Allison Chandler, Breanna Freeman, Lynda Gerbe, Corey Harris, David Herring, Deon McCormick, Carolyn Schweitzer, and Edward Thater.

Acknowledgments for the First Edition (2011)

We do not have the words to thank the remarkable team of IT professionals, artists, and editors who made CGL come to life in its original release in 2011: FireStream Media, Claudia Fulshaw Design, and Carolina Academic Press.

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All of the following groups and individuals contributed significantly to the program over that first 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 Design), 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 who contributed to the development of CGL from its first year of release to now, 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.