J. Christopher Rideout

J. Christopher Rideout

Professor Emeritus

 Sullivan Hall 430


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  • Legal Rhetoric and Persuasion
  • Narratives, Storytelling, and Law
  • Style, Voice, and Clarity in Legal Writing
  • Law and Literature
  • Legal Drafting (including Contract Drafting)


  • B.A., University of Puget Sound, 1972
  • M.A., University of Washington, 1977
  • Ph.D., University of Washington, 1982


J. Christopher Rideout is a Professor of Lawyering Skills at the Seattle University School of Law. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1982. Early in his career, he taught writing at the university level, at both the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound. In the 1980's, he moved his academic teaching to the law school, now at Seattle University, where he helped to develop and administer the legal writing program there. He teaches courses in legal drafting, advanced legal writing, contract drafting, and law and literature.

From 1981-1984, he co-directed a regional writing project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. As an outgrowth of that project, he co-founded the Legal Writing Institute in 1985 and chaired its board of directors for many years. He also served as founding editor-in-chief of the journal Legal Writing in the 1990's.

He has served on panels and presented papers at numerous academic conferences and written numerous articles on legal writing. Most recently, his scholarship has focused on three areas: narrative theory and legal persuasion; discoursal identities in legal writing; and the discipline of legal writing. He has also mentored the scholarly writing of others through his work with the Writer's Workshop, sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, for which he was a mentor and facilitator from 2007-2018.

In 2009, he was presented with the Mary S. Lawrence Award, a national recognition of his contributions to legal writing scholarship. In 2012, he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

He has also consulted with other law schools, in both the U.S. and Canada; consulted with private law firms, governmental agencies, and academic testing agencies; offered ongoing workshops for the corporate law departments of Microsoft and Amazon.com; given plain language expert testimony; served on government committees devoted to writing and law reform; and presented numerous CLE's for the Washington State Bar Association on legal writing, persuasive legal writing, legal drafting, storytelling in the law, and law and ethics.



Effective Writing for Lawyers (University of Puget Sound School of Law 1982-84) (coursebook for continuing legal education).

A Handbook for Contemporary Rhetoric for the Writing Class (University of Puget Sound 1979).

Book Chapters

Scholarship in Legal Writing, in The Politics of Legal Writing: Proceedings of a Conference for Legal Research and Writing Program Directors (1996).


“Starting from Scratch: Early Steps for the Journal,” 22 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute 1 (2018).

Ethos, Character, and Discoursal Self in Persuasive Legal Writing,” 21 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute 19 (2016).

“Applied Legal Storytelling: A Bibliography,” 12 Legal Communication and Rhetoric 247 (2015).

“Knowing What We Already Know: On the Doctrine of Legal Writing,” 1 Savannah Law Review 103 (2014).

“A Twice-Told Tale: Plausibility and Narrative Coherence in Judicial Storytelling,” 10 Legal Communication and Rhetoric 67 (2013).

"Tom Holdych: A Tribute," in "In Memory of Professor Thomas J. Holdych," 35 Seattle U. L. Rev. XV (2012).

"Penumbral Thinking Revisited: Metaphor in Legal Argumentation," 7 Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors 155 (2010).

"Discipline-Building and Disciplinary Values: Thoughts on Legal Writing at Year Twenty-Five of the Legal Writing Institute," 16 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute 477 (2010).

"Legal Writing: The View from Within" (with Jill J. Ramsfield), 61 Mercer Law Review 705 (2010).

"Luncheon Speech (transcribed)," 61 Mercer Law Review 857 (2010).

Creatures From the Black Lagoon — They're Nice: What Writing Specialists Can Offer Legal Writing Programs, 13 Second Draft 16 (1999).

Legal Writing: A Revised View, 69 Wash. L. Rev. 35 (1994) (with Jill J. Ramsfield).

So What's in a Name? A Rhetorical Reading of Washington's Sexually Violent Predators Act, 15 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 781 (1992).

Research and Writing About Legal Writing: A Foreword From the Editor, 1 Legal Writing v (1991).

Tribute to Andrew Walkover, 12 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. xiii (1988).

Elements of Argument and Current Issues and Enduring Questions: Methods and Models of Argument from Plato to the Present, 8 J. Advanced Composition 189 (1988) (book reviews).

The Language of Inclusion: Writing at the Center, Washington Center News (1987).

Prelude: A Workshop for College Freshmen in Writing and Critical Thinking, Wash. English J. 22 (1986) (with Bauska, Neff, and Ostrom).

Evaluating College Writing Problems, Wash. English J. 28 (1984) (book review).

Applying the Writing-across-the-curriculum Model to Professional Writing, 3 Current Issues in Higher Educ. 27 (1983-84).

A Contagious Peculiarity: Writing at a Law School, Wash. English J. 2 (1982).