Monday, January 26, 2015

Burton Awards will be on June 15, 2015

The Burton Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing is, without a doubt, the single most glamorous evening for legal writing. That's been true for years, and the 2015 award ceremony promises to continue that trend.  It will be held at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2015 in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  Awards will be given for public interest, public service, "Legends in Law," distinguished legal writing awards, outstanding journalist in law, and an award for "Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education."  Entertainment will be provided that evening by Kristin Chenoweth, the Emmy and Tony Award winning superstar.  It's a black tie event and tickets can be pricey, but the value of the evening makes it all worthwhile.

(mew)

January 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New book will help struggling legal-writing students

Murray KTemple’s Kristen Murray (pictured at left) and George Washington’s Jessica Clark Clark have written a new book to help “troubleshoot” students’ way through the legal writing course. Titled The Legal Writing Companion: Problems, Solutions, and Samples, the book may be especially helpful for struggling students. Chapter titles like “I’m Intimidated by Legal Writing,” “I’m Having Trouble Getting Started,” and “I Don’t Understand Umbrella Sections” will offer reassurance for students who feel insecure about their progress. And the book’s text will provide additional guidance for writing legal memoranda beyond what is found in a traditional textbook.  

 On some topics, my advice would differ from the authors’; for example, they suggest heavy reliance on explanatory parentheticals, while I would advise fewer parentheticals and more discussion in the text. I also prefer shorter, punchier section headings than the authors suggest. But professors who choose this book can address any such concerns. The book's less-formal approach may be just what some students need to get on track with legal analysis and writing—to have what the authors call a “light bulb moment.”

 View more about the book here.

(jdf)

January 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Junior legal writing scholars workshop

Grant Mastrosimone-joeWashburn University School of Law is proud to announce the second annual Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, to be held on July 24-25, 2015.  This workshop will provide a unique collaborative environment in which to receive feedback from other legal writing professors on your scholarly projects. Participants will work in small groups to give suggestions, ask questions, and offer input on the papers presented.

 The workshop organizers, Professors Joseph Mastrosimone and Emily Grant (pictured above), encourage scholarship submissions that are in any stage – idea outline, work-in-progress, or nearly complete and ready to submit.  The call is open to all junior legal writing professors (defined as anyone without tenure) whether they are full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty and those who are seeking employment as a legal writing professor.

 There is no registration fee for the workshop.  In addition, Washburn University School of Law will provide all meals during the workshop and hotel lodging for Friday night, July 24.  The workshop will run from mid-afternoon Friday to mid-day Saturday to give participants sufficient time to travel Friday morning and Saturday evening, which should hopefully allow participants to attend the workshop without needing a second night’s hotel stay.

 If you are interested in participating in the Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, please let us know by April 17, 2015, by emailing Joseph Mastrosimone at joseph.mastrosimone@washburn.edu.  In your email, please provide a short description of your scholarly work and give us your best guess as to what form it will take by the end of July (outline, early stage work-in-progress, nearly complete draft).  A maximum of eight papers will be selected to guarantee a workshop atmosphere. Those selected will be notified by May 15, and workshop submissions must be completed by July 13, 2015.

 More information about the 2015 workshop and last year’s successful workshop can be found at: http://washburnlaw.edu/legalwritingworkshop

hat tip: Joseph Mastrosimone

(jdf)

January 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to improve improve bar passage

Chapman University’s Mario Mainero states that law schools can improve bar passage rates in his Mainerorecent article We Should Not Rely on Commercial Bar Reviews to Do Our Job: Why Labor-Intensive Comprehensive Bar Examination Preparation Can and Should Be a Part of the Law School Mission. Merely focusing on at-risk students is no longer sufficient, Mainero argues.  His abstract states, “In order to avoid further calamitous declines in bar passage rates, law schools will have to move from traditional academic support models to models that encourage the entire cohort of students to work together, cooperatively, and that apply extensive time and effort to ensure that all students receive the benefit of these programs.” He writes that a comprehensive program at Chapman raised bar passage rates to a level “significantly better than would be expected by some commentators, given its ranking and relative youth as a law school.”

(jdf)

January 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tips on teaching law classes

RabeFor some helpful tips on teaching, check Arizona professor Suzanne Rabe's article Without a Clue: Hard-Earned Lessons in Teaching. Pitched toward adjuncts as well as full-time professors, the article offers nine tips, including "Begin and End class on Time" and "Be Formal at First." It was published in the December Arizona Attorney magazine.

Hat tip: Susan Salmon

(jdf)

January 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lawyers are poor drafters

Most lawyers are poor drafters, writes Professor Joseph Kimble of Western Michigan University-Cooley Law Kimble 2015 School. In a recent article, Kimble identifies two key reasons for this: law schools have tended to neglect legal drafting, and lawyers often mimic the antiquated language in form books and poorly-drafted statutes. To illustrate the problem, Kimble offers a court order prepared by lawyers and judges at a recent symposium. Displaying the order and his revised version side by side, he points out, among other things, that the original has 125 words more than the revision; the original includes several legalese phrases, such as pursuant to; and the original includes unnecessary cross-references.  For his full analysis, see You Think Lawyers Are Good Drafters? in the autumn 2014 issue of The Green Bag.

(jdf)

January 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Lawyers and storytelling

Meyer_PhilipStorytelling is an important skill for lawyers, as Vermont legal writing professor Philip N. Meyer explains in the January ABA Journal. Although his article focuses primarily on presentations to juries, one principle can be helpful to students writing persuasive documents: effective advocates, he writes, “are adept at matching narrative themes with analytical theories, alchemically making the two appear as one.”  

Meyer has also written a related book, Storytelling for Lawyers.

(jdf)

January 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Improving law students' research skills

Detroit Mercy’s Patrick Meyer recently conducted a study to determine what research abilities law Meyer firms want in new law graduates.  Noting flaws in graduates’ research skills, Meyer's respondents stated, among other things, “Most summers and first years arrive at [our] law firm woefully unprepared,” “Books! They tend to waste time poking around online when they could have easily and efficiently found the answers if the used the state practice series,” and  “PLEASE teach them to be cost-aware . . . and not just dive into expensive research as if it were Google!”  

 To address these and other gaps in graduates’ research skills, Meyer proposes requiring an advanced legal research course and “taking steps to infuse research training throughout the curriculum, as the Carnegie Report recommends for lawyering skills.”  His results are reported in Law Firm Legal Research Requirements and the Legal Academy Beyond Carnegie, 35 Whittier L. Rev. 419 (2014).

(jdf)

January 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mark Wojcik to Receive AALS Section Award Today for a "Significant Lifetime Contribution" to Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Reseach

Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago will today receive the lifetime contribution award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.  The Section Award is given to an individual who has made "a significant lifetime contribution to the field of legal writing, reasoning, and research."

Mark is known for his many contributions to the field, including spearheading international conferences, serving as a past Chair of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Reearch, serving three terms on the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute, helping to create the LWI One-Day Workshops, serving as Treasurer of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers, and working with the Law Library of Congress, and contributing as an editor of this blog.

Wojcik 2

Section chair Kim Holst will present the award today, Saturday, January 3, 2015, at the section luncheon at the Association of American Law School's Annual Meeting in Washington.

Congratulations, Mark!  He joins this list of past winners of this award:

  • 1993:  Marjorie Rombauer
  • 1994:  Ralph Brill
  • 1996:  Mary Lawrence
  • 2002:  Helene Shapo
  • 2003:  Laurel Oates
  • 2005:  Marilyn Walter
  • 2006:  Terri LeClercq
  • 2007:  Anne Enquist
  • 2008:  Eric Easton
  • 2009:  Richard Neumann
  • 2010:  Joe Kimble
  • 2011:  Betsy Fajans
  • 2012:  Susan Brody/Mary Barnard Ray
  • 2013:  Terrill Pollman/Jill Ramsfield
  • 2014:  Jan Levine
  • 2015:  Mark E. Wojcik

(jdf)

January 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Golden Pen Award Presentation Tonight to Judge Michael Ponsor

Ponsor BookThe Honorable Michael A. Ponsor, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, will receive the 2015 Golden Pen Award from the Legal Writing Institute.  The award will be presented tonight, January 2, 2015, during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  The event will be held from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Capitol Ballroom, Lobby Level, of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. 

During tonight's event, the Thomas Blackwell Award will also be presented to Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern Unviersity School of Law.
 
Judge Ponsor is being recognized with the Golden Pen Award for his contributions to the cause of excellent legal writing, both in his opinion writing and in his teaching as an adjunct at Western New England University School of Law and at Yale, his alma mater. Demonstrating his commitment to teaching future lawyers, Judge Ponsor has for the last 20 years taught persuasive writing and advocacy skills in an upper-level simulation course. 
 
Judge Ponsor presided over the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in 50 years, and he recently wrote a well-received novel, The Hanging Judge, about the legal and moral issues involved. The nomination of Judge Ponsor recognized him as 
[a] respected and compassionate jurist as well as an exceptional writer, teacher, and mentor. . . . He has engaged the judiciary, current and future lawyers, and the public in a much-needed dialogue about two major challenges facing the criminal justice system: the death penalty and the extremely high rates of incarceration in the United States. 
PonsorThe Legal Writing Institute's Golden Pen Award honors those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing. These contributions may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents, improving the quality of legal writing instruction, advocating for better writing within the legal community, outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing or legal topics, or exceptional writing in law practice. The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of LWI, but active members are considered in exceptional circumstance
 
The 2015 Golden Pen will be presented during the Blackwell Award Reception, which honors the recipient of the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing and is scheduled from 8-10 p.m. Friday, January 2, 2015, in the Capitol Ballroom, Lobby Level, Omni Shoreham Hotel.
 
The LWI Awards Committee includes Co-Chairs Lurene Contento and Susan Bay and members Anne Enquist, Myra Orlen, and Kathy Vinson.
 
Hat tips to Linda Berger, Lurene Contento, and Susan Bay
 
(mew)

January 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Blackwell Award Presentation Tonight to Professor Helene Shapo

Shapo, HeleneProfessor Emeritus Helene S. Shapo of Northwestern University School of Law, a previous winner of the Burton Award for legal writing education, tonight receives the Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing.  The award is presented jointly by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD).

The Blackwell Award Reception will be held from 8-10 p.m. on Friday, January 2, 2015, during the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.  It will be held at the Capitol Ballroom, Lobby Level, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

The Boards of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) jointly created this distinguished award to honor the life of Thomas Blackwell, a professor at Appalachian Law School who was murdered by a deranged student. The award commemorating Thomas Blackwell is presented annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing by demonstrating:

  • an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence;
  • a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs;
  • and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.

 Helene exemplifies these qualities and has been a pioneer in the legal writing field. As explained in her nomination letter:

[T]hroughout her 35-year career in the LRW field, she has quietly but firmly pushed for both more and more diversified course offerings and for more credits for those courses, better faculty salaries and status, and greater job security.

In just about every way possible over her incredible career, Helene has been an innovator and a leader in our field. Through her writing, speaking, service, and curriculum design, she has been a guiding light in advancing the discipline of Legal Writing, improving the way it is taught to students, and improving the status and security of Legal Writing faculty.

The previous winners of the Blackwell award are:

2014 - Jan Levine, Duquesne University School of Law

2013 - Judy Stinson, Arizona State University

2012 - Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon 

2011 - Carol McCrehan Parker of the University of Tennessee

2010 - Steve Johansen of Lewis & Clark

2009 - Linda Edwards of Mercer Law

2008 - Diana Pratt of Wayne State

2007 - Louis Sirico of Villanova Law School

2006 - Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State

2005 - Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent

2004 - Pam Lysaght of Detroit Mercy

2003 - Richard K. Neumann of Hofstra University

(mew)

January 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Save the Date: 2015 Burton Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing

The Burton Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing is, without a doubt, the single most glamorous evening for legal writing. That's been true for years, and next year's award ceremony promises to continue that trend.  It will be held at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2015 in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  Awards will be given for public interest, public service, "Legends in Law," distinguished legal writing awards, outstanding journalist in law, and an award for "Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education."  Entertainment will be provided that evening by Kristin Chenoweth, the Emmy and Tony Award winning superstar.  It's a black tie event and tickets can be pricey, but the value of the evening makes it all worthwhile.

(mew)

December 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Study documents gender bias in student evaluations

A recent study reinforced previous conclusions that student evaluations are biased in favor of male instructors. Among its findings, it documented an interesting result on an item that could be objectively verified.  Two professors gave students feedback at the same time. But on a question about their promptness, the instructor students thought was a male was rated 4.35 out of 5, while the instructor they thought was a female was ranked 3.55.

Hat tip: Michael Higdon

(jdf)

December 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Proposals for the 2015 Storytelling Conference in Seattle

Here's one last reminder:  The deadline for submitting proposals for the 2015 Applied Legal Storytelling Conference is on Monday, December 15, 2014. The call for proposals is on the Legal Writing Institute web site, under “Related Conferences,” or by clicking here.   That pages also includes a bibliography of articles on Applied Legal Storytelling (a preview of the bibliography that will be published in Volume 12 of Legal Communication and Rhetoric: JALWD in Fall 2015). 

The conference will take place from July 21-23, 2015, at Seattle University School of Law.  The conference is jointly sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, the Clinical Legal Education Association, and the Seattle University School of Law.

If you miss the deadline, you can probably come up with a good story as to why they should accept your late proposal.  (I'm not sure that they'll do that, so do it properly and get your proposal in on time!).

Hat tip to Christopher Rideout.

(mew)

December 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Surprise! The United States Code Has a New Title!

United States CodeBack in September when nobody was looking, a new title (Title 52) became effective for the United States Code.  The new Title collects sections on voting and elections that previously appeared in Titles 2 and 42. There is no change to the text of those sections, just a change in where you find them.

The reorganization of the United States Code is discussed in an article by the Office of Law Revision Counsel, which notes that "[t]he short-term inconvenience of adjusting to new Code citations is greatly outweighed by the benefit of making much needed long-term improvements in the organizational structure of the Code."  Click here to read that article. 

Hat tip to Ann Schwing and Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers

(mew)

 

December 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The advantages of examples in law school classrooms

PollmanCognitive load theory shows why law professors should use examples in their classrooms. So writes UNLV Professor Terrill Pollman in her article The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Examples and Model-Based Learning in the Law School Classroom in thethe November issue of the Journal of Legal Education. She explains that cognitive load theory concerns the learning of complex tasks where “learners are often overwhelmed” by the need to process and apply a number of elements. Cognitive load theorists suggest that teachers should give students specific guidance in order to lighten their cognitive load. Using examples in both doctrinal and legal writing courses is one way to do that for law students as they become familiar with the legal field. But research also shows that courses for more experienced learners might include fewer examples and prompt students to grapple with problem solving, Pollman writes.

(jdf)

December 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 8, 2014

AALS Section Award Winners Announced

AALS LogoThe Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has announced the winners of its 2015 awards for excellence in legal education. The awards are hosted by several AALS sections that are organized around various academic disciplines and topics of interest. The winners will be acknowledged at section programs during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-5, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

“I’d like to congratulate the 2015 AALS section award winners,” said Daniel B. Rodriguez, AALS President and Dean, Northwestern University Law School in a press release issued by the AALS. “These law professors represent the very best of our academic community and their commitment to our students and excellence in our profession is rightly celebrated by these section awards.”

The 2015 AALS section award winners are:

Section on Academic Support Award
Paula Lustbader, Seattle University School of Law

Section on Clinical Legal Education William Pincus Award
Ann C. Shalleck, American University, Washington College of Law

Section on Criminal Justice Junior Scholar Award
Saira Mohamed, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Section on Evidence Wigmore Award
Peter Tillers, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University

Section on Federal Courts Best Article Award
Seth Davis, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Section on Law Libraries and Legal Information Award
Billie Jo Kaufman, American University, Washington College of Law

Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research Award
Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School--Chicago

Section on Minority Groups Clyde Ferguson Award
Mario Barnes, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, University of Iowa College of Law

Section on Minority Groups Derrick A. Bell Jr. Award
César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Capital University Law School

Section on Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Deborah L. Rhode Award
Gerald Lopez, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Section on Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Father Robert Drinan Award
William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Section on Torts and Compensation Systems William L. Prosser Award
Michael Green, Wake Forest University School of Law

Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award
Herma Hill Kay, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

The Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Award will be presented at the Section Luncheon on Saturday, January 3, 2015. 

December 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lincoln Cathedral's Copy of the Magna Carta on Display at the Library of Congress

Lincoln CathedralIf you're going to Washington D.C. this January for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, plan an extra day to stop by the Library of Congress which will have a special exhibit on the Magna Carta.

The year 2015 will mark the 800th anniversary of the 1215 Magna Carta, the first document to limit the power of the King and to uphold the rights of the individual.

An exhibit called "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor" will open at the Library of Congress on November 6, 2014 and continue to January 19, 2015. It features the "Lincoln Cathedral" copy of the Magna Carta, which is being loaned by Lincoln Cathedral in England (pictured here).

(mew)

December 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 5, 2014

One of the One-Day Workshops

The Legal Writing Institute has hosted one-day workshops each December since 2009, when the first two workshops were held in Chicago (at The John Marshall Law School) and New York City (at St. John's University).  The number of workshops has grown, and in some years we've had as many as 16 workshops across the country.  This year there are ten workshops.  Seven of them are being held this weekend and three others will be held next weekend.

One of those workshops is being held today at California Western School of Law in San Diego.  Speakers and moderators there include:

  • Niels Schaumann (California Western School of Law)
  • David W. Austin (California Western School of Law)
  • Allison Cato (Calfornia Western School of Law)
  • Elizabeth Carroll (USC Gould School of Law)
  • Maureen Johnson (Loyola Los Angeles)
  • Ruth Hargrove (California Western School of Law)
  • Jeanne Merino (Stanford Law School)
  • Lisa Black (California Western School of Law)
  • Charles Calleros (Arizona State University)
  • Kathryn Fehrman (California Western School of Law)
  • Joe Kimble (Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School)
  • Roberta Thyfault (California Western School of Law)
  • Julie Ryan (USC Gould School of Law)
  • Fiona McKenna (Golden Gate University)
  • Tim Casey (California Western School of Law)
  • Lance Long (Stetson University College of Law)
  • Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School)

The conference is well attended, with attendees from across California and from other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Washington. And the presentations are just great -- these one-day workshops offer participants a great opportunity to re-energize in the middle of the academic year and to share ideas and experiences with other colleagues.

(mew)

December 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Fall AALS Newsletter is out

WojcikThe Fall 2014 newsletter of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, Shapoand Research is now available. Its inside information about legal writing speakers and topics at the AALS Annual Meeting in January will be especially helpful to those thinking of attending the meeting. It also announces that the legal writing community will have greeters available there for those who want to connect with others. And it reminds readers not to miss the luncheon for the section award, which will go to Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School (pictured at left), and the reception for the Blackwell Award, which will go to Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern University School of Law (pictured at right).  

Download LWRR Newsletter 2014 for short articles and more news, including information about colleagues’ publications.

(jdf)

December 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)