Saturday, March 28, 2015
- David W. Austin (California Western School of Law, San Diego)
- Mary Bowman, Co-Chair (Seattle University School of Law)
- Olympia Duhart (Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
- Lucy Jewel (University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville)
- Kristen Tiscione, Co-Chair (Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.)
- Melissa Weresh (Drake University Law School, Des Moines, Iowa)
- Cliff Zimmerman (Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois)
You can meet each member of the Professional Status Committee in individual profiles that we will post daily over the coming week.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
For a potpourri of tips about legal writing, see Dear Scrivener by Scott Moise in the March 2015 South Carolina Lawyer. There, Moise responds to questions the column has received. Two of them concern pet peeves of mine:
--Is the colon in this sentence correct—“Enclosed are: a special warranty deed, a signed contract, ad an affidavit”? Moise’s answer is a resounding “No” (as is mine). A colon must follow language that could stand alone as a complete sentence.
--Should numbers be both spelled and expressed as numerals, as in “thirty (30)”? Again the answer is “No.” That formulation is wordy and smacks of outdated legalese.
For more tips, see the rest of the column.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Well you just can't say enough about ALWD and the Bluebook it seems, particularly now that citations made from each are indistinguishable. Your legal readers won't know which citation manual you used to get those oh-so-perfect citations.
Not everyone is happy about that development. Professor Peter W. Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Cornell, shared this short review that laments the capitulation of ALWD to the Bluebook.
Here's the call for ideas, for the Section's 2015 newsletter:
The University of Pennsylvania Law Review announced a competition for student-authored submissions for its first annual public-interest essay competition. The author of the first-prize paper will receive $3,000, and the winning article will be published in volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Here's what you need to know about it.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION
JUDGING PROCESS AND WINNER NOTIFICATION
These guidelines and the link to the online submission portal are accessible through the Public Interest tab on the website of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.
Hat tip to Eleanor Barrett, Associate Dean for Legal Practice Skills, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Monday, March 23, 2015
Utah State political science professor Greg Goelzhauser recently reported in the Green Bag about a"blood oath" by Justice Harry Blackmun (pictured at left), who was known as a wordsmith and a grammarian. It seems that Blackman and Reporter of Decisions Henry Putzel agreed to root out the terms parameter and viable from Supreme Court opinions. Blackmun's objection to the first was that it is a mathematical term and not a synonym for boundary, and he saw viable as a medical term meaning "capable of living." Thus he disliked the phrase "viable alternative."
In addition to its being incorrect in many contexts, I object to parameter as just plain stuffy. But I think viable can work metaphorically, as in "She has a viable claim."
If I took a blood oath it would be against the rampant incorrect use of "as such" and "begs the question." The first phrase includes a pronoun--such--that must have an antecedent, but there isn't one when the phrase is used to mean therefore. And begs the question refers to a specific logical fallacy, a kind of circular reasoning. It does not mean "raises the question."
Washburn 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 Emily Grant and Joseph Mastrosimone, strongly 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. Such a deal! 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 them know by April 17, 2015, by emailing Joseph Mastrosimone at Washburn. In your email, please describe your scholarly work and estimate what form it will take by the end of July (outline, early stage work-in-progress, nearly complete draft, second edition?). 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.
Hat tip to Joseph Mastrosimone
Sunday, March 22, 2015
The best place to hide something is sometimes in plain sight. And while looking for a needle in a haystack may be difficult, it might be harder than finding the right needle in a stack of needles. The phrase has been used in some popular culture (television shows) but I had not heard the phrase applied to legal research until I heard it from Ryan Allein, a first-year student at California Western School of Law. Lamenting that electronic research had made it too easy to find cases, he said that legal research was like looking for a needle in a needle stack.
What's the remedy? For many researchers, spending a few minutes with a secondary source that explains the area of law being researched will save hours of needless (and needle-less) research. You'll have a better sense of what it is you're looking for and better know when you have found it. And taking a second look at that secondary source after finding your killer case isn't a bad idea either. You may see additional issues or better understand the nuances of an argument you're going to make.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
Friday, March 20, 2015
In 2014, the U.S. Army War College revoked the master's degree previously given to U.S. Senator John E. Walsh after investigating allegations that large amounts of his 14-page thesis had been plagiarized. After the allegations of plagiarism became public last year, Senator Walsh of Montana dropped his campaign for election to the Senate. (He had been appointed to fill out the remainder of an unfinished term.) See Jonathan Martin, Plagiarism Costs Degree for Senator John Walsh, N.Y. Times, Oct. 10, 2014; Academic Integrity: U.S. Army War College Revokes Senator's Degree Over Plagiarism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 24, 2014, at A18. And yes, we put citations in this post because we didn't want to be accused of plagiarism!
Thursday, March 19, 2015
The winter 2014 issue has lots of interesting information, including an article by Anthony Niedwiecki of The John Marshall Law School on the extensive changes to the latest (fifth) edition of the ALWD Citation Guide, and how it now produces the same citations as The Bluebook: "[The new edition of the ALWD Citation Guide] eliminates all style differences with The Bluebook, so The ALWD Guide to Legal Citation will be the only book on citation that law students and lawyers will ever have to buy."
This latest issue of The Scrivener also contains moving tributes to a long-time Scribes member, the late Beverly Burlingame, and the outgoing executive director of Scribes, Norm Plate. In another article based on a presentation at the 2014 Annual Scribes Membership Meeting, Talmage Boston analyzes Abraham Lincoln as a communicator. And a photo shows my fellow blog editor Mark Wojcik receiving the Section Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research (well deserved, Mark!) for his service to legal writing.
This issue of The Scrivener also contains a fitting tribute to Jane Siegel of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, who diligently served for many years as the previous editor-in-chief of The Scrivener. The article about her by Julie Spanbauer highlights the many contributions that Jane made over her years of service to Scribes and The Scrivener.
The new editorial team for The Scrivener is being led by Professor Maureen Collins of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She welcomes contributions of articles and news items for the next issue of The Scrivener.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Some thoughts by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger about preparing legal advocates were recently republished in the Fordham Law Review. The piece originally appeared in 1973 and was based on a speech Burger gave at Fordham. After lamenting the quality of advocacy in U.S courts, the Burger praised the work of English advocates, who go through a selection process. Burger then criticized law schools for not providing “adequate and systematic programs” to teach advocacy. That, of course, has changed since 1973, as professors of legal writing and advocacy have become increasingly professionalized. Still, Burger’s proposals might pique some interest today. He argued that our profession should “face up to and reject” the idea that every law graduate is qualified to argue before the Courts. Instead, we should evaluate lawyers’ competence and require certification of courtroom advocates. The article is titled The Special Skills of Advocacy: Are Specialized Training and Certification of Advocates Essential to Our System of Justice?
Monday, March 16, 2015
Those of you who have read Linda Edwards' new article, "The Trouble with Categories: What Theory Can Teach Us about the Doctrine-Skills Divide," may also want to check out these posts at PrawfsBlawg, in which Eric Carpenter discusses her proposed alternative categories.
As U.C. Irvine’s Professor Richard Hasen demonstrates in a recent Green Bag piece, Justice Antonin Scalia is by far the most sarcastic U.S. Supreme Court justice. Between 1986 and 2013, commentators have referred to his opinions as “sarcastic” or “caustic” seventy-five times. The nearest contender was Justice Stevens, who was so labeled a mere nine times. Even when years on the court are corrected for, Scalia stand out as the most sarcastic. Hasen notes that most of the sarcasm is directed against colleagues on the court and appears in dissenting opinions.
What does Hasen make of this? Justice Scalia has said he writes his dissents for law students, and Hasen says his students do indeed prefer Scalia’s breezy style. But Hasen also notes Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s concern that Scalia's sarcasm may be teaching law students to “act uncivilly in formal legal settings.”
Sunday, March 15, 2015
The Global Legal Skills conference, in its 10th year, will be held in Chicago, the city of its origin. The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where it was held three times. It has also traveled to Mexico (twice), to Costa Rica (twice), to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and most recently to the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy.
This year’s conference (GLS 10) will be held at The John Marshall Law School for the first two days and will be hosted at Northwestern University School of Law for its final day. The two schools are within walking distance and are also served by subway line
The first call for proposals for presentations has already closed and acceptance messages are going out to those who submitted. This is the second call for presenters. Proposals should be for a 25-minute presentation (for one or two people) or an interactive group panel presentation (no more than four panelists) of 75-minutes (including audience participation).
The conference audience will include legal writing professionals, international and comparative law professors, clinical professors and others involved in skills education, law school administrators, law librarians, and ESL/EFL professors and scholars. Also attending will be faculty members teaching general law subjects with a transnational or international component. Attendees have also included judges, lawyers, court translators, and others involved in international and transnational law. Attendees come from around the world, and as many as 35 countries have been represented in past conferences.
Please submit a proposal on any aspect of Global Legal Skills, including experiential learning, distance education, comparative law, international law, course design and materials, teaching methods, and opportunities for teaching abroad and in the United States. However, because the conference focuses on legal skills for a global audience, please tailor your proposal accordingly.
The schedule for GLS 10 will allow for professional networking opportunities and development and also a chance to take in the many sites (and excellent restaurants!) Chicago has to offer. Chicago is served by two airports, O’Hare and Midway, making travel to the city easy. The timing of the conference (the week before Memorial Day weekend) is intended to allow you to spend extra time exploring Chicago and its environs at a time when the temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.
This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the registration fee of $225.00. A small number of need-based scholarships will also be available, especially for participants from outside the United States. Additional tickets for family members and friends will also be available for the walking tour, law school reception, and Union League Club Gala Dinner. Chicago in the springtime is a great travel destination for families where they can enjoy Millennium Park, two world class zoos, and the amazing Museum Campus.
You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking slots you will only be allowed to speak on one panel.
Please send program proposals to GLS10Chicago@gmail.com. You can also send a copy to Lurene Contento (Program Chair of GLS 10). Her email is 9Content@jmls.edu.
Please include “GLS 10 Proposal” in the subject line. Then, list the names and institutional affiliations of presenters, the title of your presentation, a brief summary of your presentation, the format you would prefer (25 minutes or 75 minutes), and the target audience.
You will find travel information and more conference information on the GLS website, glsc.jmls.edu/2015. Additional proposals will be accepted through April 15 if additional speaking slots are available.
Spanish Language CLE Proposals
You may also submit proposals for CLE presentations in Spanish. A Spanish-language CLE track will include sessions for attorneys, law students, and court translators. Persons submitting proposals for presentations in Spanish may also submit a proposal in English as an exception to the single presentation rule. Proposals are sought on topics such as “Introduction to Mexican Law,” “Understanding the Amparo,” and “Latin American Corporation Law.”
Scholars’ Forum (Tues. May 19, 2015)
A one-day scholars’ forum is also planned for May 19th, the day before the GLS conference begins. Participation in this forum will be limited to 16 persons and will include special sessions on international legal research as well as the presentation of papers and works-in-progress. For more information about the Scholars’ Forum, send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at email@example.com with the title of your proposed work. Registration for the scholars’ forum is at this link: http://events.jmls.edu/registration/node/677
We hope to see you in Chicago this May for the 10th anniversary of the Global Legal Skills Conference!
Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, Global Legal Skills Conference
Prof. Lurene Contento, Chair GLS 10 Program Committee, The John Marshall Law School
Saturday, March 14, 2015
The Burton Awards are seeking nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. Nominations are due on March 20, 2015.
The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement promote and publicize the importance of writing in the legal profession. The Awards, which recognize lawyers and law students whose work exemplifies the goals of our field, were founded in 1999 by William Burton, author of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus and recipient of LWI’s 2010 Golden Pen Award. The Burton Awards are held at the Library of Congress and it is, without a doubt, the most glamorous night anywhere to celebrate legal writing.
For more than a decade, the Burton Awards have included a category that emphasizes the vital role that educators play in improving legal writing throughout our nation’s legal system: the award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually during the oh-so-fabulous black-tie gala at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the education of lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking, or writing. The contributions considered may be significant single achievements or the accumulated achievements of a career.
Previous recipients of this prestigious award have been:
- Dean Kent Syverud of Vanderbilt,
- Dean Darby Dickerson of Stetson,
- Professor Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent,
- Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle University,
- Professor Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State,
- Professor Richard Neumann of Hofstra,
- Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern,
- Professor Marjorie Rombauer of the University of Washington,
- Professor Tina Stark of Boston University,
- Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law, and
- Professor Anne Enquist of Seattle University.
The Burton Awards are an excellent forum to publicize the achievements of those who teach in the field of legal writing. The committee for this award asks that you nominate deserving individuals or groups for the Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award. Nominations should describe concisely the contributions of the nominee and should be sent to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:
- Noah Messing (noah.messing [at] yale.edu)
- Grace Tonner (gtonner [at] law.uci.edu), or
- Nancy Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nominations are due by March 20, 2015.
Hat Tip to Noah Messing
Thursday, March 12, 2015
The Legal Writing listserv recently had a discussion about the differences between the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation and the Bluebook. I've used the ALWD Guide (previously the ALWD Manual) since it was first published about fifteen years ago, and in my final class every year I've spent a little time discussing the differences between the two guides. But I won't need to do that this year. As author Coleen Barger pointed out on the listserv, the fifth edition of the ALWD Guide was revised to comport with the Bluebook rules. So citations written under the fifth edition will look the same as those written under the Bluebook's nineteenth edition. The ALWD website contains helpful charts comparing the latest ALWD Guide and Bluebook editions.
Buffalo's Stephen Paskey posted the following praise of the ALWD Guide:
For anyone who’s interested, a lengthy dispatch from the front lines of the citation manual wars, where all is not yet quiet on the western (New York) front.
Students who compete for membership on the Buffalo Law Review must take a citation test, and they’re allowed to bring nothing other than a Bluebook into the room. I met with the law review’s editor-in-chief to discuss whether my students could bring an ALWD Guide instead. He was sympathetic, and he readily acknowledged that the Bluebook is “crappy” and “awful.” However, he would not agree to let students use the ALWD Guide.
His justification? The test and answers were developed using the Bluebook. He wouldn’t feel “right” about letting students use the ALWD Guide unless he was sure it produced the same answers. It would take his staff hours of work to go through the test with an ALWD Guide in hand, and he’s not willing to do that.
My students who plan to compete for law review have begun buying Bluebooks and learning their way around them. To my surprise, even those students are thanking me for assigning the ALWD Guide instead.
Students who’ve used both have told me that the Bluebook is a mess, the type is too small, and it’s hard to read and harder still to find things. One student said the appendices in ALWD are clearer and better organized than the Bluebook’s tables. Another said he likes the way the ALWD Guide is focused on practitioners, with a clear explanation of the differences for academic work at the end of every rule. Yet another likes how the ALWD Guide explains key points that are left unexplained in the Bluebook.
Here's an excerpt:
How did you first get interested in teaching legal writing?
Even as a child, I was curious about how people try to persuade others. As early as age ten, I remember watching TV commercials and speculating about what strategy the advertisers were using. When I went to law school, courses in legal writing were in their infancy and mine was not all that effective, but the practice of law made legal writing’s importance crystal clear. After ten years of practice, I had a chance to join the NYU Lawyering faculty, and it all came together for me there. I felt like I had found my professional passion. That was 27 years ago, and that passion is still as fresh for me today as it was so long ago.
Hat tip to Melissa Greipp and the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Yet another study recently highlighted the importance of legal writing. BARBRI's State of the Legal Field Survey, published in 2015, reported that both responding attorneys and law professors rated legal writing as the most important skill for recent law graduates. Interestingly, the study also found that while 82% of third-year law students believed they were effective legal writers, only 57% of lawyers who hire new graduates saw them as effective writers.
The BarBri survey is new, and let's just say here from the Legal Writing Prof Blog that we are happy that the company has launched this new annual survey and that it intends to continue this survey in future years. This survey gets answers not only from law students but also from law school faculty and members of the practicing bar.
Previous research has shown that students sometimes have inflated views of their writing abilities. See, for example, Felsenburg and Graham's Beginning Legal Writers in Their Own Words.
hat tip: Gabriel Teninbaum
(jdf and mew)
Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Of Old Dogs and New Tricks--Can Law Schools ReallyFix Students' Mixed Mindsets?
Melissa H. Waresh, Uncommon Results: The Power of Team-Based Learning in the legal Writing Classroom
David J. Herring & Collin Lynch, Law Student Learning Gains Produced by a Writing Assignment and Instructor Feedback
Toree Randall, Meet Me in the Cloud: A Legal Research Strategy That Transcends Media
Lindsey P. Gustafson, Texting and the Friction of Writing
Jeffrey D. Jackson & David Cleveland, Legal Writing: A History from the Colonial Era to the End of the Civil War
My interest was especially piqued by Jackson and Clevelend's history of teaching legal writing before the end of the civil war--it contains interesting history that I didn't know about.
The journal's website says the next volume will be an all-electronic one. So this final print volume may become a collector's item!
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School invites applications for a teaching position in its Legal Skills and Professional Program to teach Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis I and II.
Responsibilities & Qualifications
This is a full-time, non-tenure track position that begins on August 1, 2015. Responsibilities of the position include teaching a full load of Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis courses for first year students in the day and evening divisions. Applicants must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent academic credentials, a strong writing background, and legal practice or clerkship experience. Preference will be given to applicants who have at least two years of recent legal practice or clerkship experience or experience teaching legal research and writing.
Initial review of applications will begin no later than March 20, 2015. While this position will remain open until filled, applications received by that date will be assured of full consideration. Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and list of three (3) professional references to:
- Dean Malcolm L. Morris, c/o Farrah Fisher
- Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
- 1422 West Peachtree Street NW
- Atlanta, Georgia 30309
or by email to email@example.com.
The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. This is a one-year teaching appointment with a potential opportunity at the end of the appointment to lead to a tenure-track position in the Legal Skills and Professionalism Program. The position would involve full voting rights if it resulted in the applicant securing a tenure-track position at the end of the one-year appointment.
Anticipated salary is between $50,000 to $79,000, and you would be teaching between 36 to 50 students. The applicant would teach two sections of legal writing, research and analysis per semester. Although the primary teaching responsibility for this position will be teaching legal writing, research and analysis, depending on teaching needs, the applicant could also have an opportunity to teach an elective experiential or writing course.