Thursday, March 30, 2006
Yesterday the faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Law voted to promote Jennifer Cupar, Maureen Kenny, and Carrie Seymour to positions as Assistant Professors of Law, with three-year contracts. As their program director, Peter Friedman reports, "Their collective promotion from adjunct positions represents a quantum leap in the quality of our program here at Case." (spl)
If you are not a member of the New York State Bar Association ("NYSBA"), you might not be aware that the NYSBA Journal is a gold mine for those who teach legal writing or just care a lot about it. For the past few years, each issue of the Journal has ended with a column called The Legal Writer, by Judge Gerald Lebovits, of the New York City Civil Court. Judge Lebovits has covered a wide range of legal writing topics. Most fortunately, the NYSBA website includes archives of the past issues, going back five years, available in .pdf format.
In addition, the Journal also features a monthly column called Language Tips, by Gertrude Block, professor emerita of the University of Florida College of Law. Professor Block entertains questions from readers, about our written language and its usage in the legal context, and she provides detailed, informative replies.
Finally, about once a year in recent years, the Journal has dedicated an entire issue to legal writing. It's really worth taking a look at the issues in the archives. (spl)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
At Western New England College School of Law, the faculty recently finalized a transition to long-term contracts for the legal writing professors. The last step in the transition was the faculty's vote to award the current legal writing faculty appointments to the new positions. Congratulations to Myra Orlen, Jocelyn Cuffee, Jeanne Kaiser, and Harris Freeman! (spl)
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Drexel University's new College of Law has announced tenure-track openings for professors teaching legal research and writing. Drexel anticipates filling at least one of these positions to teach its first law school entering class in the 2006-2007 academic year, and it anticipates filling another of these positions for the 2007-2008 academic year. In addition, it invites applications from experienced legal research and writing professors interested in a visiting appointment.
Applicants must have a strong academic record and law practice experience, a demonstrated interest (and preferably experience) in teaching legal research and writing, and a demonstrated ability to produce quality scholarship. Questions and applications (cover letter, resume, list of references and writing sample) may be sent to Professor Terry Jean Seligmann, LRW Director, via http://www.drexel.edu/law/inauguralfaculty.asp.
1. The position advertised is a tenure-track appointment. A visiting position is also possible.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range of $80,000 to $90,000 or more.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 40.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Lynne Truss, the author of Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, is at it again. In Talk to the Hand, she entertainingly bemoans the demise of good manners and civility. Along the way she provides a good deal of insight into why we have manners in the first place and the ways in which they are slipping. There's something reassuring in all her tales of woe, perhaps because having a better understanding of the problems makes it easier to articulate solutions. There are many useful tidbits in this book for those of us who teach aspects of professionalism to lawyers-in-training. (spl)
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
"I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."
- Mark Twain, in a letter to D. W. Bowser, March 20, 1880
Friday, March 24, 2006
The newest editions of the major citation manuals now include rules for citing to blogs. In the ALWD Citation Manual (3d ed., Aspen Publishers 2006), Rule 40.3 covers how to write both a full citation and a short form citation for a blog. In The Bluebook (18th ed., 2005), Rule 18.2.4 covers just the full citation for a blog. (spl)
I've always taught my law students not to ignore footnotes in the cases they read. Today's footnote may well be tomorrow's doctrine, especially in the area of Constitutional Law. But apparently one Justice on the United State Supreme Court is not in the habit of reading footnotes. Thanks to the taxprof blog for letting us know. (spl)
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Professor Linda Fowler has been voted the evening program Teacher of the Year at Southern University Law Center. Linda teaches both first-year and advanced legal writing courses. This is an award that comes directly from the students, recognizing the quality of her work. (spl)
Here is one more addition to your collection of interesting and unusual court opinions. When faced with the question of whether a law took effect on the date Congress passed it or when signed by the president, the judge quoted the lyrics from "I'm Just a Bill," a Schoolhouse Rock offering.
Lander & Berkowitz, P.C. v. Transfirst Health Servs., Inc., 374 F. Supp. 2d 776 (E.D. Mo. 2005).
Perhaps not as good as quoting Billy Madison, but worth knowing about.
- Barbara McFarland
University of Cincinnati College of Law
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
According to the ABA Section on Litigation's "Student QuickPoll," those law students responding to the survey indicated that their 1-L LRW course had been and would be the most useful first-year course during their law school careers.
And we thought they might not fully appreciate us . . .
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The final session on Saturday afternoon didn't slack off at all in demanding the participants' full attention. Carol Wallinger talked about cognitive apprenticeship learning theory and offered an exercise to help students practice the articulate-reflect-explore sequence by "lightning rounds" of 3-minute "what's the answer" presentations. Judy Rosenbaum raised the question of what we mean by the term "synthesis" and whether there are different types of synthesis (of law, of facts) that our students need to understand and use.
Thanks to everyone for a wonderful conference. See you next year--in Las Vegas!
Next on the afternoon schedule: Linda Edwards and Michael Higdon. Linda shared details of the advanced writing workshop at Mercer, which provides a small group of students with an opportunity to explore their writing through peer feedback based on Peter Elbow's work. Michael demonstrated how pop culture can be used to teach LRW concepts, such as teaching analogical reasoning by comparing two music videos and weight of authority by examining the excerpted review language on movie DVD boxes.
I spent the first part of the afternoon as part of a panel on critiquing student drafts. Along with Alison Julien, Lisa McElroy, and Susan Smith Bakhshian, we discussed end comments, line comments, the class after the draft is returned, and lots of other topics with a very engaged audience. Grading papers is a topic that everyone has a great story about or ideas to contribute, and the hour flew by.
Next up to finish out the morning was a presentation by Becky Cochran and Susan Thrower. Becky talked about teaching a combo package of LRW and casebook courses, including how to make it happen and how LRW pedagogy shapes the way ones teaches a doctrinal course. Susan "unraveled the riddle" of the job talk by analogizing it to oral argument, complete with categories of questions and how to respond to them. Seems like the major difference between an oral argument and a job talk is that at least the judges aren't eating their free lunch while one speaks. :)
Saturday morning I attended a concurrent session with presenters Sarah Schrup and Jim Dimitri. Sarah shared her experiences integrating clinical experience into the LRW classroom and told the group of the opportunity to consider an appellate clinic focused on federal criminal appeals. There were many excited questions about how to make such a clinic workable. Jim talked about the steps needed to create an effective appellate brief problem, including topics that are sure winners and some pitfalls to avoid--such as unmanageable OR absent records and certain sure-to-snooze topics.