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.