Saturday, April 15, 2006
For a concise review of "How To Write Good Legal Stuff," see http://www.law.indiana.edu/webinit/tanford/reference/how2write.html.
If you plan to register for the Legal Writing Institute's Biennial Conference in June, the early registration deadline is April 19. Full details, including brochure and registration form, can be found at http://www.lwionline.org/activities/2006conferencebrochure.pdf.
Friday, April 14, 2006
In the case of Devore v. City of Philadelphia, U.S. District Ct., E.D. PA.Case No. 00-3598, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacob Hart refused to grant an attorney the full amount of fees requested for his sloppy written work. The attorney's caption, "Easter District of Pennsylvania," prompted the judge to write on page 4 of his order:
"Considering the religious persuasion of the presiding officer, the 'Passover' District would have been more appropriate. However, we took no personal offense at the reference."
LANGUAGE AND LAW
Interdisciplinary Conference organized by:
Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf &
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
May 17 - 19, 2006
For complete program and registration, see:
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Increasingly, the phrase as such is misused as an all-purpose (but grammatically incorrect) transitional phrase. Such is a pronoun that must have an identifiable antecedent, but in today’s usage it often has none.
Example 1 (correct):
She is the committee chair. As such, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.
Explanation: Here, the antecedent of such is chair. It can replace such: She is the committee chair. As chair, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.
Example 2 (incorrect):
Congress intended to provide an exhaustive list of examples, and it did not mention websites. As such, the statute does not cover websites.
Explanation: Such has no antecedent here; it cannot be replaced with list or any other word in the first sentence. The writer of example 2 incorrectly used as such as a generic transitional phrase. “Therefore” would be a better choice.
The following examples illustrate that as such is grammatically correct only where such has a nearby antecedent.
A plaintiff must prove damages in order to recover, but Smith has not done so here. As such, she has no claim.
This is a question of law. As such, it is subject to de novo review.
Explanation: Example 3 is incorrect, because such has no antecedent. But in Example 4, “question of law” can replace such, so the sentence is grammatically correct.
Advice: If a writer is in doubt about whether as such is correct, it may be best not to use the phrase at all. The general transitions therefore, thus, or as a result are often suitable replacements.
If you need a gift for someone who is graduating from law school this spring, a great choice would be a brand new book, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law, by Mark Herrmann. This is a collection of new and old articles by the author. He tells it like it is, with the straightforward language that many a legal writing professor wishes she could use more often while still maintaining employment.
Full disclosure: I've known Mark since we were college classmates in the mid '70's, and while he's always been a kind friend, he's also always been brilliant and never suffered fools lightly. But then, most law firm partners don't. And our students need to understand that reality. So they could a learn a lot from this book. (spl)
This spring the Legal Writing Institute held elections for its Board of Directors. Incoming President Susan Kosse (Louisville) has just announced the winners:
Ken Chestek (Indiana, Indianapolis)
Anne Enquist (Seattle)
Judy Rosenbaum (Northwestern)
Suzanne Rowe (Oregon)
Terry Seligmann (Drexel)
Michael Smith (Mercer)
Cliff Zimmerman (Northwestern)
They will join the board members with continuing terms:
Dan Barnett (Boston College)
Kristin Gerdy (Brigham Young)
Steve Johansen (Lewis & Clark)
Tracy McGaugh (South Texas)
Carol Parker (Tennessee)
Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers-Camden)
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The U.S. Supreme Court has announced a rule change that would allow citation to unpublished federal opinions. While these unpublished opinions are of course widely available on Westlaw, LEXIS, and other databases, federal judges are concerned that they will now have to spend additional time polishing these opinions if they can be used as precedent and that such an expenditure of time will increase court backlogs.
As you might expect, law students blog a lot more than their professors do. If you're curious what today's law students are blogging about, one good window into their world is via http://www.legalunderground.com/at_the_law_schools/index.html. This blog is a weekly anthology of interesting law student blog posts. Of course clicking on any link will get you to both a particular post and another law student's blog, where you can explore the concerns and psyches of law students further. Some of the posts are very thoughtful. Some of them are, well, not. (spl)
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Want to know how not to write a brief to the court? Click on http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C046784.PDF.
It's the season for oral argument!! The California Lawyer published an article on "The Rites and Rights of Oral Arguments" that's full of helpful tips. It's actually a self-study CLE piece, complete with a self-test at the end.
Thanks to Dr. Natalie Tarenko, writing specialist at Texas tech, for finding this article and passing it on.
For some thought-provoking and plain fun reading, get ahold of Volume 14 of the Widener Law Journal (2005). It is a symposium issue on The Lawyer as Poet Advocate: Bruce Springsteen and the American Laywer. What do Springsteen and lawyers have to do with each other? A lot more than you might at first imagine. (spl)
Monday, April 10, 2006
Catching up on news of legal writing program upgrades:
This academic year the University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law faculty approved moving all "non-regular" faculty, including legal writing and clinic faculty, to three-year rolling contracts. The law faculty's vote was unanimous.
At the University of Maine School of Law, the two-year cap has been lifted on what was formerly called the "Legal Writing Fellow" position. The position is now entitled "Legal Research and Writing Instructor."
Last year the faculty at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law instituted two summer teaching grants. LRW porfessor Claire May was the first to receive one. This year, the faculty voted to allow LRW faculty to apply for summer research grants of the same amount the "regular" faculty receive. Receiving summer teaching grants or summer research grants for this summer will be Janice Aitken, Brian Glassman, Claire May, and Karin Mika.
Congratulations on all this progress!
The American Society for Legal History is inviting submissions for the Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars Competition. Each of two winners will present their paper at the Society's annual meeting in Baltimore on November 16-19, 2006. These scholars will receive a $250 cash award and reimbursement of expenses, up to $750, for travel to the meeting, hotel, and meals.
Submissions are welcome on any legal, institutional and/or constitutional aspect of American history. Graduate students, law students, and other early-career scholars who have presented no more than two papers at a national conference are eligible to apply.
Submissions should include a c.v. of the author, contact information, and a complete draft of the paper. One of the criteria for selection will be the suitability of the paper for reduction to a twenty-minute oral presentation. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2006. Submissions (preferably in Word) should be sent to the Committee members: Lyndsay Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org), Christine Desan (email@example.com), Sarah Barringer Gordon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Maeva Marcus (DocHistSC@aol.com), and Laura Kalman, chair (email@example.com).
Hamline University School of Law has announced it is accepting applications for full-time and part-time Legal Writing Instructors for the 2006-2007 academic year. Positions are available in both the day and weekend programs. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to: Anne T. Johnson, Assistant Dean of Administration, Hamline University School of Law, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104.
1) The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one year.
The advertised positions are the result of an expansion of the Weekend Legal Writing Program, an Instructor taking a one-year leave of absence, and a change in the teaching responsibilities of an Instructor. Therefore the positions are considered temporary at this time. If the positions become permanent, they may lead to three year rolling contracts, at a significantly higher salary.
2) The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3) The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary of $34,000 for the full-time position.
4) The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 to 45, for the full-time position.