Saturday, March 4, 2006

Sam's in Sofia!

04088012jacobson Professor M.H. Sam Jacobson, who usually teaches legal writing and other courses at Willamette College of Law, is teaching at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, this semester.  She's there on a Fulbright Scholar Award, and will be teaching Constitutional and Administrative Law Processes.  In addition, Sam is working on a book on fighting corruption, with co-author and Bulgarian law professor Maria Slavova. (spl)

March 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 3, 2006

careful brief writing

Earlier this week, the New York Times rreported on the oral argument before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Randall v. Sorrell:

Scrolling down you'll see that:

"[Chief Justice Roberts] also challenged a line from the attorney general's 50-page brief, an assertion that donations from special-interest groups 'often determine what positions candidates and officials take on issues.' Could the attorney general provide an example of such an issue, Chief Justice Roberts asked. Mr. Sorrell could not, eventually conceding that 'influence' would have been a better word than 'determine.'

A timely warning for students working on appellate briefs -- be precise, and be prepared to defend your brief at oral argument!

- Professor Kristen E. Murray
Associate Director, Legal Research & Writing Program
George Washington University Law School

March 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Open Source" at AALS

The Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools has announced a new “Open Source” option for the 2007 AALS Annual Meeting.  "Open Source" refers to meeting sessions that do not originate with any AALS section, law school organization, or institution.  This approach is intended to generate innovative programs from law school faculty members and administrators.

Individuals or groups of individuals should submit their idea for a program, with an explanation of the topic and a list of possible speakers, by the March 19, 2006 preliminary program deadline, and submit the final program on April 28, 2006. The most innovative submissions will be given an open slot at the Annual Meeting.  Each open slot program will receive a $900 budget to support audio-visual equipment and non-law-teacher speakers' expense reimbursement, if needed.

Questions to consider when developing your proposal:

  • Is the format innovative?
  • Is there a diversity of presenters and multiplicity of planners?
  • Are both junior and senior teachers involved?
  • Does the topic cross over common issues and transcend a particular subject area?
  • Would there be a publication coming out of the submission?
  • Will the program format require expensive audio-visual equipment?

If you are interested in applying for an "open source" slot, send an email to opensource@aals. org with a proposal identifying the planners of the program; the process of how the program idea was generated; the topic with a description and explanation of what the program is trying to accomplish; the list of proposed speakers; whether there will be a publication following the program; and any other pertinent information that you believe would be helpful to the reviewing committee. The selection of the "open source" slots will be made by an AALS committee chaired by N. William Hines, Immediate Past President of AALS.

March 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another move!

Smith Michael Smith, currently an associate professor at Mercer University School of Law, has accepted a tenured appointment as a full professor and the Director of the Writing Program at the University of Wyoming College of Law. Michael will begin his appointment this fall.  At the University of Wyoming, legal writing is taught by tenured and tenure-track professors.  Among other duties, Michael will be helping to develop its upper level writing program. (spl)

March 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2006

LWI Writers Workshop


We are pleased to announce the third Legal Writing Institute Writers Workshop to take place on June 11, 12, and 13, 2006. The workshop will give twelve Legal Writing faculty the opportunity to spend two days working on their academic writing projects and improving their scholarly skills. We will depart from the LWI Conference in Atlanta on Sunday morning, June 11 for our conference site, Callaway Gardens. The workshop will end in the morning on Tuesday, June 13.
Who is Eligible to Attend?
All members of the Legal Writing Institute are eligible. You must have a scholarly writing project underway beyond the initial stages of performing the initial research and drafting a tentative outline. You should at least have some sort of partial draft. In most cases, a scholarly writing project should result in a law review article.
We give priority to full time Legal Writing faculty for whom scholarly writing is a prerequisite for retention, promotion, or tenure. We also give priority to applicants who have not attended past Workshops.
What Will We Do at the Workshop?
Participants make presentations on their projects to small groups of three and receive feedback. Each session runs about ninety minutes. They also may take part in six guided discussion groups, each on a topic that they have chosen beforehand.
Will There Be Facilitators?
Yes. Linda Edwards (Mercer), Steve Johansen (Lewis & Clark), Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii), and Lou Sirico (Villanova) will organize the program and offer their guidance.
Where Will the Workshop Be?
The workshop will take place at Callaway Gardens near Atlanta. We will provide transportation from the LWI Conference and afterward, to the airport.

Who Pays?
The LWI Board of Directors is providing $6,000 to defray the cost to participants. The remaining cost to each participant is $250. It covers lodging, breakfast, lunch, snacks, all day beverage service, and transportation to and from the conference center. Participants are on their own for transportation to and from Atlanta, dinner on Sunday and Monday, and any remaining costs. Thanks to the efforts of Tracy McGaugh and Ruth Anne Robbins, there is scholarship money available for at least one participant who is unable to receive funding from his or her school.

If I Have Questions, Whom Should I Ask?
Please contact Lou Sirico (610) 519 7071

How Do I Apply?
Please fill out the following application and submit it by email by Wednesday, March 15, 2006, to  We will select participants as quickly as we can.

Please return this application by email to Lou Sirico:
Law School Affiliation:
Mailing Address:
E-mail Address:
Telephone Number:
Are You a Full Time Faculty Member?
For How Many Years Have You Been Teaching Legal Writing?
Is Scholarship a Requirement for Your Retention, Promotion, or Tenure? Please Explain Your Individual Situation.
Please describe your writing project and, in as much detail as possible, describe how far along you are in completing your project. For example, do you have a detailed outline, a first draft, substantial parts of a first draft? Please estimate how far along you will be by May 25, 2006.
Some scholarship money is available for at least one participant who cannot obtain funding from his or her school. Are you applying for this scholarship?
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
- Louis J. Sirico, Jr.
Professor of Law
Director of Legal Writing
Villanova University School of Law

March 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

sea sponge has a great story today about a solo practitioner who did not notice a typo in his brief to the California Appellate Court. His spell-check changed "sua sponte" to "sea sponge."

It is obviously a good teaching tool for students to admonish them on the danger of using spell check programs when tired, and on the importance of proofreading.

You can see the story on or perhaps try this link:

- Mark Wojcik
The John Marshall Law School, Chicago

March 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

interesting blawg

A relative newcomer among the blawgs (web + blog + law = blawg) out there is  It includes posts with links to legal news, commentary, and other items that might provide inspiration for legal writing assignments.  It is also includes legal writing sites on its blog-roll. (spl)

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

recommended reading

For those following this blog who do not teach legal writing, some perspective on the enthusiasm with which we announce improvements in the status of legal writing colleagues might be gained by reading the following excellent article:

Ann C. McGinley, Discrimination in Our Midst:  Law Schools' Potential Liability for Employment Practices, 14 UCLA Women's Law Journal 1 (2005).

Professor McGinley succinctly conveys the relevant background and data, and then she provides a hypothetical employment situation for a legal writing professor.  The situation is so typical, that most legal writing professors in the United States will recognize aspects of it as either something they have lived through or something someone they know has lived through.  It is a conglomerate of familiar experiences.  Professor McGinley then analyzes the scenario from the perspective of potential Title VII liability for gender discrimination in employment.  Her hypothetical certainly would make an interesting fact pattern for a legal writing course assignment.  (spl)

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

more good news!

Professor K.K. DuVivier was just awarded tenure at the University of Denver College of Law!  Find out more about her hereKk20web_1



March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

trading places, moving on

Lots of news about the legal writing community today.

Bethcohen01 1.  The faculty at Western New England College School of Law has promoted Beth Cohen, Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, to the rank of Associate Professor of Law.


2.  Professor Sharon Foster, who has taught in U-A/Fayetteville's LRW program for the past five years, has been appointed a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the law school and will be teaching Contracts and other commercial courses starting next year.  She has a J.D. from Loyola L.A. and an LLM in International Law from the University of Edinburgh. 

Seligmann_1 3.  Terry Seligmann, after nine years at U-A/Fayetteville, has accepted the position of Director of Legal Writing at the new Drexel University College of Law in Philadelphia beginning this summer.  She will be helping to plan their legal writing curriculum, which will be taught by all tenure-track faculty.

Best to all in these newly elevated positions and new ventures!!


February 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 27, 2006

good news about one of the blog editors

Sue Liemer, my co-editor on this blog, has received the stamp of approval for tenure at the law school from the central administration at Southern Illinois University.

Congratulations, Sue!!


February 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

the use of sensory detail for persuasive purposes

This week in class we discussed persuasive writing, and one of the techniques that I focused on was the use of sensory detail to help the reader experience and become part of the story.  The case I used as an example is one that stayed with me for over 15 years from the first time I read it to my use of it in class on Friday.  In a somewhat overwritten recitation of facts that drew me into and let me recall parts of the story for over a decade, the court detailed the abduction of a man and his mother and the mother's murder.  The opinion included (DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH) the following:




The man listened to his mother's murder and then "heard his mother's bowels and bladder give in the relaxation of death."

Osborn v. State, 672 P.2d 777, 783 (Wyo.1983).

Powerful stuff.

February 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)