Tuesday, February 27, 2007
In a study reported by CBS, researchers found that that college "students' NPI [Narcissistic Personality Inventory] scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982."
In a finding that could bode ill for law schools and the legal profession, "The study asserts that narcissists 'are more likely . . . to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.'"
Monday, February 26, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Professor Christine Hurt of the University of Illinois College of Law has just added to her already considerable scholarship on legal citation. Her new article is The Bluebook at Eighteen: Reflecting and Ratifying Current Trends in Legal Scholarship, 82 Ind. L.J. 49 (2007).
What are your favorites in legal literature? Writing for today's online OpinionJournal (from Wall Street Journal), U.K. barrister and author John Mortimer (of "Rumpole" fame) lists his top 5. Do you know them all? What work would you add?
1. Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm
2. Charles Dickens, Bleak House
3. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
4. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
5. P.D. James, A Certain Justice
Friday, February 23, 2007
I just came across this website on Plain Language. Hosted by the FAA, it has information about Plain Language in governmental and legal writing. Its sections on humor, testimonials, and quotes offer good potential for teaching materials. The piece on "Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences" would be fun to use in a class on conciseness.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Washburn University School of Law will be holding a symposium on The Art of Advocacy, on March 9th and 10th. What's striking about the planned schedule is that first members of the actual audience for lawyers' advocacy will speak about what they find effective, and then the legal writing faculty will speak about how to achieve that effectiveness. It looks like a very helpful symposium has been planned, and other law schools offering symposia and CLE programs may want to take note.
Monday, February 19, 2007
The Columbia Journalism Review has a nice little feature called "Language Corner" that concisely addresses writing issues such as gender-neutral pronouns and incorrect use of a plural pronoun with a singular noun. The index has lots of interesting entries.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Are your students reluctant to believe that judges favor clear, direct writing? Refer them to this article about Judge Mark Painter of the Ohio First District Court of Appeals. I especially like this quote: "Words are our 'parts inventory' in the business of law. The turning of words into a product -- a brief, a trust, an opinion letter -- is not a job of easy assembly. It is art. The more vivid our colors, the sharper our images, the more effective our art."
Friday, February 16, 2007
A helpful book for creating classroom presentations is Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points, Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate and Inspire (Microsoft 2005). Although the book focuses on business and marketing examples, academics can extract general principles to use in creating presentations and to make better use of visual and oral/aural communication than just reading a list of bullet points.
hat tip: Prof. Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University
Chicago-Kent College of Law welcomes your attendance at the 2007 "Back to the Future of Legal Research" conference on May 18, 2007. The conference agenda will cover several topics:
- the rapidly developing world of digital legal information
- learning from Chicago practitioners and librarians and from surveys in other large cities
- tapping into the legal blogosphere
- conveying research techniques effectively in the 1L classroom
- AND a wealth of selected topics in research and citation, including discussions of subscription databases, international law research, CALI research lessons, and electronic research and citation
For more information, contact Prof. Mary Rose Strubbe.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
For an interesting take on how court rules hamper the efforts of strong legal writers, see Attorney Mark Herrmann's recent blog post. Herrmann refers specifically to the work of two talented writers on the Seventh Circuit's bench, writers who know when to break the rules. Of course the Seventh Circuit's own posted rules give lawyers a great deal of detail about what's expected in the papers they file with the court. First-year law students often find those rules very instructive -- which pretty much proves Herrmann's point that the rules help maintain a basic quality level, but may hamper efforts to reach higher.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Here's a case about a negotiated settlement provision, the interpretation of which turns on "a classic case of confusion caused by the placement of a modifier. And we conclude that, as a result of the imprecise structure of the provision, at least two reasonable readings of provision 1 are possible." The court then moves on to a dissection of high-low settlement offers in an attempt to determine the intent of the parties.
hat tip: Jennifer Horn, Texas Tech
Friday, February 9, 2007
Thursday, February 8, 2007
This article title certainly caught my eye:
Expletives: Usurpers of Space and Emphasis
Professor Barbara McFarland's article in the Kentucky Bench & Bar (Jan. 2007) is also available free via SSRN at http://ssrn.com/abstract=957775. As she explains in her abstract:
"Now that I have your attention, let me first admit that I refer not to expletives as in expletive deleted but as in the it verb and there verb constructions that run rampant in much legal writing."
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Coming September 8-9, 2007, the Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference--open to all who are interested in attending, not just those in the southeast--will take place at Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, says conference organizer Anthony Niedwicki. Requests for proposals will be solicited in March, and the schedule is anticipated to be complete in April.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Mark your calendars for the 2007 Lone Star LRW Conference, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, May 31 and June 1, at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth. Conference organizers are seeking additional proposals to fill one 75-minute concurrent presentation and one 75-minute plenary presentation, and they welcome proposals for team presentations. Send proposals to Wayne Schiess by March 1, 2007.
Speakers already on the program include Gail S. Stephenson and Linda C. Fowler from Southern University Law Center: Keeping It Real: Developing a Culturally and Personally Relevant Legal Writing Curriculum; Kirsten Dauphinais from University of North Dakota School of Law: Teaching Policy for Fun and Profit; Mark Burge from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law: Teaching Statutory Construction in an Age of Outsourcing: Are our Students Ready to Play Judge Yet?; Wayne Schiess from University of Texas School of Law: Can We Improve Texas Jury Instructions? My Report on the Texas Pattern Jury Charges Plain-Language Task Force.