Tuesday, February 27, 2007

narcissistic students?

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.'"


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

article placement

Our friends over at Tax Prof Blog share the news of one researcher's study and conclusion that articles published in medium-ranked scholarly journals tend to have greater influence than those published in the elite journals.


February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

a new look at the Bluebook

Churt 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).


February 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

top 5 works of legal fiction

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


February 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Plain Language website

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.


February 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the art of advocacy

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.


February 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Language Corner"

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.


February 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

writing with precision

A student from last year stopped by to show me this poem today, figuring I'd appreciate it.  Every once in awhile teachers do get unexpected affirmations that they've been heard.


February 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

judges favor plain English

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."


February 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 16, 2007

better presentations

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


February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

back to the future

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.


February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

confining court rules

Jp174275 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. 


February 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 12, 2007

modifier placement and resultant ambiguity

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


February 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

case briefing psychology

Christensen Leah M. Christensen has written a very helpful article entitled The Psychology Behind Case Briefing: A Powerful Cognitive Schema, available at 29 Campbell L. Rev. 5 (2006).  As she describes it:
"The purpose of this article is to provide a better understanding of how law students learn in the context of case analysis. As new students approach case analysis for the first time, the case brief is an effective 'schema' to provide students with a framework within which to analyze a legal opinion. Case briefing does more than simply allow students to pull out the holding of a case; it helps beginning law students organize a legal opinion's analytical framework accurately and efficiently."
hat tip:  Professor Scott Fruehwald, Hofstra University

February 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 9, 2007

unbecoming behavior

What does it take to be censored by the court for "conduct unbecoming a member of the bar?"  Judge Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit (federal Court of Appeals) makes it quite clear

hat tip:  Chris Wren


February 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

there's another kind of expletive?

This article title certainly caught my eye:

Expletives: Usurpers of Space and Emphasis

Mcfarlandb1 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."


February 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

a case to build a class around

Enough professional responsibility lessons for a week's worth of classes . . . all in one case.

hat tip:  Chris Wren


February 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

advice from the Chief

Chief Justice Roberts offers advice on brief-writing and more!!

hat tip:  John Mollenkamp


February 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September conference

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.


February 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Lone Star RFP

Texflag_1Mark 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.


February 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)