Saturday, May 19, 2007

recommended reading

The sorry state of U.S. law reviews has long been lamented by U.S. legal academics.  Most U.S. law professors have had the experience of having their prose butchered by overly zealous 3L editors who know little about editing and even less about the subject matter of the articles they edit.  This type of editing can be particularly upsetting for legal writing professors who spend their days trying to teach law students to write at a professional level and then end up teaching their editors similar lessons.

Buckleyr_2 Over the years, there have been articles in U.S. law reviews about the problems with U.S. law reviews.  And yet somehow, when someone outside this overturned system describes it, the sheer stupidity of it seems all the more obvious.  Enter Ross Buckley, writing from the University of New South Wales, Australia, that It's Time to Stop the Blind Leading the Sighted:  A Proposal to Improve the Editing of US Law Reviews, UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2007-27.  You can access the full text at of his article at


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

storytelling conference

Registration is now open for the Storytelling conference, "Once Upon a Legal Time: Developing the Skills of Storytelling in Law," that is being hosted by both LWI and the City University of London. Here is the website url for the conference:

hat tip:  Ruth Anne Robbins


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

Friday, May 18, 2007

nominations sought for 2007 Blackwell Award

Nominations are open for the 2007 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award. Past winners are Richard K. Neumann of Hofstra University; Pam Lysaght of Detroit Mercy; Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent; Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State; and Lou Sirico of Villanova. Members of the LWI and ALWD governing boards and Award Committee members are not eligible for this year’s award.

The criteria for the award are set out below:

Honoring the life of Thomas F. Blackwell for his personal and professional qualities as a Legal Writing educator, the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors give this award to recognize a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing by demonstrating:

  • An ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence;
  • A willingness to help other Legal Writing educators improve their teaching skills or their Legal Writing Programs;
  • An ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating Legal Writing educators and students.

E-mail nominations to Ruth Vance by June 6, 2007.


May 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

state trial court decisions on Westlaw

As if your 1L's weren't confused enough, Westlaw is starting to make state trial court decisions available.  It's already covering some 25 states.  Law librarian blogger Joe Hodniecki does a valiant job of explaining the potential benefits for practitioners.  Those of us who teach LRW to 1L's should expect to see more trial court decisions cited in our students memos and briefs, and yet another teachable moment afoot.

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


May 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Simon named interim dean at Pace

Michelle_simonpace Congratulations to Michelle Simon, newly appointed as interim dean of Pace University School of Law. Beginning her career at Pace as a legal writing instructor, she later became the Director of Legal Writing, piloted an integrated Criminal Law-Legal Writing Course, and served as Associate Dean. Another of her accomplishments was persuading the Pace faculty to approve moving all legal writing instructors to the tenure track.

hat tip: Tom McDonnell


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

how to keep it short

Attorney Evan Schaeffer makes some very helpful points about concise brief writing on The Illinois Trial Practice Blog.  He lists some of the reasons many attorneys feel compelled to file long briefs with the court.  And he does a particularly good job of articulating some ways to overcome these compulsions, approaching the problem from a broader view than a typical writing teacher's suggestions for cutting out unnecessary language.

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


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

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It's common for older professors to assume their younger students are more tech savvy than the professors.  Every once in awhile though I'm reminded that many of our law students learned to use their computers the same way we did, on a need-to-know basis.  For example, I discovered this year that a few of my students did not know about the "find and replace" function in their wordprocessing, or how to use it for quick, consistent edits.  Doubtless many of them would benefit from the type of training in document formatting reported in this recent article.

hat tip:  alert law student Steve Krake


May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

high school writing education

What a surprise . . high-school students, even those who take college prep courses, enter college ill-prepared to tackle the coursework.


May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2007

call for articles

The Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (J. ALWD) invites submission of articles for its Fall 2008 issue, Legal Writing Beyond Memos & Briefs.  In this issue, the Journal will publish articles about the "best practices" of legal writing in contexts other than the traditional litigation setting.  Although much valuable legal writing scholarship has focused on the memoranda and briefs that are produced in connection with lawsuits, many lawyers are engaged in other kinds of writing: they draft transactional documents, legislation, rules, and regulations; they write formal and informal opinions and correspondence; they produce essays and articles for legal scholars and practicing lawyers. 

The Journal encourages submissions from law professors, practicing lawyers, and judges as well as from academics, researchers, and specialists in other disciplines.  In addition to full-length articles, the Journal welcomes essays and practice notes.  The final deadline for submission of articles is September 15, 2007.  Article selection will be completed by November 1, 2007. 

For more information, go to Download call_for_articles.doc.

hat tip:  Linda Berger


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

upcoming conferences

Having just compiled the list below for another purpose, I thought I might as well post it here too:

Lone Star Legal Writing Conference
May 31 - June 1, 2007
Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX

ALWD bi-ennial conference
June 14 - 16, 2007
University of Denver, Denver, CO

AALS Workshop for Beginning Legal Writing Teachers
June 30 - July 1, 2007
Washington, D.C.

Applied Storytelling Conference
July 18-20, 2007
City University, London, UK

Southeast Legal Writing Conference
September 7 & 8, 2007
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL
inquiries: Cindy Bulan,

Central Region LRW / Lawyering Skills Conference
October 5 & 6, 2007
University of Missouri - Kansas City

AALS annual meeting
January 2-6, 2008
New York, NY

Legal Writing Institute bi-ennial conference
July 14-17, 2008
University of Indianapolis, School of Law
Indianapolis, IN


May 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

kudos, Mark Wojcik!

Wojcik Mark Wojcik, long-time professor of legal writing (inter alia), at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, has been elected to the Board of Governors for the Illinois State Bar Association.  Kudos, Mark!


May 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)