June 29, 2007
"Writing is one of the easiest things; erasing is one of the hardest."
- Rabbi Israel Salanter
June 28, 2007
education in this millennium
This week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Morse v. Frederick, No. 06-278 (U.S. June 25, 2007). You may recall it better as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case. In his concurrence, Justice Thomas wrote:
"In short, in the earliest public schools, teachers taught, and students listened. Teachers commanded, and students obeyed. Teachers did not rely solely on the power of ideas to persuade; they relied on discipline to maintain order."
Of course, in the years that have passed since the 18th Century, educators have realized that experiential learning is a far more effective learning tool -- for adults, as well as children. Wonder what Justice Thomas would think of the controlled chaos of an interactive exercise during legal writing class?
hat tip: Prof. Peter Friedman, Case Western University
June 27, 2007
Professor Susan Kosse, at the University of Louisville, has written a helpful article on the effective use of thesis paragraphs. As she so aptly puts it, "[r]eaders of legal analysis want to be prepared for the scope and direction of the analysis from the beginning and do not want suspense or mystery." This article is short enough to use as a hand out in legal writing class.
June 26, 2007
job opening for this fall
Professor Gail Stephenson sends the following announcement from sunny Baton Rouge:
"The Southern University Law Center invites applications for two legal writing faculty positions beginning in the 2007-2008 academic year. Please send a cover letter listing references, a resume, and any articles completed within the last 5 years or drafts of current works in progress. Please send applications to The Faculty Appointments Subcommittee, c/o Prof. John Pierre, Southern University Law Center, P. O. Box 9294, Baton Rouge, LA 70813. Application deadline is July 6, 2007.
"One or both of the positions may be visiting professorships; the visitors will be considered for a permanent position to open for the 2008-2009 academic year. Salary is $55,000 to $65,000, depending on experience. The legal writing faculty are eligible for 405c presumptively renewable 5-year contracts after 6 years of successful teaching and are allowed to vote on all matters except hiring, promotion and tenure. Responsibilities include teaching two sections of Legal Analysis & Writing with a total student load of 40-45 students.
"Established in 1947 and ABA-acredited, Southern University is a historically black university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the state capital. The law center has a diverse student body (approx. 60% black, 40% white) and a diverse faculty. The city located is on the Mississippi River and is an hour northwest of New Orleans. Direct questions about the legal writing program to Gail Stephenson, Director, at GStephenson@sulc.edu."
June 25, 2007
recommended reading -- other ways to train professionals
Osler, Langdell, and the Atelier is the intriguing title of a new article by Professor Richard Neumann at Hofstra University. Professor Neumann explains that Osler was to medical education and the atelier was to architecture education what Langdell was to legal education. Well, sort of, because they take very different approaches with very different results, which is also Neumann's point. Here's his abstract:
"Langdell, together with Ames, is associated with the key elements of traditional legal education: the case method, the law school version of the Socratic dialog, the casebook, the three-year law degree, the prerequisite of a bachelor's degree, the student-edited law review, the library's role as the center of the law school, and a classroom faculty with relatively little practice experience or interest in practice. In medical education, William Osler played a similar role, although with an entirely different emphasis. Osler is associated with the creation of the modern teaching hospital, the most valuable forms of teaching that can occur there, and the structure of and sequence of study in the typical four-year medical degree program. American architectural education was created not by individuals like Osler and Langdell, but instead developed from a kind of place ? the French atelier, from which the modern architectural design studio is descended. An architecture school is built around a design studio, and architectural education's values and practices are studio values and practices.
"This article compares the influence of Langdell, Osler, and the atelier in their respective fields and considers what they can reveal about legal education today. Among other things, that comparison reveals that although very little skills learning is required in law schools, skills learning is at the core of both medical and architectural education. For that reason, the Oslerian and atelier traditions have substantially raised the standard of practice in medicine and architecture, although that is probably much less true for the Langdellian tradition in law. Although most courses taken by a medical student or an architecture student are required, most courses taken by a law student are electives. Law school curricula are only lightly regulated by accreditation, but curricula differ little from one law school to another. The reverse is true in medicine. Architectural accreditation evaluates in detail what students are learning. Architecture and medicine, in fact, have developed inventories of what a capable practitioner should know and have incorporated those inventories into relatively demanding accreditation standards. Law developed a similarly thoughtful inventory of competencies in the MacCrate Report but has not converted it into its accreditation standards as a body of competencies that every school must teach and every student must learn. In comparison with medical and architecture schools, law schools can in some ways resemble graduate liberal arts departments. In reflectiveness, intensity, and continuity, the quality of law school skills teaching compares favorably with skills teaching in medical and architecture schools, although there is much less of it in law than in the other two professions. Traditional thinking about legal education has obscured the fact that law schools probably already have or can develop the resources needed to teach skills to all students. Even though law faculties often consider skills teaching to be expensive, the cost is tiny compared to the expense in medical schools, which must own or affiliate with teaching hospitals and must support the extraordinarily expensive equipment, layers of bureaucracy, and support staff normally found in a hospital."
You can access the complete text at http://ssrn.com/abstract=992801.
learned a new word lately?
When I receive the New York State Bar Journal via snail mail, I always turn first to Professor Emerita Gertrude Block's column of Language Tips. Professor Block fields questions from attorneys about correct language usage, and often the topics include changes in language. This month Professor Block points out words that have newly entered the Shorter OED. The one I had never heard before was "gomer." I said it out loud, immediately thought of Gomer Pyle, and was not far off in my sense of its meaning. Professor Block gently suggests that some readers may have a colleague who is a gomer.