August 3, 2007
impermissible collaboration => 0 => lawsuit
The court's summary says it all:
"Appellant, Robert Jackson, was dismissed from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law for failure to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average. Jackson attributed his dismissal to a low grade received in a writing class, after the instructor gave him a zero for collaborating on a closed memo. Jackson sued Texas Southern University (TSU) and five other defendants, both individually and in their official capacities for defamation, fraud, breach of contract, and due process violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The trial court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment, and Jackson now appeals only the due process claims as to three defendants. Because we find that Jackson received due process, we affirm." Read more at Jackson v. Texas Southern University-Thurgood Marshall School of Law, --- S.W.3d ----, 2007 WL 1672094 (Tex.App.-Houston [14 Dist.] 2007).
hat tip: Darby Dickerson, Stetson
habits of the domesticated American 1L
If you want to know about the study habits (and some not so studious habits, like computer gaming) of the incoming 1L class, take a look at Professor Ian Gallacher’s article, Who Are Those Guys? The Results of Survey Studying the Information Literacy of Incoming Law Students.
Ian explains in his abstract:
"This article presents the results of a summer 2006 survey of students about to begin their first year of law school. In total, 740 students from seven different law schools responded to the survey. The survey gathered general information from the students, as well as self-evaluative data on student reading, writing, and research habits in an attempt to understand how the students perceive their skills in these crucial areas. The survey data suggest that while there is some positive news to report, incoming law students overestimate their writing and research skills and come to law school inadequately trained in information literacy. The article concludes with an analysis of some of the broad conclusions suggested by the data from this survey and from other studies of law student and new lawyers, and proposes some possible remedies for the skills deficits displayed by incoming law students."
August 2, 2007
remember, you're on stage
- Professor Douglas Abrams at Missouri-Columbia has written a lively short article entitled The Writer’s Theater, which could help students develop a better sense of audience. As Abrams explains, if all the world’s a stage, legal writers are on it.
August 1, 2007
mapping their thinking
Professor Dave Thomson, at the University of Denver, has written an article for ye who are still reluctant to use high tech bells and whistles in your classroom: CaseMap as a Tool for the Research Log Function: Finally, a Technology that Can Help us Teach Better.
As he puts it:
“For years, teachers at all levels have been encouraged to use technology in the classroom, with mixed results. Unfortunately, technology never makes for a better student or a better teacher by itself. What is needed are customized applications designed by teachers with particular educational objectives in mind. Those teachers charged with the difficult task of introducing their students to the art and practice of legal writing often find themselves in the position of a doctor trying to diagnose an illness from a dead body. That is, they find themselves trying to explain a combination of thinking and writing problems after the two have been mixed together, and the resulting mistakes have already been made. If we could more systematically join with our students in the critical thinking and linking steps that must precede good legal writing, we might be able to help them produce better final products. This article describes the use of a particular software program in the teaching of legal research and writing that, if carefully used and implemented, might finally meet that elusive objective.”
To download or print out the full text, click here.
in or out?
Michael F. Cosgrove, at the City of Cleveland’s law department, reports that Ohio appellate courts are wrestling with some burning interpretive issues. In Pupco Property Management v. City of Cincinnati, 170 Ohio App. 3d 641, 868 N.E.2d 738 (Hamilton County Ct. App. 2007), the concurring opinion is particularly insightful, round about paragraph 19:
"The question is this: Is someone drinking a beer on a deck covered by a roof (the awning) with only one side wall (the building) indoors or outdoors? The simplest resolution might be that, since there is no door at all, it would be impossible to be outdoors. But that would raise the question of whether installing a free-standing door would suffice. I fear not. Surely you have to go out a door somewhere to get to this deck -- so does that make it outdoors? Maybe the problem is that you don't go in a door, so you can't be indoors on the deck."
July 31, 2007
bad writing awards: this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest results
And the winner is . . .
"Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them "permanently" meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee."
* * *
It might be a fun exercise to have your students read some of the winners and then discuss WHY they are bad--what norms or expectations do they violate or ignore? Then analogize that to critiquing their own writing.
July 30, 2007
first day of classes coming up . . .
My first day of class is just 3 weeks away, so I'm starting to think about what to say to that room of 20 eager 1-L's. The legal writing listserv is always a source of great ideas, but I'd like to hear from any practitioners out there:
What do you think that I should tell that room full of impressionable students--about writing, about ethics, about the practice of law?
Please comment and let me know. Thanks!