Saturday, September 29, 2007

more on creativity in legal writing

I like to tell my students that effective legal writing draws on both the right brain and the left brain,  both analytical and creative thinking.  Now Professor Andrea L. Mcardle has written an article entitled In a Creative Voice: Talking Back to Lawyers' Texts in Notes from a Difficult Case.  As her abstract explains: "[A] creative voice can and should play an important role in legal writing, if it is to effectively convey the human elements from which any legal case arises. This point is illustrated through an analysis of law professor Ruthann Robson's essay, Notes from a Difficult Case, a non-fictional narrative based on Robson's own experience with a personal health crisis that led to a medical malpractice case.

"This piece emphasizes how Robson's crossing back and forth between a professional and personal voice within her essay works to cogently convey an intensely human experience that a purely structured form of professional writing could not. Robson's essay is proof for the hypothesis that legal writing can be an even more effective tool when infused with a writer's personal voice working to recognize the human element at the heart of a legal issue."


September 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Got an idea to present at the Global Legal Skills Conference?

A reminder from Professor Mark Wojcik:

We want to remind you that October 10 is the deadline for proposals for the Global Legal Skills Conference III, which will be held in Monterrey, Mexico from February 28 to March 1, 2008. Information about the conference--and about submitting proposals--is available at We have already received a great number of wonderful proposals, and we are hopeful that we will have a high acceptance rate of proposals submitted. Please be a part of this important conference.

Queremos recordarle que el 10 de octubre vence el plazo para presentar propuestas de participación para la Global Legal Skills Conference III, que tendrá lugar en Monterrey, México, del 28 de febrero al 1 de marzo de 2008. Para más información –incluyendo la forma de enviar sus propuestas—visite nuestra página Hemos recibido un buen número de propuestas y consideramos que casi todas ellas serán aceptadas. ¡Esperamos su participación!


September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

legal research on the bar exam?

Germainclaire Can you imagine a world in which legal research is a tested topic on the bar exam?  Well, law professor Claire Germain, at Cornell can.  See her article on Legal Information Management in a Global and Digital Age:  Revolution and Tradition, International Journal of Legal Information, Vol. 35, p. 134 (Summer 2007).

As she explains in her abstract:
"This article presents an overview of the public policy issues surrounding digital libraries, and describes some current trends, such as Web 2.0, the social network. It discusses the impact of globalization and the Internet on international and foreign law information, the free access to law movement and open access scholarship, and mass digitization projects, then turns to some concerns, focusing on preservation and long term access to born digital legal information and authentication of official digital legal information It finally discusses new roles for librarians, called upon to evaluate the quality of information; teach legal research methodology; and be advocates in information policy. Law librarians are encouraged to join professional associations and undergo continuous professional education. A recent development in the U.S.A., to add a legal research test on the bar exam, is of interest to the whole world, because it signifies the importance of a sound legal research training to the competent practice of law."


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

the nominee's legal writing

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on the legal writing of Attorney General nominee, Judge Michael Mukasey.

Apparently, he keeps a framed photo of George Orwell in his chambers, which would put him in agreement with Professor Judy Fischer, whose article on Why George Orwell's Ideas about Language Still Matter for Lawyers, 68 Mont. L. Rev. 129 (2007), we've mentioned here previously.

Judge Mukasey also credits his background as a journalist as a positive influence on his legal writing.  And here he is agreement with an article by legal writing professor Hollee Temple, Here's the Scoop for the Law Profs: Teach Your Students to Think Like a Journalist, 81 U. Detroit Mercy L. Rev. 175 (2004).

hat tips: Prof. Sarah Ricks, Rutgers-Camden, and Attorney Christopher Wren, Wisc. DOJ


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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

law as a healing profession

Somehow after a day of grading papers it was comforting to receive notice of the Law as a Healing Profession Conference.  It looks like two full days covering lawyering skills beyond the technical.


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

new format for legal scholars

Academic posters, long a staple in other fields, have recently made their entry into legal scholarship.  For example, AALS started having displays of academic posters at its annual meeting of law professors a few years ago.  And now the Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy has announced its first annual Call for Academic Posters and Multimedia Scholarship.

hat tip:  Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rugters-Camden


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

Monday, September 24, 2007

when the narrative IS the analysis

Kchestek Professor Ken Chestek, at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, has hit the nail on the head in his new article, The Plot Thickens: The Appellate Brief as Story.  Chestek explains how an entire appellate brief can work as a seamless narrative, putting to persuasive use the core elements that make up effective storytelling, such as character, conflict, setting, theme, and plot.  And it is great fun to see how the author models these very techniques throughout his article.  These are absolutely the techniques you hope opposing counsel has not yet mastered.


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

new legal research blawg

Frequent contributor of ideas for this blog, Professor Diane Murley, has started a law school library blawg at her new school, Arizona State University.

You can visit the Ross-Blakley Law Library Blog at or subscribe to its feed at In addition to library news and announcements, they will be posting research tips, reviews of legal information sources, library podcasts, online tutorials, animal photos of the week, and more.


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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"honoring" gobbledygook

Legalese On September 20, 2007, the creator of the "Party of the First Part" website presented the "first annual Golden Gobbledygood Awards for truly awful legalese." I don't think anyone was there to claim these awards, however. First place went to the author of an Oklahoma criminal information alleging this conduct: "That is to further state that within said time period and within said County and State, the aforesaid defendants . . . did combine, conspire and agree, one with the other and with others, to defraud the State of Oklahoma . . . ." Second place was awarded to a pre-nuptial provision which warned against relying on the accuracy of any exhibits to the agreement. Third place went to a brief's argument objecting to an expert witness.

The winning entries, along with a number of "Dishonorable Mentions," are posted at the website's Legalese Hall of Shame.


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