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 16, 2007
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
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 14, 2007
confining court rules
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 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