Sunday, February 3, 2008
Sue Liemer, one of the three regular blog editors listed in the left-hand column, is on sabbatical this semester. Her sabbatical includes not only a break from her regular duties at Southern Illinois University School of Law (where she is the Director of the SIU Legal Writing Program), but also a break from contributing posts to this blog. I am filling in for her this semester on the blog. [She is not prohibited from posting on the blog, but her electronic sabbatical relieves her of the intense blogging pressure that all bloggers must normally otherwise feel!]
It is a natural concern of colleagues to be sure that those who enjoy sabbaticals do so in ways that are both restful and productive. So many of us have been wondering about how Sue Liemer is spending her sabbatical. Is she writing? Reading? Researching? Resting? Maybe a little bit of each of those? Is she enjoying a break from classroom teaching, student conferences, and committee work? There is no authoritative source to locate answers to these pressing questions, so I hopped on a train from Chicago to Carbondale . . . to go and spy on Sue Liemer! Just how IS she spending her sabbatical?
Before disclosing the answer, a word about Sue Liemer for those of you who might not know her. She received a B.A. in comparative literature from Princeton, and a J.D. from Virginia. She's worked as a writer in advertising and marketing. She served as counsel to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission. Her law practice included administrative hearing, appellate work, and liaison work with the public, government employees, the press, and the legislature.
She taught at Western New England College of Law, the University of Mississippi School of Law, and Southern Illinois University where she is now director. She was president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors sometime in the last century (ok, it was 1999-2000), and she is on the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute. Her scholarship interests include both legal writing and art law.
Just returning from this mission, I am happy to report that Sue is doing well. She is enjoying her sabbatical and doing some interesting original research (in English and French) on intellectual property law issues. This furthers her previous scholarship on copyright and other intellectual property law issues. We had breakfast in Carbondale at Sue’s favorite breakfast place, Harbaugh’s Café (just across the street from the SIU campus). Another SIU professor, Cindy Buys (who is also on sabbatical this semester from teaching international and constitutional law at SIU) joined us. Cindy and Sue compared notes on their sabbaticals so far (it has only been a month – barely even long enough to realize that you are on sabbatical I think), and exchanged encouragement and support. We talked about scholarship, teaching, and productive uses of sabbatical time. Bottom line? She’s doing great.
Although I told Sue that the purpose of my visit was to spy on her, Professor Cindy Buys had arranged for me to speak to the International Law Society at SIU on careers in international law. [I have made it a habit to go down to SIU about once a year to talk to the students there about international law careers.] Professor Buys also arranged meetings for me with the gay and lesbian law student group at SIU, and we had some serious substantive discussions on issues such as civil unions, same-sex marriage, federal non-discrimination legislation, and repealing the military’s prohibition on gay and lesbian servicemembers. [All of which make great subjects for legal writing problems by the way.]
I also had a chance to see the singing legal writing professor, Sheila Simon. You may remember that she wrote “The Martha Stewart Blues” and recorded that on a CD with her band, Loose Gravel (the name of the band is not a reference to the failed Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel). I had dinner with Sheila and her family, where we discussed pressing issues of concern to all legal writing professors.
I also stopped in the SIU Law Library, where I was pleasantly surprised to find Laurel Wendt. I thought she had retired, and, in fact, she had. Nevertheless, there she was, filling in and helping library patrons find materials in the SIU Law Library. It just goes to show how dedicated some people can be.
So all is well in Carbondale, Illinois. If your own travels take you there this semester or this summer, stop in to visit Sue Liemer and the other legal writing and research professionals at SIU. In fact, if you are travelling anywhere, why not contact the legal writing folk where you are going and invite them out to lunch? We’re a community of friends already, and they’ll be happy to see you.
Mark E. Wojcik, spying on Sue Liemer