Thursday, May 29, 2008
This post continues the preview of this summer's Legal Writing Institute Conference in Indianapolis. We've made up it to the last day of the conference in these previews. The Thursday morning sessions on Thursday, July 17, 2008 wisely start at 9:30 instead of 9:00 a.m. They go until 10:15 a.m.
Mitchell J. Nathanson (Associate Professor of Legal Writing at Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, Pennsylvania), Kristen Tiscione (Professor of Legal Research and Writing at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC) and Linda L. Berger (Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law; moving to Mercer University School of Law in Macon, Georgia), will present Defining the Purpose and Parameters of Scholarship for Legal Writing Professors. Three professors from three different law schools will discuss why legal research and writing faculty should publish even in the absence of a scholarship requirement. They'll also discuss a working definition of good scholarship (hey, does that include blogging?) They will also discuss whether there is an identifiable field of legal research and writing for us to write about and whether we should publish in that field or in other fields of interest. They hope to engage in a larger group discussion on how professors can make the best image possible in the legal academy. Here's a link to an article by Mitchell Nathanson that you might find to be of interest. And do you see how closely these panelists work together? He's thanked one of his co-presenters in the footnote!
The Real World: L aw School: Professionalism in Electronic Communication will be the subject of this presentation by Melissa H. Weresh (Assistant Director and Professor of Legal Writing at Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa, who happens to be training for a marathon) and Lisa A. Penland (Associate Professor at Drake University School of Law and the mayor of Steamboat Rock, Iowa). They will examine elements of electronic communication and professionalism, in law school and in practice. They will illustrate an interactive workshop for students designed to help them be more thoughtful, deliberate, and professional in electronic communication. I had a chance to visit both of them last week in Des Moines while I was teaching a bar review course. They are wonderful hosts. Their presentation will be a good one, with lots of practical tips that may save our students in the future.
Laurie C. Kadoch (Professor at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont) will present on Mapping Thoughts and Deepening Student Analysis Via Diagramming. Teaching involves much more than imparting knowledge. We teach our students to absorb and integrate new knowledge and how to apply and communicate that knowledge with critical thought. The learning needs unique to the current generation of law students support the notion that we must be open to the development of new approaches to the teaching and learning of legal writing. The diagram can be used to provide an evolving visual representation for student understanding at each stage of research, analysis, and writing. The diagram also provides a tool for self-assessment for each student. Should be some useful information here, with some tools that are certainly new to me in the teaching context.
Allison D. Ortlieb (Legal Writing Instructor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, across the street from me) and Susan Thrower (Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication Program at DePaul) will present They're Not Enemies, They're Untapped Allies: Strategies for Handling Disruptive, Disaffected, and Plain-Old Bad Students. They explore why some students behave so badly and provide some strategies for turning those problematic students into solid LRW citizens. I'm tempted to post a picture of Bart Simpson here going to law school . . . .
Lisa A. Eichorn (Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at the University of South Carolina School of Law, pictured here on the left) and Janice M. Baker (Legal Writing Instructor at South Carolina) will present on the subject Co-Dependent No More? When Teaching Becomes Enabling. In this session, they will ask attendees to discuss scenarios concerning particularly needy or demanding students and the amount of time, effort, and explicit assistance a teacher should offer in response to their demands. They will also discuss suggestions to allow teachers to put reasonable time limits on their availability to students to avoid teacher burnout and foster student responsibility (without sacrificing student evaluation ratings).
There's a feast of presentations here in this session. Dorothy Bisbee (Assistant Professor of Legal Writing at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts) will speak on Finding Time for Scholarship. She'll provide tips for optimal time management, finding time for scholarship and a balanced life. (You can also be pretty sure that with three other presenters, she won't go over her time during this presentation!)
Timothy D. Blevins (Visiting Assistant Professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University -- better known as Florida A&M -- in Orlando, Florida) and Brenda Gibson (Director of Legal Writing at North Carolina Central School of Law in Durham, North Carolina) will speak on Grading: Using Spreadsheets and Rubrics. They will discuss two tools that make grading more objective and less subject to criticism as the whims of the professor.
And Christine E. Rollins (Director of Legal Research and Writing at St. Louis University School of Law) will wrap it all up with Effective and Efficient Electronic Commenting, including a discussion of bubble comments, highlighting text, inserting text, and pasting comments from a scoring rubric.
Gail S. Stephenson (Director of Legal Writing and Assistant Professor of Law at the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) will have a poster on Student Body Diversity: A View from the Trenches. She'll examine ABA Standard 212, which requires law schools to "demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to diversity." She'll also discuss her scholarship on the issue. Look for a poster with a large scale -- on one side will be the benefits of diverse student body and the other side will be the challenges. What is your prediction as to which side the scales will favor?
Carol Lynn Wallinger (Clinical Associate Professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden, New Jersey) will have a poster on Moving from First to Final Draft -- An Empirical Study on Motivating Students to Move Through the Writing Process. Her research is the result of a 2007 ALWD Scholarship Grant. She measured the participation of 20 first-year legal writing students in two "interventions" during their final exam projects. The interventions were (1) unlimited and self-scheduled "live critiquing" conferences and (2) the self-selected opportunity to obtain a provisional grade before the final exam submission. Come see what she learned from that research.
Jennifer B. Horn (Assistant Professor of Legal Practice at Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas) will have a poster on Not-So-Magnificent Obsession: Performance v. Professionalism. She'll present strategies to help students understand that professionals much constantly work to improve their mastery of legal skills. Her poster will include information on
- Designing assignments that simulate work-related matters
- Demonstrating how professionals use legal resources
- Using grading rubrics
- Clarifying how students will use knowledge in practice
- Providing frequent specific feedback that encourages change
- Providing assignments that show students they can incrementally improve their performance if they are willing to work
Well gang, that's it for the first session of the last day of the conference. What keeps coming back to me is the overwhelming richness of the presentations -- there is a LOT of information to be had here.
For descriptions of the reception on Monday evening and the opening plenary on Tuesday morning, click here.
For descriptions of session 2 on Tuesday, click here.
For information on the Tuesday diversity lunch, click here.
For information on the Tuesday Pink Ink lunch, click here.
For descriptions of session 3 on Tuesday, click here.
For descriptions of session 4 on Tuesday, click here.
For information on the Tuesday evening dinners for new legal writing professors, click here.
For descriptions of the not-to-be missed (because that's when I'm presenting) Tuesday evening Popcorn sessions, click here.
For descriptions of session 1 on Wednesday, click here.
For descriptions of session 2 on Wednesday, click here.
For descriptions of session 3 on Wednesday, click here.
Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School, Chicago