November 22, 2008
more new scholarship
"The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln's Habits"
JULIE A. OSEID University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
This short article focuses on the persuasive power of brevity in legal writing, using Abraham Lincoln as a role model. Lincoln's eloquence was grounded in his ability to express much with few words. He learned the power of brevity while practicing law.
The article reviews Lincoln's legal career, and examines Lincoln's use of brevity to persuade in three of his presidential speeches. I explore Lincoln's writing and editing habits. I urge modern lawyers to adopt Lincoln's habits of writing early, visualizing audience, and editing with ruthlessness to increase eloquence and persuasiveness.
"Toward a Deeper Understanding of Professionalism: Learning to Write and Writing to Learn during the First Two Weeks of Law School"
BEN BRATMAN, University of Pittsburgh - School of Law
Law schools are under pressure to instill in their students a sense of professionalism, but what exactly does professionalism mean? And what can professors of legal writing do to lay an educational foundation of professionalism? They are, after all, the teachers who at most schools have the greatest interaction with the impressionable first-year students.
Professionalism is frequently used to mean a variety of behaviors that are important for lawyers to exhibit, but that are also important for those in business - outside the traditional professions - to exhibit. In the context of legal education, professionalism is better understood to mean those characteristics of a profession that distinguish it from a business. The most important distinguishing characteristic of a profession is that its essence and primary imperative are public service. The notion that lawyers, as professionals, must prioritize public service over profits is a romantic one, but an essential one for law students to understand.
As a professor of legal writing, my first of what I hope will become many steps in conveying this sense of professionalism to my first-year students is a writing assignment to be completed during the first two weeks of law school. The assignment asks students to analyze whether a fictional personal injury attorney is running a permitted professional office or a prohibited business office under a zoning ordinance. The students write a short inter-office memo applying a real precedent case in which a court ruled an insurance agent ran a business office. In crafting and using this memo assignment, I have dual goals - ensuring my students learn to write and also write to learn (about professionalism).
"The Citation of Wikipedia in American Judicial Opinions"
LEE F. PEOPLES, Oklahoma City University School of Law
Wikipedia has been cited almost 300 times in American judicial opinions as of September, 2008. Courts cite Wikipedia for a wide range of purposes. Some citations are merely mundane references to everyday facts well known by the general public. In other opinions, Wikipedia is cited as a basis for the court's reasoning or to support a conclusion about an adjudicative fact at issue in the case. In a notable recent case, Badasa v. Mukasey, 2008 WL 3981817 (8th Cir. 2008), The Eighth Circuit remanded a Board of Immigration Appeals decision because it upheld a lower court's finding based on information obtained from Wikipedia.
This article will comprehensively examine citations to Wikipedia in American judicial opinions. The impact of references to Wikipedia in judicial opinions on law of evidence, judicial ethics, the judicial role in the common law adversarial system, the de-legalization of American law, and the future of stare decisis will be explored. Best practices for the citation of Wikis in judicial opinions will be discussed.
November 22, 2008 | Permalink
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