Saturday, March 8, 2008

Global Legal Skills Conference III - Mexico - Photos

Logo_globalpath_2 Here are some photos from the Global Legal Skills Conference held Febraury 28 to March 1, 2008 in Mexico at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.


More than 180 people from 11 countries attended the conference.  This photo here isn't of everyone who came to the conference, but you may be able to recognize many familiar faces from the legal writing community.  This photo was taken during one of the breaks between sessions.


The Honorable Bruce Williamson, Consul General of the United States in Monterrey (and, incidentally, also a lawyer) was one of the speakers during the opening plenary session.  Also attending the opening session was the President of the Supreme Court of Nuevo Leon (Gustavo Adolfo Guerrero-Gutiérrez, Magistrado Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Estado de Nuevo León, México), a representative of the governor of Nuevo Leon (Humberto R. Medina-Ainslie, Representante del Gobernador del Estado de Nuevo León, México), and José Roble Flores-Fernández, Dean of the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.   

Glsiii_plenaryI was also one of the speakers during the plenary session (I'm the tall guy on the left.)  Standing next to me is Judge Guerrero-Gutiérrez, and next to him is Mr. Medina-Ainslie. Standing in the center is Professor Molly Lien, Director of the Lawyering Skills Program at The John Marshall Law School, who was one of the GLS Conference Co-Chairs.  Next to her is Consul General Williamson.  And on the right side of the photo are Dean Jose Roble and the Academic Vice Dean, Fernando Villareal Gonda.  The deans and the staff at FLDM put in a tremendous amount of work to make the conference a success.Monterrey1

Speakers included representatives from more than 60 institutions from around the world (including 40 law schools from the United States).

Pictured here (from left to right) are: Dr. Peter Cramer of the Georgetown University Law Center for Global Legal English in Washington D.C.; Professor Victoria Hadfield from the University of Illinois College of Law; Professor Robert Volk from Boston University School of Law; and Professor Gerardo Puertas-Gomez, President of the Board of the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.

In an informal photo, here are Professors Katerina Lewinbuk of the South Texas Glsiii_julie_katerina_and_gerardo_2College of Law, Gerardo Puertas-Gomez from the Facultad Libre de Derecho, and Julie Spanbauer from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

The conference website has a few more photos, the full program (including all of the last-minute changes that were made), and links to some of the program materials.  The next Global Legal Skills Conference will take place in June 2009 at Georgetown University.

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

March 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supporting Africa

Several law schools have stepped up to answer a challenge to sponsor a legal writing professor from Africa at this summer's Legal Writing Institute Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Each school is putting up $2,000 toward the expenses.

The schools so far include:

  • Seattle University School of Law (Dean Kellye Testy and Professors Laurel Oates and Mimi Samuels)
  • Stetson University College of Law (Dean Darby Dickerson and Professor Kirsten Davis)
  • The John Marshall Law School - Chicago (Dean John Corkery and Professor Molly Lien)
  • Marquette University Law School (Dean Joseph Kearney and Professor Lisa Hatlen)
  • Hofstra University School of Law (Dean Nora Demleitner and Professor Frank Gulino)
  • Drexel University School of Law (Dean Roger J. Dennis and Professor Terry Seligmann)
  • St. John's University School of Law (Dean Mary Daly and Professor Robin Boyle)
  • Touro University Law Center (Dean Lawrence Raful and Professor Tracy McGaugh)
  • South Texas College of Law (Dean Jim Alfini and Professor Andrew Solomon)

The Legal Writing Institute is also helping support the visits of our colleagues from Africa. 

Several individual law professors have also pledged or already made individual contributions to help make this happen.

The initiative is the brainchild of Mimi Samuels and Laurel Oates of Seattle University School of Law, and others who last year organized and attended a legal writing conference in Nairobi, Kenya, including Emily Zimmerman of Drexel University Law School.  They and others attending the Nairobi conference formed a group called Appeal_2 APPEAL (Academics Promoting the Pedagogy of Effective Advocacy in Law), which has members in the United States and 40 members in 11 countries in Africa.  We included information about APPEAL in a previous blog post here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog.  During the Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico, Mimi, Laurel, and Emily, and a colleague from Kenya, described the Kenya Conference and their efforts to continue building relationships.

It is a long trip from Africa to Indiana.  I wonder if law schools might also be willing to host some of the African attendees before or after the conference (or both) to continue the professional discussions and exchanges of information that will be so valuable for everyone involved.  It would be a shame to have them come so far and not take full advantage of their visit.

If you want to contribute as well to this, contact Mimi Samuels at Seattle University.  She is co-president of APPEAL with Daniel Ruhweza, who can also answer questions for you about APPEAL. 

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago (With special thanks to Professor Mimi Samuel of Seattle University School of Law)

P.S. If your school is contributing to this effort but is not yet listed above, please let us know so that we can add your school to that list.  You can also post a comment below or send me an email.

March 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations, Laurel Oates!

Laurel_oates Laurel Currie Oates, director of the Legal Writing Program at Seattle University, has been promoted to full professor.  Laurel was one of the founders of the Legal Writing Institute, the leading organization for teachers of legal writing, reasoning, and research.  Professor Oates has been a prolific scholar and is well known in the legal writing field for her many accomplishments. 

Congratulations, Laurel, and congratulations Seattle University.

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

March 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2008

top 10 downloads in SSRN Legal Writing Journal

Top10 What's hot? Check out the top 10 papers (in numbers of downloads) for the SSRN eLibrary Journal of Legal Writing (covering the period from January 2, 1997 to March 7, 2008)

  1. Ruggero Aldisert, Stephen Clowney, & Jeremy Peterson, Logic for Law Students: How to Think Like a Lawyer (2139 downloads)
  2. Thom Brooks, Publishing Advice for Graduate Students (1902 downloads)
  3. Leah M. Christensen, Legal Reading and Success in Law School: An Empirical Study (704 downloads)
  4. Sarah E. Ricks & Jane L. Istvan, Effective Brief Writing Despite High Volume Practice: Ten Misconceptions that Result in Bad Briefs (693 downloads)
  5. Leah M. Christensen & Julie A. Oseid, Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: An Empirical Study of Those With All the Power--Student Editors (689 downloads)
  6. Jethro K. Lieberman, Bad Writing: Some Thoughts on the Abuse of Scholarly Rhetoric (564 downloads)
  7. Anne M. Enquist, Unlocking the Secrets of Highly Successful Legal Writing Students (497 downloads)
  8. Lawrence B. Solum, Download It While It's Hot: Open Access and Legal Scholarship (485 downloads)
  9. Allen K. Rostron, Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals (474 downloads)
  10. Ian Gallacher, "Who are Those Guys?" The Results of a Survey Studying the Information Literacy of Incoming Law Students (457 downloads)


March 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

encourage students to enter Milani writing competition

If you have assigned your students a trial or appellate brief-writing assignment involving one of the following topics, encourage your better writers to enter the 2008 Adam A. Milani Disability Law Writing Competition, sponsored by Mercer Law School and created to honor the memory of the late Adam Milani, a much-loved legal writing professor at that school. The deadline to submit entries is June 1, 2008; cash prizes are awarded to the winners. This year's topics include:

  • disability law;
  • the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972;
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
  • Family and Medical Leave Act; or
  • a state statute or municipal ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

hat tip: Linda Edwards


March 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

teaching common-law reasoning in Turkey

Istanbul Is your passport current? The Istanbul Legal Skills Conference will be held August 4-7, 2008, at Bahcesehir Istanbul University. Co-sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute and Bahcesehir Istanbul University, the conference will demonstrate to Turkish lawyers, judges, and law students how common-law legal analysis is conducted and how American law schools weave skills into the law school curriculum. 

Although Turkey is a civil law country, it has applied for accession into the European Union, which would require that its lawyers be able to operate in the EU common law court system.  Programs like this one give Turkish lawyers an opportunity to learn common-law analytical skills and give Turkish institutions an opportunity to demonstrate Turkey's ability to be a successful EU member.

The conference program is available here. Conference registration is only $100.00 and includes the opening reception and the tea breaks between sessions 2 and 3 each day.  A sightseeing trip is planned for August 1-3 (at an additional cost) and will include Pergamon and Ephesus. If you are interested in attending and volunteering as a back-up presenter, please contact Tracy McGaugh.


March 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job opening at Duke

Duke Law School seeks candidates for a full-time position teaching legal writing to join the Director and five writing teachers. The legal writing program consists of the first-year course in Legal Analysis, Research, & Writing and a collection of upper-level advanced legal writing seminars that focus on different areas of legal practice. Research skills in the first-year course are taught by a co-teacher reference librarian, and the research and writing portions of the course are integrated. The person hired will report to the Director of Writing and will teach one section of the first-year course (3 credits
over two semesters) and one upper-level advanced writing seminar (2 credits/one semester). 

The school prefers that applicants have at least three years of practice experience, as well as experience teaching legal writing. For curricular reasons, an ideal candidate would have some litigation experience (relevant to the first-year course) and some transactional experience (an area where an upper-level seminar is needed).  However, transactional experience is not required.

Interested applicants should send a resume, writing sample, and list of three references by March 31, 2008, to Diane Dimond Diane Dimond, Clinical Prof. of Law & Director of Writing, Duke University School of Law, Box 90360, Durham, NC 27708-0360.


March 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

an alternative approach to the outline

In "Writing with Precision:  How to Write So That You Cannot Possibly Be Misunderstood," Jefferson Bates discusses "the easy way to outline" in chapter 15.

Rather than focus on creation of a formal outline as an early drafting activity, he advocates a note-card system that emphasizes creative thought first.  In a nutshell:  take a stack of notecards and put one discrete idea on each one.  Brainstorm away--the more ideas, the merrier!!  Don't worry about organization or completeness at this stage; just generate ideas.  Then take a break from the project to let your subconscious work on the project.

Next, spread out and arrange the cards into clusters to create sequence, hierarchy, and categorization--that is, create your outline.  Save those cards that don't seem to fit initially--their place may become apparent later.  Expand out from the initial words on each card into phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs.

As he puts it, the card system keeps a writer's options open as long as possible to allow full creative thought.

(My idea)  You can also create cards with rules, analogous case facts, etc., and link them with the related idea.

(My idea again)  This would be a good first-semester small-group activity.

hat tip:  Dr. Natalie Tarenko, writing specialist, Texas Tech University School of Law


March 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

maybe Courier is good for something . . .

Last week at the Defense Research Institute's Appellate Advocacy Seminar, I heard Ruth Anne Robbins talk to appellate lawyers about ways to improve their briefs' appearance and readability (based on her research in her well-regarded article, Painting with Print). Ruth Anne inveighs mightily against the voluntary use of the Courier typeface (while acknowledging that some of us are stuck with Courier due to archaic court rules).

Couriernew_2 One of the conference attendees was Ray Ward, blog-author of the (new) legal writer, and he's suggested a possible good use for Courier in a recent article he wrote for Certworthy. Ray recommends that we use ugly ol' Courier for our drafts because the prettiness of proportional fonts too often prevents our seeing the mistakes that lie there. He has a point: I'm all for anything that will help writers become better proofreaders. This may be worth a try.


March 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Client names in Legal Writing Problems

Here's something to try in your next legal writing problem:  give the characters in your problem names that end in the letter "s."

Steven and Kathy Adams are two characters in the problem my students are working on right now.  The students have to figure out how to refer to them.  Is it the Adams, the Adams', the Adam's, the Adams's, the Adamses, the Adamses', or something else entirely?   

The goal of using client names that end in "s" is to have students learn now how to write about those clients.  I encourage students to look up the correct usages themselves in a grammar and style book (and not simply an on-line grammar check), so that they will be able to go back to that source years from now when they need to do it again when they are working in law firms or clerking for judges.

There are lots of great client names that end in "s":  Jones, Thomas, or Gonzales, for example.

Aadams_family You might also find students who will do everything they can to avoid learning the correct plural usage:  they will write only about "our clients" or "the plaintiffs" to avoid having to look in a grammar and style book.  One of my students decided to handle the current problem by writing about "the Adams Family."

I have now used client names that end in the letter s for several years, and recommend this to you for one of your future writing problems.  I believe it does help to get students find a grammar book that they will continue to use later in their writing careers.   

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago 

March 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Law Faculty Salary Survey

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) has  published its 2007-2008 Law Faculty Salary Survey.  The link also includes a membership application form for SALT in case you are interested in joining that great organization.

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

March 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

in solemn observation of . . . National Grammar Day!!

Did you know that today--March 4--is National Grammar Day? Neither did I, but according to SPOGG (the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar) and MSN Encarta, it's time to start the festivities. (Even the Prez has endorsed it--as well he should.) How should one celebrate? The Grammar Day site suggests that you try one of these activities:

Speak well! Write well! And on March 4, march forth and spread the word. If you see a sign with a catastrophic apostrophe, send a kind note to the storekeeper. If your local newscaster says "Between you and I," set him straight with a friendly e-mail.

Or you can just buy a T-shirt.

hat tip: Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute


March 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2008

news from JALWD

The Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (JALWD) now has its own web page. Editor Linda Berger describes the latest issue of JALWD and brings other welcome news:

Volume 4, When Worlds Collide, is a collection of essays growing out of the 2007 annual meeting program held by the American Association of Law Schools Section on Legal Writing Reasoning and Research.  The program focused on relationships between legal writing teachers and clinicians in teaching and scholarship. The print publication of Volume 4 will occur in conjunction with Volume 5, Legal Writing Beyond Memos and Briefs, which will be published (by West) and distributed (by the Association of Legal Writing Directors -- ALWD) this fall.

[The Journal] also has become an SSRN Partner in Publishing; articles from past volumes are now available on SSRN. And ALWD also entered electronic licensing agreements with HeinOnline and the H.W. Wilson Company; articles from past issues will be available from those online sources as well.


March 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teaching Students About the Importance of Word Counts

One skill that we need to teach our students is to reduce the number of words in their writing without sacrificing the underlying message.
Here's one example.  The U.S. Supreme Court has just ordered additional briefing in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 07-953.  The parties are directed to submit briefing addressing the question of whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal in light of 28 U.S.C. §1253, which permits a direct appeal “in any civil action, suit or proceeding required by any Act of Congress to be heard and determined by a district court of three judges.”  The briefs, "not to exceed 3,000 words, are to be filed simultaneously with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Monday, March 10, 2008."  Reply briefs are limited to 2,000 words.
So, with word limits like that, it becomes important for us to teach our students to eliminate phrases such as these:
"It is important to note that . . . "
"It should be noted that . . . "
If it is important, or if it should be noted, it will be do so even without saying that it is important or should be noted.
And in addition to eliminating certain phrases, we should teach our students how to reduce wordy phrases, and use instead plain language alternatives.  For example:
in addition to = and
as well as = and
is required to = must
has a duty to = must
will be permitted to = may
has the power to = can, may
will be able to = can, may
the totality of the facts = the facts
which is required to = required
asked the question of whether = asked
failed to report = omitted
despite the fact that = although
will serve as a warning to = warn
offered testimony in support of her case = testified
brought the concept to articulation = said
at that point in time = then
very unique = unique
on the grounds that = because
in the event that = if
does constitute = is
a number of = several
does not possess = lacks
in the absence of = without
period of time = time
rate of speed = speed
if for any reason whatsoever = if
makes provision for = provides
expressly provides = provides
Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School - Chicago

March 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

podcast on effective oral argument

The ABA Section on Litigation offers a podcast on oral argument (and other topics too!).


March 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference III - Mexico - Press Coverage

The GLogo_globalpathLS conference was covered by the press in Mexico. 

I tried an earlier link to an article in El Norte, but unfortunately the link didn't work.  You can try clicking here Download el_norte.pdf, which should bring you to the article.   

The artAbuyaeicle is in Spanish, but you might enjoy the photo that accompanies the article.  It was really windy on the steps, that's why my hair is doing that funky thing in the photo.  I'm holding the flag of Kenya, in honor of Dr. Edwin Abuye, a professor at Moi University in Kenya and a visiting professor this year at Seattle University, who was one of the speakers at the conference. 

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

March 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Global Legal Skills Conference III - Mexico

More than 180 persons from 11 countries participated in the third Global Legal Skills Conference last week in Monterrey Mexico.Logo_globalpath 

The conference was hosted by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (FLDM), one of the leading and most prestigious law schools in Mexico.

The conference began on Wednesday evening at a magnificent banquet, with Lien remarks from Pilar Frech of the FLDM, and Professor Molly Lien, one of the conference co-chairs and director of the Lawyering Skills Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  It was great to see so many people arriving at the conference from all over the United States and the world (some traveling from Japan, for example) just to attend this conference.

The sessions were great throughout the conference, as was the hospitality of our Monterrey1 hosts.  A fantastic law firm reception, and a Friday night fiesta complete with a wonderful mariachi band to liven up the mood.  The school is located in the beautiful Huasteca mountains, which added much to everyone's enjoyment as well. 

I spoke during the plenary session, which was attended by the Consul General of the United States, the Honorary Consul of Ecuador, the President of the state supreme court, a representative of the Governor of Nuevo Leon, and the dean of the law school in Mexico.

I'll have a lot more to say about the conference, including substantive discussions and links for some of the program materials.  And in the spirit of a blog, I'll also share my personal thoughts on the conference and on future conferences.  I'll also try to get some personal reactions from persons who attended the conference.  (If you attended and would like to share your thoughts here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog, email me or simply post a comment).  We'll try to get some photos posted here too.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the conference, and to the great team at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

March 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)