Friday, March 28, 2008

U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Usnews_badge U.S. News and World Report released a free on-line version of its rankings.  Click here to see it.  As you might expect, the website will allow you to purchase the premium version of the rankings.  The free site does not include all of the information that you would get in the print version or in the premium version that they sell.

The Adjunct Law Prof Blog says that this year's free online version of the law school rankings provides more detail than in past years, and that it allows students to make limited comparisons between schools by the number of students enrolled and amount of tutition charged.

Hat tip to  Mitchell H. Rubinstein of the Adjunct Law Prof Law Blog.


March 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thesis Paragraphs (Susan Hanley Duncan)

Susan_duncan Here's a short bar journal article on thesis paragraphs written by Susan Hanley Duncan of the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.  The article appeared in Kentucky Bench and Bar.  It might make a good handout for your students.  You can find the article by clicking here


March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

dressing for the occasion

On Tuesday, March 25, Attorney General Michael Mukasey made his first oral argument to the United States Supreme Court, in United States v. Ressam. According to reports, the Court was cold until he was five minutes into his argument, and the General sat down with 14 minutes still remaining from his allotted 30 minutes. I wonder, does it help or hurt one's feelings of confidence to wear the odd, but traditional get-up of morning coat and striped britches?


March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

appellate lawyers on the light side

So many appellate blogs are dedicated to case summaries, but some also provide great entertainment. Take, for example, the Texas State Bar Appellate Blog, which has posted the results of past contests for lyrics, haiku, and limericks (these must be fun people to hang out with).

Scarecrow_ozThe 2007 song winner is If I Only Had a Case (or Lament for Lack of Precedent), cleverly penned by Neil C. McCabe, of The O'Quinn Law Firm, in Houston, Texas. You'll enjoy it, I think:

(to the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain," by Harold Arlen)

I'd hypothesize for hours,
Build footnotes into towers,
Appellate fame I'd chase.
My chops I'd be a-lickin',
And accounts I'd be enrichin',
If I only had a case.

With analogies I'd fiddle,
From left or right or middle,
With totally straight face.
Inductions I'd be makin',
I could be Sir Francis Bacon,
If I only had a case.

Oh, I can't tell a lie,
I'd like to have much more,
Legislation, facts, and policy galore,
And then I'd stand,
And still hold forth.

I would not be just a plaintiff,
My tune would be less plaintive,
My brief not just a waste.
And perhaps I'd surprise you
With the things that I'd apprise you
If I only had a case.


March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

hottest show in town?

Standing_in_line More proof that the public loves oral argument (and would love to watch broadcasts), even if the Supreme Court does not:

Rather than stand in line for hours for the mere chance to get inside, now people are offering money to lucky ticketholders to attend the arguments. As this blog post queries, is it scalping to sell your free ticket to the Supremes?


March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

How many professors are members of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research?  The number may surprise you: 1,634, making it the third largest section within the AALS.  Only two AALS Sections have larger membership: the Section on Women in the Law (with 1,840 members) and the Section on Constitutional Law (with 1,693 members).

But here's another interesting fact: the Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research Section has only one member more than the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education (which has 1,633 members).

The current chair of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is Lou Sirico of Villanova University School of Law.


March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research - Committees

The Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is one of the largest sections in the Association of American Law Schools.  The Section does its work through six committees.

1. The Program Committee, which takes charge of the program at the AALS Annual Meeting.  [The members of the Program committee for the 2009 Annual Meeting are Mel Weresh (Chair), Joan Blum, Kirsten Dauphinais, Lara Gelbwasser, and Suzanne Rowe.  They have already selected the program for the next annual meeting.] 

2. The Election Committee, which proposes nominees for Section officers.

3. The Awards Committee, which selects the recipients of Section awards

Lou_sirico_3 4. The Poster Committee, which selects posters for display and the January AALS meeting.

5. The Welcoming Committee, which welcomes new members of the Section (particularly at the January AALS meeting).

6. The Website Committee, which runs the AALS Section website.

If you have ideas for a new committee (or suggestions on section activities or programs), the Section Chair, Lou Sirico of Villanova University School of Law, would be happy to hear from you. 

Hat tip (and hat's off!) to Lou Sirico


March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Professors of the Year

Nominate an outstanding professor for the U.S. Professor of the Year Award.  Get details on the award and nomination process at  The deadline for the 2008 awards is April 18, 2008.


March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Invites Proposals on Race and Gender in the Legal Profession

The Association of American Law Schools invites proprosals from law faculty who want to present on the topic "Progress? The Academy, The Profession, Race and Gender: Empirical Findings, Research Issues, Potential Projects, and Funding Opporuntunities."  Those selected will participate in a workshop on January 7, 2009 on the first day of the AALS Annual Meeting (which will be held for the first time in San Diego, California).  The program committee is especially soliciting proposals on empirical research on minorities in the legal profession, with particular emphasis on Asian-Americans, Latinos(as), Americans of Middle Eastern ancestry, and Native Americans.

To submit a proposal, send a 300-500 word description of the research and proposed presentation to by April 30, 2008.  If you have questions about the program or what to submit, contact Beverly Moran at Vanderbilt University.


March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Syllabus as a Student-Teacher Contract, Now Including Legalese

A front-page story in the March 14 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education laments that "the contemporary syllabus is becoming more like a legal document, full of all manor of exhortations, proscriptions, and enunciations of class and institutional policy--often in minute detail that seems more appropriate for a courtroom than a classroom."  The article, by Paula Wasley, provides several examples, including this one from an introductory-religion syllabus at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa: "Keep your e-mail 'inbox' tidy so that you may receive timely notices from your professor."

The article speculates that the syllabus has become an implied student-teacher contract.  In some cases, notes Ms Wasley, the students must sign and attest that they have read the syllabus (and its proliferation of fine print) and that they understand it (and presumably agree to its terms).

Some syllabi also explain laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  Other syllabi are now including provisions that reserve intellectual property rights, and that prohibit the taping and posting of class sessions on YouTube.

The article is worth a read, and I'd recommend asking your library to get you the paper edition of the March 14, 2008 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  There is a sidebar article on page A11 on "Research Tips on Crafting a Better Syllabi" and an unrelated (but still very interesting) article on page A10 finding that the highest paid professors are those who teach law, business, and engineering.

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

March 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

more on conference: Rocky Mountain Conference Tackles Flow Charts

Hillary Burgess, an adjunct professor at Rowan and Rutgers Universities, presented "Using Flow Charts Strategically to To Reach Multiple Learning Styles." 

In the presentation, she gave an overview of both Visual, Aural, Kinesthetic (VAK)-based learning style theories and Myers-Briggs (MBTI)-based learning theories.  She discussed how research demonstrates that all learners, regardless of learning preference benefit from visual reinforcements of learning material.  She also discussed how flow chart exercises could be strategically employed to target specific styles of learning. 

For example, professors could use a fill in the blank method to reach visual, aural, kinesthetic, intuitive, and perceiving learners by creating a flow chart to outline a rule of law, then removing one or more of the crucial decision points, and having students deduce the element that belongs in that decision point.  The flow chart reaches visual pictorial and visual read/write learners by virtue of being a diagram with text.  The active learning process of filling in the blank appeals to kinesthetic experiential learners.  The novelty of the approach appeals to perceiving learners.  To reach aural listening learners, professors could walk through the flow chart in class.  To reach aural listening and aural verbal learners, professors could have students work in pairs.  To reach kinesthetic tactile learners, professors could provide a handout in addition to projecting the flow chart on the screen.  To reach intuitive learners, let them take the fill-in-the-blank flow chart home and reflect upon it. 

Additional strategies as well as her slide presentation can be found at .


March 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

searching for the best law professors in the country

This is a request from Michael Hunter Schwartz of Washburn University School of Law.


Dear Colleagues,

I am in search of the best law teachers in this country, and I could use your help.  I have the extraordinary opportunity to conduct a law professor-focused, follow-up study to Ken Bain's wonderful What the Best College Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2004).

Thus, I am writing to solicit your nominations.  In particular, I am looking for teachers who consistently produce extraordinary learning, who change their students' lives and whose instruction stays with students long after they graduate from law school.

I hope what I produce inspires you as much as Professor Bain's work has inspired me. Over the next three years, I will be:

§  soliciting nominations;

§  gathering evidence of nominees' excellence;

§  paring the list of nominees to the most extraordinary law teachers;

§  visiting law schools around the country, sitting in on classes, interviewing the nominees, and talking to focus groups of students and alumni; and then publishing what I have found in a book: What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2011).

I have set up a web nomination process (although I will also accept nominations by phone, by e-mail, by regular mail, or in person).  To nominate a candidate or learn more about this project, please go to Click on the link on the right side of the page to get to the nomination form.

To honor those who have been nominated, I have set up a website on which I will report the name of each nominee, the nominee's institutional affiliation, and a few comments from the nominator.  Here's a link to that website:

I hope to gather as many nominations as possible, so I would appreciate any efforts to forward this message to your colleagues, listservs, students, and alumni.  If you are a blogger, please post this information on your blog.

Feel free to e-mail me at if you have any questions. The names of nominators and nominees will be withheld upon request.



March 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Law Student Video Contest -$10,000 for up to 4 Minutes Showing Law Student Angst

Access Group, a non-profit student loan company, is sponsoring a contest for law students to create the best law student vidieo of their worries in law school.  Access Group will pick the top ten videos and then open up public voting on July 1.  Whoever gets the most votes by July 31 will win a $10,000 scholarship for the 2008-2009 academic year. 

The contest is limited to those who are enrolled as law students as of August 1, 2008. Videos must be 4 minutes or less, and will be judged (to make it into the group of 10 finalists) on creativity, humor, realism, quality and overall appeal. Entries will be posted on YouTube.

Now, how many of those finalist videos will mention their legal writing courses as a source of angst?

Hat tip to

Eagleionline and the Legal Blog Watch


March 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SALT Seeks Nominees for "Great Teacher" Award

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is seeking nominees for its “Great Teacher” award, which will be presented at the SALT Annual Dinner on January 9, 2009 in San Diego (in conjunction with the AALS Annual Meeting).  Email nominations to Jane Dolkart or Ruben Garcia.

Hat tip to Hazel Weiser at Touro Law Center, Executive Director of SALT


March 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Invites Open Source Proposals

The Association of American Law Schools invites all law professors to propose "open source" programs for the 2009 Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Open source programs are those that are not sponsored by any AALS Section.  It is meant to provide presentation opportunities for faculty members who have an innovative topic that they would like to present at the AALS Annual Meeting.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is April 10, 2008.  To do so, send an email to stating the program title, the names of the program planners, the process of how the program idea was generated, a description of what the program is trying to accomplish, a list of proposed speakers, and if the program will be published.  You can also include any other pertinent information that may be helpful to the reviewing committee.  The AALS will also consider whether there is a diversity of presenters and a multiplicity of planners and whether the proposed program includes both junior and senior teachers.

The deadline is approaching, but you still have time to gather some colleagues to put together a proposal for possible presentation.


March 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ghostwriting by Suspended Attorney Leads to Permanent Loss of a Law License

The Legal Profession Blog tells us of a new decision from the Supreme Court of Iowa, where an attorney under an order of suspension was found to be "ghostwriting" pleadings.  The court condemned the ghostwriting as conduct involving dishonesty and deceit because the suspended lawyer concealed his participation in the case.  The suspended lawyer has now had his license revoked -- he had taken on the new case only 15 days after he had been suspended from law practice.

Hat tip to Mike Frisch of the Legal Profession Blog, where you also find a link to the Iowa Supreme Court decision.


March 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Objectivity in Law - A Conference in Texas

The Deparment of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin holds a conference on "Objectivity in Law" on April 4-5, 2008.  Contact Michael Sevel or visit the webpage for the University of Texas Department of Philosophy for more information about the conference.  (I'm not sure if they will be discussing the difference between objective and persuasive writing, but you never know.)


March 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities will hold its 11th annual meeting March 28-29, 2008 at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.  For a copy of the final conference program and its rich list of offerings, click here.  The theme of the meeting is "Imagining Justice and Injustice."


March 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)