Saturday, April 12, 2008

no Rodney Dangerfields at the "ideal law school"

Responding to an invitation by the Madisonian blog to describe the "ideal law school," UNLV Professor Nancy Rapoport (formerly dean at Nebraska and at Houston) contributed a post titled, "What kind of faculty would I want in the ideal law school?" I don't know whether she will consider becoming a dean again one day, but who wouldn't want to work for or with someone who shares the following sentiment, particularly if she will put these words into action?

A good law faculty expects some of its members to be outstanding scholars, some others to be outstanding teachers, and some of its members to be actively engaged with the bar, and it values all of these activities.  It also (and here is a huge bias of mine) values those who tend to be at the bottom of the law school caste system:  those who teach in the clinic and those who teach legal research and writing.  (In my fantasy world, these colleagues would be tenured or tenure-track.)  Both of these groups do more to turn our students into lawyers than do podium teachers, in part because of the substance of what they teach and in part because of the hands-on nature of how they teach.  And they are being Rodney Dangerfielded at too many schools.

Hey, Nancy, thank you for being one of our champions.


April 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

legal writing consultants

A new article by Joan  Blum and Kathleen Elliott Vinson, Teaching in Practice: Legal Writing Faculty as Expert Writing Consultants to Law Firms, explores an interesting and growing trend. According to the article abstract on SSRN, the authors address not only the ways that firms benefit from the assistance of writing experts, but also how consulting work benefits legal writing professors--and not just monetarily. The article is scheduled to be published by the Mercer Law Review later this year.

hat tip: Linda Edwards


April 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

peculiarities of court dress

Col5 If you've ever wondered why judges wear robes--and in some countries, wigs--you may  enjoy following the links below to learn something of the history of these traditions.


April 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

reducing citation anxiety

Panic Let's see . . . is it S.W.3d or S.W. 3d? Do I need to include the cert. denied history? Do citations look the same in footnotes and text? Aaaarrrgghhhh!

As the due dates approach for law students' final semester projects--seminar papers, appellate briefs, to name the most common such projects--many writers take renewed interest in citation form. Others simply panic. To help either type of writer, you may wish to read--or refer writers to--a new essay, Reducing Citation Anxiety, by Darby Dickerson in Volume 11 of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing.  The essay is also available on Darby's SSRN page,


April 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 11, 2008

LWI Conference Preview - Opening Session with the Ha-Ha Sisterhood

Indianapolis_artsgarden The Legal Writing Institute Biennial Conference is the single most important legal writing event in our community.  Over the next few weeks, we'll post descriptions of some of the events, presentations, and panels that will be given in Indianapolis.

The conference begins at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 14, 2008 at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.  This is, of course, Bastille Day -- but I haven't seen that acknowledged in the official LWI Program.  This opening night event will have scholarship and awards presentations, and the opening of the posters.

Hollee_s_temple Sheila_simon The event goes only until 7:00 p.m.  Undoubtedly there will be a mad rush to find the best place for dinner in Indianapolis.  (Save a spot for me at your table, ok?)

The meat of the conference (except for vegetarians of course, of which there are many in the legal writing community) begins at 8:00 a.m.  (Keep that early time in mind when you decide how late you are going to stay out exploring Indianapolis the night before!).  The plenary session will be the Divine Secrets of the Ha-Ha Sisterhood, with Sheila Simon (Southern Illinois University School of Law), Mary Beth Beazley (The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law), and Beazley_marybeth Hollee Temple (West Virginia University College of Law).

I'm looking forward to it already.  I had the opportunity to present at the last LWI Conference with Sheila Simon (who, by the way, has just published a book that I have heard about but not yet seen).  We were also joined by Melissa Weresh.  Sheila made superhero capes for us -- each with an "MW" on the back (for Mark Wojcik and Melissa Weresh) and then she tossed out extra capes to members of the audience attending our session.  If you still have YOUR cape, I suspect it would be appropriate attire for this very promising opening plenary session at the 13th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute.


April 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Milani Brief Writing Competition

Mercer University School of Law and the American Bar Association host an annual writing competition in honor of Mercer’s former legal writing professor, Adam Milani.   The competition is one of the few student competitions for brief writing rather than for academic papers.  Prizes can be as high as $1,000. 

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;
  • a state statute or municipal ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

The competition deadline is June 1.  Further information available by clicking on this link

Hat tip to Linda H. Edwards.


April 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thank You to Our Readers

Visits to the Legal Writing Prof Blog have increased tremendously in the past few months.  We thank you for visiting and hope to continue providing you with interesting posts.  Please remember that the Legal Writing Prof Blog is an authorized distraction from grading memos and briefs.

In December 2007 we had 2,561 visits and 3,623 page views.

In January 2008 we had 3,912 visits and 6,067 page views.

In February 2008 we had 4,645 visits and 7,243 page views.

In March 2008 we had 5,727 visits and 8,813 page views.

You can click on the Sitemeter (on the left side of your computer screen) to see this in a graph and to see how we're doing so far for April.


April 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Computers in the Classroom

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin is reporting today that the University of Chicago Law School "has removed Internet access in most of its classrooms because of a growing problem of students surfing the Web on laptops during lectures." 

The issue is certainly one that encourages and deserves debate.  I have noticed that attorneys often check their Blackberries during meetings and even during contract negotiations, where inattention to detail may later disadvantage a client when the contract terms are not as favorable as they should be.  For example, one attorney said that he was able to negotiate a great contract for his client because the other side was too busy checking their email messages to realize what was going on.

There are, of course, appropriate uses for Internet in the legal writing and research classroom, particularly when so much of legal research today is electronically based.  The balance of how much internet access a school should allow is likely to be a question we'll be talking about for some time.

Your views? 

Hat tip to my colleague Tim O'Neill for sharing the article.


April 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Law School Rankings and "The Rankings Czar"

Us_news_ranking_aba_journalThe ABA Journal has a cover story in its latest issue about the "Rankings Czar" at U.S. News and World Report.  You may have seen the print version of the article already.  The electronic version of the article has comments on the article (just a handful of comments right now, but expect more).  Have a look.


April 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

LWI Conferences

The Legal Writing Institute Site Evaluation Committee has announced a fantastic conference schedule for the upcoming years:

  • Indianapolis in 2008,
  • Marco Island, Florida in 2010, and
  • Desert Springs, California in 2012.

Here's the details for each of those conferences (jot them down now in your Day Planner!):

  • Indianapolis Indianapolis, Indiana:  July 14-17, 2008 at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.  Click here for conference information.  The LWI conference has grown to be too large for any one law school to handle, so this seems to be the last of the law school conferences.  If you are still debating whether to go, ask any of your legal writing colleagues if they think it is worth it.  The answer will be a resounding "yes!"  See you in Indy!
  • Marco Island, Florida: June 27-30, 2010 at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.  Here's a description from the hotel's website:  "Come kick off your shoes and explore paradise found at this one-of-a-kind Florida resort, now celebrating the completion of a $187 million renovation and redesign that has Sunset_dream_thumb_3 infused every moment here with the spirit of Balinese beauty, hospitality and well-being - and added even more wondrous experiences to this already acclaimed destination.  Nestled on three miles of pristine Southwest Florida beaches, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort is the perfect destination for a family vacation, a romantic retreat, a memorable meeting or an unforgettable wedding. With several renowned restaurants, championship golf, a world-class spa and a wide range of activities and amenities, Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort now offers even more - including upscale shops for men and women, a free-form fantasy pool with views of the Florida Gulf, new dining options and completely redesigned and redecorated guest rooms."  In addition to that, you should plan some extra days to visit the Everglades.  Really, it's great, and you'll be so glad that you took the extra time to explore them and to see alligators and other Florida wildlife.
  • Desert Springs, California:  May 29 to June 1, 2012 at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa.  Here's a description:  "This desert dwelling is anything but dry. The cool of the desert, Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California provides you with stylish surroundings and views any well-seasoned traveler desires including emerald fairways from Palm Desert Golf Courses and mountains that seem to touch the sky. As a premier Palm Desert Resort Hotel we present fine dining, sizzling night-life, resort expansive pools, and a newly remodeled lobby complete with gondolas . . . ."

The LWI Conference Site Committee includes Dan Barnett (Boston College), Chair, Libby White (Villanova), Debby McGregor (Indiana--Indianapolis), and Susan Kosse (Louisville).

Hat tip to Dan Barnett, chair of the LWI Site Evaluation Committee


April 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

more from Rocky Mountain . . .

Another fine presentation at the Rocky Mountain conference:  Hillary Burgess, an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Law - Camden and Rowan University, presented " Facilitating Structured Peer Group Work and Enhancing Thorough and Efficient Grading Using Wiki Technology in Legal Writing Courses."

In the presentation, Hillary discussed the benefits of and how to use wiki technology to allow students to submit their papers online.  Such benefits included divorcing class time from deadlines so as to avoid common student phenomenon like coming to class late to turn in their papers and skipping class to give themselves default extensions.  She also discussed the benefits of divorcing class time from deadlines for working students, students with families, or other students whose commitments might conflict with the date and time the assignment is due. 

Hillary discussed strategies for creating successful peer group work.  One strategy included providing specific instructions for peers to follow when reviewing fellow students work to avoid students feeling like the blind leading the blind and to avoid cursory, non-helpful reviews.  Hillary also discussed how to use wiki technology to allow students to submit peer reviews to each other outside of the designated classroom times without requiring students to meet with each other. 

Hillary discussed using a master comment file to provide common feedback on students papers, indicating that these common comments could be customized to provide individual students specific references to their own papers.  She indicated that these master comment files reduced the number of in-line comments, thereby reducing some student anxiety about feedback.  Finally, she reported her own experience of providing more balanced feedback to students in terms of positive and needs-improvement comments and more consistent feedback in terms of length and tone of comments from the first student paper through to the last student paper.  She discussed how having papers and master comment files within wiki allows her to grade from anywhere with a computer and Internet connection without having to haul papers.

Hillary has made her slides and notes available at: .

Thanks, Hillary !


April 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

a better way to proofread

Don't you just hate it when you have e-mailed, filed, or otherwise dispatched some piece of writing, only to spot a glaring error that you overlooked? Or if your job description includes reviewing the work of others (ahem, legal writing profs, I am talking to you), don't you sometimes wonder how those writers could have missed seeing obvious errors?

Whiteout Either way, you will enjoy reading an article by Delaware attorney John J. Paschetto, published in the February 2008 issue of The Practical Lawyer magazine, Beyond Redlines and Spell-Check: Proofreading Tips from the Dark Ages (in pdf format). Paschetto explains the difference between editing and proofreading, and he identifies many of the common forms of errors that writers tend not to see when reviewing their own work. He explains the advantages of proofing in stages, and he offers several low-tech strategies for catching and correcting such errors, including a checklist that illustrates his suggested method at work. 


April 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Justice Scalia to appear on "60 Minutes"

According to veteran court-watcher Tony Mauro, it's now certain that Justice 20060503scaliagesture_2 Antonin Scalia will appear-- "voluntarily," says Mauro--on the CBS news program "60 Minutes" on April 27, 2008. Correspondent Lesley Stahl will interview the Justice about his new book, co-authored with Bryan Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

hat tip: BLT: The Blog of Legal Times


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

welcome to new officers and directors of ALWD (photos, too)

The Association of Legal Writing Directors has announced the results of its recent elections for officers and members of the Board of Directors.

The new President-elect is Associate Professor of Law Mary Beth Beazley of The Ohio State University, Marybethbeazleyohiostate_2 Moritz College of Law. Mary Beth is the author of the popular textbook A Practical Guide to Appellate Advocacy (just ask her about a Tom Brokaw introduction) and numerous articles, including The Self-Graded Draft: Teaching Students to Revise Using Self-Guided Critique. President of the Legal Writing Institute from 1998-2000 and the former Editor-in-Chief of Legal Writing, the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, she currently chairs of the ABA's Communications Skills Committee.

ALWD's new Secretary is  Kristin Gerdy of Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School.Kristengerdybyu_2 Kristin is an Associate Professor and Director of the Rex E. Lee Advocacy Program at BYU. She has written numerous articles on legal research and legal writing, including  her latest, Expanding Our Classroom Walls: Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology, published in Legal Writing, Journal of the Legal Writing Institute (2005) (co-authors Jane H. Wise & Alison Craig); “Important” and “Irreversible” but Maybe Not “Unreviewable”: The Dilemma of Protecting Defendants’ Rights Through the Collateral Order Doctrine, 38 University of San Francisco L. Rev. 213 (2004); Continuing Development: a Snapshot of Legal Research and Writing Programs Through the Lens of the 2002 LWI and ALWD Survey, 9 Leg. Writing 227 (2003); and Teacher, Coach, Cheerleader, and Judge: Promoting Learning through Learner-Centered Assessment, 94 Law Library Journal 59 (2002).

Newly elected Board Members include Linda Berger, Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Lindaberger_thosjefferson_3 Law, who will join the faculty of Mercer University next fall. Since 2003, Linda has served as Editor of J. ALWD, the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. Her recent articles include Of Metaphor, Metonymy, and Corporate Money: Rhetorical Choices in Supreme Court Decisions on Campaign Finance Regulation, 58 Mercer L. Rev. 949 (2007); What is the Sound of a Corporation Speaking? How the Cognitive Theory of Metaphor Can Help Lawyers Shape the Law, 2 J. ALWD 169 (2004); Shielding the Unmedia: Using the Process of Journalism to Protect the Journalist's Privilege in an Infinite Universe of Publication, 39 Hous L. Rev.1371 (2003); and Do Best Practices in Legal Education Include Emphasis on Compositional Modes of Studying Law as a Liberal Art?, 1 J. ALWD 158 (2002).

Another new Board Member is Anthony Niedwiecki, Director of the first-year Lawyering Skills & ValueAnthonyniedwieckinova_3  Program and Associate Professor of Law at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Anthony's recent scholarship includes Save the Children: The Development and Continued Use of the Narrative that Gays Harm Children (Forthcoming, Fall 2007); Lawyers and Learning: A Metacognitive Approach to Legal Education, 13 Widener Law Rev. 33 (Winter 2006); and  Partner Briefings: Bridging the Gap Between Oral and Written Skills, Scrivener (newsletter of American Society of Writers of Legal Subjects)(Winter 2002).

The third new Board Member, Kirsten Davis, is Associate Professor of Law and Director of Legal Kirsten_davis_2 Writing at Stetson University College of Law. Her most recent article, The Rhetoric of Accommodation: Considering the Language of Work-Family Discourse, will be published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal. In her spare time, Kirsten is working toward a Ph.D. in human communication. Kirsten is a former member of the legal writing faculty at Arizona State University.

They join the following current Officers and Board members: soon-to-be Past President Terrill Pollman of the University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law; incoming President Judy Stinson of Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Treasurer Grace Wigal of West Virginia University College of Law; and Board Members Mary Garvey Algero (Loyola-New Orleans); Nancy Lawler Dickhute (Creighton); Eric B. Easton (Baltimore); Lisa McElroy (Drexel); Suzanne Rabe (Arizona); Mary Barnard Ray (Wisconsin); and Judith Rosenbaum (Northwestern).

Congratulations to all. Your service to the profession is very much appreciated.


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

AALS - Open Source Proposal Deadine Approaching

Open source programs are those that are not sponsored by any Section of the Association of American Law Schools.  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 fast approaching, but you still have time to gather some colleagues to put together a proposal for possible presentation.


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

you know you're getting old when . . .

you cheerfully ask your students to pull out a piece of paper for a quick exercise and most of them not only have no paper, but no writing implement either.

I guess it WAS a heartening sign of collegiality when one person shared her pad of paper with her classmates and another pulled out a pencil bag and offered it around.


Any of you have a similar moment?


April 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Election Results for LWI Board of Directors (with photos!)

The Legal Writing Institute announced the names of those who were elected to four-year terms on the LWI Board of Directors. Twenty-four persons were candidates for the LWI Board, in one of the largest LWI elections ever held.  Here are the names (and faces) of the five legal writing profs who were elected to serve (starting in July 2008), along with some of their professional background.

Robin_a_boyle Robin A. Boyle (St. John's University School of Law).  Robin has been teaching Legal Research and Writing to first-year students for 14 years.  She also teaches an upper-level course in contract drafting and litigation documents.  She chaired the LWI Scholarship Outreach Committee during 2007-08.  Her articles and essays appear in several legal periodicals, including the Journal of Legal Writing, Perspectives, Second Draft, Gonzaga Law Review, and the Journal of Legal Education.  She received her university's award for Faculty Outstanding Achievement in 2005.  Michael_higdon_2

Michael J. Higdon (William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada at Las Vegas). Michael has been teaching legal writing for five years, and served last year on the LWI Conference Planning Committee.  He previously served as a visiting professor at Seattle University School of Law and has presented at a number of national and regional conferences related to legal writing education. 

Tracy_mcgaugh Tracy Leigh McGaugh (Touro Law Center).  Tracy was already serving on the LWI Board of Directors, and was re-elected.  She has a blog page, Millennial Law Prof, that focuses on the generation gap between students and professors.  A link from that web page tells us that she is a Leo and was born in the year of the monkey.  She is an Associate Professor of Legal Process at the Touro Law Center and is already well-known to the community of legal writing professors in the United States. 

Weresh_2 Melissa H. Weresh (Drake University Law School) has been teaching legal writing for 11 years.  She also teaches appellate advocacy, environmental law, and professional responsibility.  She speaks on ethics and professionalism and considers herself an ambassador of the legal writing field.  She is active in the Association of American Law Schools Section on Teaching Methods.  She is a co-chair of the upcoming LWI Conference.  Her scholarship includes a study of the standards for promoting and retaining legal writing faculty on clinical tenure track.

Mark_e_wojcik Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School - Chicago) has been teaching legal writing for 15 yearsMark is a contributing author to this blog.  He is a professor of law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  He is the author of Illinois Legal Research and An Introduction to Legal English for non-native speakers of English.  He is active in many bar associations, including the American Bar Association Section of International Law (where he is the publication officer and editor of the International Law News), the Illinois State Bar Association (where he serves on the Board of Governors), the Association of American Law Schools (in which he has chaired many sections), the American Society of International Law, and the Illinois Native American Bar Association (of which he presently serves as Vice President).  Logo_globalpath He previously served on the LWI Board, and served (for more than 10 years) on the LWI Outreach Committee (previously the Golden Pen Committee).  He is a member of Scribes, Clarity, and the LWI Pink Ink Caucus.  In addition to teaching at John Marshall, he also teaches in Mexico at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (site of the third Global Legal Skills Conference) and in Switzerland at the University of Lucerne Faculty of Law.  He is also the Director of the Legal English Program at the International Law Institute in Washington, D.C.  He also taught AIDS Law as an adjunct professor at DePaul University College of Law and at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.  He will be presenting a "popcorn session" on live grading during the summer Legal Writing Institute Conference.   

The five new members elected join the following directors whose terms expire in 2010:

Kenneth_d_chestek Kenneth D. Chestek, Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Indiana University School of LawSusan_duncan - Indianapolis (host site of the 2008 Summer Legal Writing Institute Conference).  Ken also previously taught at Michigan.

Susan Hanley Duncan (formerly Kosse) is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, where she has been teaching full time since 2000.  She is the current president of the Legal Writing Institute.  Here's a link to her blog.  Her scholarship has focused on legal writing and on issues surrounding the protection of children, including the need for anti-bullying laws and laws protecting children from pornography on the internet.  She also serves as chair of the Louisville Bar Association's Communications Committee. 

Linda_l_bergerLinda L. Berger, presently at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, who will be moving to Mercer University School of Law where she will step in to the LWI Board as the host school director, and filling in for Linda_edwards_3 Linda H. Edwards, who will be visiting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas next year.  The host school of the Legal Writing Institute has a permanent representative on the LWI Board.  (For those who are new to the legal writing community, the previous--and founding--host school was Seattle University School of Law).   

Anne_enquist Anne Enquist, the Associate Director of Legal Writing at Seattle University School of Law and Co-Director of Faculty Development Programming (pictured at left).  She also serves on the Board of ALWD (the Association of Legal Writing Directors) and is the co-author of Just Research, Just Briefs, Just Writing, and The Legal Writing Handbook.

Ruth_anne_robbins Ruth Anne Robbins, Clinical Professor at Rutgers School of Law - Camden, the current president-elect of the Legal Writing Institute.  She also teaches in her school's Domestic Violence programs.  She founded the school's Domestic Violence Clinic in 2002 and is a co-author of a New Jersey practice treatise on domestic violence law.  She has been at Rutgers since 1997.

Suzanne_rowe Suzanne Rowe, Associate Professor and Director of the Legal Writing Program at the University of Oregon School of Law.  She is the author or co-author of three legal research guides and is the series editor of the wonderful state legal research texts published by Carolina Academic Press.  Before joining the faculty at Oregon, she taught at the University of San Diego and Florida State University.  She is the author of a monthly column called "The Legal Writer," published in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.

Judy_rosenbaumJudy Rosenbaum, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Communication and Legal Reasoning Program at Northwestern University School of Law.  Her prior experience includes working for seven years as a staff attorney for the American Judicature Society, where she developed expertise in judicial ethics and various aspects of the administration of justice.

Terry_jean_seligmannTerry Jean Seligmann is the Arlin M. Adams Professor of Legal Writing and Director of the Legal Writing Program at Drexel University School of Law.  She teaches legal methods, education law, and special education law.She previously taught at the University of Arkansas and at Suffolk University School of Law.

Michael_r_smith_wyoming Michael R. Smith is Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at the University of Wyoming College of Law.  He administers the school's writing program and teaches Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy.  He previously taught at Mercer University School of Law, Temple University School of Law, the University of San Diego College of Law, and the University of Florida College of Law.  He is the author of Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing (Aspen 2002).

Cliff_zimmerman_2_2  Cliff Zimmerman is Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Associate Dean, and Dean of Students at Northwestern University School of Law.  His specialities are legal analysis, writing, research, civil rights, and governmental accountability.  His scholarly interests include testing innovative methods by which students can learn to analyze and reason.  He is also the editor of the Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report. 

CLICK HERE for more information about the Legal Writing Institute.

CLICK HERE for information about the LWI SUMMER CONFERENCE (the "MUST ATTEND" event for the Legal Writing Community)

Congratulations to all of the winners, and to all of the candidates who were brave enough to put their names forward. 


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

getting sued

J_craig_williamsJ. Craig Williams, the author of one of my favorite blogs, May It Please the Court, has written a new book (coming out in June) that is certain to get a lot of attention. Its title? How to Get Sued. Click the link and go to the website to read the prologue and a sample chapter.

How_to_get_sued If the foreword--by Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski--is any measure of the book, we are in for some entertaining reading, if not an interesting mixture of metaphors and vocabulary-building:

There's a certain schadenfreude aspect to reading the cases J. Craig Williams has collected. But it's not just the misfortune of others that is chronicled here, but also their very human weaknesses and foibles--and their hysterical efforts to overcome them once they get trapped inside the litigation machine. Just as it’s hard to avert your eyes from a train wreck, it’s very difficult to put down a book that repeatedly illustrates not only how easily one can be swept into the sausage factory, but how hilariously difficult and Byzantine things can become once there.

A gold star to anyone who knows what schadenfreude means (without having to look it up).


April 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

more from Rocky Mountain . . .

Here's a summary of yet another fine Rocky Mountain presentation:  "Joe Williams' Little Red Schoolhouse Goes to Law School."

Hillary Burgess, an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Law - Camden and Rowan University, presented "Little Red Schoolhouse Goes to Law School:  An Interactive Session on How to Incorporate Joe Williams’ Little Red Schoolhouse and Pedagogy Into Legal Writing Courses."  Hillary collaborated with Joe Williams on this topic before his passing, and then transformed the presentation into an informative tribute to Joe Williams after his passing. 

In the presentation, Hillary discussed how Joe Williams created student-buy in about what constitutes good writing by using multiple examples comparing needs-improvement writing and revisions.  Students discuss which writing sample is easier to read, why, and the rhetorical strategies employed in the revision that make it easier to read. 

Hillary identified that many students can recognize good writing, but are still at a loss about how to revise their own work.  She talked about how Joe provided students with very specific diagnosis to revision strategies which included a three step process:  diagnose your writing, analyze your writing, then revise your writing using very basic, detailed instructions about how to undertake each step.  While Joe Williams' diagnosis to revision focused on good writing style generally, Hillary discussed how she has adapted this technique to help students revise various elements of their legal writing. 

Hillary discussed how the Toulmin Model of Argument, illustrated so well in Joe Williams Craft of Argument book, forms the basis of all legal analysis.  This model also uses language students are more likely to have been exposed to in college, so as to make the transition from college critical thinking to legal analysis easier for students to understand.

Hillary ended with a open discussion with the audience about how to implement these strategies in law school orientation, academic support, or legal writing classrooms and how to improve upon this model.   

Thanks, Hillary!!


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