Saturday, April 26, 2008

LWI Conference Preview - Tuesday Lunch

After a full morning program (with a plenary and then two sessions) it will be time to eat!

There will be a roundtable luncheon to discuss issues facing legal writing faculty of color on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at the Legal Writing Institute Conference in Indianapolis, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

Bannai_lori To participate, pick up the undChin_billoubtedly quite delicious box lunches that LWI will provide to conference attendees and go to Room 245 of Inlow Hall.

Potential discussion topics include:
1. strategies for increasing diversity among faculty who teach legal writing;
2. whether potential barriers to increased diversity exist in recruitment/hiring processes;
3. retention, pay, status, and related concerns;
4. sharing ways to connect issues of race and race awareness to teaching; and
5. any other issues.

If you would like to attend or have suggestions for specific issues to discuss, contact
Bill Chin from Lewis and Clark Law School or Lori Bannai at the University of Seattle School of Law.


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

LWI Conference Preview - Tuesday Session 2

Session 2 of the upcoming Legal Writing Institute Conference offers seven concurrent programs.  Read the descriptions below and pick the one that you'll attend.  Each of the following programs will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2008.  SORRY - WE DON'T YET HAVE PHOTOS FOR EVERYONE.

Tracy_mcgaughT2A: Responding to Academic Misconduct of Millennial Students.  Here's a session with Tracy Leigh McGaugh (Associate Professor of Legal Process at the Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Central Islip, New York).  Many of you will recognize Tracy as the name behind the Millennial Law Prof Blog that we wrote about here back in February.  Tracy wrote that millennials "don't seem to understand what's wrong with plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, or outright cheating."  Her presentation will show you why that is and how a new model of responding to academic misconduct might cure some headaches for professors, academic support professionals, and administrators.  Tracy was recently re-elected as a board member of the Legal Writing Institute.  She's also the main organizer of a legal writing conference later this year in Istanbul, Turkey.


Susan_duncan T2B: Demystifying the SSRN Process: How to Make it Work for You.  Susan Hanley Duncan (formerly Kosse), an Associate Professor of Law at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, will explain the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and how to use it.  It is one of the key places for scholars to post academic papers. Susan is president of the Legal Writing Institute.  Click here to see her LWI President's message.


Kevin_rand_photo_3 Martin_allison T2C: The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades: A Study of Hope, Optimism, and Well-Being in Law School.  Do hope and optimism predict future performance and well-being in law school?  This interdisciplinary presentation will be made by Allison D. Martin, Clinical Associate Professor at Indiana University at Indianapolis, and Dr. Kevin Rand, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Indiana University School of Science.  His primary area of research is "positive psychology."  In this presentation, Professors Martin and Rand will reveal their findings about first-year law students' measured hope, optimism, and well-being during their first semester, and compare those measures to their law school grades.  (I notice that they are NOT wearing shades in these photos . . . .)


Narko_kathleen T2D: Life-Long Legal Writing: Developing Attorney Writing Skills Within Law Firm Practice.  How do you provide a bridge between law school writing and real practice legal writing development?  Part of the answer to that question includes a dialog between law schools and law firms to understand how legal writing is taught in both sessions.  This presentation is by Kris Butler, Mike Cavanaugh, and Kathleen Dillon Narko (Kathleen, pictured here at the left, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Communication and Legal Reasoning Program at Northwestern University School of Law -- sorry, I don't have more information about Kris or Mike, but send it to us and we'll add it in!)


T2E: Law Students' Case Reading and Reasoning Study: Final Results and Tools for Legal Writing Teachers.  A presentation by Dorie Evensen, Ph.D., an associate professor of higher education at the Pennsylvania State College of Education, and Jim Stratman, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of the Technical Communication at the University of Colorado at Denver to show off the final results of a three-year study (sponsored by the Law School Admissions Council) of case reading and reasoning.  Their research indicates that law students are able to locate and understand canonical parts of single cases, but that they struggle when asked to synthesize among related cases and often fail to recognize nuances in cases to promote advocacy.  Panelists will discuss how legal writing professors can better assess student reading development.  (Trivia question: Did you know that Jim Stratman was one of the original board members of the Legal Writing Institute?)


Mcdonnell_thomas_2 T2F: Enhancing the Pedagogy of Oral Argument and First-Year Moot Court.  Here's a program with the superstar team of Mary S. Lawrence (Professor Emeritas at the University of Oregon, winner of the 1996 AALS Section Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession, winner of the 2000 Rombauer Award from the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and all-around magnificent person who you simply MUST meet if you don't already know her) and Thomas McDonnell (of Pace University, who was recently elected as Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group for Teaching International Law).  Mary and Tom will share their thoughts on oral argument and moot court programs for first year students.  They note that many programs for first-year students fail to follow sound pedagogy, and that attorney judges are often ill-prepared, harsh, and ineffectual providers of feedback . . . while at the same time not challenging the students appropriately.  Mary and Tom will address these problems and propose how to deepen the oral argument experience by posing ethical issues.


T2G: The Science Behind the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Understanding the ADA and appropriate accommodations for law students with disabilities requires some familiarity with science.  Suzanne E. Rowe (Associate Professor and Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program at the University of Oregon, and editor of the state law research book series published by Carolina Academic Press) will explain disabilities, diagnosis, and the reasons for various accommodations.  And the best thing about it all is that she'll explain all of that in non-scientific, accessible terms.

Did you miss the preview of session 1?  Click here.

Did you miss the previews of the opening plenary?  Click here.

Do you need to register for the LWI Conference?  Click here.

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


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

warning: grading distraction #1

The semester is over or winding down, and you have a huge stack of briefs to grade. When you need a break, come see your friends at the Legal Writing Prof Blog. For the next several days, we will post a grading distraction for your edification or amusement.

Today's grading distraction is the Word of the Day at the online Oxford English Dictionary. While there are many "word-of-the-day" sites on the Internet, this site is particularly instructive, providing not only every definition the OED has for the selected word, but also its pronunciation, etymology, and a cool chart that shows when the word came into the English lexicon.


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

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bluebook Editors Ask for Input on the Next Edition

Bluebook The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are preparing the next edition of their citation guide.  They are asking users to complete a rather long and tedious survey on what to improve in The Bluebook

I made it through only 40% of the survey myself.  But if you are in the mood to help out the Bluebook editors and you have a few minutes to complete the survey (for example, you will do ANYTHING to avoid grading papers), then click here.

As an "incentive" to fill our the survey, the editors will select 10 responses at random to receive a free copy of the next edition and a one-year subscription to the online version.  Although surveys must be received by June 30, 2008, it will take the Bluebook editors two months to select 10 random responses -- they say that they will notify the winners of the contest by September 1, 2008. 

I asked one of my students what suggestions he would have for the editors of The Bluebook -- he said that he would suggest giving them copies of the ALWD Citation Manual, which is much easier to use

Hat tip to Ed Richards and Tracy McGaugh, and thanks to my student for his good advice to the Bluebook editors!


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

job opening at University of San Diego

The University of San Diego School of Law invites applications for full-time as well as part-time instructors in its directorless legal research, writing, and analysis program, Lawyering Skills I (LSI), to begin in the fall of 2008. The Instructors’ responsibilities include teaching classes, preparing problems, critiquing assignments, and counseling individual students. Instructors teach in both our day and evening programs, depending on need. Instructors attend faculty meetings and may serve on faculty committees.  Instructors are hired to work from August through May with the possibility of annual reappointment. The starting salary for the Full-Time Instructor, who will teach two sections, is approximately $58,000 to $60,000.  The starting salary for the Part-Time Instructor, who will teach one section, is $29,250 and does not include benefits. 

Applicants for these positions must have a strong academic record, excellent writing skills, and either aptitude for or experience in teaching.  Experience as a practicing attorney is highly desirable. 

Applicants should submit a cover letter discussing the applicant’s qualifications for the position, reasons for wanting to teach LSI, and desire to teach full or part-time; resume; law school transcript with class rank; a ten- to thirty-page sample of the applicant’s legal writing; and names and telephone numbers of three references. Submit application materials by May 15 ,2008, to the Lawyering Skills I Program, University of San Diego School of Law, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110-2492. For additional information about the positions, contact Lisa Cannon at or 619-260-8890.


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

does everybody in Canada agree with their Department of Justice?

Canadian20flag News on the grammar front. The Canadian Department of Justice (le Ministère de la Justice) has endorsed use of the pronoun "they" to refer to a singular indefinite noun. Linguists often use the term "epicene," or genderless, to refer to this use of the pronoun. (One wonders whether the French-speaking citizens of Canada have a similar linguistic problem.)

The Justice Department website declares that the generic pronoun is "useful to drafters in a legislative context to eliminate gender-specific language and heavy or awkward repetition of nouns," justifying its use by declaring that "[m]ost dictionaries and grammars deal with the singular usage of 'they' and its other grammatical forms ('their', 'them', 'themselves' or 'theirs')."

In further justification, the Justice Department points to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage and its examples dating back to Chaucer and Shakespeare (and check out Wikipedia's examples), as well as to the Attorney-General's Department of the Commonwealth of Australia, which also has endorsed use of the pronoun in the Corporations Law Simplification Program.


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A New Form of Legal Writing? Comic Books on the Justice System


The National Center for State Courts is launching a new series of "illustrated novels" that are designed "to educate the public about how the courts work, how judges make decisions, and how courts are accountable to the law."


The first in the series tells the story of a college freshman who is charged with theft for downloading music, and the girl's unfortunate grandmother, whose house is about to be taken by the city through eminent domain.


Want to buy a copy?  If you go to the website for National Center for State Courts, you'll find out that that you can order 5,000 copies at $1.29 a copy (for a total price of $6,435).  But for that price you can get it customized with your court or state seal.


This comic book was featured in the electronic version of the ABA Journal under the title, Holy Cross-Claim Batman!  One of the comments posted on that site wonders whether the series is being funded by the RIAA. Another comment wonders if the comic books will contain pocket parts so that the law can be updated . . .



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

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scholarship and Tenure Standards

The Law School Innovation Blog has a new posting on the anguish of tenure standards and the expectations to produce scholarship.

Mark Osler writes that he sees three groups involved in the process: the teaching faculty, the deans/department chairs, and upper administration (provost/president).  Professor Osler says that as long as these three groups have the same expectations for scholarship, tenure considerations seem to go relatively smoothly.  Trouble arises when these three groups do not share common expectations.

Hat tip to Mark Osler at the Law School Innovation Blog


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

LWI Conference - Did You Book a Hotel Room?

Indianapolis We hear that hotel rooms are no longer available at the Hyatt in Indianapolis.  The Legal Writing Institute has secured a block of rooms at the Omni Severin, which is about two blocks south of the Hyatt.  A special rate of $150 is available if you book your room before May 1.  Call 1-888-444-OMNI and ask for the "Legal Writing Institute" rate.

Remember to register for the LWI Conference as well!  Go to this website here for conference registration information.  The registration fee is $460.00 until April 30th, 2008, when it goes up to $495.00

Hat tip to Joel Schumm for information about the additional hotel rooms


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

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

great standards of review outline

Here's a post from another blog that could be helpful in teaching standard of review.  I wasn't familiar with the Ninth Circuit Outlines, but I will be using this next year!!

hat tip:  Mark Herrmann, blog editor, Drug and Device Law


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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Texas Supreme Court hears arguments at Texas Tech

Looking for oral arguments online?  Today Texas Tech celebrated its fabulous new 34,000-square-foot addition with the Texas Supreme Court sitting in the new "courtroom of the future" to hear oral arguments.

Video of the arguments is available, as are summaries (Download texas_supreme_court_case_summaries) and briefs (Kerlin v. Saucedo, Phillips v. Bramlett) of the cases.

For more info about the Mark and Becky Lanier Professional Development Center, you can visit our website.  Mark Lanier is a Texas Tech Law alumnus of the Class of 1984. He was recognized as the nation's top oralist in the American Bar Association's moot court competition. By 2006, the National Law Journal called the Houston lawyer one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America and one of the nation's Top 10 Trial Lawyers.  The courtroom in the Center is named in honor of Mark's moot court coach, Don Hunt.


April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations, Ruth Ann McKinney and Scott E. Childs!

Mckinney_ruth_ann Childs_scott Ruth Ann McKinney took on a co-author for the fifth edition of her book, Legal Research: A Practical Guide and Self-Instructional Workbook, published by Thomson/West.  Ruth Ann is a Clinical Professor of Law and director of the Writing and Learning Resources Center at the University of North Carolina Law School.

Her new co-author is Scott Childs, Deputy Director of the Law Library and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina Law School.

Flanarysmith_amy And even more news . . . in addition to the new edition of the book, there is also a supplement called Legal Research Online.  That supplement is written by Ruth Ann, Scott, and Amy S. Flanary-Smith, Clinical Assistant Professor and Interim Deputy Director of the Writing Learning Resources Center at UNC Law School.


April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 21, 2008

lead article award for Jane Kent Gionfriddo

Gionfriddo_jane Congratulations to Jane Kent Gionfriddo, Associate Professor of Legal Reasoning, Research & Writing, Boston College Law School, who recently won a Texas Tech Law Review lead-article award for her piece titled "THINKING LIKE A LAWYER: THE HEURISTICS OF CASE SYNTHESIS."  It can be found at 40 Texas Tech. L. Rev. 1 (2007).


April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Debate on Electronic Course Materials?: Faculty are Urged to Sign Up for the Affordable Textbook Campaign; A University is Sued for Electronically Distributing Copyrighted Materials

The Law School Innovation Blog describes a campaign for affordable textbooks.  The campaign is collecting names (online, of course) to promote online textbooks that students can access for free, or that could be printed in various formats at low cost. 

With only a small number of exceptions, the cost of textbooks (especially in the legal field) has risen greatly in the past few years.   

This campaign for affordable textbooks is not directed at law professors or legal writing professors, but all members of the academy.

Professors who sign up with the campaign promise to consider selecting open source textbooks when selecting books for their classes, and that they will "[g]ive preference to a low or no cost educational resource such as an open textbook over an expensive, commercial textbook if it best fits the needs of a class."  They also state their intent to "[e]ncourage institutions to develop support for the use of open textbooks and other open educational resources."

The same posting about the movement for affordable textbooks on the Law School Innovation Blog also has a link to the Law Librarian Blog, noting that some publishers have filed a federal lawsuit the U.S. district court in Georgia against Georgia State University.  The publishers allege “systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works” by the Georgia State University.  Here's a link to the complaint

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki at the Law School Innovation Blog and the Law Librarian Blog. 


April 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)