January 18, 2008
going once, going twice . . . sold
Bidding has ended on this eBay item, whose description begins:
So America... just how much is an education worth? Let's find out. Up for sale is my law degree. Yes, you read correctly. Three years and $100,000 plus of debt for your pleasure. Please note that I am in no way claiming that by purchasing this degree you will be given credit for having attended an accredited law school and completing its course of study nor will it give you the necessary credentials to take the bar exam. You will not be able to become a lawyer by purchasing this degree. However this would make a great collectible if your name happens to be [name of owner]. . . .
using quotations wisely
A recent article in Texas Lawyer notes that careful and thoughtful use of opinions can add spice to legal writing, but as the author points out,
"In the hands of some lawyers, quotations from judicial opinions are . . . are prepackaged prose. Writers often use quotations to avoid the hard work of formulating a message in their own words. They quote where they should paraphrase, mistaking the court's pedigree for a point. Quotations can have an insidious allure."
is the cost of law school worth it?
The ABA Journal Weekly Newsletter (online) has struck a nerve with its story about a 32-year-old Boston University graduate who is "on a one-woman crusade to save others from making the same mistakes she did." Kirsten Wolf's complaints about high debt/low salary was first reported in the Wall Street Journal law blog, but responses to the ABA blog are pouring in. They cover the whole gamut of emotions and experiences about what lawyers (and lawyers-to-be) think about the value of a law degree versus the cost of getting one. Among the targets of the posters' comments are law schools themselves, whom some accuse of misrepresenting the true salary most graduates should expect to earn.
January 17, 2008
Conan the Librarian
Does this librarian work at your school? Have a quick look!
Send Your Law Librarian to Puerto Rico!
The International Association of Law Libraries announced that the competition for its annual website award is now open. This is your opportunity to suggest your favorite legal information website. The winner will be announced at the 27th Annual Course in International Law Librarianship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 30 to December 3, 2008.
IALL wants to recognize valuable freely accessible legal information websites by this award. The Association would like to encourage the development of useful, authoritative, reliable, and user-friendly sites, that represent new thinking in the area. The selection panel will make its decision on this basis. Selection is not restricted to English language sites and sites based on all languages are encouraged to apply.
The selection panel for this year's Award is Ligita Gjortlere (Riga Graduate School of Law), Halvor Kongshavn (University of Bergen), and Xihn Luu (University of Virginia).
Please send the name and address of your suggested website and your argumentation for how the website meets IALL's criteria by the closing date of 30 September 30, 2008 by mail or e-mail to:
Riga Graduate School of Law - Library
Send Your Moot Court Team to India!Many law schools in India have been sending teams to moot court competitions in the United States. Now schools in the U.S. are invited to compete in India. The National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU), a leading institution for legal education in India, has now announced the NLS International Arbitration Moot Competition, which will be organized on the 22nd and 23rd of March, 2008, at Bangalore. The Competition will be conducted in the manner of a mock arbitration proceeding, with the moot problem being based on disparities between developing and developed countries with respect to Bilateral Investment Treaties. This event, which will be the first of its kind in India. Visit www.nlsmoot.in for the Moot Problem and the Rules and Regulations. The last date for registration of teams is 21st February, 2008. Teams may register by accessing the Registration Form on our website, filling in the relevant details and sending a scanned copy to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I imagine that most U.S. law schools would not be in a position to take advantage of the competition this year, but there may be one or two schools that can. Even if you cannot compete, I am certain that the organizers and competitors would appreciate a short message of support for this initiative. We all wish them a successful competition. (mew)
January 16, 2008
full-time position at GonzagaGonzaga University School of Law seeks applicants for a full-time position teaching LR&W to begin Fall 2008. Gonzaga’s required four-semester LR&W Program is taught by seven experienced LR&W professors, who are eligible for long-term security, and have full voting rights and representation on faculty committees. LR&W faculty are ranked professors and have the opportunity to apply for five-year, presumptively renewable contracts in their fourth year of teaching LR&W, and they have full voting rights and representation on all faculty committees. The teaching load varies depending on enrollment. LR&W teachers may teach outside the LR&W curriculum and are eligible for sabbaticals and full research stipends.
Send letters of interest, with resumes, to Professor Cheryl A. Beckett, Gonzaga University School of Law, P.O. Box 3528, Spokane, Washington 99220.
visitorship at Valparaiso
The Valparaiso University School of Law is seeking a visitor to teach in its first-year legal writing program for the 2008-09 academic year. Applicants should be currently teaching legal writing or have had recent experience doing so. Valparaiso seeks candidates with a strong record of academic achievement. Persons of color, women, and others who will add to the school's diversity are encouraged to apply.
The first-year legal writing program is a required, two-semester course, totaling four credits for the year. Legal research is taught by the law librarians in a separate course, totaling two credits for the year. The two courses are coordinated. The Legal Writing Visitor will teach the same students in both semesters and will have the help of student teaching assistants (one TA for approximately every eight students). Valparaiso's legal writing curriculum uses materials coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing.
Send your application by mail or e-mail to JoEllen Lind, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, 243 Wesemann Hall, School of Law, Valparaiso University, 656 S. Greenwich St., Valparaiso, Indiana 46383.
nominees sought for Burton Award
The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement have given awards for good legal writing done by lawyers and law students for eight years. The Awards have promoted and publicized the cause of improving writing in the legal profession and have rewarded lawyers and law students who strive to write well. Two LWI members, Grace Tonner and Anne Kringel, serve on the Academic Board of the Awards, and Nancy Schultz is the liaison between ALWD and the Awards.
For the past four years, the Burton Awards have given an award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the education of lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking, or writing. The contributions considered may be significant single achievements or the accumulated achievements of a career. The previous recipients have been Dean Kent Syverud of Vanderbilt, Dean Darby Dickerson of Stetson, Professor Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent, and, last year, Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle Uiversity.
We ask that you please nominate deserving groups or individuals for the Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award. The Burton Awards are yet another forum to publicize the achievements of those in our field. Send your nomination for this year's Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education by January 30, 2008.
Nominations should describe the contributions of the nominee and should be forwarded to one of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail: Anne Kringel (firstname.lastname@example.org); Grace Tonner (email@example.com); Nancy Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org). Nominations are due by January 30, 2008.
LWI call for nominations
The Legal Writing Institute has issued a call for nominations for its Board.
AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research Invites Proposals for 2009 AALS Meeting in San Diego
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is inviting proposals for the 2009 Section Program, which will be held at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, January 6-10, 2009, in San Diego, California. The AALS has not previously met in California.
The AALS Program Committee is looking for programs relating to topics of broad academic interest, such as matters pertaining to plagiarism, wrongful collaboration, and adoption and enforcement of honor code issues. Other topics of interest include innovative teaching methodologies to encourage collaboration that does not run afoul of course policies. Proposals are not limited to these topics, but the program committee is looking for topics that appeal to a wide audience at the AALS conference. (They like to fill a room, which has never really been a problem for this section of the AALS!) The program committee also says that it will look favorably on programs that encourage interaction among panelists and that provide for significant audience participation.
Samples of past program proposals are posted on the Section’s website at http://faculty.law.lsu.edu/aals.
The Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (JALWD) has agreed to publish the proceedings of the 2009 Program.
The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2008. Earlier submissions are welcome. Please submit your proposal by email to Professor Melissa H. Weresh at Drake University Law School. Her email address is email@example.com.
Contact any of the members of the Program Committee if you have qustions about a proposal.
Lara Gelbwasser: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne Rowe: srowe@LAW.UOREGON.EDU
Mel Weresh: Melissa.email@example.com
Kirsten Dauphinais: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Blum: email@example.com
January 15, 2008
A Grammar Lesson for Justice Kennedy?
The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a decision in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific Atlanta, Inc., No. 06-43 (Jan. 15, 2008).
On the first page of the majority decision, Justice Kennedy hyphenates "Stoneridge" like this: "Ston-eridge." Not Stone-ridge, but Ston-eridge.
So, Justice Kennedy, a quick reminder.
Hyphens are used to break words at the end of line. As my Holt Handbook tells me: "Whenever possible, avoid breaking a word at the end of a line; if you must do so, divide words only between syllables."
Fellow legal writing professors: If you would like to share today's decision (and grammar lesson) with your students, you can find the slip opinion at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/07pdf/06-43.pdf.
January 14, 2008
Global Legal Skills Conference III - Mexico
Are you going to the Global Legal Skills Conference next month in Monterrey Mexico? If so, you should be sure to send in your hotel reservation by tomorrow (January 15) to get the special conference rate. The conference website at www.fldm.edu.mx has links on how to request the special conference hotel rate. The website also has the preliminary program and the conference registration forms too. Presenters should also register for the conference (just like the AALS meetings). It should be a great time, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you there.
one minute late . . .
A motion filed late by one minute may cost a client payment of attorney's fees of potentially $1 million. The excuse? Traffic. As reported in the January 9 Wall Street Journal, the courier service had 45 minutes to get to the courthouse and arrived at 4:01 p.m.--one minute late. According to the lawyers filing the papers, 45 minutes had always been sufficient--until that day's traffic proved otherwise. According to the judge, "These circumstances, however regrettable, do not meet the standard for 'excusable neglect,' he said. "[T]he entirely foreseeable obstacle of traffic in Southern California in the late afternoon...cannot justify an enlargement of time." hat tip: Robert A. Sachs, Legal Writing Professor, California Western School of Law (njs)
A motion filed late by one minute may cost a client payment of attorney's fees of potentially $1 million. The excuse? Traffic.
As reported in the January 9 Wall Street Journal, the courier service had 45 minutes to get to the courthouse and arrived at 4:01 p.m.--one minute late. According to the lawyers filing the papers, 45 minutes had always been sufficient--until that day's traffic proved otherwise.
According to the judge, "These circumstances, however regrettable, do not meet the standard for 'excusable neglect,' he said. "[T]he entirely foreseeable obstacle of traffic in Southern California in the late afternoon...cannot justify an enlargement of time."
hat tip: Robert A. Sachs, Legal Writing Professor, California Western School of Law
January 13, 2008
Filling in for Sue Liemer
Sue Liemer has just shared with you the news that I have agreed to fill in for her on this website while she is on sabbatical. I'm happy to help out, and I'm always happy when legal writing professors get to take sabbaticals. (I am scheduled to take one myself next year!) It is also an honor to join Nancy Soonpaa and Coleen Barger on the blog here as well.
I know that many of you already know me, but some of you do not.
I am a professor of law and Director of the Global Legal Studies Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. I've been teaching at John Marshall now for 15 years, although it hardly seems that long (and I certainly cannot have gotten older). The law school has a great legal writing program, and I've learned a lot over the years from my colleagues there (including former writing directors Susan Brody and Maureen Straub Kordesh, our current director Molly Warner Lien, and many colleagues who have taught writing, including Cynthia Bond, Maureen B. Collins, Joel Cornwell, Mary Jean Dolan, Sonia Green, Ardath Hamann, Joanne Hodge, Kevin Hopkins, Allen Kamp, Mary Nagel, Sandy Olken, Steven Schwinn, David Sorkin, and Julie Spanbauer). It's quite a team. And of course I've learned a lot from Sue Liemer and other colleagues all across the country -- I cannot even begin to list you here, but your influence on me has been great.
I enjoy writing, teaching, speaking, and working with bar associations.
I am the author of a book on Illinois Legal Research. It's called (strangely enough) Illinois Legal Research. I'm also the author of a book on legal writing for non-native speakers of English. That book is "Introduction to Legal English." I use that book in summer courses at the International Law Institute in Washington DC, where I have been teaching foreign lawyers and foreign law students for many years. I do other writing as well, and this week I received the third edition of the book called "Careers in International Law" (in which I have a new chapter), and the January issue of the ABA Student Lawyer Magazine (for which I wrote the story described on the cover).
In addition to teaching in Chicago at John Marshall, I also teach as an adjunct or guest professor at law schools in Mexico and Switzerland. In Mexico I teach at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey. In Switzerland I teach at the University of Lucerne Faculty of Law, where they've named me as a "Permanent Guest Professor for Anglo-American and Comparative Law." Over the years I've also had the chance to teach or conduct seminars in China, Lithuania, Singapore, and Indonesia.
I've just returned -- like many of you -- from the AALS annual meeting in New York, where I saw lots of legal writing folk actively participating throughout the conference. I'm told that the AALS annual meeting had more than 4,000 law professors and more than 600 other guests, making it the largest and most successful annual meeting in the history of the AALS. One of the highlights was the luncheon for the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.
I had the honor of speaking on a couple of panels at the AALS, and also enjoyed organizing panels where many new law professors (including those who teach writing) had the chance to make their first presentations at an AALS conference.
I'm also active in a number of bar associations and other professional organizations. I'm on the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association. I am the Publications Officer for the American Bar Association Section of International Law (and also editor of its newsletter, the International Law News). I am Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group for Teaching International Law ("TILIG"). I just finished chairing the AALS Section on International Human Rights Law, and was elected Chair of the AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. I am a past board member of the Legal Writing Institute and served on the LWI Outreach Committee, which created the Golden Pen Award. I also started the Global Legal Skills Conference, which took place twice in Chicago and will next be held in Mexico.
I look forward to contributing to this Legal Writing Blog, and I hope that you find future postings to be of interest. For now, I want to wish Sue Liemer a restful and productive sabbatical. I'm sure that you will join me in those good wishes for her.
Mark E. Wojcik
Want to know how hard it is to blog? Attorney Mark Herrmann explains it well in Blogging Lessons Learned, published by The National Law Journal on January 10th.
hat tip: Diane Murley, Arizona State University
And that dear readers, provides the perfect segue for informing you that I will not be blogging when the semester officially begins tomorrow, because I will be on sabbatical. Mark Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School has graciously agreed to fill in for the semester. And stalwart bloggers Nancy Soonpaa and Coleen Barger will still be at their posts. (pun intended)