Friday, August 1, 2008

More Handouts and Presentations from the LWI Conference

Lwi_logoThe Legal Writing Institute summer conference lives on!  We are happy to share here the PowerPoint Presentation and handouts from the following presentation: 

Mind the Gaps: Teaching Students to Recognize and Address Flaws in Their Analysis.

Trudeau_christopher Christopher R. Trudeau (Assistant Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan) and his colleague Bradley Charles noticed that poor analysis is one of the main problems that prevent students from becoming effective lawyers. They believe that students often fail to include enough law, which leads to making logical leaps in their analysis. The presentation explored various techniques to teach students to find and fill in gaps in their analysis. 

Click on this link for the handouts.  Download Compiled-Handouts_for_Gap_Filling_Presentation--LWI_2008.doc .

Click on this link for the PowerPoint presentation. Download Inductive_Reasoning--LWI_Conference_2008.ppt

To send Christopher an email with any questions or comments, click here.

Thanks for sharing these materials!


August 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

A Possible Legal Writing Problem

A student runs into the campus bookstore to buy textbooks.  He doesn't want to wake up his child, who has finally fallen asleep in the back seat.  When he returns to the car, he's arrested for child endangerment under a statute that has a rebuttable statutory presumption that living a child alone in a car for more than 10 minutes is child endangerment.  He argues that the sleeping child wasn't endangered.  The police say he took far too long in the bookstore.  Click here to download an article that further describes the facts of this case, and how the court dealt with the statutory presumption.  Click on the link, then on "download this article."  (You might need to register your email address, but that only takes a moment.) 

You might find something in there for a good legal writing problem, either using the same statute or a "similar" statute drafted for your jurisdiction.


August 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Lou Sirico Explains the Separation of Powers

Lou_sirico Louis J. Sirico Jr. of Villanova University has a new paper on "How the Separation of Powers Doctrine Shaped the Executive."  Click here to read it.  Here's the abstract:

This Article examines the debates of the Founders over the separation of powers doctrine as it relates to the executive branch. After surveying the experience in the colonies and under the post-Revolutionary state constitutions, it analyzes the relevant issues at the Constitutional Convention. Rather than focusing on abstract discussions of political theory, the article examines specific decisions and controversies in which separation of powers was a concern. The Article offers a detailed recounting of those debates. At the Convention, separation of powers arose most prominently in the arguments over nine issues: choosing the Executive, permitting the Executive to stand for second term, removing the Executive, devising the Executive veto, requiring legislative advice and consent for executive appointments, authorizing the Executive to grant reprieves and pardons, and making the Vice President the President of the Senate.

The Article demonstrates that much of the discussion centered on allocating power between the Legislative and Executive branches and thus really amounted to a struggle over defining the nascent office of the Executive. It thus offers the historical background for today's debates over separation of powers. For the Founders, separation of powers served not as a rigid rule, but as a functional guide, designed to help construct a working constitution with a workable executive branch.


August 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

LWI Submits Comments to ABA on "Security of Position"

Aba Lwi_logo The Legal Writing Institute has sent a letter to the American Bar Association with its comments on the Report of the Special Committee on Security of Position.  Click here to see the letter.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

gauging interest in moot court advisors listserv

Ulyssesargues At the recent LWI Conference in Indianapolis, one of the events was a lunchtime roundtable for moot court advisors, hosted by co-panelists Melissa Greipp (Marquette), Jim Dimitri (Indiana-Indianapolis), and me (Coleen Barger, Arkansas-Little Rock). Not surprisingly, we had more topics than time, and therefore Jim is collecting names of those who may be interested in the creation of a moot court advisors e-mail listserv. If you would like to participate, just e-mail Jim at We welcome the participation of any moot court advisors, even those of you who were not able to attend the roundtable at the LWI Conference.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


J0387780 If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.

-- Dennis Roth


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Law Firm to Law School: We're not hiring your grads until you improve your legal research (and legal writing) program

How can we make law schools improve the quality of their legal research (and legal writing) programs?  Here's a suggestion from our friends at the Law Librarian Blog -- have law firms tell law schools that they will no longer hire their graduates until the program is improved.  Click here to read Law Firm to Law School: We're not hiring your grads until you improve your legal research program.

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

job opening at Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, is seeking applicants for a tenure-track position teaching legal writing and other courses beginning in Fall 2009. Information about Thomas Jefferson's legal writing program and its faculty is available here.

The successful candidate will teach one or two sections of Legal Writing I (usually limited to 25 students) each semester and join with the tenured and tenure-track professors who teach Legal Writing I in sharing responsibility for the overall legal writing curriculum.  The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to teach one or two doctrinal or elective courses outside the legal writing curriculum each year. The position carries the same scholarship requirement as all tenure-track positions at the law school; the scholarship requirement may be satisfied by analytical writing in legal research and writing or in other fields.  All faculty members at the law school are expected to participate in faculty governance and other service activities. Base salary is in the $90,000 range.

Applicants should have a distinguished academic record, excellent legal writing skills, and a record of or potential for significant achievement as scholars and teachers.  While the law school is particularly interested in candidates who have experience teaching legal writing and/or practice experience, all candidates are encouraged to apply.  Members of minority groups and others whose backgrounds will contribute to the diversity of the faculty are especially encouraged to apply.

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Linda Keller, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 2121 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110 or by e-mail to with the subject line: FAC, followed by your name.  The deadline for applications is August 25, 2008.


July 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

APPEAL books on their way to Africa

Appeallogofull We've previously posted here and here about the drive to collect law books for APPEAL (Academics Promoting the Pedagogy of Effective Advocacy in Law). Laurel Oates (Seattle) reports that all of the donated books--weighing in at more than 4,000 pounds--for APPEAL's Books for Africa program were delivered to Boeing yesterday to be loaded on a plane headed for Kenya. No further bok donations can presently be accepted. Laurel notes, however, that if you were unable to get your books to APPEAL in time for that delivery, you might consider selling the books to a book buyer and then donating the proceeds to APPEAL. Membership forms and other information about APPEAL are available at this link.


July 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The scholarship dude is on the job.

I would like to thank the Legal Writing Blog Masters for inviting me to join as a contributing editor.  As the blog's "scholarship dude," I plan to use this forum to publicize important, useful and informative scholarship relating to effective legal communication - both oral and written.  Legal writing professors, clinicians and some doctrinal faculty have written hundreds of articles exploring the theory and practice of effective legal communication, persuasion and advocacy.  An article published in 2005 by Professors Linda H. Edwards and Terrill Pollman, both of the William Boyd School of Law, in volume 11 of the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute contained a comprehensive bibliography of legal writing scholarship up to that point.

With this blog column, I will be making periodic contributions to help keep all of you aware of articles you should be adding to your reading list.  If you're aware of any new articles you think our readers would be interested in, please let me know.

Tomorrow I'm off to the legal writing conference in Istanbul, Turkey organized by Professor Tracy L. McGaugh of the Touro Law Center.   Assuming I have computer access, I will be blogging from there.

Until then, I am the "scholarship dude."



July 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Article in Sunday's NYT's about the new literacy

In case you missed it, the Sunday NYT's had a great front page article discussing the impact of computers on children's literacy.  Among other points, the article noted that the definition of literacy may need to be reworked in the years ahead as children forgo books in favor of gaining most of their knowledge from the Internet.    While the article laments declining national reading test scores, it also suggests that the ability to efficiently navigate and locate information on the web may become the kind of bona fide, valuable skill that that helps students succeed academically and in the job market.   

The article can be found here:


Directly related to this, the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute has just published an article by Professor Jason Eyster of the Ava Marie School of Law in which he argues that as we move towards a visual society, lawyers should and need to learn the communicative techniques employed by visual artists as a way to better advocate for their clients.   Professor Eyster's article is entitled "Lawyer as Artist:  Using Significant Moments and Obtuse Objects to Enhance Advocacy" and can be found here:

It's an important article that anyone with an interest in effective legal advocacy and persuasion theory should read.

I am - the "scholarship dude."


July 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

making a difference: Ryan's Law

Faculty_unumb Many of you are acquainted with Lorri Unumb, who has directed LRW programs at George Washington and at Charleston. When their son Ryan was diagnosed with autism five years ago, she and her husband Dan quickly learned that medical insurance does not cover most costs of treatment for autistic children, even though most policies do not contain a specific exclusion. This link to a story on CNN tells how Lorri "wrote a bill, recruited other parents to help her lobby state legislators, and two years later, got the bill passed." The bill was scheduled to go into effect as "Ryan's Law" in July. According to CNN, "Ryan's Law mandates that insurance companies provide up to $50,000 a year for behavioral therapy up to the age of 16. It also prohibits insurers from refusing other medical care to children because of their autism. It doesn't, however, apply to people or companies who are self-insured, such as the Unumbs."

Similar laws have already been passed in Texas and Indiana, and campaigns to do the same in other states have the support of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. Congratulations to Lorri for her leadership in getting the South Carolina legislature to act. This kind of advocacy makes a difference.


July 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (5)

Notice arrived today from the LSN division of SSRN about the following LRW-related articles, with their abstracts:

"Find it! Legal Research on the Web" Free Download
WILLIAM A. HILYERD, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Materials originally presented June 20, 2008 at the Kentucky Bar Association Conference. Section II contains information on locating Kentucky cases, statutes, regulations, and ordinances on the internet. Other useful Kentucky sites are also mentioned. Section III provides information on locating various types of federal law (statutes, regulations, & cases) using free sites on the internet. Section IV gives tips on using search engines, portals, and meta-sites to locate legal information. Finally, Section V discusses using free sites to locate secondary sources on the internet.

"Framing Gender: Federal Appellate Judges' Choices About Gender-Neutral Language" Free Download
JUDITH D. FISCHER, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Through empirical research, this article examines whether judges on the United States courts of appeals are framing their opinions in gender-neutral language. Drawing on multidisciplinary sources, including the work of language scholars, psychologists, framing theorists, and legal professionals, the article explains why gender-neutral language is important and discusses ways of constructing it. The article then presents the results of a study of recent court opinions, compares data from the years 1965 and 2006, and discusses implications of the data. It concludes that courts have made significant progress toward gender neutrality, but it also identifies a need for further improvement, which can be accomplished through shifting both mental and verbal frames toward greater inclusiveness.

"Effective Methods for Teaching Legal Writing Online" Free Download
DAVID THOMSON, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Online learning, once thought of as impossible or ineffective, is becoming increasingly common. Corporations have widely adopted it, and the academy is starting to accept it as well. There are numerous college-level courses, and even a few law school classes, that are taught fully online. One law professor and former Dean has recently suggested that teaching more courses online might be one way to reign in the soaring costs of a legal education.

Given this trend towards broader acceptance of online learning in the academy, it seems only a matter of time before some legal writing teachers will be asked to take on the task of teaching the course in a fully online environment. Although today most legal writing teachers actually offer many online components to their "ground" class, many of them might recoil at the thought of teaching fully online, believing that the special demands of a successful legal writing course would break down in a "distance learning" environment.

But it can be done. This article describes how to adjust generally accepted LRW pedagogy and deliver it in an online environment. The article also describes and explains the myriad technologies that are currently available to deliver online content. It also includes results of some empirical research into the effectiveness of these methods in reaching the goals of the course.


July 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In a 1L skills course, we expect to teach legal research, legal analysis, and legal writing.  Some of us also introduce our students to skills like client interviewing, negotiations, and oral argument.  But sometimes we need to back up and consider even more elemental skills.

If you were to survey any 1L class, you might be surprised to discover how many do not use any kind of calendar or scheduling device.  At my school it was 37% last year -- even though the students were told explicitly to calendar due dates, course schedule changes, other attendance-required law school events, etc., in both academic support study groups and lawyering skills class sessions.

I thought of this statistic last week, as a flurry of notices arrived about fall semester happenings, with dates, times, and locations that I needed to calendar.  This most basic time management skill seems to have skipped a generation or two.  Perhaps 1Ls today need even more explicit instructions about calendaring.



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

TOP SECRET Video of The Ha-Ha Sisterhood Performing "Summer Conference": LIVE, from LWI!

Sheila_simonBeazley_marybethTemple_hollee_sOne of the absolute highlights of this summer's LWI conference in Indianapolis was the plenary session on "Divine Secrets of the Ha-Ha Sisterhood," with Sheila Simon (Southern Illinois University), Mary Beth Beazley (The Ohio State University), and Hollee Temple (West Virginia University). 

We should have taped the whole thing, especially all of the useful teaching tips that they shared.  We don't have that though.  What do we have?  A video, taken by my partner David Austin, and the lyrics to the closing song of their absolutely fantastic presentation.

Appearing Nightly (oops: Biannually)...the Ha-Ha Sisterhood!

Starring Sheila Simon, Mary Beth Beasley, and Hollee Temple in their rousing rendition of "Summer Conference" as performed at the LWI 2008 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

CLICK BELOW HERE on "DOWNLOAD" to SEE THE VIDEO  (Depending on your computer and how many others are watching the video at the same time, it may take a few minutes to load.  If so, just give it a click and go get some coffee.)   Turn up the volume and follow along with the words.   (Sing along too, unless at the office.  Gosh, who are we to say?  Go ahead and sing along at the office too!)

Download DSCN6331.AVI

Lwi_logoSummer conference, had me a blast,
Summer conference, happened so fast,
Met a girl, crazy like me!
Met a boy who does, technology.
Summertime, so glad that I'm, a-at ah, L-W-I.

[well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you learn to critique?
Tell me more, tell me more, isn't power-point chic?

[ah-ha, ah-ha, ah-ha]

There were sessions, made just for me
Where I learned, pedagogy
I can make, my students smile
'cause I know, each learning style!
Summer fun, gets the job done, a-at ah, L-W-I

[well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!]

Tell me more, tell me more, will my dean throw a fit?
Tell me more, tell me more, can I really say "sh*t"?

[Down doobie do, doobie do, doobie, doobie, doobie, Down doobie do, doobie do, doobie, doobie, doobie]
[uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh]

Great assignments, we mapped the way
Learned to work with, the A.D.A.
Popcorn sessions, they really rock
We stayed out, 'til ten o'clock!
Summer nights, Indy in lights, a-at ah, L-W-I

[Whoa, whoa, whoa]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you get lots of swag?
Tell me more, tell me more, like to fill up a bag?

[Shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, yeah]

We met up with, friends that we knew
And hung out with, new members too
Presentation, by Jan Levine
He was good, you know what we mean!
Summer heat, people you meet, a-at ah, L-W-I

[Whoa, whoa, whoa]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you spot a new trend?
Tell me more, tell me more, can I e-mail your friend?

[slower tempo]

Then comes Thursday, that's when it ends
I was huggin', all my new friends
Then we made, our farewell vow
Help each other, starting right now
Teaching seems, just like a dream, Thanks to you, L-W-I!

Tell me more, tell me more!

Congratulations again to the LWI Conference Planners for Picking the Ha-Ha Sisterhood as the Conference's Opening Act!  Hat tip to David Austin for the video, and even bigger hat tips to Sheila, Mary Beth, and Hollee for allowing us to post this here.


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