August 16, 2008
recent moot court "best brief" publications
Several of the national moot court tournaments publish the winning briefs in their law schools' specialty journals. Here are some of the "best briefs" published in the last two years. If you know of others (or if you can supply missing information about the brief authors and their law schools below), please let us know:
- Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition Problem, Brief Written by Amanda L. Binns, Christine C. Owen & Justin F. Paget (law school not named), 32 Tul. Mar. L.J. 385 (2007).
- National Health Law Moot Court Competition, Brief Written Brent A. Sumner & Heather P. McCollum (St. Louis University School of Law), 28 J. Legal Med. 455 (2007).
- National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition, Brief Written by Catherine Tucker & Andy West (Duke University School of Law), 7 Whittier J. Child & Fam. Advoc. 169 (2007).
- Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition, Brief Written by Gabriel Martinez & L. Lisa Sandoval (Columbia University School of Law), 32 Am. Indian L. Rev. 293 (2007-2008).
- Tulane Moot Court Mardi Gras Invitational (Sports Law), Villanova Law School (authors not named), 15 Sports Lawyers J. 369 (2008).
a lesson in logic from Monty Python
Here's another fun clip for the first few days of class, the classic scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail, in which Sir Bedevere helps the peasants with a difficult bit of reasoning:
"So logically . . . "
"If she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood!"
August 15, 2008
Photos from the Scribes Luncheon Honoring Justice Scalia
Here are some of the photos from the Scribes luncheon held during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York.
Justice Antonin Scalia received a lifetime achievement award. He also became a member of Scribes as well. Justice Scalia was introduced by his co-author, Bryan Garner.
This is the first batch of photos--we'll have more later.
Sage advice for classroom teachers both new and old.
For those of our subscribers who are classroom teachers come these words of wisdom from a senior faculty member to his son who is just beginning his career: "no matter how well you teach, you could always do it better or devote more time and energy to it. It will suck you dry. … You have to establish over time how much time you can give it, do a decent job with it, but save time for yourself.
"It will get easier, and one lesson you need to learn as early as you can is this — make it fun. Make it fun for you as well as for them."
The full column is available here, from the 8/8/08 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
I am the scholarship dude.
The science of persuasion - A new book you may want to pick up.
I just finished reading "The Political Mind: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation" by Dr. Drew Westen (PublicAffairs 2007) (easily available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and others) which reports on new research from the fields of neuroscience and psychology about the way in which people make decisions and, by implication, how one can more effectively persuade decision-makers (in this case, voters). While the book discusses this new research in the context of political elections, it should be of interest to any legal writing professor or practitioner interested in better understanding the science of decision-making. Essentially, the author posits that people make decisions based on their "gut" emotional reactions to the arguments and then use "reason" to rationalize those decisions.
Similarly, the August 15, 2008 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education includes an article entitled "A New Direction in Psychology and Politics," available here, which notes that one should think of the relationship between emotion and reason in decision-making as: "though [the mind] were a small boy riding a large elephant. If the boy wants to go to the left, and the elephant is willing to cooperate, it may go to the left. But if the elephant wants to go to the right, it will go to the right. And afterward the boy will think of a reason why he wanted to go right. In other words, we act, then we rationalize. "Reason is the press secretary of the emotions," Haidt says. "We see things, we react to them, and afterward we make up reasons to explain ourselves. But the psychology of the judgment is intuitive."
Interesting stuff, eh?
I am the scholarship dude.
job opening at University of Iowa
The University of Iowa College of Law seeks applicants to join its Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research Program faculty. Faculty in the program teach a course in legal analysis and writing to first-year students in small sections (total 35-45 students per semester), and law librarians teach the research component of the course. Faculty members work closely together to ensure parity of student experiences; within the program guidelines, faculty members design their own curriculum, choose their own class materials, and create their own writing assignments. The position is full-time during the nine-month academic year. This is a contract position without a vote.
The College of Law is highly ranked and located in Iowa City, an affordable university town known for its vibrant academic culture and in particular for its active literary community. Salary is at least $60,000 and will be commensurate with experience. Candidates must have a J.D., a strong academic record, and an enthusiasm for teaching, for legal reasoning, and for the written word. Experience practicing law is strongly preferred, as is successful teaching experience. The school is interested in all promising candidates, and wish to enhance the diversity of our academic community by including among our candidates persons of all races, cultural backgrounds, genders, creeds, and ages, as well as members of other groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in the legal profession. Candidates should send resumes, references, samples of written work and a law school transcript no later than January 31, 2009, to: Eric Andersen, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, College of Law, The University of Iowa, 478 Boyd Law Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52245-1113.
SSRN process demystified
The powerpoint for Susan Duncan's presentation at the recent LWI conference, Demystifying the SSRN Process: How To Make It Work for You, is now available online. Find the powerpoint link and other matters relating to SSRN in this post at the Law Librarian Blog.
August 14, 2008
webinar on legal writing ethics & professionalism
As part of their Project for Excellence in Legal Communication, Stetson University College of Law and Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, have collaborated to produce a one-hour webinar, Ethics and Professionalism in Legal Writing. Speakers include Kirsten Davis, Raymond "Tom" Elligett, Jr., and Tracy Raffles Gunn. Anyone can click the link and watch the program. The course has been approved for one hour of Florida ethics CLE credit.
hat tip: Kirsten Davis
"It was a dark and stormy night ...."
Those memorable words were first penned by Sir Bulwer-Lytton, for whom San Jose State University has named an annual contest for the most outrageous opening sentence to an imaginary novel. This article will introduce you to this year's winners. They provide all sorts of potential lessons on the art of story telling.
hat tip: Prof. Mary Beth Beazley, Ohio State University
The Volokh Conspiracy blawg reports that a recent brief to a federal court contained an unusual and complicated citation to an opinion. Rather than cite the slip opinion according to conventional citation standards, the brief's author provided a complicated set of drill-down instructions to a link in one of Volokh's postings that included a link to the opinion. As Volokh notes, there are easier ways to get to the opinion, and the brief-writer certainly could have just attached a copy of the opinion to his brief. He adds, "But on the other hand, I like the idea of our site being a special library in which precious documents can be found, even if only through elaborate instructions passed along by the cognoscenti."
August 13, 2008
What's the difference between "narrative" and "storytelling?"
Is "narrative" merely academic jargon for "storytelling?" Is there a difference between the two and if so, what is it? Here is one non-academic's attempt to answer that question.
Hat tip to Ruth Anne Robbins.
you do what?
Legal writing professors and practicing lawyers alike might appreciate this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about business-speak.
hat tip: Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers-Camden
August 12, 2008
Journal of the Legal Writing Institute - Volume 14 out now.
Volume 14 of the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute has been mailed and should be arriving in subscriber's mailboxes shortly if it hasn't already. It contains articles based on last summer's Applied Storytelling Conference in London, England including an introductory essay by Professor Ruth Anne Robbins as well as the following articles:
Applied Legal Storytelling, Politics, and Factual Realism by Brian J. Foley
Storytelling, Narrative Rationality, and Legal Persuasion by J. Christopher Rideout
Lawyering as Artist: Using Significant Moments and Obtuse Objects to Enhance Advocacy by James Parry Eyster
The Plot Thickens: The Appellate Brief as Story by Kenneth D. Chestek
Better Revision: Encouraging Student Writers to See through the Eyes of the Reader by Patricia Grande Montana
The full volume is also available online at www.journallegalwritinginstitute.org. The Journal is available free of charge to any member of the Legal Writing Institute. If you are not already a member, you can find information about joining by clicking here: http://www.lwionline.org/join.html.
I am the scholarship dude - spreading the gospel of legal writing one country at a time.
It takes a village ...
Professor Melissa Marlowe, who teaches Lawyering Skills at Southern Illinois University and also assists with some of the academic support work, has published an article that synthesizes elegantly many of the problems of U.S. legal education today: It Takes a Village to Solve the Problems in Legal Education: Every Faculty Member's Role in Academic Support, 30 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review 489 (2008). This article may be of particular interest for those who teach legal writing at schools that do not emphasize all the professors' commitment to teaching, at schools where legal writing is viewed as the "home room" class, or at schools where legal writing professors are the de facto academic support system.
August 11, 2008
A Handful of Handouts
You can also click here for a post about handouts from a 2007 legal writing conference that was held in Kansas City.
Here is also a link to an article that you might find useful as a handout for your students.
Hat tip to S.N.
Istanbul Legal Skills conference huge success.
The Istanbul Legal Skills conference just concluded at Bahcesehir University on Thursday and was a huge success by all accounts. http://www.istanbulskills.com/. Handouts from the conference will be available shortly on the website. In addition, Bahcesehir University will be publishing later this year the conference proceedings and making that available to Turkish lawyers.
The conference, organized by Professors Tracy McGaugh of Touro School of Law and Kathy Bergin of South Texas College of Law, was jointly sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute and Bahcesehir University.
Dr. Feridun Yenisey, Department Chair of the Bahcesehir law faculty, was a most gracious host who attended to every detail including arranging court visits for the US law professors, hosting lunch at his home one day and arranging dinner for speakers on the faculty roof top club.
Those in attendance heard from a variety of speakers including Turkish judges, senior members of the Istanbul bar and skills professors from both Latvia and the United States. Topics covered everything from how to create an effective legal writing program for foreign academics, to international arbitration exercises, to a mock mediation demonstration, the principles of IRAC, and the use of narrative in skills pedagogy and law practice.
Attendees included members of the Bahcesehir University law faculty, students and several members of the bar including a jurist who presides over a special terrorism court in Istanbul.
The conference itself was deemed such a success that Professor Feridun asked the organizers to begin planning another conference for 2010. He also announced that Bahcesehir University would be implementing its own legal writing program shortly, the first one in Turkey.
As this conference proved, there is tremendous interest overseas in how United States law schools train students in practice skills. This conference was a very successful contribution to that continuing dialog.
Legal writing professors chillin' in Istanbul, Turkey at the roof top faculty club of Bahcesehir University overlooking the Bosphorus
click, click, click
Click, click, click.
That's the sound of a roller coaster as it's just barely getting started. You hear a few slow clicks, and then there's more and more acceleration, and then you're in for the ride, climbing fast up to the high peaks, getting great views, and then plummeting quickly down into the valleys, only to swoop up again. You can't get off, so you figure you might as well get into it and enjoy all the ride has to offer.
That's the way a semester of teaching legal writing often feels. Many of us are right now at the "click, click, click" stage, as we prepare to meet our first-year students later this week or next.
Hang on and get ready to have a great ride!
August 10, 2008
Justice Scalia Wins Lifetime Achievement in Writing Award from Scribes
At a luncheon yesterday at the Harvard Club in New York City, Scribes conferred its third-ever award to recognize lifetime achievement in writing. The recipient was Justice Antonin Scalia, who suggested that Scribes come up with a new name for that award because it reminded him of the Lifetime Oscar that is given to an actor or actress who is frequently nominated for an Oscar but who never wins. We will have a fuller report later on Scalia's award and on the other awards conferred yesterday by Scribes, along with some great photographs. Congratulations to Joe Kimble (executive director of Scribes) and the Scribes leadership for organizing a great program yesterday.
For the ABA Journal's report, which includes some of Scalia's comments as he received the award, see: http://www.abajournal.com/news/scalia_legal_writing_doesnt_exist
Please note the co-authors of this blog do not necessarily endorse those comments.