August 23, 2008
LWI on Linked In
LWI members on "Linked In" can now join the "Legal Writing Institute (LWI)" group. You will be able to show your professional contacts that you are a member of LWI. (If for some reason you're not a member of LWI, click here and fix that please.)
P.S. for the Facebook Folk -- are you a fan of the Legal Writing Institute?
Twelve AALS Sections Are Seeking Poster Submissions
· Clinical Legal Education
· Education Law
· Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research
· Insurance Law
· International Law
· International Human Rights
· Law & the Social Sciences
· Mass Communication Law
· Professional Responsibility
· Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues
· Teaching Methods
Click here for more information
Brief-Writing Tips for the Illinois Appellate Court
The August 2008 issue of the Illinois Bar Journal contains a great article called "Brief-Writing Tips for the Illinois Appellate Court." It is by Maria Pellegrino, a law clerk to a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District. If you're teaching appellate advocacy in Illinois, you'll want to share this article with your students. It appears in volume 96 of the Illinois Bar Journal, at pages 412 to 416 (in the August 2008 issue). The article works well for other states too, but the citations to the rules are those of the great state of Illinois.
P.S. As a member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association, I would be remiss if I did not also encourage professors in Illinois (and other states, actually) to remind their students that student membership in the ISBA is completely free -- just go to www.isba.org to sign up for a membership and to join up to five sections for free as well.
job opening for director at North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law invites applications for a newly developed full-time Clinical Faculty appointment for a Director of Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy, beginning in Fall 2009. The Director of Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy will direct the first-year legal writing program, reporting to the Assistant Dean of Legal Writing and Academic Success, and will be responsible for administering an established mandatory first-year writing course that integrates academic support in an adjunct-based legal writing program.
The Director will teach one fall section and will make hiring recommendations for the program adjunct faculty; train and supervise program faculty and Teaching Assistants; supervise grading; direct the Writing Lab; advise the Assistant Dean on trends in legal research & writing; design first-year legal research & writing problems; advise on curriculum design; and serve on faculty committees as requested by the Dean. Scholarship in areas related to legal education and/or research and writing pedagogy is strongly encouraged, as is leadership in state and national professional associations. The
successful candidate will receive a twelve-month, non-tenure-track clinical appointment subject to long-term contract renewal and will have faculty voting rights for all but personnel matters. Candidates should have outstanding academic records, as well as experience and demonstrated excellence in teaching, leadership, administrative skills, and legal research and writing. Membership in the North Carolina State Bar, or the ability to attain membership by the Fall of 2009, is preferred.
Applications will be accepted until positions are filled. They must be made electronically, via the following link: http://hr.unc.edu/jobseekers/search.htm. After accessing this link, read the information under "Jobs at Carolina," and then access "EPA Faculty Positions: How to Apply and Open Positions." Follow all instructions on the website to ensure proper receipt of your application. Be prepared to electronically submit your curriculum vitae, letter of application, and contact information for 4 references. Confidential inquiries are welcome and should be directed to the Faculty Appointment Committee Chair, Professor Mark Weisburd, by phone (919-962-8515) or by e-mail.
Conference on Persuasion in Legal Writing and Lawyering
The conference organizers recognize that persuasion is increasingly being taught in detail in upper level writing and skills courses.
Speakers and moderators include Michael Smith, Linda Berger, Coleen Barger, Steve Jamar, Steve Johansen, Kathryn Stanchi, Ken Chestek, James Lupo, Ellie Margolis, Victoria Chase, Mel Weresh, and Scott Wood.
Hat tip to Carol Wallinger, Ruth Anne Robbins, Jason Cohen, Sarah Ricks, Alison Nisson, Sheila Rodriguez, and Meredith Schalick.
an act of public editing . . .
Ever been tempted to edit a public sign rife with grammatical and other error? Doing so could result in criminal charges and probation . . . but a resultant sense of self-righteous satisfaction, I'll bet.
hat tip: Lee Tucker, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law
August 22, 2008
Poster Presentations at the AALS Meeting in San Diego
AALS has sent out the invitation for proposals for poster presentations for the 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. One of the sections seeking posters is the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research. (Another is the AALS Section on International Law, and the AALS Section on International Human Rights Law.)
The oh-so-strict guidelines for AALS posters are available by clicking here. Last year many poster submissions were rejected because they failed to conform to the technical requirements.
The deadline for submissions to AALS is September 30th. Once the posters have been approved by AALS, AALS sends them to the Poster Committee for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research, which then determines which posters to display.
They say that the limit on the number of posters is unknown right now. (I say, the more the merrier. Accept them all! No one is forcing anyone to look at them!)
If you questions about posters for the legal writing section, please contact Samantha Moppett at Suffolk University Law School by clicking here.
Here's a useful article for law students. It's called "Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Legal Analysis: Putting Law School into Practice." It was just posted on SSRN by Suzanne Rowe. Click here to download a copy of it.
lawyers and creativity
Professor Peter Friedman, a visiting professor this year at Detroit Mercy, has started yet another blog, on a very interesting angle of lawyering. It's called Ruling Imagination: Law and Creativity, and "it is intended to explore both the ways law governs creative endeavors and the ways creativity informs legal practice."
More Blogs We Like
This blog recently listed links to a bunch of blogs we like, but it was not an exclusive list. Here are some of my current personal favorites:
- Mr. Rewrite: Spelling, Grammar, and Usage Tips Served with a Dash of Humor is associated with Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This blog's bright and lively approach to technically accurate writing is refreshing.
- Another site for journalists and professional writers is Poynter Online. I like Roy Peter Clark's regular column, Writing Tools.
- The HeinOnline Weblog is chock full of great tips on ways to use HeinOnline in your research, such as this recent post, Subject Compilations of State Law.
- Getting away from writing and research, but still on the topic of teaching today's young adults, Tracy McGaugh's Millennial Law Prof provides good insights and a lot of creative ideas, particularly for new teaching technologies.
- Several times a month, I check recent postings at our blog network neighbor, the Law School Academic Support Blog. As recent scholarship (reported here and here) indicates, those who teach legal writing and other skills courses are often in the best position to identify students who are struggling.
- Are you interested in Best Practices for Legal Education? Here's a place to talk to and learn from other legal educators about ways we can all improve the delivery of legal education.
- Similarly, Law School Innovation (another blog in our own network) offers some interesting observations and commentary on new developments in law teaching. For instance, a recent post considered the pros and cons of law profs joining Facebook--such as, should one have a policy for deciding whom to "friend"? (Hey, are you a fan of the Legal Writing Institute?)
August 21, 2008
the effect of self-handicapping on GPA
Our scholarship dude has just reported on Leah Christensen's study finding student performance in legal writing courses to be a strong predictor of success in law school. Can we add another factor into the mix?
Catherine Ross Dunham (Elon) has published her findings on self-handicapping law school student behavior in Hidden Obstacles in the Mass Culture of American Legal Education: An Empirical Analysis, 32 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 237 (2007). Dunham's study suggests that "an individual student's self-attributed achiever type correlates to the student's year in law school and GPA. Most significantly, the results of the study suggest that a law student's GPA correlates with the student's self-handicapping score and, further, that GPA is predictive of his self-handicapping score."
So therefore, if a student self-handicaps in the legal writing course . . .?
hat tip for Dunham article: Law Librarian Blog
August 20, 2008
The forsaken pen gets a high-tech makeover - "Smartpen" debuts
I ran across this at the local Target yesterday - a new high-tech pen being marketed specifically to students called the "Smartpen." The package includes the pen and some special note-taking paper students use to handwrite their class notes. The pen records their writing which can be later uploaded to a computer (as the box says: "The Smartpen lets you leave your bulky laptop at home").
And just in case students miss any of the professor's words, the "Smartpen" includes a micro recording device that allows students to make an audio record of the class for uploading to a computer or manual playback through a mini-speaker built into the pen itself. (Query whether the instructions warn students about possible copyright violations for recording their professor's lectures without permission).
Here's a link to the company website which includes a demonstration video. And here's a link to a favorable product review by PC Magazine.
Target was selling these for $149.00 for the complete package which includes the pen, special note-taking paper, and software.
(Please note -- neither the blog-masters nor the scholarship dude himself endorses the Smartpen or Target -- we just report the news).
I am the scholarship dude.
New study shows legal writing grade is best predictor of academic success.
Professor Leah Christensen, Associate Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson Law School, has just authored a new article describing a study she conducted demonstrating the critical importance of legal writing in the law school curriculum to students' success.
The article is entitled, "The Power of Skills Training: A Study of Lawyering Skills Grades as the Strongest Predictor of Law School Success (Or in Other Words, Its Time for Legal Education to Get Serious About Skills Training If We Care About How Our Students Learn)."
The study asked 157 law students to respond to a survey about their learning goals in law school. Professor Christensen wanted to explore whether law students' motivations for learning (i.e., mastery- or performance orientations) impacted their law school success. In addition, she explored whether learning goals correlated to different academic variables, including class rank, LSAT score, Undergraduate GPA (UGPA) and Lawyering Skills Grade. The results were significant: Lawyering Skills Grade was the strongest predictor of law student success. In contrast, the LSAT was the weakest predictor of law school success. The study also found that law students who did well in their Lawyering Skills classes tended to be mastery-oriented learners, and that law students who were mastery-oriented learners were more successful in law school overall.
A link to the abstract is available here.
I am the scholarship dude.
" and ' straight or curly?
"Does the legal writing community have a preference for straight or curly quotation marks? Is there a rule about it?" one of our readers asks. He wants to use one format; his firm prefers the other.
Of course, how quotation marks actually look in a document is also a question of font choice. The blog Frivolous Motion prefers smart quotes, as shown by this image that compares the looks of each in various fonts:
Wikipedia has a surprisingly lengthy entry on the topic in "Quotation Mark Glyphs," including this bit of historic trivia:
“Ambidextrous” quotation marks were introduced on typewriters to reduce the number of keys on the keyboard, and were inherited by computer keyboards and character sets. However, modern word processors have started to convert text to use curved quotes.
Monotype Imaging's webpage, font.com, refers to the use of straight quotation marks as an "irritating typographic faux pas" and describes how to toggle on or off the "smart quotes" option on today's word processing software.
A British blog on typography and fonts, The Ministry of Type, analyzes the pros and cons of each style, concluding that
[i]f straight quotes, however much of a modern bastardisation of type they may seem, enhance the meaning of a piece (or if curved quotes would distract the reader), then you must use them. Otherwise, don’t.
I know of no consensus on the format of quotation marks and apostrophes in the legal writing community, but rather have always experienced the issue (and largely in my role as a journal editor) as a question of style and consistency, and perhaps, aesthetics. Ken Adams has written about the choice in his blog on drafting. More than anything, Adams counsels consistency in style; anything else looks messy.
to illustrate a lesson . . .
Want to introduce a discussion of annoying phrases that your students should edit from their writing? This cartoon may help . . . it shows two squirrels, with one saying to the other, "Must you always begin every sentence with 'To put it in a nutshell'?!"
Have a great first day/week of classes.
August 19, 2008
ideas for the first day of class
Many of us are thinking about how to enrich the first day of class beyond the typical explanation of the syllabus and other housekeeping matters. Here are some tips for college teachers that may provide ideas for all of us:
- From the Ohio State University, The First Day of Class
- From Vanderbilt University, First Day of Class
- From the University of California, Berkeley, two items:
Tools for Teaching, tips from Barbara Gross Davis
New Faculty Teaching Message
I was inspired to try some new things by various presenters at the LWI conference in July. So on my first day of class, my students are going to be treated to a very short "movie" (a series of clips on a silent movie-type soundtrack) that emphasizes some of the tools for success in legal writing. (It may bomb, but I am willing to take the risk.)
picking or picking on the Court
Legal Times reporter Tony Mauro reports that presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have indicated that had the choice been theirs, they would not have appointed certain justices to the United States Supreme Court. McCain named Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, and Souter. Obama named Thomas.
Whom would legal writing profs have left off the Court? We'll make you president for a day. Take our poll.
August 18, 2008
Does Doug Manchester Still Own the San Diego Marriott?
The AALS has decided to keep its annual meeting in San Diego, but it won't hold any events at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Instead, it will hold all AALS events at the San Diego Marriott. Some people have noticed that Papa Doug Manchester was the developer of that property, and that his CV lists the San Diego Marriott as one of the properties on which he is a "developer or owner."
He did develop it. But does he still own it?
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on April 25, 2008 that he sold all of his remaining interest in the hotel, in a stock deal with Host Hotels & Resorts, which is now the 100 percent owner of the property. Here's an excerpt from the story in San Diego Union-Tribune:
Host Hotels & Resorts, which now owns 100 percent of the 1,362-room
downtown hotel next to the Convention Center, issued 5.575 million
partnership units to Pacific Gateway -- a Manchester entity -- last
month. In return, Pacific Gateway gave up its roughly 10 percent
ownership in the hotel. It also forfeited the rights to 1.7 percent of
the hotel's revenue.
, , ,
In an interview this week, Manchester said he has been systematically
reducing his equity stake in the Marriott property for Host partnership
units. At one point he owned 25 percent of the project, he said.
. . .
According to SEC filings, Manchester and affiliates have retained
ownership of the bulk of the Host partnership units they've acquired
over the years. In total, they own units that can be converted to about
13 million shares, or about a 2 percent stake in Host Hotels. . . .
The title of the article is Manchester sells stake in Marriott; Downtown hotel now 100% owned by Host.
So it seems that Doug Manchester sold his interest in the hotel, but he is still a shareholder in a company that owns units that might be converted into shares amounting to a 2 percent stake in Host Hotels. For me, having part of a possible 2 percent ownership of company that owns the hotel as one of its properties is a somewhat remote connection to the cash donation. It is certainly nothing when compared directly to the other property, which has his name on it (the Manchester Grand Hyatt).
I will obviously be thinking more about this, and I welcome your comments (as, I'm sure, do others). Please post your comments below if you have any additional insights on the matter. For me, the main message should be this: AALS has taken a stand that it will not support organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation. Discrimination is bad business. Period. Bravo, AALS.
(Hat tips to the research skills of Ralph Brill and Miriam Ann Murphy)
AALS Section on International Human Rights Law
The AALS Section on International Human Rights Law will repeat its wildly popular program, “New Voices in Human Rights.” The program is for faculty members and other scholars who have not previously had an opportunity to present a scholarly paper at an AALS annual meeting. It will be held during a prime time slot at the AALS conference -- Wednesday January 7, 2009, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
You do NOT have to submit a paper, only an abstract of no more than two pages. Send the abstract by September 1, 2008 to Section Chair-Elect, Christiana Ochoa, at the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington. Click here for her email address. Abstracts will be reviewed and selections made during September 2008.
If you have questions about this program, you may contact the current section chair, Robert Blitt at the University of Tennessee.
Prof. Mark E. Wojcik
The John Marshall Law School - Chicago
Immediate Past Chair, AALS Section on International Human Rights Law
Director Position: The John Marshall Law School -Chicago
THE JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL, CHICAGO is currently accepting applications for the position of Director of the Lawyering Skills Program, a tenure-track or tenured position, beginning in the 2009-10 academic year.
The Lawyering Skills Program is a nationally ranked legal research and writing program consisting of a four-semester, nine or ten credit-hour required sequence of courses, including: (1) Lawyering Skills I, a three-credit course in predictive analysis, writing, and research; (2) Lawyering Skills II, a three-credit course in oral and written advocacy and advanced research; (3) Lawyering Skills: Herzog Moot Court Competition, a one-credit intra-scholastic moot court competition; and (4) Lawyering Skills: Drafting, a two- or three- credit course in a variety of fields, ranging from general practice to various specialties, including patent drafting, information technology, employee benefits, and real estate.
In 1994, the Lawyering Skills Program was converted from a long-term contract program to a tenure-track program and is, therefore, a program of peers in which twelve full-time faculty partner with the Director to make programmatic decisions. An Associate Director also assists the Director in selecting, training, and supervising a committed and experienced group of adjunct faculty to teach the advanced courses, to develop problems for some of the courses, and to administer all aspects of the courses. In addition to administrative responsibilities, the Director will teach one section of approximately 15 Lawyering Skills students each semester. The Director will also teach a doctrinal course each semester related to area of interest and curricular needs.
The Director will be expected to produce scholarship and to serve on faculty committees. In addition, the Director of the Lawyering Skills Program is expected to be visible and active in the national legal writing community. The John Marshall Law School seeks candidates who share its commitment to the discipline of legal writing, to innovative teaching and skills training, and to scholarship.
Successful candidates will be hired at the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor depending upon prior experience and background. Salary will also be commensurate with experience and background. Applicants must have at least a J.D. or its equivalent, a distinguished academic record, and evidence of excellence as a legal writing teacher and as a scholar. Applicants should send a letter of application and resume by October 10, 2008 to Professor Julie Spanbauer, Chair, Selection and Appointments Committee, The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604
The John Marshall Law School is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty, and we enthusiastically solicit applications from minorities, women, and other individuals from historically underrepresented groups.