August 30, 2008
legal writing job-seekers: make plans for AALS faculty recruitment conference
The AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference is set for Washington, DC. Details are available here. All interviewing will take place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, located at 2660 Woodley Road, NW, Washington, D.C., but you may not be able to stay at that hotel.
According the AALS website, the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is sold out. AALS recommends that you call the Omni Shoreham Hotel (located directly across the street from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel at 2500 Calvert Street, N.W.) reservations at 1-800-545-8700 and refer to "AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference." The room rate is $203 (single or double occupancy) plus 14.5% tax. The cut-off date is Wednesday, October 8, and cancellations must be made by 9:00 A.M. DAY OF ARRIVAL to avoid having one night's room and tax charged to your credit card. The AALS says that very few rooms are available on Wednesday, November 5, and recommends that you plan to arrive no earlier than Thursday, November 6.
For those interested in legal writing jobs, plan to attend the "Perspectives of Legal Writing Faculty" session, led by Prof. Jan Levine (Duquesne), on Thursday, November 6, 2008, from 5:10 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Prof. Levine plans to distribute several useful documents to workshop attendees, including the summary of the most recent ALW D/LWI survey (also available here, along with previous years' surveys), some other ALWD and LWI materials (especially the job ad disclosure form, which contains valuable information about salary, job status, voting rights, and class size), the table of contents of the ABA's Legal Writing Sourcebook, a list of web links, and his own "Sisyphus" article.
This blog posts job announcements when the co-editors are informed of them. Scroll down to the "Search this Blog" link at right and use the search terms such as "job," "opening," "position," or "visiting." Interested applicants should also check the LWI Employment Listings online bulletin board and the AALS Placement Bulletin (for those registered with AALS).
August 29, 2008
new details on "How Legal Rhetoric Shapes the Law" conference
We announced the upcoming November 7, 2008, conference to be held at American University, Washington College of Law: How Legal Rhetoric Shapes the Law. This year's theme is drawn from the language of violence and torture. Keynote speaker is Professor Peter Brooks, Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University and Mellon Visiting Professor at Princeton University. Professor Brooks will speak on "The Ethics of Reading." The law school has issued a flyer providing more details about the conference, available at this link: Download confflyer08.doc. Online registration is available here. For information on lodging options, click here.
What's next? Puffy shirt precedents?
The ABA Journal online reports that a Maryland appellate court recently cited a 1996 episode of the Seinfeld television comedy in a case involving a partnership dispute between novelist Tom Clancy and his ex-wife. The decision, issued on August 26, 2008, explains why "spite" is no basis for Clancy's exercise of a contractual right to withdraw from the venture. Footnote 27 describes Jerry Seinfeld as an "unlikely legal illustrator . . . of the duty of good faith in contract," quoting at length from the scene in which Jerry tries to return a jacket he purchased because he doesn't like the salesman who sold it to him. The court analyzes Seinfeld's motives:
In attempting to exercise his contractual discretion out of "spite," Jerry breached his duty to act in good faith towards the other party to the contract. Jerry would have been authorized to return the jacket if, in his good faith opinion, it did not fit or was not an attractive jacket. He may not return the jacket, however, for the sole purpose of denying to the other party the value of the contract. Jerry's post hoc rationalization that he was returning the jacket because he did not "want it" was rejected properly by [the store manager] as not credible.
Does the Teachers Manual Include a Recipe for Sheila Simon's Lasagna?
Richard K. Neuman (Hofstra University) and Sheila Simon (Southern Illinois University) are co-authors of a new legal writing text published by Aspen. An email message from the publisher informs me that there is "an irreverent website" to accompany the book. It includes "Sheila’s Lasagna, animated as a lab experiment carried out in a restaurant." How fun is that? Click here for more information.
August 28, 2008
Grammar Girl begs the question
A site I often visit for its entertaining podcasts on grammar (of all things!) is Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Grammar (Grammar Girl is the alter ego of Mignon Fogarty, and she also has a book). Recently, she examined the phrase so often used (and misused) in law school classrooms, "beg the question":
You use the phrase begs the question when people are hoping you won't notice that their reasons for coming to a conclusion aren't valid. They've made an argument based on a lame assumption. The question is What's your support for that premise? . . . Sadly, begs the question is used wrong a lot. . . . Many people mistakenly believe it's OK to use the phrase to introduce a clever or obvious question. . . . There are plenty of phrases writers can use when they mean "makes me wonder" or "raises the question." There's no hole in the English language that needs to be filled, so there's no reason to use begs the question improperly.
The quick and dirty tip is to remember that when something begs the question, it begs the question: what is your support for that premise?
August 27, 2008
A social networking site for book-lovers
Have you just finished a good book that you'd like to tell your friends about? Then Goodreads.com is the website for you. Founded in 2006, Goodreads is a yet another social networking site except this one is built on the premise that friends enjoy sharing their reading interests with each other. As the website explains:
"Most book recommendation websites work by listing random people’s reviews. On Goodreads, when a person adds a book to the site, all their friends can see what they thought of it. It’s common sense. People are more likely to get excited about a book their friend recommends than a suggestion from a stranger."
Perhaps the Legal Writing Institute should start a group here so that Legal Writing Professors can share their reading interests, both vocational and avocational, with one another.
I am the scholarship dude.
ILSA Writing Competition at Vermont Law School
As part of the International Law Students' Association (ILSA) conference on genocide, Vermont Law School is sponsoring a law student writing competition. The topic is “Redefining Genocide: How Can the Genocide Convention be Modernized to Comport with Emerging Norms?” Each participant will be required to write a 15-page paper with endnotes. The authors of the best three papers will be asked to present their work as a panel at the conference on October 3, 2008. Winning papers are to be published in the ILSA Quarterly and perhaps also the Vermont Law Review.
Click on this link for further information on the competition. Download 2008_ilsa_writing_competition.pdf
Legal rhetoric shaping the law - 2008 conference scheduled
American University’s Washington College of Law is again sponsoring a conference on the uses of legal rhetoric, focusing on the language of violence and torture. The conference is scheduled for Friday, November 7, 2008. Peter Brooks (Yale, Princeton) will deliver the keynote address. Professor Brooks, a scholar of narrative theory, will speak on “The Ethics of Reading” to kick off a day of discussing how language can be used, interpreted, manipulated to justify violence, and, perhaps, also to combat it. In the early afternoon, four panelists will discuss various uses of language in relation to violence, torture and human rights. The day will conclude with a workshop for legal writing teachers to discuss and work on ways to introduce these ideas in the legal writing classroom.
call for articles on teaching with technology
The focus of the Spring 2009 issue of The Second Draft is "Teaching Through Technology," and the LWI newsletter has issued a call for articles. Click here to read the submission guidelines. Articles must not exceed 650 words. Send submissions no later than October 6, 2008, to email@example.com.
August 26, 2008
When correcting typos is a felony
According to this article in the New York Times, "two self-styled vigilantes against typos" have been touring the United States this past year correcting errors on government and private signs. (Read more about their exploits here). Their "crime spree" finally came to an end when they were arrested for correcting an erroneous apostrophe and adding a comma, among other edits, to a hand-painted, vintage sign in Grand Canyon National Park. The duo, whom the Chicago Tribune called "a pair of Kerouacs armed with Sharpies and erasers and righteous indignation" pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year probation during which they are forbidden to enter any national park or edit public signs. Until recently, you could read about these typo 'freedom-fighters" on their website called the Typo Eradication Advancement League but alas, it seems that someone or some "thing" has taken the proverbial Whiteout brush to that website as well according to this report. Is nothing sacred?
I am the Scholarship Dude.
August 25, 2008
Global Legal Skills Conference IV - Georgetown University Law Center
It is an honor to pass along the call for papers for GLS-IV at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. It might not meet the wow factor of Monterrey (like London having to follow the Beijing), but we know that this is going to be a solid conference. Craig Hoffman (who just published a new book on the subject) is the primary host for the event, assisted by Peter Cramer and many other helpers (probably something close to the number who helped in Beijing). Here's the announcement:
Global Legal Skills IV -- June 3-5, 2009
Georgetown University Law Center - Washington, DC USA
Building on the successes of the previous Global Legal Skills Conferences, Georgetown University Law Center is inviting submissions for Global Legal Skills IV. The conference will be held over two days on the campus of Georgetown University Law Center – steps from the U.S. Capitol and all of the attractions of the National Mall. We invite submissions from both legal academics and lawyers from practice. We would like to encourage submitters to address the following three Core Questions; however, we will also entertain submissions on other topics related to Global Legal Skills.
I. What skills do lawyers need to effectively function in a global marketplace? Possible topics could include:
- Responding to cross-cultural factors in alternative dispute resolution
- Understanding diverse legal cultures
- Building awareness of other legal systems.
II. How can law schools adjust teaching methods and curricula to accommodate the needs of the global legal marketplace? Possible topics include:
- Designing effective distance learning modulea
- Defining the boundaries of “Legal English”
- Developing the components of a Global Core Curriculum.
III. What is the proper role of “global law firms” in the education and re-education of practicing lawyers? Possible topics include:
- Managing CLE Programs
- Creating effective in-house training programs
- Contributing to the LL.M. Programs of the future.
Guidelines for Submissions
We encourage submissions in a variety of formats. Presenters may propose panels of their own, or we may group Individual Presenters in similarly-themed sessions.
Panel Presentations: One hour
- Names and affiliations of panel members
- Proposed title
- Abstract of between 200 and 1000 words
Individual Presentations: 30 minutes or 15 minutes
- Name and affiliation of speaker
- Proposed title
- Abstract of between 200 and 1000 words
We also intend to provide forums for Topic Discussions. Topic Discussions will be informal gatherings at one-hour intervals throughout the Conference. One Presenter will be appointed to be the Chair of the Topic Discussion; the Chair will moderate the discussion among the participants. Participants in Topic Discussions will submit proposals for their contributions to these Topic Discussions. We will be adding Topics as they are suggested by submitters. Currently, we have four Topics for which we would like to solicit submissions:
- What is Legal English?
- What Teaching Methods Are Most Effective for Teaching Legal Writing to Foreign LL.M.s?
- What is the Role of Foreign Exchange Programs in Legal Education?
- What are the Possible Directions for Scholarship in the Field of Legal English?
Topic Discussions: Various Lengths
- Name and affiliation of speaker
- Proposed title
- Abstract of between 200 and 1000 words
All submissions should be made no later than November 15, 2008. Send submissions by email to Craig Hoffman, Professor of United States Legal Discourse and Director, Center for Global Legal Skills, Georgetown University Law Center. Click here to send an email to Craig Hoffman.
Click here for information about the first Global Legal Skills Conference. Click here for information about the second Global Legal Skills Conference, also held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Click here for information about Global Legal Skills III, held at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey in Mexico. Also, save the date for GLS-V, once again in Monterrey, Mexico. That will be February 25-27, 2010.
The secrets of a legendary writing professor - "Kerouac got an A."
The scholarship dude is a bit behind in his reading so please excuse the delay in bringing you this column from the July 27 edition of the Education Life Supplement to the New York Times. It's the story of the legendary writing professor Mark Van Doren who inspired a veritable who's who of 20th century literary giants during his 40 years at Columbia University. His former students included Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Lionel Trilling, Herman Wouk, Richard Giroux and Arthur Sulzberger, among many others. You'll have to read the column yourself, written by Professor Van Doren's grandson, to decide whether excellent students make an excellent professor or vice versa (or perhaps some combination thereof), but in the meantime, let me leave you with this tantalizing tidbit from the author:
"In an age when higher education is threatened with a relentless technology that threatens to dispense with human beings altogether, Professor Van Doren exemplified a tradition of inquiry that celebrates personal interaction as the path to a meaningful education — one shaped by spontaneity, emotion and, yes, reverence."
I am the scholarship dude.
JALWD submission deadline Sept. 1
The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute is accepting articles through September 1 based on presentations at this summer's LWI Conference at U. Indiana. Of course, others are invited to submit articles throughout the year but if you presented at this summer's biennial conference and want to see your article included in the conference proceedings issue, the deadline is fast approaching. Here is the link to the Journal's webpage that includes submission guidelines. Proceedings articles will be published in Volume 15. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Journal's Editor-in-Chief:
Director, Rex E. Lee Advocacy Program
Brigham Young University School of Law
Provo, UT 84602
Blogs We Like
We posted here earlier on our favorite legal writing blogs, sharing with you a quick list drawn up by David Sorkin of The John Marshall Law School. Although the blog addresses we gave were all good, the website didn't allow you to click on the links and visiti those sites. We've fixed that (I hope!) and we're now reposting the first list of some of our favorite blogs. Click here to read a follow up post from Coleen Barger with other links to blogs of interest for legal writing professors. And we know that in in this blogified world there are certainly other blogs to visit, so please add your favorites by leaving a comment to this message.
Legal Writing Prof Blog
the best-known academic legal writing blog -- hey! you're reading it right now!
Wayne Schiess's Legal Writing Blog
a blog on legal writing from Wayne Schiess (U. of Texas)
Law Librarian Blog
a blog for law librarians; often covers legal research instruction
Law School Academic Support Blog
a blog for academic support professionals
Legal Writing Institute
not a blog, but offers some good links
legal research, analysis, and writing resources, from Peter Friedman (Case)
The New Legal Writer
a blog on legal writing from New Orleans lawyer Raymond Ward
a contract drafting blog from Ken Adams
The Party of the First Part
adventures in legalese, from Adam Freedman
Legal Research & Writing Pro
a blog for research and writing professionals, from Lisa Solomon
Set in Style
a blog on law firm publishing, from Mister Thorne
The Illinois Trial Practice Weblog
tips and techniques for trial lawyers, from Evan Schaeffer
a blog on legal research from Onecle Inc.
... and another list of legal writing blogs and course sites (from co-blogger Coleen Barger)
Hat tip to David Sorkin of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
a stifled dissent . . .
State Supreme Court Bans Sitting Justice From Filing His Dissent
The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered one of its sitting justices not to publish his dissent with the Court's majority decision. Apparently the Court stopped its court clerk from filing Justice Oliver Diaz's opinion into the record. Here's a copy. It was published by Folo, a blog. In the opinion, Justice Diaz writes "A majority vote to censor a justice of the court and prohibit the issuance of a dissenting opinion may be unprecedented in the history of American jurisprudence.”
Is this a first? The WSJ Law Blog thinks it might be. See Justices Tell Colleague Not to Publish His Opinion. Unprecedented? Mitchell Rubinstein, Adjunct Law Prof Blog, thinks this incident would make an excellent topic for a law review article. Indeed it would. By not being part of the record, Justice Diaz's opinion has no legal status. [post by Joe Hodnicki, Law Librarian Blog]
hat tip: Maxine Young Asmah, Head of Public Services and Director, Certificate of Excellence in Legal Research, Texas Tech University School of Law Library
on the importance of legal writing
Over on the new legal writer blog, there's excellent advice for 1Ls on the importance of their legal writing work.
hat tip: Professor Diane Murley
ethics in the legal writing course
Scott Fruehwald (Hofstra) has posted a new paper on SSRN, Legal Writing, Professionalism, and Legal Ethics, that offers advice on ways to incorporate ethics into the writing curriculum. From the abstract:
This article discusses how to teach professional ethics within a first-year legal writing course. We can teach ethics in legal writing without taking attention away from our basic mission of teaching legal skills by integrating ethics into everything we do and by serving as examples for our students. This paper will discuss teaching legal ethics on orientation. It will then examine legal ethics in structuring the course and setting an example. Finally, it will cover legal ethics in legal research, objective legal writing, and persuasive legal writing respectively.
August 24, 2008
Legal Writing Conference in South Africa
Mimi Samuel, Co-President of APPEAL (Academics Promoting the Pedagogy of Effective Advocacy in Law), has just shared the news that APPEAL and the University of Pretoria Faculty of Law in South Africa will hold a Conference on Promoting the Teaching of Legal Writing in Southern Africa from July 1 to July 4, 2009, in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will focus on the development of curricula in legal writing for law faculties in Southern Africa, with particular emphasis on handling large, undergraduate class loads and teaching to students with a variety of language and educational backgrounds.
- June 29, 30, and July 1: Optional "field trips" for out-of-town participants, possibly including the Apartheid Museum, Constitutional Hill, High Court and/or Magistrate Court in Pretoria, Pilanesburg Game Park
- July 1 (evening): Welcome reception
- July 2-3: Full day conference
- July 4: Half-day conference
The conference fee for U.S. participants is a very modest $125. African participants will not be charged a conference fee. A limited amount of scholarship money will be available to assist participants with transportation and accommodation costs. Participants will pay their own way for the optional field trips.
Hat tip to Mimi Samuel