Saturday, September 20, 2008

Social Networking

Here's another of those helpful videos that explain (in plain language) what "social networking" is.  You might already know all about social networking, but click here to be sure.


September 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

source reliability

Just how reliable are your sources?  Here's a cautionary tale about Wikipedia -- no, seriously, cautionary abouth things many won't otherwise realize, particularly students.

hat tip:  Prof. RJ Robertson, Southern Illinois University


September 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

interested in workshop before AALS on January 6?

Cal Western is launching a new second year program that combines Professional Responsibility, Skills Training, Research and Writing, Prevention and Problem Solving, and Career Satisfaction. The program has been developed through a joint effort of the clinical faculty, the legal writing faculty, and the casebook faculty. The workshop is Skills Training for Ethical and Preventive Practice and Career Satisfaction program.

Workshop: Technology, Ethics and the Practice of Law: Training the 21st Century Law Student

Speaker: Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 (eve of the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego), 4:00-7:00 Presentation & Reception at California Western School of Law. Of interest to: Deans, faculty, and staff involved in curricular reform, professional responsibility training, skills training and librarians. For more information, visit .

Bob Seibel, California Western School of Law, or Bobbie Thyfault,


September 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Question from a Blog Reader

We received this "grammar cop" question from a reader of our blog.  Click here to send your answers directly to her, or post them here as comments.  Here's the question:

I found your website researching the internet on grammar in legal writing.  My office is having a discussion and we just cannot figure out which way is the correct way to do this and I was hoping that you'd be willing to just help us out!

Our title of the document is:

Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant's Counterclaim.

Seems clear enough, but when you add in the defendant's name, it becomes an issue for us.

Is the correct way (notice the placement of possession): 

Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant, John Doe's, Counterclaim

or is it:

Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant's, John Doe, Counterclaim


September 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

job opening in North Carolina

Professor Catherine J. Wasson has forwarded this announcement:

Elon University School of Law seeks one or more professors with a commitment to legal writing teaching who will help shape a rigorous, innovative writing curriculum that is consistent with the law school’s commitment to engaged learning.  Successful applicants will teach two courses per semester, one of which will be the first-year Legal Writing course.  Other teaching may include upper-level writing and drafting courses, other skills courses, and traditional courses such as Family Law, Intellectual Property, and Criminal Law.

            Applicants must have a J.D. from an accredited law school, a strong academic record, excellent legal research and writing skills, and at least three years experience in a clerkship or law practice.  Applicants must also have at least one year of recent experience teaching legal writing, and the ability to work collaboratively within a coordinated program structure.              

            To apply, please send a cover letter, resume (including names and contact information for at least three references) and a short writing sample to Professor Steven Friedland, Chair, Faculty Recruiting Committee, Elon University School of Law, 201 North Greene Street, Greensboro, N.C.  27401.  Elon University is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. Candidates from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.

1.   The position advertised:
_X_     a. is a tenure-track appointment.
_X_     b. may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
The nature of these appointments, as between a. and b. above, is currently being discussed.

2.  The professor hired:
_X_     a. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below.  _X_     a. $90,000 or more
_X_     b. $80,000 to $89,999

4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be:
_X_     a. 30 or fewer
_X_     b. 31 - 35


September 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

States claim copyright protection in response to free online publication of statutes.

In a move which potentially impedes the growth of free online legal research tools, Oregon, among other states, has asserted copyright protection over the publication of its statutes and other public information.  The ABA blog reported this week that websites like, and have been hit recently with cease and desist letters in response to their posting of public data.  Although the Oregon legislature ultimately relented in its claim against, such actions by state officials threaten the growth of websites trying to offer a cost-free alternative to Lexis and Westlaw, the two largest players in the $5 billion commercial legal publishing industry. 

I am the scholarship dude.


September 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Claims Arising Under Federal Law

The Statutory Construction Blog advises us that the Supreme Court in Grable expanded the interpretation of "arising under" in terms of the "substantial federal question" doctrine under 28 U.S.C. 1331: a claim, created by state law, can nonetheless "arise under" federal law if it involves a substantial federal question.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that legal malpractice cases based upon patent litigation or patent prosecution 'arose under' federal law, but the Fifth Circuit has just held that a claim that a lawyer botched a trademark action (under federal law) did not present a substantial federal question.  Click here to read more.  You might find this useful for a legal writing or moot court problem.


September 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

it's hiring season

Nowhiring With the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference looming on the horizon, schools across the country have begun to advertise open positions for 2009-2010 (and beyond). There's a great variety of legal writing jobs available: writing specialist, visiting professor, contract-track, tenure-track, director--and there is a lot of geographic variety as well. Whether you're changing jobs or looking to join the legal writing teaching profession, another good source to check is the Employment Listings bulletin board at the Legal Writing Institute's website.

Job postings on this blog since August 1, 2008, feature positions at the following law schools (and the list is alphabetical, so check posts for application deadlines):

And of course, we will continue to post new job openings as we learn of them.  (If you are a member of a hiring team who will be at the AALS hiring conference in November, plan to attend the legal writing roundtable for candidates.)


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


From the AALL listserve:

"Jureeka is a Firefox add-on that looks for legal citations in ordinary webpages and turns them into hyperlinks that lead to a free version of the cited source (mostly U.S. law).

"Jureeka weaves together dispersed sources, creating the impression of a rudimentary (but free) Lexis-like legal research experience on the open web.

"It also has a toolbar that lets you search for materials by citation, and a button that looks for HTML versions of PDF pages (so as to hyperlink the cites). "

hat tip:  Professor Candle Wester-Mittan, Southern Illinois University


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

"Teaching through Technology" conference slated for December 1

The 2008 regional conference of the New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers (NECLWT) will take place on Monday, December 1, 2008, at Suffolk Law School, located at 120 Tremont Street in the heart of downtown Boston.

The focus of the conference is “Teaching Through Technology.” The morning program will feature three interactive presentations exploring innovative methods for teaching legal writing and research through the use of Wikis, Clickers, and Podcasts. Each presentation will not only offer the perspective of legal writing and research professors who have incorporated these methods into their classroom, but it will also provide attendees with hands-on tutorials for using the various forms of technology.

A lunchtime presentation, “The Pedagogy of Teaching Through Technology,” features Andrew Beckerman-Rodau, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Intellectual Property Law Concentration at Suffolk University Law School. He has been at the forefront of the movement to incorporate technology in teaching.   

The registration deadline is Friday, November 17, 2008. Send any questions about the conference to Sabrina DeFabritiis, via email:

Click to download the Registration form (Download registration_form1.doc) and the Conference Schedule (Download new_england_consortium_of_legal_writing_teachers1.doc) .


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

new blog spotlights legal writing competitions

Kathrynsampsonuaf University of Arkansas Professor Kathy Sampson has started a new blog that features legal writing competitions from around the country. Titled (not surprisingly) "Legal Writing Competitions," the blog provides details on the sponsors, topics, deadlines--and prizes. It's worth checking out--and it would be good to pass the word to your doctrinal colleagues whose students may be writing in areas featured in some of these competitions. Topics in current competitions include copyright, federal and state tax, trademark, administrative law, health law, and judicial awareness. Does your organization or school feature a writing competition that you'd like to see included? Let Kathy know.


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.

~ James Michener


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

visitor job opening at Stetson

Stetson University College of Law seeks applicants for up to three Visiting Assistant Professors of Legal Skills to teach in its Legal Research and Writing program--at least one visitor for Fall 2009 and at least one visitor for the 2009-2010 school year at its Gulfport and Tampa campuses. These are pure coverage positions. Visitors will teach one section of first-year Research and Writing each semester and may be asked to teach on either the Gulfport or Tampa campus. Visitors will have an office, a student assistant, and access to faculty support services and other services on campus. Funds for conference travel and professional development are also available. 

Salary for a semester visitor (August 2009 through December 2009) will be approximately $35,000–$45,000 and for a full-year visitor (August 2009 through May 2010) approximately $70,000–$85,000, depending on experience; compensation may include benefits and assistance with housing and/or relocation expenses. Minimum qualifications are a J.D. from an accredited law school and strong writing and interpersonal skills. Preferred qualifications are outstanding academic credentials, at least two years practice experience, a judicial clerkship, prior teaching experience, and law review or moot court service.

For more information about these positions, contact Kirsten K. Davis, Associate Professor and Director of Legal Research and Writing, at or at 727-562-7877. For more detail about employment at the College of Law generally, see Applicants should send an email, attaching a current curriculum vitae together with a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, and details of at least three references, to Professor Timothy S. Kaye, Co-Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at Those preferring to apply by standard mail should write to Professor Kaye at Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.

(cmb) (Editor's note: We are reposting this announcement because the original post from August 28, 2008, has vanished into cyberspace without explanation.)

September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

writing specialist job opening at Drexel

Drexel University Earl Macke School of Law  seeks applicants for the part-time, non-tenure-track position of Writing Specialist.  The Writing Specialist will provide writing advice and assistance to all law students, with particular attention to first-year students in the Legal Methods program and those upper-level students who could benefit from additional support in legal writing in preparing for the bar examination and successful practice. The Writing Specialist will work with students in individual and small group sessions, conduct workshops on writing skills, and collaborate with the Director of Legal Research and Writing, the Director of Academic Skills, and the law faculty in providing writing support to students with identified needs as well as other students seeking assistance. The Writing Specialist will help to develop and teach a legal analysis course focused on bar preparation.

Applicants should possess Bachelor’s and J.D. Degrees and have a strong academic record. A Master’s Degree in English is desirable, as is practice experience. Experience working as a writing specialist in a law school or law firm or teaching legal writing in a law school is preferred, and applicants should have demonstrated excellence in legal writing. The school seeks candidates who have the ability to work with students, both individually and in groups; strong teamwork, interpersonal, and oral and written communication skills; and flexibility in scheduling to respond to times of peak student demand.

The candidate hired will have the following responsibilities: co-teach an advanced legal analysis/bar preparation class; collaborate with the Director of Legal Research and Writing, Director of Academic Skills, and faculty members to provide writing instruction and support to law students; work with students in individual and small group sessions on the mechanics of writing and legal writing skills; develop and conduct writing skills workshops; develop and administer diagnostic and proficiency tests to students identified as needing writing support and create writing profiles for students based on test results; develop teaching materials to address the specific needs of students using the services of the writing specialist; collaborate with the Drexel University Writing Center; collaborate with Drexel University English Language Center and other Drexel University resources to support non-native English speaking students with their writing; assist students with writing samples, cover letters, and resumes; develop web-based writing resources for students; maintain files and keep statistical records on students using the services of the writing specialist.

Send application by October 15, 2008, to Nancy C. Kraybill, Director of Academic Skills and Auxiliary Professor, Drexel University Earl Macke School of Law, 3320 Market Street, Suite 418, Philadelphia PA 19104. 


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

visitor job opening at Valparaiso

The Valparaiso University School of Law seeks a visitor to teach in the first-year legal writing program for the 2009-10 academic year. This position is therefore a limited appointment for one year only. The first-year program is a required, two-semester course, totaling four credits for the year, with a well-defined legal writing curriculum. Visitors use that curriculum but decide how to deliver it within certain parameters. Legal research is taught by the law librarians in a separate two-hour course; the two courses are coordinated. The Legal Writing Visitor teaches the same 41-50 students both semesters and has the help of student teaching assistants (one TA for approximately every eight students).

Applicants should be currently teaching legal writing or have had recent experience doing so. Valparaiso is interested in candidates with a strong record of academic achievement. Salary ranges from $60,000 to $79,999, depending on the visitor's experience.

Send questions about the legal writing program to Professor Ruth Vance. Send applications via regular 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.


September 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is the law school casebook dead?

If they're not dead yet, it may soon be time to pull the plug according to this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Later this month, professors from several law schools will gather at Seattle University School of Law together with e-book publishers and Sony Electronics, Inc., as well as representatives from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, LexisNexis Law School Publishing, Carolina Academic Press, Oxford University Press, Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft, among others, to discuss the future of the traditional hardcopy textbook.

According to conference co-organizer Ronald Collins, a scholar at the nonprofit First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C., "one of the main obstacles to this whole reform [switching from print to e-books] is people over 40 . . . .  In terms of the print world, I'm more than willing to put the dagger in its heart. I have no problem at all because it's going to happen."

Stay tuned.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

director's job opening at New England School of Law

New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, is seeking a new director of its legal research and writing program. This is a tenure-track position; the initial appointment is expected to be made at the assistant or associate professor rank, depending upon experience and qualifications. 

The program has a three required semesters, and it is staffed by 39 experienced and highly qualified adjunct legal writing professors. The first two semesters cover legal research, objective legal writing, and persuasive writing at the trial court level; the third semester is an appellate advocacy program.   
Responsibilities of the Director include (1) creating the overall curriculum and developing and/or obtaining assignments for both courses; (2) hiring, in consultation with the Dean’s Office, and supervising the adjunct legal writing professors; and (3) working with the library reference staff to ensure the delivery of legal research training for students and legal writing faculty.

There is a substantial amount of administrative work in this position, and therefore, it is expected that the director will teach only one course each semester.  Initially, the director is expected to teach a legal writing course, but after the first year, the director may expand his or her teaching interests to other courses (including non-legal-writing courses), consistent with the needs of the general academic program. The base salary range is from $50,000 to over $90,000, depending on experience.

Applicants should have excellent academic credentials; legal research and writing teaching experience; excellent administrative skills; and prior practice and/or clerkship experience.  Send applications to Professor Allison Dussias, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, New England Law │Boston, 154 Stuart Street, Boston, MA  02116. Direct any questions about the position to the current director of the program, Professor Davalene Cooper, by phone at 617-422-7338 or by e-mail at


September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job opening at Albany

Albany Law School invites applications for a contract position on its Lawyering Skills faculty. Professors in the Lawyering Program teach a first-year course integrating legal research, writing, analysis, and lawyering skills, including interviewing, client counseling, fact investigating, drafting, negotiating, and appellate advocacy. Each professor is responsible for two sections of Introduction to Lawyering that will have 17-18 students each.

Lawyering faculty at Albany Law School may vote on all matters except tenure. Appointment will be made at the assistant lawyering, associate lawyering, or full lawyering professor level, depending on experience. Lawyering faculty positions may become renewable long-term contract positions upon review after three years of continuing successful performance. Base salary will range from $65,000 to $90,000 or more, depending on experience.

Applicants must have a J.D., excellent academic record; demonstrated legal research and writing ability; prior teaching, clerkship and/or practice experience; and the ability to work within a coordinated program structure. 

To apply, send a cover letter, resume (including names and contact information for at least three references) and a writing sample (which can be legal research and writing, or lawyering teaching materials) to the Faculty Recruitment Committee, c/o Barbara Jordan-Smith, Dean’s Office, Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208-3494.  Application materials may be e-mailed to


September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

in memoriam, David Foster Wallace

Benjamin Opipari of Washington, D.C., graciously agreed to write this post:

For the past few days, superlatives have been heaped, rightly, on David Foster Wallace.  Jaw dropping.  Talent that left every other writer in awe.  An American original.  A singular talent.

The last one is somewhat ironic.  Wallace was a singular talent in that he was unique, but he was talented across multiple genres.  Fiction?  Read an An Infinite Jest. Non-fiction?  Read "A Supposedly Funny Thing I'll Never Do Again."  Politics?  Read "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub."  Few writers have the range to write for both the Paris Review and Tennis magazine; his language made it clear that he was just as comfortable writing colloquially about a Caribbean cruise than he was writing formally about philosophy or postmodernism.  David Foster Wallace was a rightful heir to the New Journalists of over 30 years ago, writers like Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe who filled their non-fiction pieces with literary flair.  He was not unknown to the legal writing community, either.  If you have ever heard Brian Garner mention the word "SNOOT," that's Wallace's.  The two of them enjoyed many a conversation on usage (Wallace reviewed Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage for Harper's magazine in 2001).  And lovers of footnotes will find Wallace irresistible: he raised them to an art form in a fit of literary playfulness. 

David Foster died on Friday, September 12.  His untimely death reflects, I'm afraid, the place that truly great writers have in America's consciousness today.  It's hard to imagine that not too long ago, great writers were the rock stars of their generation.  They were celebrities.  Those days, of course, have long since passed, and once again in the next few days we'll see that only in death will one of America's great writers receive the public adulation and recognition that he so deserved.  His books--if they have not done so already--will sell out on to the masses who should have been exposed to him a long time ago. 

As with so many great writers, Wallace's passing robbed us of years of future literary delight.  "The late David Foster Wallace" will take time getting used to.  The writing world is now less prolific.

Benjamin Opipari, PhD
Writing Instructor
Professional Development
1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004-2402


September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Does doctrinal coursework in law school undermine the efforts of legal writing professors?

In a recent article in the Journal of Legal Education, Professor Jamison Wilcox of Quinnipiac University School of Law suggests that even if students learn to write well during their first year of law school, all the work of their legal writing professors may be "undone" in the second and third years as students become immersed once again in the intractable language of judicial opinions, legislation and court rules.  See Jamison Wilcox, Teaching Legal Drafting Effectively and Efficiently - By Dispensing with the Myths, 57 J. Legal Edu. 448, 451 (2007) (available on Lexis and Westlaw).

It's an interesting contributing theory to the complaint that despite effective legal writing instruction in students' first year of law school, they don't graduate with sufficiently developed writing skills. 

I am the scholarship dude.


September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)