October 11, 2008
Diagramming Sarah Palin's Sentences
Here's a link to an interesting article on diagramming sentences. It's called "Can Palin's sentences stand up to a grammarian?" by Kitty Burns Florey.
Hat tip to Debbie Borman at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Global Legal Skills Conference IV - Georgetown University Law Center
Building on the successes of the previous Global Legal Skills Conferences held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey in Mexico, Georgetown University Law Center is inviting submissions for Global Legal Skills IV. The conference will be held June 4-5, 2009 on the campus of Georgetown University Law Center – steps from the U.S. Capitol and all of the attractions of the National Mall. The organizers invite submissions from both legal academics and lawyers from practice. Submitters should address the following three Core Questions, but all submissions on topics related to Global Legal Skills are welcome.
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 could include:
- Designing effective distance learning modules
- 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 could include:
- Managing CLE Programs
- Creating effective in-house training programs
- Contributing to the LL.M. Programs of the future.
Guidelines for Submissions
Submissions are encourgaged 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
Submissions should be made no later than November 15, 2008. Send them 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.
If you would like information about the earlier conferences, you can click here for information about the first GLS Conference, which was held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. You can click here for information about the second Global Legal Skills Conference, also held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The third conference was held in Mexico. Click here for information about Global Legal Skills III, held at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey. The conference will return to Mexico (once again at the Facultad Libre de Derecho in Monterrey, Mexico) on February 25-27, 2010.
October 10, 2008
"The Laptop Free Zone" - new scholarship from Professor Jana McCreary
Former legal writing professor Jana McCreary, now of Florida Coastal School, recently had an article accepted for publication in Volume 43 of the Valparaiso Law Review entitled "The Laptop Free Zone." The article summarizes the results of a 2L student survey on classroom laptop use administered at University of Memphis School of Law, Nova Southeastern University School of Law and Seattle University School of Law with the help of some stalwart legal writing professors at those great institutions.
The abstract is below and the full article is available here for download on SSRN.
"This new article, "The Laptop-Free Zone," addresses the hotly debated issue of laptops in law school classroom; those debates are ongoing on countless blogs, on NPR, in national newspapers, and across law school campuses. This article reports and analyzes the data collected through an IRB-approved survey of almost 450 law school students at three different law schools regarding the students' views of laptops and reported distractions caused by laptops. To provide context, the article also addresses the current arguments against laptops, negating those points as being outweighed by the proper and beneficial use of laptops. Additionally, the article provides information to be considered in teaching adults and to different learning styles, namely, global and analytic learners, and how those concerns are matters to consider in the laptop debate.
According to the survey results, students who do not use a laptop are overwhelmingly more likely to be distracted by others' laptops than students who are using their own laptops. In other words, yes, laptops cause distractions, but that primarily affects students who are not using a laptop. Accordingly, based on the learning style information and my survey results, I suggest that laptops not be banned from law school classrooms. Instead, I argue that professors must do their best to teach to all students - to those who feel they learn best by using a laptop as an aid and to those who complain of the distractions caused. I do this by implementing a laptop-free zone, restricting the first or first few rows in my classrooms to no laptops. This creates an area where students who are distracted by neighboring screens and nearby typing are free (as possible without an all-out ban) from those distractions. Further, doing so still respects those students who have learned to use a laptop as an educational tool.
As a surprise to me, the survey also showed that many students make the decision to give up their laptop after experiencing attending a class without one, noting they would not have been willing to go through such an experience by their own decision. However, once they experience not using a laptop in the law school classroom environment, they often change their method of taking notes and report improved learning and classroom experiences. Accordingly, I also suggest that instead of banning laptops, we provide beginning students with only a week or two of a laptop ban at some time during the first semester of school. This compromise will serve the interest of the most students most effectively, respecting them as adults while providing supportive guidance to their own decisions about their learning environment."
I am the scholarship dude.
Blackwell Award winner announced
Here's a message from the chair of the Blackwell Awards Committee, Ruth Vance.
Linda has been and continues to be a motivating force in promoting scholarship about legal writing. Through presenting at national conferences, mentoring professors, and publishing her own legal writing articles, Linda has helped to legitimize the field of legal writing scholarship and expand its offerings. She has advanced legal writing pedagogy with her widely adopted textbooks on legal writing. Further, she is a national leader, having served as the Chair of the AALS Section on Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing, as an ALWD Board member, and as a member of the ABA Committee on Communications Skills.
The LWI and ALWD Boards will present Linda with the Blackwell Award during the 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in conjunction with the presentation of the Golden Pen Award. The awards ceremony and reception will take place Friday, January 9, 2009, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the New Children’s Museum of San Diego. Please mark your calendars. You won’t want to miss this occasion, as this event will also celebrate the beginning of LWI’s Silver Anniversary Year! More details will follow.
Ruth C. Vance
positions available at University of Buffalo
The University at Buffalo Law School invites applications for the newly-created position of Lecturer in Law for its enhanced program in Legal Research and Writing. Please go to the full listing Download ub_law_school.wpd for more information.
October 9, 2008
postscript to typos case
The judge in the typos case discussed earlier on this blog closed his opinion with the words, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, each lawyer knew he and she could not nail any old slap-dash parchment to the church door and expect someone else to pay for it. Most lawyers who practice in this court also know that. They all should."
A good lesson for our students.
hat tip: Jan Levine, Duquesne
SEALS - New Website and Blog
The Southeast Association of Law Schools (SEALS) has a new website and blog. Click here. I attended my first SEALS conference earlier this year, and participated in a panel on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I found the conference to be particularly enjoyable, relaxed, and supportive. Once you attend a SEALS conference, you'll likely be hooked as well.
October 8, 2008
Typos in federal civil rights petition cost attorney $154k
A Philadelphia federal district court judge docked an attorney approximately $154,000.00 in requested legal fees in connection with a civil rights case for typos and other errors in a court filing. The judge called the attorney's work a "slip-shod submission." Among the mistakes cited by Senior U.S. District Court Judge J. William Ditter Jr. were misspellings such as "plaintf," "Philadephia," "attoreys," "reasonbale" and "Ubited States."
Further raising the judge's ire were, among other substantive errors, the misquoting of a federal statute, listing the wrong court rules and mistakenly referencing a U.S. Supreme Court dissenting opinion as a concurring opinion.
Rarely has the failure to use spell-check cost so much.
Hat tip to the ABA Blog.
I am the scholarship dude.
Golden Pen Award will go to the National Association of Attorneys General
The Legal Writing Institute has announced that the winner of the 2009 Golden Pen Award will be the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). The association was founded 101 years ago to assist Atttorneys General in delivering high quality legal services to states and territiories. As part of its work, NAAG sponsors a Supreme Court Best Brief Award to recognize excellence in appellate brief writing.
As has been the usual custom in recent years, the Golden Pen Award will be presented during the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law School. The event will be held on Friday, January 9, 2009, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the New Children's Museum of San Diego. The museum is a short walking distance from the San Diego Marriott, where the substantive sessions and most of the Friday receptions will take place. There is a slightly later starting time for the LWI event, which will allow you to visit a law school reception or two before coming over to the Golden Pen Award. You will also appreciate a chance to get out of the conference hotel, so be sure this event is on you AALS calendar.
The event will also mark the official launch of the Silver Anniversary of the Legal Writing Institute.
As is also the custom, the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors will confer its annual Blackwell Award at the same ceremony. The award is presented jointly by both organizations, in memory of Thomas Blackwell.
A New Research Tool for Finding International Law in U.S. Courts
i.lex: The Legal Research System for International Law in U.S. Courts, is an online database of select U.S. court cases and materials produced by the American Society of International Law (ASIL). It is meant to help reasearchers understand how U.S. federal and state courts apply rules of international law in the cases that come before them. It is a great website, easy to understand and to use.
Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog. You can always count on your law librarian to keep you up to date.
October 7, 2008
LWI - The Second Draft Now Available Online
The Legal Writing Institute has posted the latest edition of The Second Draft on its website. Click here to read it. That page also has links to back issues of the Second Draft.
Welcome, Con Law Prof Blog
The Constitutional Law Prof Blog launched yesterday (on the first Monday in October). Congratulations, and welcome!
October 6, 2008
first weird question of the new term
Today is the first Monday in October, and that means the Supreme Court is busy hearing arguments again. In the first argument of the day (Altria Group v. Good, 07-562, transcript here), Justice Breyer asked Theodore Olson whether a cigarette company could advertise the claim that "smoking 42 cigarettes a day could grow back your hair."
I shall leave you to wonder how he came up with that hypothetical.
job opening for director at Memphis
The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position directing the law school’s Legal Methods program. Legal Methods (LM) is a required four-hour, first-year legal analysis, writing, and research course. In the fall semester, LM students study legal analysis, legal research, and objective writing; in the spring, they study persuasive writing and oral argument, the academic year culminating in a moot court competition administered by the law school’s Moot Court Board.
Under the current model, the director teaches the first hour each week in two large sections of approximately 75 students; the second hour finds students in groups of approximately 12, where they are taught by a group of 12-14 adjunct professors. The director typically teaches one of the small sections and will teach one additional course of his or her choosing. The incoming director will have full autonomy to design the program, assignments, syllabus, and all other programmatic and curricular aspects of the legal writing course.
The successful candidate will have an outstanding academic record, excellent legal writing and communication skills, relevant practice experience which may include judicial clerkships, a commitment to and understanding of the goals and pedagogy of legal writing courses, administrative acumen, and scholarly promise. Prior legal writing teaching experience is very strongly preferred, but the law school will consider both entry-level and lateral candidates.
The position is a regular tenure-track 9-month academic appointment, with an anticipated base salary of mid-$80s or above, depending on entering rank, plus possible summer research stipends.. The director will enjoy full academic freedom and will be expected to participate in faculty governance, to engage in law school, university, and other service, to administer and teach in the legal writing program, and to produce high-quality scholarship. The law school looks forward to welcoming a new member to its outstanding faculty when it moves into its new $40 million building located in a revitalized downtown Memphis on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river.
Send expressions of interest and a resume to: David S. Romantz, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee, The University of Memphis School of Law, 3715 Central Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, 38152. Electronic applications are preferred. The Faculty Recruitment Committee expects to interview applicants at the November 2008 AALS Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C., and at the January 2009 AALS Annual Conference in San Diego, California.
appellate procedure in the Eleventh Circuit
Robert G. Boliek, Jr., takes a close look at procedural matters in recent cases decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, delving into preservation and presentation of error in the context of final/collateral orders and interlocutory appeals, as well as the "prior panel precedent" rule's operation in that circuit. You can find Boliek's article, Appellate Practice and Procedure, at 59 Mercer L. Rev. 1075 (2008).
plagiarism and legal scholarship
As a faculty editor of The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, I am sometimes asked whether it's acceptable to cite--or even reuse--one's own scholarship in a new piece of writing. I've okayed citation, but have never been comfortable advising an author whether to reuse chunks of his or her earlier writings.
That's why a recent article by Carol M. Bast & Linda B. Samuels caught my eye. Titled Plagiarism and Legal Scholarship in the Age of Information Sharing: The Need for Intellectual Honesty, the article is published at 57 Cath. U. L. Rev. 777 (2008). As stated in the introduction, the authors
explore the application of plagiarism standards in the context of the work of professors, judges, and practicing attorneys and their respective legal writings. The Article also will consider some special circumstances that arise, such as reuse of one's own previously published writing, and student and legal clerk authorship. The authors provide a definition of plagiarism as a starting point and encourage the various types of legal writers to clearly define acceptable and unacceptable practices. In addition, because of the prevalence of plagiarism, the authors recommend that universities, law reviews, journals, and publishers adopt a policy requiring that manuscripts be electronically scanned for plagiarism prior to submission or prior to review.
Id. at 779. (I thought I had best provide a citation!)