November 29, 2008
Evaluating On-Line Course Evaluations
November 28, 2008
Drafting Issue Statements
The (New) Legal Writer Blog has posted a summary of work by Professor Judith Fischer, who analyzed 50 appellate briefs from six states. Although Professor Fischer does not conclude that one format is better than another, she comes up with some helpful tips on writing effective issue statements. Click here to read more. That link has a further link to her article on SSRN if you'd like to read even more.
Hat tip to Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer.
The Library Chronicles
Our friends at the Law Librarian Blog have posted a trailer for "The Library Chronicles," with characters such as the Enigmatic Librarian. It's just over two minutes long if you would like to take a look at it by clicking here. Here's a warning: "Anything read in the library, must stay in the library!" Enjoy.
Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.
November 27, 2008
Don't get between a first year law student and his course outlines!
Now for a walk on the lighter side. The legal blogosphere has been burning up with a story about an ASU first year law student who successfully fended off an armed burglar when the intruder tried to steal his laptop containing his class notes and outlines. As a local Arizona TV station reports, the intruder, armed with a metal softball bat, broke into the sleeping law student's room in the middle of the night and demanded the student's wallet and guitars. But when the burglar tried to take Alex Botsios' laptop containing his outlines, Mr. Botsios shouted:
"Dude, no -- please, no! I have all my case notes…that's four months of work!" At which point Mr. Botsios grabbed the bat from the intruder and beat him to a pulp. After being treated at a local hospital for his injuries, the intruder was arrested on armed robbery and kidnapping charges. Other than a bruised knuckle and some scratches, Mr. Botsios was right as rain.
The lesson? Putting yourself between a first year law student and his outlines is asking for major trouble. Who knows, perhaps the intruder would have gotten away with it if he'd just left the laptop alone.
Mr. Botsios gets massive style points for referring to an armed assailant who broke into his room in the middle of the night as "dude."
I am the scholarship dude.
November 26, 2008
AALS Announces Winner of Scholarly Writing Competition
We like to celebrate winners of writing competitions here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog. So we are happy to post news that the Association of American Law Schools announced the winner of the 2009 competition for scholarly papers, and it was a tie! The winners are Assistant Professor Laura A. Cisneros (Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law) for her paper entitled “Standing Doctrine, Judicial Technique, and the Gradual Shift From Rights-Based Constitutionalism to Executive Constitutionalism,” and Visiting Assistant Professor Deborah Widiss (Brooklyn Law School) for her paper entitled “Shadow Precedents and the Separation of Powers: Statutory Interpretation of Congressional Overrides.” Both winning authors will present their papers in San Diego at the AALS Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 8, 2009 from 4:00 until 5:45 p.m.
Federal Register Announces Launch of New Electronic Public Inspection Desk
The Office of the Federal Register announced that it has created an Electronic Public Inspection Desk to provide free worldwide electronic access to public documents. For the first time in the 72-year existence of the daily Federal Register, documents on file are available for viewing anytime, anywhere. Every Federal business day, anyone with access to a computer now can read critical documents governing Federal regulations relating to business, health, and safety as soon as the documents are placed on file. To view these documents, go to www.federalregister.gov (link opens in a new window). See “View Documents on Public Inspection" (link opens in a new window) on the left hand side. This new desk grants the public access to documents that will be published in the next day’s Federal Register as early at 8:45 a.m. EST. Previously, such documents could only be seen by viewing the documents physically located at the Office of the Federal Register in Washington, DC.
Hat tip to the Novalawcity blog.
I am the scholarship dude.
1st presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation
As this blog's editors are likely to be suffering from turkey coma tomorrow, click here today to read George Washington's Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
November 25, 2008
Last week on the legal writing professors' listserve, there was a lively exchange about President-Elect Obama's campaign speeches and what our legal writing students might learn from them. Now Professor Judy Fischer has blogged about The Rhetoric of Obama's Election-Night Speech. (Scroll down to the second post.) It, too, could be the topic of a productive classroom discussion on the use of rhetoric in persuasion.
handling plagiarism -- Texas style
An interesting article describes Vigilante Justice for Plagiarism. It's hard not to suspect that most professors have wished they could do the same at some time.
hat tip: Prof. Tracey McGaugh
Another great McElhaney column: "Stop Sounding like a Lawyer: Plain Language Works Best."
If you aren't already familiar with him, Professor James McElhaney authors a great monthly column on trial practice in the ABA Journal. Often focusing on effective communication skills, this month's column entitled "Stop Sounding Like a Lawyer: Plain Language Works Best to Effectively Tell the Story of Your Case" encourages both lawyers and law students to keep it as simple as possible. As the author says: "Because we are professional communicators, it is our obligation to be plain and simple. It’s not our readers’ and listeners’ jobs to try to understand us. It’s our job to make certain that everything we write and say commands instant comprehension."
This would make a great handout for 1Ls since Professor McElhaney seeks to dispel the myth that law students should take their cue about how to write well from the generally intractable opinions they read in class.
I am the scholarship dude.
November 23, 2008
Texas appellate court holds that Wikipedia too unreliable for purposes of judicial notice.
In State v. Flores, an unpublished decision by the Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District dated October 23, 2008, the court refused the appellant's request to take judicial notice of a Wikipedia entry describing the "John Reid interrogation technique." The court reasoned in footnote 3 that Wikipedia entries are inherently unreliable because they can be written and edited anonymously by anyone. The court relied on a recent article from the Wall Street Journal entitled Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt, noting that the egalitarian nature of Wikipedia is both "its greatest strength and its greatest weakness."
The Flores decision is also available on Westlaw and Lexis at, respectively, 2008 WL 4683960 (Tex. App.-Hous. (14th Dist.)) and 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 8010.
Hat tip to BNA Internet Law News.
I am the scholarship dude.
podcast showcases West case editing
If you haven't yet had the chance to visit operations at West headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota (and even if you have), you may enjoy this podcast (with jazzy soundtrack) that shows how a case (in this instance, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008)) goes through all the editorial processes, from raw opinion to headnote drafting to assignment of topic/key numbers to published case in Westlaw and print.
hat tip: Law Librarian Blog
taking STEPPS to improve skills training for law students
Deans, law faculty, law librarians, and law school staff interested in curricular reform, professional responsibility training, and skills training are invited to learn more about a new program for legal educators: Skills Training for Ethical and Preventive Practice and career Satisfaction (STEPPS). (Click here to view the website for STEPPS and here to read an article with more information about the program.)
California Western School of Law is hosting a presentation and reception from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 6, 2009, on its campus at 225 Cedar Street, San Diego, and it will provide transportation between the AALS Conference Hotel and the Law School for this event. Click here to register for the program.
Speaker for the program is Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, who will discuss "Technology, Ethics and the Practice of Law: Training the 21st Century Law Student."
Second Draft seeks articles on teaching reasoning, news
Editors of the Legal Writing Institute's newsletter, The Second Draft, are calling for submissions for the Fall 2009 issue. The theme of that issue is "Implicit Reasoning.” How do you teach your students to recognize implicit reasoning and to incorporate implicit reasoning into their analysis? And can you describe those techniques in a short article (not more than 650 words)?
The firm deadline for submitting an article is June 1, 2009. Submission guidelines and directions are available on the Second Draft page of the LWI website.
The newsletter also publishes announcements and other news of interest to the legal writing community, such as information about publications, presentations, promotions, or events from your department. If you would like your news to appear in the Fall 2009 newsletter, please send it no later than June 1, 2009, to firstname.lastname@example.org.