Saturday, March 1, 2008

learning from their mistakes

J0289529 You're struggling to stay motivated as you read student memos or briefs full of errors. Why do they make this particular mistake? Why do they keep making the same mistakes?

A new article by Susan E. Provenzano and Lesley S. Kagan will provide you with new insights in ways to teach, comment, and conference by using using those very student errors: Teaching in Reverse: A Positive Approach to Analytical Errors in 1L Writing, 39 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 123 (2007).

From the authors' Introduction:

This article proposes a new approach to remedying 1Ls' analytical errors based on a positive, rather than antagonistic, view of error. We suggest supplementing conventional pedagogies with additional student-centered teaching methods that require students to identify the analytical shortcomings of their own papers, armed with some up-front guidance about what errors they are likely to make as novice law students. Under this approach, instead of learning exclusively the components of effective analysis or realizing where they went wrong after-the-fact from professor comments, students engage in a guided discovery process that teaches them to identify and correct ineffective analysis before their assignments are graded. As a result, students acquire a deeper, earlier understanding of the skills they are expected to exhibit in their writing assignments. By identifying students' errors and using them as a teaching tool early in the writing process, LRW professors also combat the frustrations that arise when students believe that professors are “hiding the ball” by waiting to identify errors until the end of the writing process.

. . . .

Building on the teaching tools that error analysts have used to improve composition papers, this article proposes several methods for using student error constructively by “teaching in reverse.” These teaching methods use error as a starting point, then work backwards to find the student's faulty thought processes that led to the error, with the ultimate goal of encouraging better choices at critical stages of the writing process. By investigating common errors and their connections to thought processes, and by using teaching tools that move students' thinking in a more effective direction, we aim to ease LRW professors' frustrations and to help students become proficient, self-sufficient legal analysts at an earlier stage.

Id. at 124-25, 127.


March 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

a big thank you to our readers

The shortest month of the year (even with a leap day) saw our largest monthly number of visits since this blog was established a little more than two years ago--4,645 visits and 7,243 page views, to be exact. Your interest in this blog means a lot to us, and we are grateful for your interest and participation.

We invite your ideas for topics of discussion on this blog. Tell us what you'd like to see more of, and feel free to respond to our posts with your comments.


March 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job openings at Seattle, Brooklyn, and Montana

A variety of job postings for a variety of legal writing jobs, including adjunct, visiting, full-time, and fellowship positions:

Seattle University School of Law is currently accepting applications for two visitors to teach Legal Writing: one for the 2008-2009 academic year and the other for Fall Semester 2008. The individual filling the year-long slot will teach two sections of Legal Writing I, a three-credit, year-long course that introduces first-year students to legal research, legal reading, legal analysis, and the principles of effective writing. In addition, each semester the year-long visitor teaches one section of Legal Writing II, a three-credit one semester course that introduces students to persuasive writing and oral advocacy.  The Fall 2008 visitor will teach two sections of Legal Writing I and one section of Legal Writing II. The salary depends on experience.

Send a letter of application, a resume or vitae, and the names and contact information for three references by March 17, 2008, by e-mail or regular mail to Laurel Currie Oates, Director of Legal Writing, Seattle University School of Law, 901 12th Avenue, P.O. Box 222000, Seattle, WA 98122-1090.

Brooklyn Law School is seeking applicants for full-time and adjunct Legal Writing Instructor positions under renewable contracts.  Instructors teach the Legal Writing, Analysis Research to first year law students. Classes are small.  Full-time Writing Instructors are eligible for summer research stipends, vote at faculty meetings, attend conferences, and are members of faculty committees.

Applicants should possess strong academic records, excellent writing skills, and a minimum of three years of legal experience. Salary is competitive. To apply, send a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample to Professor Mollie Falk, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

The University of Montana School of Law invites applications for a two-year Legal Writing Fellowship, beginning in August 2008. The Legal Writing Fellowship provides an opportunity for a new teacher to develop pedagogical skills and scholarship in a supportive academic environment. The law school’s Legal Writing Program consists of two required courses (Legal Analysis, Legal Writing), an appellate advocacy elective, and an upper-division writing requirement. The Legal Writing Fellow will work with the program's director to teach the required courses and may assist in the other components of the Law School’s legal writing program, including the appellate advocacy course and advanced writing requirement.

Selection criteria include J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school; a superior academic background; relevant experience, including judicial clerkships, law review, or moot court; potential for effective teaching; potential for scholarship; ability to work collegially with students, staff, faculty, and external constituencies of the law school; creativity, resourcefulness, fairness, compassion, and initiative.

Applicants should submit a cover letter specifically addressing their interest in teaching and how their experience specifically qualifies them to teach in the Legal Writing Program. Applications should also include an official law school transcript; a current resume; the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three references. The Appointments Committee will begin to review applications on March 15, 2008, and will continue to review applications until the position is filled. For more information, please contact Bari Burke at 406-243-4252 or Send application materials to Professor Bari Burke, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, School of Law, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive #6552, Missoula, MT 59812-6552.


March 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

call for proposals




A Call for Proposals has been made for a new podcast series intended to provide 1Ls with advice on applying the legal research and writing skills they learned during their first year of law school to summer legal employment.  Additionally, the series will provide students with basic advice on how to understand, navigate and succeed in the culture of a law firm.  The series will be hosted by Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Practice Skills department, but the intended audience is all 1Ls in the country.  Once published, the series will be available, free of charge, on iTunes U.  Proposals are sought from all LR&W professionals interested in being a part of this innovative project.  The deadline for proposals is April 1, 2008.


In January 2008, the Suffolk University Law School Legal Practice Skills faculty created the first ever iTunes U podcast series devoted to providing law students and young attorneys with weekly legal writing tips.  The response to this series has been overwhelming.  Students are open and enthusiastic to using podcasts to augment in-class learning.  To continue developing the use of podcasts as a supplement to the classroom, we have investigated other areas in which a podcast series would be helpful to law students.  In doing so, we found that there is no content on iTunes U devoted to helping students apply skills and knowledge learned as 1Ls to summer work in a legal setting.  We now seek to fill that niche and invite outside participation.  We believe that legal writing professionals are uniquely situated to give advice on making the transition from law school to summer legal employment because of the valuable experience many LR&W faculty gained working in law offices and clerking in judicial chambers before entering academia.  By sharing this knowledge with students, legal writing professionals can help students get the most out of their summer work experience and to use it as a springboard for a successful legal career.

The podcast series is expected to be released in May 2008 to coincide with the end of the academic year and beginning of the summer. 

Proposals Requested:

Your proposal can be simple.  In a few sentences, please outline your idea for a 5-7 minute long podcast that covers an area that would be useful to reinforce for a student making the transition from 1L to summer legal work.  The advice can be related to legal writing (e.g. adapting the memo format students learned in class for use in a law office), legal research (e.g. reducing expenses by efficiently using Westlaw or Lexis); or law office culture (e.g. how to communicate with judges or law firm partners; e-mail etiquette).  Or, the podcast can be on a different topic you think would be helpful to students approaching their first summer associate positi on. 

What Next?

If your proposal is selected for inclusion in the Transitioning from 1L to Summer Legal Work series, we will ask you to submit your podcast script to us.  Your script may be edited to avoid overlapping content and for clarity.  However, the intention is for those participating in this podcast series to have significant autonomy to create the content for their podcast.

Instructions will be given on how to record the podcast using free software and a microphone that plugs in to your computer (if you do not already have a microphone available to you, they are inexpensive and available at office supply stores).  Once you have recorded your content, you will then e-mail it for technical editing work and then posted on iTunes U. 

Sending Your Proposals

Please e-mail your proposals or questions to Prof. Gabe Teninbaum (   The deadline for proposals is April 1, 2008.

hat tip: Professor Kathleen Elliott Vinson
Director, Legal Practice Skills Program

February 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Greenhouse steps down

Respected Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, another of the LWI's Golden Pen award winners (2003), is retiring, having accepted a buyout offer from the New York Times.

hat tip: SCOTUS blog


February 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

thank you for teaching us, Joseph Williams

Joseph M. Williams passed away last weekend. The author of several editions of Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace greatly influenced my writing and my teaching, as he did so many others in this profession. In 2006, the Legal Writing Institute awarded him its highest honor, the Golden Pen. He will be greatly missed. We should honor his memory by teaching our own students his lessons for clear writing.


February 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

online repositories of recorded oral arguments

State appellate courts--with the assistance of law libraries--are beginning to maintain archives of recorded oral arguments, reports Brian Barnes at the Law Librarian Blog. Among these are archives of arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court and Mississippi Court of Appeals (maintained by Mississippi College School of Law), the Texas Supreme Court (with St. Mary's University School of Law), and the New Jersey Supreme Court (with Rutgers-Newark School of Law).


February 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 25, 2008

LWI conference info!!

Get it here!  Looks like a great conference--see you in Indianapolis in July!


February 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

. . . whatever will blog, will blog

Doris_que Looking for innovative ways to teach? Here's a creative idea. In connection with Peter Friedman's Legal Analysis & Writing Course at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the students are writing cross-motions for summary judgment in a fictional lawsuit brought by ASCAP and the owners of the copyright to "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)."

Students in Prof. Friedman's course are equally divided between plaintiff and defendant roles. The Plaintiffs allege infringement of their copyright in Que Sera, Sera by the KLF, the creators of a recording entitled "K Cera Cera." K Cera Cera (mp3) purports to be a recording of the Red Army Choir singing an amalgam of Que Sera, Sera and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas (the War is Over). The Defendants also include Arista Records, the U.S. distributor of K Cera Cera, and Arista's corporate parent, Sony BMG. In the course of the students' work in researching and writing their summary judgment briefs, they and the professor will post items on a blog that raise and explore the legal and policy implications implicit in the infringement claim and Defendants' fair use defense.

hat tip: Peter Friedman


February 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)