Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guess what? Visual learners really do think in pictures

It comes as no news (at least it shouldn't) to any classroom teacher worth their salt that each student has a different learning style.  Some are visual learners, some are kinesthetic learners, some aural, etc.  So, you're now thinking to yourself:  "OK chief, tell me something I don't already know!"

Your wish is my command.  The thing is, until this new study was released, it was all just a hypothesis. University of Pennsylvania researchers have just proven, using magnetic resonance imaging technology, that people who identify themselves as visual learners do indeed convert verbal information into pictures and vice-versa for verbal learners when the teacher uses pictures.

The more strongly an individual identified with the visual cognitive style, the more that individual activated the visual cortex when reading words.

The opposite also appears to be true from the study’s results.

Those participants who considered themselves verbal learners were found under fMRI to have brain activity in a region associated with phonological cognition when faced with a picture, suggesting they have a tendency to convert pictorial information into linguistic representations.

You can read the full story here, via ScienceDaily.

Hat tip to Professor Mary Ray.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl).

p.s. Note to self:  Check eBay for "magnetic resonance imaging" machine.

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eric Holder is right - we are cowards

At least according to this very thoughtful excerpt from a book by the late Professor Paul Lyons reprinted in Inside Higher Ed.  We had reported earlier that another new book suggests that university faculties, in general, have become more timid in the post 9-11 climate.   

In this brief excerpt, one gets a sense that Professor Lyons was a very earnest man who wanted to understand the "truth," to the extent anyone ever can, and thus shunned political expediency.  As a result, he endured the ire of his colleagues.  However, Professor Lyons lack of concern for "political correctness" seemingly enabled him to engage in a more open, direct and honest discussion about racism, as it exists both in and out of the classroom, than most people usually do. 

A black female undergraduate asked me how I would respond if she believed that I had said something racist in class and she came to complain to me. I told her that I would take her allegation very seriously, consider whether I thought it was valid, and give her my most honest response. She was dissatisfied, indeed offended by my response, as were many on the panel and in the audience. The student asked me why I wouldn’t accept the validity of her allegation. I told her that I thought it would be harmful to her or any other student to allow an automatic acceptance of any allegation, that it risked corrupting her or anyone else in that it would allow for false charges to go unchallenged. I ended by suggesting that true respect included disagreement. I added that if not satisfied, a student always had the remedy of taking the allegation to my superiors.

The room erupted with anger at me, with one white colleague screaming at me that I was patronizing the student. I was disappointed and depressed by this display of what seemed to me to be wrong-headed, racially retrograde, and demagogic. I need to add that I was not angry at the student who raised the issue; she seemed honest and forthcoming, even in disagreement.

Most interesting is that over the next weeks several of my African American students asked me what had happened — there obviously had been a buzz in the hallways. This led to some fruitful conversation about how one determines the existence of racism. I also received several notes from white colleagues expressing admiration for what I had said but confessing that they were too cowardly to do the same. This depressed me even more than the hostile responses. Had we come to this — faculty, even tenured ones, afraid to speak their minds in fear of being charged with racism? Indeed, we had. One junior faculty member told me that he never goes near certain hot-button issues like affirmative action or underclass behavior because of his fear that it might put his job at risk.

As teachers we struggle with students who hold back from authentically discussing issues of prejudice, who go silent or simply echo agreement. It is hard work to achieve honest discussions; all students enter with bruises. One must establish a trusting environment for such discussions to be fruitful. Trust does not exist at the beginning of a class. I tell students that the handshake is an apt metaphor for our relations — I hold your hand, you hold mine — we trust one another but I also prevent you from hitting me in case that is your hidden desire. We trust and mistrust simultaneously. And then we can begin to have an honest dialog.

My own view is that the optimal way to help students respond to moral challenges is to help them understand the contradictory strands of heroism and knavery, the victimized and the victimizing, of many of our peoples. And we as educators need to understand and communicate the contextual nature of human behavior, its range and subtleties, and the contradictory ways that humans respond to moral challenges. As such, we teach humility before the wonder — the heroism, the cowardice, the insensitivity's, the villainies — of our own natures, our own histories.

This might be called the double helix of all peoples, the intertwining of their burdens and their inspirations, their hidden shames and forgotten accomplishments, the recognition of which makes it more likely that they will be able to recognize the same complexity in others.

. . . .

I want that young woman who was offended by my comments at the panel discussion to hang in there, continue challenging me, but I also want more time to try to persuade her that there is respect in disagreement, that she will be best served by being taken seriously.

At a time when compliments get tossed around so easily and frequently that they lose any real meaning, Professor Lyons sounds to me like he was an authentically decent man.  A person who exalted truth and understanding over self-interest.  We need more educators like that.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

 

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

BigLaw managing partners pessimistic about year ahead - tough times not over yet

Buckle up, folks, there's still plenty of turbulence ahead.  According to Citi's private banking law division which has "for more than a quarter-century . . . analyzed the fiscal performance of law firms annually," managing partners at large firms are not optimistic about the future.  The tough times are not yet over according to the Citi quarterly report issued yesterday as noted by BLT.  

Of the roughly 120 managing partners surveyed from mostly Am Law 100 and Am Law 200 firms, 64 percent believe legal business will drop even more over the next six months. The survey says firms should not expect major profit growth over the next year, as profits, if there are any, will likely not exceed 5 percent. The majority of managing partners believe revenue will stay flat or decline.

In addition to clients scaling back their use of law firms, an uptick in expenses has also put pressure on firm profit margins. Over the next year, managing partners say expenses will likely grow by about about 5 to 10 percent with lawyer compensation significantly driving that growth. Managing partners, however, are also now pointing to non-lawyer compensation as a factor hiking up expenses.

Hat tip to Law.com and the Blog of Legal Times.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

    

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

And you thought she was just taking notes . . .

Some of our law students are writing across the curriculum. That is, they are writing in all their classes. Problem is, they are writing novels, not briefs, memos, or contracts. The ABA Journal reports that a Wake Forest law student wrote a novel while sitting in class (her law-student husband took notes for the couple), and reportedly she's working on her second.

(cmb)

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

inaugural issue of LRWPROF-L Community News

The Legal Writing Prof Blog is happy to host the inaugural issue of the LRWPROF listserv's newsletter.

Download it here:  Download 2lrwprof_Newsletter_Vol1_Issue_1_033109[1] [slightly revised from the version posted here earlier today]
          
And here is a message from the newsletter editors:

A NEW NEWSLETTER FOR A CHANGING PROFESSION

The emergence of this newsletter testifies to the success of the LRWPROF-L.  Legal writing has emerged as a professional field and has attracted a diverse professional community.  This listserv alone has attracted a membership of over 1000 members.  In this changing environment, the primary purpose of this newsletter is to further what we believe is the common goal: a sense of community among all legal-writing professionals as lifelong learners and educators, with a love for the law and the written word.  In this spirit, use of the newsletter will free the Listserv for shared dialogue about pedagogical and professional issues of general interest to all members of the listserv community.

Thus, the vision is that this newsletter will become the primary vehicle for publicizing personal triumphs (or setbacks) and home-institution milestones. By providing an alternative and regular forum for personal news and greetings or congratulations directed to individuals, this newsletter will allow us to meet and greet one another on the List in a spirit of professional grace and inclusiveness.                

To allow members to find personal news more quickly, the newsletter will feature regular columns on 1) Innovations & Progress; 2) Faculty Publications; 3) Electronic Press (SSRN, BePress, Blogs, Websites); and 4) Community Outlets (journals and conferences as well as news of upcoming events and reviews of those events).  

The newsletter will be published about every four months in March, August, and December. We invite your ideas and your contributions. Our next deadline is August 10, 2009 with publication on August 31, 2009. Please direct your submissions, questions, concerns, alternative perspectives, ideas for enhancing this newsletter, etc., to any member of the listserv committee (listed below, and also on page 4 of the newsletter).

Our Best Regards and Our Sincere Appreciation for your contributions to this shared enterprise,

~LRWPROF-L Listserv Committee

Michelle Cue
DePaul University

Daphne Elizabeth O'Regan
Michigan State College of Law

Allison Ortlieb
DePaul University

Kimberly D. Phillips, Tech Chair
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Kathryn A. Sampson, Chair/Editor
Univ. of Arkansas School of Law

(cmb)

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 30, 2009

The library of the future - don't count books out just yet.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is reporting an interesting debate going on at Stanford over what the research library of the future should look like.  The discussion is the result of the administration's decision in 2007 to tear down the Meyer Library and replace it with a digitized, bookless "academic computing center." That decision, which has since been scuttled, provoked an outcry from the faculty who argued that the book is not yet dead. 

Instead of a digitized facility with books stored off-site, the Stanford faculty "made a series of highly reasonable and well-argued proposals. Guiding them is a belief . . . that books aren't going away, we need them and shall continue to do so for a long time to come, and we cannot pit digital tools against book culture."  Instead, the solution calls for a library of the future that incorporates digital resources, books and a hybrid concept that involves creating computer generated holographic 3-D images of books (!).

You can read the whole mind-blowing concept here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Be careful when you Tweet - first Twitter lawsuit hits the courts

The ABA Journal is reporting that singer Courtney Love is being sued by a fashion designer for allegedly defamatory statements Ms. Love made about the plaintiff on Twitter and Facebook.  I guess it was only a matter of time before such a lawsuit was filed.  It's fair to assume that law firms will soon be checking the Twitter feeds of law student applying for jobs as part of their routine background checks.

And to the extent you care (I don't), here's the link to Ms. Love's Twitter page where you too can become the next target of her incoherent rants. 

Twitter - another hi-tech excuse to avoid work or the "pet rock" of the internet?  Maybe it's both.  

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New online social networking site just for law students

The Shark is reporting the launch of yet another social networking site called Advanced Advocates which hopes to be to law students what Facebook is to undergraduates.  It's being touted as "a one-stop hub for briefs, outlines, student employer reviews, and book sales" as well as providing professional networking opportunities for law students.  The fledgling service can be found here

As an aside, it makes me wonder that with all the online networking, emailing, Tweeting, what-have-you, is anyone actually doing work anymore rather than just documenting the minutia of their lives for others to read?

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch Alert.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Journal of African Communications

This may be of interest to our readers who are members of APPEAL.  The Journal of African Communications welcomes articles for possible publication.  Contact Andy Alali in the Department of Communications at California State University in Bakersfield, California.  Click here to send an email.

(mew)

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bar journal alert: "Using Microsoft Word's Readability Program"

Stockmeyer

Way back in time - like, last summer - when I was given the scholarship beat for this blog, I put out a call that if you had a new article you'd like me to mention, send me an email and I'd see what I could do.  Professor Otto Stockmeyer of Thomas M. Cooley School of Law was one such brave soul.  And although it's taken me about eight months to respond to his request, the Scholarship Dude never forgets and always keeps his word.

So, without further adieu, I'd like to officially recognize that Professor Stockmeyer recently published an article in the January, 2009 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal entitled "Using Microsoft Word's Readability Program."   The full cite is 88 Mich. Bar J. 49 (2009) and the article can also be found on SSRN here.  The abstract states: 

Word's readability software program makes document readability testing easy. But some of its scores are not completely trustworthy. This article explains what the scores mean and how to work around the program's flaws.

I am the scholarship dude - keepin' my word so you don't have to.

(jbl)

March 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

more information about Lone Star

Thinking about attending the Lone Star Legal Writing Conference at Texas Tech on May 29-30?  Get more information and register by going to http://www.law.ttu.edu/op/rwc/event_details.asp.

And keep checking back . . . the final schedule of presentations will be posted in a few days. 

(njs)

March 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

jargon vs. gibberish


14SCARZINJLCAR9TSU1CAI4U0GNCAFR7CYCCAQCXWNECAZL7R2ZCATVZWLACAXWJWZFCAFMZELLCAPOM8PMCA26IE7ECAHLMAAKCA20Z2U0CAWN6HQCCACGL328CAOP942FCAOTY4K5CAZ366MXCALL79WO In yesterday's post on the Marquette University Law School faculty blog, Professor Jessica Slavin unpacks for us the difference between jargon and gibberish, as she explores The Concise Gibberish of the Law.  As with many things in this life, the difference does seem to depend on your view point.  

(spl)

March 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Follow up to new book on the mechanics of decision-making

Back in December, we reported on a then forthcoming book on the neuroscience of decision-making which should be of interest to any law school professor who teaches persuasion.  Last Sunday's New York Times book review contained a very favorable review of that book, How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, which can be read in full here

Here's an interesting excerpt:

For this reader, though, the most provocative sections of “How We Decide” involve sociopolitical issues more than personal ones. A recurring theme is how certain innate bugs in our decision-­making apparatus led to our current financial crisis. We may be heavily “loss averse,” but only in the short run: a long list of experiments have shown that completely distinct parts of the brain are activated if the potential loss lies in the mid- or long-term future, making us more susceptible to the siren song of the LCD TV or McMansion. So many of the financial schemes that led us astray over the past decade exploit precisely these defects in our decision-making tools. “Paying with plastic fundamentally changes the way we spend money, altering the calculus of our financial decisions,” Lehrer writes. “When you buy something with cash, the purchase involves an actual loss — your wallet is literally lighter. Credit cards, however, make the transaction abstract.” Proust may have been a neuroscientist, but so were the subprime mortgage lenders. These are scientific insights that should be instructive to us as individuals, of course, but they also have great import to us as a society, as we think about the new forms of regulation that are going to have to be invented in the coming years to prevent another crisis.

Although the NYT didn't hat tip us for hipping them to the book, we're a very magnanimous bunch here at the 'ol Legal Writing Prof blog so we'll let it slide . . . this time.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't try this at work! At home? Maybe.

Apropos to our blog entry a few days ago about the downside of taping one's class, this YouTube video pretty much cements the point.  After this tape surfaced on the Internet, this University of Florida business professor was promptly fired for being "stoned" during class. 

If this is how future business leaders are being educated, it goes a long way to explaining how we got into our current financial mess, to say nothing of giving the term "higher education" a whole new meaning.


Update - April 3, 2009.  Read more about this story here.

(jbl)

March 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

UR RSS feeds

 

T97CAO4OW11CA7OOPUNCA2KUWRQCAT33N6HCAZO9A1HCAOV4NZLCAHJ0AT1CAP0W892CAPEB9H7CALMUHNNCAY3O5H1CAHD2XYFCAYQQCMGCAOOJL64CA5B1B2ACAPXRR8XCA08GCDFCARHFL0TCAK30RB7So how well are you using RSS feeds?  If you're not sure, you likely will appreciate Professor Diane Murley's article on The Power of RSS Feeds.    And if you don't even know what an RSS feed is, her article is a good place to start learning about what you've been missing.

(spl)

March 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Sirico Explains How Muddied Writing Can Cause Problems

Lou SiricoLouis J Sirico, Jr., a professor of law and director of the legal writing program at Villanova University School of Law (and while we're at it, he was also the Immediate Past Chair of the AALS Section on Legal Writing Reasoning and Research), has an article in the online newsletter of the Young Lawyers Division of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.  The article is called "Muddied Writing Can Cause You Problems," and you can click here to read it.

(mew)

 

March 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guide to low-cost and free online legal research tools

This one comes to us from our good buddies at the Law Librarian Blog.  Georgetown has compiled an excellent and seemingly comprehensive list of free (or low-cost) online legal research tools and databases.  Given that the economy nowadays has every cost-conscious lawyer and law school administrator fumbling to remember their safe-word, this is a very welcome addition.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Training Independent Learners: Student Self-Editing Checklist for Law School Papers, Notes and Comments"



Temmw

UMKC is on fire these days (see below).  This article was authored by three of their faculty, Professors Wanda Temm, Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit.  It is available from SSRN here.

From the abstract:

Too often, professors offer exemplar edits of student papers providing a single edit or identifying one or two instances of a problem. The expectation is that the students will respond to the general principle and use it themselves in editing the remainder of their own pieces. Independent learning theory suggests that students learn best if they learn the tools of self-assessment.

Editing checklists abound. Grammar dos and don'ts are not difficult to obtain; indeed, virtually every legal writing text has some variation. Students who take the time to review these lists find them quite helpful. Independent learners only need access to the information. Not all students, however, are independent learners. Many need more than a nudge to use information that is provided to them. Requiring self-editing certification enables the student to develop editing skills by focusing on discrete tasks rather than the often overwhelming instruction to proofread carefully. Although this same information is available in a myriad of sources, the certification directs the student to manageable tasks.

The following is a checklist for students to use in editing their own papers. It lists many of the most basic principles of good, clear writing and many of the most common flaws in students' papers. It requires the student to certify, by signing and noting the date and time, that the student has checked the paper for each of the points listed.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Legal Storytelling: The Theory and the Practice - Reflective Writing Across the Curriculum"

Levit

The above article is by Professor Nancy Levit of U. Missouri at Kansas City.  It's available on SSRN here.

From the abstract:

This article concentrates on the theory of narrative or storytelling and addresses the reasons it is vital to encourage in law schools in non-clinical or primarily doctrinal courses. Section I traces the advent of storytelling in legal theory and practice: while lawyers have long recognized that part of their job is to tell their clients' stories, the legal academy was, for many years, resistant to narrative methodologies. Section II examines the current applications of Writing Across the Curriculum in law schools. Most exploratory writing tasks in law school come in clinical courses, although a few adventurous professors are adding reflective and narrative assignments in doctrinal classes. This section explores the value of narrative writing in encouraging students to sharpen their legal analysis and to reflect on their ethical responsibilities. Section III considers three interrelated advantages of teaching students to encode legal information in story form. First, emerging evidence from neuroscience indicates that people remember stories much better than they recall snippets of fact. Second, narratives pay attention to humans - and this emphasis on identity, voice, perspectives, and lived experiences offers more accurate representations of human conditions than legal doctrines can capture. Third, narrative writing is a particular type of advocacy that appears in legal briefs and opinions. Use of storytelling as a persuasive technique may encourage courts and academics to probe more deeply for criteria of narrative truths. Finally, Section IV concludes by urging attention to the stories told in legal practice and at law firms.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beware the pitfalls of videotaping your classes

Several law professors now tape their classes and make those videos available to students on school websites or through iTunes.  However, this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education points out that when you tape a class, you expose to the world any faux pas, classroom foibles, or may even violate student confidentiality should an after-class private discussion about a grade get caught on tape.  At the very least, it might make life a lot more uncomfortable for you if an off-hand comment about your dean or a joke taken out of context winds up on YouTube.

You can read the full article here.

Update - April 3, 2009 - read more about this story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)