Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thanks to Professor Mary Beth Beazley for alerting us to this website which identifies the author of the "Spell-Checker's Poem" posted yesterday, below, explains the back-story and provides the unabridged version.
For your reading pleasure, here's the poem in full:
Candidate for a Pullet Surprise
by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar
I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checker's
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault's with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word's fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.
I am the scholarship dude.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I bet you didn't know that pencils, like computers, where originally invented for purposes other than writing. Did you also know that almost every new writing technology - from the first printing press to typewriters - was initially met with skepticism and fear? If, like me, you knew neither, then you may want to get Professor Dennis Baron's fascinating new book called A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (Oxford U. Press). In it, Professor Baron traces the history of "writing implements, communication technologies, and explores the digital revolution's impact on how we write, how we learn, and how we connect with one another."
Here's an excerpt from the publisher's abstract:
A Better Pencilputs our complex, still-evolving hate-love relationship with computers and the internet into perspective, describing how the digital revolution influences our reading and writing practices, and how the latest technologies differ from what came before. The book explores our use of computers as writing tools in light of the history of communication technology, a history of how we love, fear, and actually use our writing technologies--not just computers, but also typewriters, pencils, and clay tablets. Dennis Baron shows that virtually all writing implements--and even writing itself--were greeted at first with anxiety and outrage: the printing press disrupted the "almost spiritual connection" between the writer and the page; the typewriter was "impersonal and noisy" and would "destroy the art of handwriting." Both pencils and computers were created for tasks that had nothing to do with writing. Pencils, crafted by woodworkers for marking up their boards, were quickly repurposed by writers and artists. The computer crunched numbers, not words, until writers saw it as the next writing machine. Baron also explores the new genres that the computer has launched: email, the instant message, the web page, the blog, social-networking pages like MySpace and Facebook, and communally-generated texts like Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary, not to mention YouTube.
Q: You are deeply skeptical of claims that new communication technologies such as e-mail and text-messaging will do any lasting damage to the English language. Have you noticed any change -- for better or worse -- in your students' communicative styles and abilities as a result of such technologies?
A: Are students using the acronyms and emoticons we associate with txting in their academic work? No. In fact, they’re not even using them in their texts and IMs. By the time they get to college, most students -- certainly the English majors -- have put away such childish things, and many of them had already abandoned such signs of middle-school immaturity in high school. It’s kid stuff, plain and simple, and they’re mightily embarrassed when their parents send them texts beginning “wassup?” and signed “luv u.”
More to the point, though, writers learn to adapt their style to the demands of their audience and the conventions of the genre in which they’re writing. Some do it more successfully, or more quickly, but just as we speak differently to different audiences, we write differently too.
I am the scholarship dude.
Some of you may enjoy this (of course, others may not):
Spell Checker Poem
I have a spelling checker,
It came with my pea see;
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I cannot sea.
I've run this poem threw it,
I'm sure your please too no,
It's letter perfect in its weight,
My checker tolled me sew.
Hat tip to Rob Hudson.
I am the scholarship dude.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Another reminder that the Call for Papers for the Fifth Global Legal Skills Conference is fast approaching! Proposals are due next Friday, September 25, for presentations at the conference in Monterrey Mexico, February 25-27, 2010. Here is a short video about the history of the conference and why you should plan to attend it in Monterrey:
Click here to get more information about the Global Legal Skills Conference. At that website there is a link on the left side to the call for papers.
If you want to attend the conference but will not be able to send in a proposal by September 25, please send me an email message (legalwritingprof at gmail.com).
Mark E. Wojcik
After watching the movie Julie & Julia, Melissa Greipp of Marquette University Law School posted some inspired thoughts on her law school's blog in a post called "Mastering the Art of Legal Writing." Here's an excerpt:
Watching the movie reminded me of how students develop in their legal writing classes.
Legal writing is, in part, a skills course. Learning how to cook and learning how to write are both skills to be developed. And they both can be learned. No one is hatched from the egg with writing skills. Writing skills, much like chopping an onion (Julia discovered), greatly improve when a person employs easy-to-use techniques. Mastering the art of legal “writing” also includes mastering the art of legal analysis and research, which is why our first-year course is called Legal Analysis, Writing & Research. To that, I would also add mastering the art of legal reading, which calls for close reading and critical thinking skills.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Widener University School of Law’s Harrisburg Campus is looking for a director of its Legal Methods Program, a tenure-track position. Applicants must have experience teaching in a legal writing/analysis program; the school will give preference to applicants with leadership experience as well.
Widener's program is a three-semester sequence, with full-time faculty teaching the first two semesters, taught as elsewhere in the first year, and a combination of adjunct and full-time faculty teaching a variety of upperclass writing courses that focus on drafting transactional, litigation, and other professional documents.
Applicants must possess a strong academic record, a dedication to excellence in teaching, and a commitment to scholarship. To apply, submit a cover letter, resume and references to Robert C. Power, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Widener University School of Law, 3800 Vartan Way, PO Box 69381, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9381.
ALWD/LWI required disclosures: The position advertised is a tenure-track appointment. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings. The school has not disclosed the range for the annual academic year base salary, but states that "[s]alary will be commensurate with experience, and may be entry level tenure track or higher if justified by experience." The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 30-40. In the ordinary course, the director would teach one section of Legal Methods with enrollment of fewer than 20 and one other course. The other course might have a higher enrollment.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Never. That's according to the blog AdamsDrafting in which master contract consultant Ken Adams opines that if you're using the phrase "in other words" in a document, it's a red flag that you haven't explained the point clearly the first time.
On the other hand, here's a valid counterpoint left by one commenter:
A very obvious difference in interpretation comes between judges and ordinary readers. This is more important when the readers are not sophisticated. If one purpose is for people affected by the language to understand it (which I know is often exactly what is not wanted), then the drafter may have to express matters in some standard way to get the expected judicial reception but rephrase it in a manner than an ordinary reader can understand. Venturing beyond pure contracts, this often makes sense in estate planning documents. There are magic words needed for tax consequences, for example.
Bonus points if you can identify the Talking Heads reference here.
I am the scholarship dude.
The online ABA Journal is reporting, via the website Politico, that Justice Scalia, during a book signing event, offered the following advice to attorneys (and future attorneys) about how to be better advocates:
"Don't beat a dead horse," the justice advised lawyers who are making oral arguments. "Be brief. And when your time expires, shut up and sit down."
The characteristically blunt justice went on to tell the audience that he doesn't like acronyms in briefs (because they "burden the reader") and that it's important for attorneys to "study a judge's background and likes and dislikes before they appear in court."
I am the scholarship dude.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Many thanks to guest blogger Lance Long, who captured these images and thoughts on the recent Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference, held Sept. 11-12, 2009, at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida:
Doug Godfrey of Chicago-Kent led a provocative discussion after suggesting that we should abandon teaching only the long traditional memo in favor of documents that are more relevant to today’s practice: shorter, less-formal memos, long emails, and the most controversial, a list of cases with a short explanation. Heretical, but intriguing.
Nothing like a good meal with friends.
Michael Smith, the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing at Wyoming presented his research on the implications of cognitive psychology principles for legal writing. He asserts that rule-based reasoning is more efficiently understood by the brain if accompanied by narrative explanations. In other words, rules statements followed by rule explanations are good for the brain.
Stetson’s gourmet “LWI 25th Anniversary” cupcakes, were decidedly decadent— and delicious.
Stetson’s Legal Writing Director, Kirsten Davis, shares some interesting thoughts during a break between sessions.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The John Marshall Law School, Chicago is currently accepting applications for the position of Director of the Lawyering Skills Program, a tenure-track or tenured position, beginning in the 2010-11 academic year.
The Lawyering Skills Program is a nationally-ranked legal research and writing program consisting of a four-semester, nine or ten credit-hour required sequence of courses, including: (1) Lawyering Skills I, a three-credit course in predictive analysis, writing, and research; (2) Lawyering Skills II, a three-credit course in oral and written advocacy and advanced research; (3) Lawyering Skills III, a one-credit intra-scholastic moot court competition; and (4) Lawyering Skills IV, a two- or three- credit drafting course in a number of fields, ranging from general practice to various specialties, including patent, information technology, family law, employee benefits, and real estate.
In 1994, the Lawyering Skills Program was converted from a long-term contract program to a tenure-track program and is, therefore, a program of peers in which twelve full-time faculty partner with the Director to make programmatic decisions. An Associate Director also assists the Director in selecting, training, and supervising a committed and experienced group of adjunct faculty to teach the advanced courses, to develop problems for some of the courses, and to administer all aspects of the courses. In addition to administrative responsibilities, the Director will teach one section of approximately 15-25 Lawyering Skills students each semester. The Director will also teach a doctrinal course each semester related to area of interest and curricular needs.
The Director will be expected to produce scholarship and to serve on faculty committees. In addition, the Director of the Lawyering Skills Program is expected to be visible and active in the national legal writing community. The John Marshall Law School seeks candidates who share its commitment to the discipline of legal writing, to innovative teaching and skills training, and to scholarship.
Successful candidates will be hired at the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor depending upon prior experience and background. Salary will also be commensurate with experience and background. Applicants must have at least a J.D. or its equivalent, a distinguished academic record, and evidence of excellence as a legal writing teacher and as a scholar. Applicants should send a letter of application and resume by October 10, 2009 to Professor Julie Spanbauer, Co-Chair, Selection and Appointments Committee, The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604.
ALWD/LWI required disclosures: The position advertised is a tenure-track appointment (programmatic tenure track). The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings. The Director of the Lawyering Skills Program is entitled to participate in faculty meetings and governance and to vote on all matters consistent with the rights of all tenure-track and tenured faculty. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the $90,000-100,000+ range. (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; nor does a base salary include conference travel or other professional development funds.) The salary will be dependent upon experience. In addition to the annual salary, the successful candidates will be eligible to receive summer research stipends of $15,000.00 and a summer administrative stipend of 15,000.00, or may receive additional salary for teaching summer classes. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 30 or fewer. The Director of the Lawyering Skills Program can expect to teach a first-year section of approximately 15-25 Lawyering Skills students, and another doctrinal course each semester.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Although it's not legal writing, you or your students may still find it helpful. The blog is called Practicing Writing by Erika Dreifus, a "prolific writer, book reviewer and essayist." The blog covers
updates on writing and publishing opportunities [non-academic] . . . . Plus, the blog holds this practicing writer's occasional observations on happenings in the literary world, book reviews, and news about her own work. Overall, the blog provides yet another resource complementing The Practicing Writer Web site
The website is "dedicated to supporting the craft and business of writing excellence" and offers a resource page for writers, a free e-newsletter and a directory of paying essay and book review opportunities.
I am the scholarship dude.
Scholarship alert: "Researching Across the Curriculum: the Road Must Continue Beyond the First Year"
By Stetson's Professor Brooke Bowman. It can be found at 61 Okla. L. Rev. 503-559 (2009) although when I tried that cite on both Lexis and Westlaw, neither service had it. Instead, you can access it through Professor Bowman's SSRN page here.
From the abstract:
In the ever growing movement to integrate skills and values across the law school curriculum, research instruction cannot be overlooked or forgotten. Research serves as the fulcrum upon which "skills and values" such as ethics and practical application of doctrinal studies, rests. Therefore, research instruction cannot be limited to what the students learn in their first-year legal research and writing classes. A concentrated effort must be made in all classes to ensure that what the students learn in the first-year research and writing classes will be further developed, refined, revisited and reinforced. This Article, Research Across the Curriculum: The Road Must Continue Beyond the First Year, offers a new paradigm for how research instruction should change in the upper-level classes from requiring all students to take Advanced Legal Research courses, for example, to integrating research instruction into specialized areas such as international law and tax courses.
I am the scholarship dude.
Guest blogger Lance Long was a busy man at this weekend's conference, snapping photos, helping to host, AND making a very informative presentation on using media clips in the classroom. Here are more of Lance's photos and comments from the 2009 Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference.
The Alabama Gang of Four talked about effectively using sample memos and briefs to help students grasp “why” a memo or brief is good. Kimberly Boone and Gary Sullivan have great 'Bama accents that, in my opinion, made the presentation even more riveting. I love a good Alabama accent. (I’m not dissing Scott England and Mary Ksobiech, but they have relatively tame Midwestern accents.)
Hamline’s Brenda Tofte’s presentation about merging forces with the career services department to reinforce professionalism concepts was innovative, and it was enhanced by her stylish use of the glasses on the head look.
Candace Mueller Centeno from Villanova wowed the crowd with a totally awesome way to teach citation: “Survivor Citations.” Yep, she uses the reality TV show format to engage her students/tribes to compete for citation expertise. Pretty clever.
I asked Lance Long to be a guest blogger for this weekend's Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference hosted by Stetson University College of Law. Lance contributes both contributes pictures and commentary. Thanks, Lance!:
Gathering in the Florence & Roebig Courtroom for the Plenary Session
Mary Beth Beazley delivers one of the best plenary addresses in legal writing conference history.
Mary Beth is feeling the love. Her enthusiastic delivery was well-received.
Wendy Shea from Southern University Law Center shows some serious enthusiasm as she delivers her first legal writing conference presentation. It was great. She talked about issues that arise with students that write in English dialects.
The 9th annual International Roundtable for Semiotics of Law will take place next September, 3-6, 2010, in Poznan, Poland. Proposals of 300 words (in English or French) should be sent via e-mail by May 1, 2010, to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Selected papers will be published in a special edition of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.
hat tip: Jessica Silbey
Saturday, September 12, 2009
It's raining, but we don't care. We are listening to plenary speaker Prof. Mary Beth Beazley (Ohio State) sharing what she learned from her self-labeled "classic mistakes" in her quarter century of teaching legal writing. [Photo l-r: Kirsten Davis, Mary Beth Beazley, Carolyn Broering-Jacobs]
1. You are not your students; your students are not you.
Teaching with empathy: Your students are going to irritate you; their writing is going to make you mad sometimes. Step back from the situation and assess your options before you take action. Allow yourself some flexibility in dealing with situations like late papers, sloppy rewrites. Their frame of reference is not your frame of reference, and they aren't doing these things in order to get to you. Send an e-mail to find out what's going on ("I didn't get your paper. Are you okay?") and then decide how you want to handle it.
2. Scholarship in a room of my own.
Make time for your scholarship. Find a place where you can research and write in uninterrupted blocks of time. Immerse yourself in the existing literature on your topic, and cite the sources that you found. Citation gives a "hat tip" to those who have pioneered the topic, and when your article is published, makes it easier to find by researchers. Put the "phrases that pay" (a Beazley-ism) into your article's title.
3. Learn to say "no."
We want to say "yes" to every invitation, but we need to establish our personal criteria that these invitations must satisfy in order to merit our participation. What will this opportunity allow you to accomplish? What will you learn from it?
And when you do work something up, use it more than once. For example, are you giving a talk? Write it up into an essay afterward.
4. Be mindful of your job status.
Beazley's own job path (tutor to teaching assistant to "staff" instructor to tenure track to tenured) has given her a good perspective on the things that matter to our job status and job satisfaction. The big items to be concerned about are the number of credit hours your course earns, the number of students you teach, the form of job security you possess, your salary.
Sometimes you have to change schools to improve your situation. Sometimes you can accomplish needed changes where you are. Find your allies and advocates on the faculty.
Friday, September 11, 2009
The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law invites applications for the position of Assistant Director of Legal Writing, to begin either January 2010 or summer 2010. The Assistant Director will teach in and assist in the administration of the Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing program. The position will also carry the title of Assistant Clinical Professor of Law (continuing status eligible). The position carries full benefit eligibility, including health and retirement.
At the University of Arizona, first-year students take a graded course entitled "Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research." This course is largely taught by adjunct professors. The course provides a comprehensive foundation in legal analysis, writing, and research skills. The adjunct professors are each assisted by one second-year teaching assistant. The syllabus and some assignments are prepared by the Director and the Assistant Director of Legal Writing. There are 12-15 students per class section.
In the fall semester, a three-unit graded course entitled "Persuasive Communication" is offered to upper-class students. This class is also largely taught by adjunct professors. The Persuasive Communication course includes a full moot court experience, plus comprehensive instruction in appellate advocacy and persuasive techniques. There are 10-15 students per class section.
The Assistant Director may teach either in the first-year curriculum or the upper-class Persuasive Communication curriculum. The law school anticipates that the course load will vary, but it is not expected to exceed more than two sections per semester. The total number of students per semester is, therefore, likely to range from 15-30.
The successful candidate will assist the Director of Legal Writing in (1) providing teaching materials and support for the adjunct professors who teach in the program, (2) designing activities and exercises for active classroom learning, (3) creating legal writing problems and exams, (4) planning meetings and training for the adjunct professors, (5) selecting and supervising the student writing fellows, (6) working with the librarians who teach in the program, and (7) directing the program in the Director's absence.
Persons qualified for the position must have a J.D., at least 3 years of legal experience, superior academic credentials, excellent writing skills, a record of teaching excellence, strong administrative and interpersonal skills, and a willingness to work closely with the Director to plan and administer the legal writing program.
To apply, submit a letter of interest, a resume, a short writing sample, a law school transcript, and three letters of reference to the hiring committee chair, Professor Andy Silverman, by e-mail or by hard copy to Prof. Andy Silverman, The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, P.O. Box 210176, Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
Alternatively, applicants may apply using the University of Arizona On-Line Career Tracking System. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. The committee will begin reviewing applications on October 5, 2009. For further information about the position or about our legal writing program, e-mail or phone the Director of Legal Writing, Professor Suzanne Rabe, (520) 626-2426. The University of Arizona conducts pre-employment screening for all positions, which includes verification of academic credentials, licenses, certifications, and work history.
ALWD/LWI required disclosures: The position advertised is a "continuing status" tenure-track appointment. This status is commonly referred to as "clinical tenure track." The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings on all matters except the promotion and tenure of tenure-track and tenured faculty. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the $70,000-$99,999 range. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 30 or fewer. Although the number of students may vary from semester to semester, the assistant director will generally teach between 15 and 30 students per semester.
The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, invites applications for the position of Legal Writing Professor, to begin August 1, 2010. Responsibilities include teaching in a three semester program that enjoys strong faculty support, carries nine credit hours and is fully graded. The program’s website supplies more information about the program.
Applicants must have a J.D., evidence of a strong academic record, and experience that demonstrates a potential for excellence in teaching legal research and writing. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.
The School of Law is now building on its record of success during its first decade as the public law school of Nevada. It has a diverse faculty of new and experienced legal educators drawn from top institutions, and it seeks colleagues who share its enthusiasm for legal education and scholarship. The School of Law has 495 students enrolled (379 full-time, 116 part-time) and 40 full-time faculty, and enjoys state-of-the-art facilities at the center of the UNLV campus. Click here for more information on the Boyd School of Law.
UNLV is a premier metropolitan research university with 28,000 students and more than 1000 full-time faculty. UNLV is Nevada’s largest comprehensive doctoral degree granting institution. It provides traditional and professional academic programs for a diverse student body and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, learning, and scholarship. Las Vegas is a diverse and entrepreneurial city that boasts unparalleled access to world-class restaurants and entertainment, all within a short drive to some of the nation’s beautiful outdoor attractions.
To apply, submit a letter of interest, a detailed resume listing qualifications and experience, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three professional references who may be contacted, a law school transcript, and a short writing sample to Professor Jay Mootz, Appointments Committee Chair, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 451003, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-1003.
ALWD/LWI required disclosures: The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings. Voting is allowed on every issue except hiring and promotion of tenured or tenure-track professors. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the $70,000-$89,900 range. (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; nor does a base salary include conference travel or other professional development funds.) Salary is dependent on experience. Also, salary can be supplemented with summer teaching (legal writing and podium courses) or summer research grants.
The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 31-40. Most often the ratio is 1/33-36. Faculty of the legal writing program teach two classes each semester. First-year sections usually consist of 15-20 students. Upper division legal writing classes are capped at 15. The opportunity to teach podium classes during the regular school year is available, usually about once every five or six semesters, but is part of the basic two-course teaching package and is not a salary supplement.