Thursday, March 5, 2009

150,000 Visits to the Legal Writing Prof Blog!

Yesterday we had 1,199 visitors to the Legal Writing Prof Blog -- a number that pushed our total number of visitors beyond 150,000!  Thank you so much for your visits, your support, and your love of legal writing.

Nancy, Sue, Coleen, Mark, and Jim the Scholarship Dude

March 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SALT salary survey

Wilson_100k_2  For those who still have jobs (or maybe, for those who are looking), median salary info in the annual survey by the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is now available online, featuring data from 95 public and private law schools (a 48% response rate, as 196 schools were asked to provide information).  Who's got the best-paying jobs? Among respondents, that appears to be the full professors at Harvard, Michigan, Minnesota, and Emory. Looking for $$$ in entry-level positions? Try Harvard, Michigan, Illinois, Touro, Penn State, Whittier, Georgia.

Of course, these are not legal writing salaries. We have better data, if not better salaries. Follow this link to view the 2008 ALWD-LWI annual survey (and all their surveys, back to 1999), featuring salary--and much, much more--from a lot more schools than SALT will ever hear from.  But salaries in legal writing are getting better. The required job posting form for LWI and ALWD listservs has updated salary categories, as we reported recently.

(cmb)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

visitorship(s) at George Washington

The George Washington University Law School may be interested in hiring one or more visiting professors of legal writing for the 2009-2010 academic year. Visiting professors will likely teach one or two courses per semester in GW's Legal Research and Writing Program and Scholarly Writing Program, depending on interest and qualifications. In addition to teaching responsibilities, the visiting professor positions require significant program administrative duties. Applicants must have a J.D. from an accredited law school, an outstanding academic record, excellent legal research and writing skills, demonstrated administrative skills, and at least three years experience in a clerkship or law practice. Applicants must also have at least one year of recent experience teaching legal writing, and the ability to work collaboratively within a coordinated program structure.  [Your blog editors can't tell you anything about teaching load or salary, because we don't have the info. Sorry.]

Interested candidates should contact Professor Jessica Clark, Acting Director, Legal Research and Writing Program, The George Washington University Law School, 2000 H Street, NW, Washington DC  20052.

(cmb)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

moot court advisors joining forces

Oralargument1 When the Legal Writing Institute's Moot Court Committee formed earlier this year, organizers thought a listserv would provide a good vehicle for bringing together people with similar concerns and goals. It's done that, and more. Recent conversations on the moot court list have generated enthusiasm for the creation of two new groups, an AALS section on Advocacy and a national organization for moot court boards, analogous to the National Conference of Law Reviews (meeting later this month at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge). Listserv subscribers have also discussed working together on projects such as creation of model rules for moot court competitions.

The list currently has 167 subscribers, but it's not topped out. If these topics--or other moot-court-related ideas--interest you, contact listserv administrator Jim Dimitri (Indiana-Indianapolis) and ask him to subscribe you.

(cmb)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Google has plans to digitize every book ever published, no matter the language

Seriously.  As the result of a recent settlement in a class action copyright suit brought by authors, the search engine giant is required to pay them royalties.  Thus, Google has undertaken the task of trying to locate every living author on the planet through a series of newspaper ads.  I'm not kidding.  Read the article for yourself, here, in today's New York Times.  I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Westlaw public records search engine launched

Thanks to our good buddies at the Law Librarian Blog for hipping us to this new Westlaw product called PeopleMap which the company is touting as one of its biggest product launches of the year.  Westlaw's product description page states that PeopleMap will help you:

1. Quickly discover relationships between people, assets, and other public records; 2.  Visualize results to make your research more focused; and 3. Communicate your research findings more easily with professional reports.

Here's a nice video demo of how it works.  Seems a little Orwellian to me but maybe that's just because I forgot to take my Xanax today. Bigbrother_3 I am the scholarship dude

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advice on how to move LWR positions to tenure track

This post comes via the Legal Writing Institute's listserv courtesy of tipster Sharon Finegan of South Texas College of Law.  Reflecting upon the STCL decision many years ago to convert legal writing professors to the tenure track, Sharon's colleague Professor Tim Zinnecker notes that:

I’m convinced that we made the right decision, and I’m puzzled why we remain one of the very few law schools (less than twenty?) to do so.  The switch yields many benefits.  First, it removes the stigma that those who teach LRW are somehow “second class” colleagues, a stigma that promotes an “us” versus “them” perspective and significantly undermines any faculty-wide spirit of collegiality. 

Second, the tenure track allows schools to draw from a deeper and richer pool of applicants than does the enticement of any short- or long-term renewable contract.

Third, there is (or if hiring decisions are rigorous and the mentoring process is thorough, there should be) less turnover and more stability when LRW colleagues are on a tenure track.

And fourth, it offers another source of scholarly production (traditionally not required of contract hires).

Read Tim's full post on the Faculty Lounge here.  I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The 100 most beautiful words in the English language

Here's a hint - "lay-off" didn't make the top 10.  Thanks again to our good buddy Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer blog for bringing home the bacon one mo' time with this interesting list of mellifluous words that no wordsmith should be without.  No lawyer should be without them either.  Enjoy!  I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A confluence of bad lay-off reports

Grimreape4_2 Despite this non-sequitur that firm hiring among top law schools remains steady (huh?!?), the rest of the legal media is reporting that things are looking worse and worse for firm associates (and an increasing number of partners) seeking work these days.  My in-box runneth over today with bleak reports of more lay-offs including Orrick's decision to lay off another 100 attorneys and 200 staffers in the second wave of job cuts so far at that firm.  Just hitting the street now is news that O'Melveny has laid-off another 200 staffers and attorneys in its second wave of job cuts.  The National Law Journal, ABA Journal and Above the Law, are among the leading media outlets delivering the grim news today.  Even Warren Buffet has declared the economy to be in a state of shambles and will likely remain that way for some time to come.  Great.  I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New scholarship - ranking speciality programs.

Thanks to Ohio State Professor Mary Beth Beazley for tipping me to this short article which criticizes the USNWR ranking of specialty law school programs like IP and legal writing.

The article, not so surprisingly entitled "Ranking Law School Special Programs" is authored by Franklin Pierce Law Center Professor Thomas G. Field, Jr.  The article is critical of the present ranking system employed by USNWR noting that the sole basis for specialty rankings are the votes of colleagues some (many?) of whom might not be familiar enough with another school's program to cast an informed vote.  Professor Field notes that the rankings in the specialty categories are sometimes separated by a single vote.  According to the abstract, available here, on SSRN:

This brief comment notes that, although general law school rankings have been widely criticized. virtually nothing seems to have been said about specialty rankings. It cites criticism based on the author's 1996 study of IP rankings and explains why such rankings have become, if anything, more suspect over time and, for lack of data, incapable of meaningful evaluation.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

another legal writing first?

022709oldschoolhouse0 The Legal Writing Program at Vermont Law School is likely the first legal writing program housed in a building on the National Register of Historic Places.  The program has moved into the "Old Schoolhouse" building in South Royalton, Vermont.  Originally built in 1853, it was South Royalton's first schoolhouse.  You can see a short slide show, including some historic photographs, by clicking here and scrolling down to the slide show link.
hat tip:  Professor Greg Johnson, Vermont Law School
(spl)

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Rocky Mountain News goes belly-up after 150 years - People don't read newspapers

While not directly related to the world of legal research and writing, it's an important sign of the times in terms of understanding the students who enter our classrooms.  They just don't read newspapers anymore - at the least not the "stain-your-fingers-black" kind.  Witness the closing of another venerable paper - this time The Rocky Mountain News owned by E.W. Scripps & Company and now shuttered after a 150 year run

Why should you care?  Maybe you shouldn't.  But I do - especially since I spent more than seven years living and teaching in Boulder, Colorado.  When you edit a blog, you too can report on your own pet interests.  For now, you have to read about mine.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Even more reason for students to take their legal writing classes seriously

The Complete Lawyer has an article called Today's Economic Pressures Work Against Natural Mentoring in which the author notes that newly minted law graduates are often surprised to find what self-starters they must be in their first jobs; that they are expected to consistently produce good quality work with little or no supervision. 

Associates may receive a variety of work assignments from different partners, each of whom has no idea what other projects the associate is working on or for whom. When the project is done, the associate may or may not receive feedback on his work. In many cases, no single partner is accountable for a particular associate’s success and development. In this environment, an associate can get lost in the shuffle.

. . . .

As law firms have grown larger, economic pressures have increased. Partners are now called upon not only to bill more hours, but to develop more clients, become active in their communities, and assist in the increasing number of activities required to manage the firm. Inevitably, it becomes more difficult to find time for mentoring young lawyers. This can leave associates feeling unsupported in their pursuit of success. At best, they may feel as if the firm doesn’t care about their individual success; at worst, they may feel that instead of supporting them, it is waiting for them to fail.

As a very wise former student of mine once said to me, he realized when he got into practice that the lawyers he worked for just assumed he knew how to research and write a memo from the moment he walked in the door - there was no "training" period and if you hadn't learned good writing and research skills in law school, you were in serious trouble.  What was true then is doubly true now - this might be a good time to remind current students of this very important point.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

An interesting article on the complexities of student reward systems

From today's New York Times, an article entitled "Rewards for Students Under a Microscope" discussing the efficacy of reward systems to motivate school children to learn at school.  Science is being brought to bear to study whether paying students for performing well actually improves their learning.

Here's an excerpt: 

For decades, psychologists have warned against giving children prizes or money for their performance in school. “Extrinsic” rewards, they say — a stuffed animal for a 4-year-old who learns her alphabet, cash for a good report card in middle or high school — can undermine the joy of learning for its own sake and can even lead to cheating.

But many economists and businesspeople disagree, and their views often prevail in the educational marketplace. Reward programs that pay students are under way in many cities. In some places, students can bring home hundreds of dollars for, say, taking an Advanced Placement course and scoring well on the exam.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Some employers rescind 3L job offers.

Thankfully, the practice is not widespread yet - although the phenomenon is indeed real as Above the Law reports here.  Nor is the practice confined to the private sector as this widely circulated news item from last week makes clear by reporting that the Philadelphia D.A.'s office has rescinded job offers to all incoming 3L students.  So if it happens to any of your students, at least you can assure them that it has nothing to do with their abilities and everything to do with the economy

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Exclusive scoop - LSAC reports law schools apps are up.

Considering previous reports that law school applications are down this year, it came as a surprise when the LSAC issued a password protected report today stating that as of February 27, 2009, year-to-date law school applications are up 4.3% at private institutions and 2.4% at public law schools.  One administrator speculated that this unexpected up-tick may be a reflection of the applicants' frustration with the present non-legal job market.   If you think it's frustrating now, just wait fella'!

We'll all have to wait until the report is publicly issued before we can make better sense of the data.

Whether you consider these numbers good news or not will likely depend on whether you think the Mel Gibson film Gallipoli is a light-hearted "buddy-movie" or a chilling meditation on the cavalier waste of human life.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Congratulations to Mary Jean Dolan!

Dolan_mary_jean Us_supreme_courtProfessor Mary Jean Dolan, one of the Lawyering Skills Professors at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, was the author of an amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the International Municipal Lawyers' Association.  Her brief was cited frequently in last week's unanimous Supreme Court opinion in Pleasant Grove v. Summum.  Her brief included her national survey of municipal monument practices.  She received help on the project from student research assistants Brent Wilson and Melissa Branson, and from Thomas Keefe, associate director of instruction in computer services in John Marshall's law library who also teaches in the John Marshall Lawyering Skills program.

(mew)

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

Monday, March 2, 2009

law students in Minnesota

Here's a recent StarTribune article about law students and the current job market.

(njs)

March 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It's the brief that matters, not oral argument

Thanks to our good buddy Raymond Ward at "the (new) legal writer" blog for reminding us of this quote from Fifth Circuit Judge John Brown as reported in Groendyke Transport, Inc. v. Davis, 406 F.2d 1158, 1162 (5th Cir. 1969):

Oral argument, as such, is rarely, if ever, so essential to elemental fairness as to orbit to a constitutional apogee. Indeed, the practice of Courts of disposing of cases in a variety of situations on the papers, reflects the experience of mature judges that oral argument in many, many cases adds nothing to the process of enlightenment.

Hat tip to the (new) legal writer blog.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Grade inflation - myth or reality?

Um, reality - according to this graph prepared by the University of Michigan Law School as tipped to us by the TaxProf Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

March 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)