Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Lawyer's Editing Manual

  1814     If you are a legal writing professor looking for a reference book for students who need help with basic writing matters -- which pretty much describes every legal writing student at some moment in time -- try The Lawyer's Editing Manual, by Joan Ames Magat (Carolina Academic Press).  

hat tip:  Meredith Strange

(spl)

April 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ah, the lowly comma

X41CAV5VNCKCAKBB3XKCABATPJNCAD43213CAP26E0ECA5QV0MTCAYWPUIQCATZFGIFCAB2DE7CCAP9Y4KKCASQSSTTCA1NUECGCAE9DSY5CAMJZKO0CA77ATMYCAR1J0OECAM65QEBCA2D6188CAD400P5 Over on his Literary Legs blog, Ben Opipari recently reported a US District Court case, in which an English professor testified about the placement of a comma and the omission of a coordinating conjunction.  Despite objections from opposing counsel, this testimony appears to have had some impact on the case.
 
(spl)

April 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

transforming law schools at next SALT conference

Home_slide6

The Society for Law Teaching (SALT) has announced its next conference, on Teaching in a Transformative Era: The Law School of the Future, will take place December 10-11, 2010, at the University of Hawai’i in Honolulu.   The conference will examine challenges law schools face in the 21st century.  Check www.SALTLAW.org for updates on the conference and calls for proposals and presentations.

(spl)

April 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

courage award

The Awards Committee of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) has announced a call for nominations for the Terri LeClercq Courage Award for 2009. Any member of LWI may nominate someone for the award. Submit nominations directly to Susan Thrower at sthrower@depaul.edu by May 18, 2009.

Professor Terri LeClercq retired in 2006 from a position as Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Texas at Austin.  She created the Courage Award to honor lothers who have demonstrated acts of personal, moral, or civil courage that required abandoning or overcoming fear. LWI awarded the first Courage Award in 2008 to Professors Molly Lien of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent College of Law.

hat tip:  Lyn Goering

(spl)



April 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The job numbers are grim for 3L's

This blurb from Law.com pretty much says it all:

The nation's law schools will spit out about 43,000 graduates next month, with roughly half of those lawyer-hopefuls expecting to take jobs in private practice. They will be entering an employment market that already is swarming with thousands of laid-off associates who are in about as much demand as a five-year lease on a full-size Hummer. The upshot is a massive pile-up of attorneys looking for work in an environment that is pitting would-be attorneys against more experienced competitors.

You can read the full story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some helpful tips from a partner to the associate on how to handle writing assignments

Here's some good advice you may want to impart to your students as they get ready to head off to their first summer job on how to handle research memo requests from the assigning attorney.  As some of us remember all too well from our own practice experience, we can sometimes leave a partner's office thinking we have a good understanding of what's expected only to later discover that the partner really had something else in mind (that may be putting it mildly in some instances).  TechnoLawyer.com has some helpful tips for new lawyers on how to avoid the miscommunication that sometimes occurs during the initial assignment meeting.

As an associate, you really need to know where you stand at all times. The best way to protect yourself . . . is to devote special attention to . . . 'front end communications'  - the give-and-take of instructions that occur before you actually roll up your sleeves and get to work.

A short 'assignment memo' [is] often the best insurance policy. After receiving [one's] marching orders . . . go back to [your] office, take a moment to gather [your] thoughts, and write a brief memo summarizing the assignment and identifying the issues, as [you] understood them. By giving the partner a chance to see your understanding of the assignment before you begin, you accomplish two things: (1) you provide an opportunity to clarify and iron out details before you get started, and, in doing so you (2) create the proverbial butt-cover that you may need later.

Read the full advice column here.

A big 'ol hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sorry folks, we may be stuck with law school rankings for a while

Given that USNWR rankings are due out next week, the timing of this story is quite appropriate.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed is reporting on a conference held last week at Wake Forest called "Rethinking Admissions" during which several participants expressed the view that college rankings (as well as rankings for other programs covered by USNWR) are an inevitable part of the human tendency to organize the information around us.

Mr. Brenzel, Yale University’s dean of undergraduate admissions, suggested that commercial rankings of colleges and universities are but one expression of a simple truth: The world is awash in information, and people need help making sense of it all.

'It’s the appeal of simplicity,' said Mr. Brenzel, who described the utility of independent ratings of vacuum cleaners. 'We trust Consumer Reports to sort things out for us. … We see them as authoritative third parties.'

Therefore, it is a mistake to vilify U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings as the cause of a problem, Mr. Brenzel said, 'as if you could get rid of the problem that underlies this issue by getting U.S. News to go away.'

Read the full story here, including one proposal by the Education Conservancy to develop a more holistic, non-commercial means to evaluate colleges and universities.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Linda Edwards' appointment at UNLV is official

LindaEdwards

The William Boyd School of Law issued a press release today confirming that Linda Edwards' appointment as Professor of Law will commence in July, 2009.  Until this point, Professor Edwards, originally a tenured professor at Mercer, has been a visitor at UNLV.

Here is a portion of the press release:

A leader in the field of legal writing and research, Professor Edwards speaks frequently at national conferences and workshops, and is the author of leading textbooks in legal writing and in property law. She is a founding member of the Persuasion Institute of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and is active in many sections of the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools. In 2009, she received the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award. The award, which is sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), is given for outstanding contributions to the field of legal writing.

The full text is available here.

And here's some trivia for you gossip hounds (you know who you are).  Professor Edwards and I will be chillin' together this summer when I'm a visitor in Boyd's summer LP program.  The "scholarship dude" in Las Vegas?  Booyah!

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Practice pointer - how to handle citations to those pesky, disappearing websites

A few days ago, we posted about a potential problem facing attorneys who cite to online authority - it can disappear!  And, indeed, it actually happened in this Florida appellate decision that cited to the website Encarta which will soon vanish from the web.

Well, a loyal reader of this blog and all around legal research superstar Chris Wren made this simple, yet fiendishly clever, suggestion in response to our post:  Get in the habit of attaching to your brief or office memo, as an appendix, a hard copy of any web authority you cite.   Chris also suggests saving any online resource in an Internet Explorer "mht" file (a single-file archive that preserves on your hard drive a complete copy - hyperlinks, ads, etc) of the websites you plan to cite.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vote for the best law school talent show video at ATL

The good people over at Above the Law are running a contest to vote for the best law school talent show video of the past year.  We noted a couple of the contenders earlier this week but after hours and hours of viewing, the ATL staff has narrowed the field down to five finalists. 

Although my personal fav, Columbia's "My New Bluebook," didn't make the cut, the ones that did are pretty doggone good.  In fact, "I'm a Barbri Girl" is good enough, IMHO, to take on the road.  Hey, maybe they'll have to.  Another favorite of mine is the ode to Adderall, "Sweet Addie." 

Vote for your favorite here.  (And what better way to avoid grading then to watch some videos poking fun at the whole law school 'thang).

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is I.Q. nature or nurture? More of the latter than we once thought says new book.

This is a truly interesting Op-Ed piece from today's NYT entitled How to Raise Our I.Q.that discusses new research into the roots of "traditionally" measured intelligence.  Here's an excerpt:

While [the] view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong. Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has just demolished this view in a superb new book, 'Intelligence and How to Get It,' which also offers terrific advice for addressing poverty and inequality in America.

Read the rest of the full column here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New online ABA Journal poll: What grammar or style conventions do you disagree with?

Strunk

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, the ABA Journal online blog is asking readers the following questions:

1.  What persistent grammar or style conventions do you regularly see in others' writing and strongly disagree with?

2.  Does The Elements of Style need any updates?

You can leave your comments here.  Of course, please feel free to leave comments on this blog as well.

The ABAJournal.com will feature the "best" answer in their "Question of Week" column next week.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Undergraduate course teaches students effective study skills and motivation

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is reporting on an undergraduate skills course that purports to teach students how to “manage their lives.”  Along with the typical "array of note-taking and reading-comprehension tips," the course also covers "less-familiar lessons designed to encourage students to take responsibility for their actions and to avoid procrastination and other self-defeating behaviors."

So far, the university is pleased with the results noting that the course has improved grades and retention rates.  However, teaching scholar Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do, while recognizing that "study skills" courses can be important, nevertheless expressed some reservations: 

First, . . . such courses should encourage 'deep learning' and not simply offer strategic tricks that can help students earn high grades.

'We have to be careful not to create a situation that implies that the entire game is memory,  Students need the capacity to apply their knowledge and to extend it into new domains. People are most likely to learn deeply when they are trying to solve problems or answer questions that they, the learner, have come to believe are important or beautiful or intriguing.'

Second, [Bain] worried that study-skills courses are sometimes offered in a vacuum. Colleges should do a better job . . .off marrying faculty-development projects with student-affairs programs. All faculty members, and not just those who teach study-skills courses, need to be engaged with improving student learning.

Hat tip to The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Overdue library book finally returned, um, 52,858 days late.

Ouch!  I'd hate to pay the late fees on this one.  The Washington and Lee University News is reporting that a Union soldier took a book on June 11, 1864 from the Washington College (as it was then known) library entitled History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France.  The soldier, the librarians believe, took the book mistakenly thinking it came from Washington College's next door neighbor, the Virginia Military Institute.

After the soldier died, the book was passed down through his family until it was eventually reunited, with the help of a book dealer, with the W & L library after more than 144 years.  The donor agreed to return the book on the condition that the library waive the late fee which is currently running $1 a day.

Read the full story here.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring 2009 Newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

Aalslogo The Spring 2009 Newsletter of the Association of American Law School's Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research has just been published. 

To see a copy of it, click here to see the section's page on the AALS website, and then click on Spring 2009 Newsletter.  You can also see newsletters from 2008, 2007 and 2006..  

You can also download the Spring 2009 newsletter by clicking here.  Download AALS Legal Writing Newsletter Spring 2009.

Mark E. Wojcik, Secretary (and Newsletter Editor) of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A potential problem citing to online authority - it disappears.

The blog Abstract Appeal notes a potential problem lurking in all cites to virtual authorities that is underscored by Microsoft's recent decision to scuttle Encarta - the underlying authorities may simply vanish.

It can happen. Last month, {Florida's] Fifth District issued this opinion concerning a paternity action. The opinion defined the word "reputed," as in the term "reputed father," by citing Microsoft's online Encarta reference center. That was so last month. Later this year, according to this Microsoft announcement, Encarta will disappear from the virtual landscape. Click. Gone.

What is a court to do? That is not easy to say. Printed dictionaries are permanent resources but they are becoming scarce. I keep a massive one on my desk at work, but I confess I have gone from using it a dozen times a day to perhaps a dozen times a year. I now use online dictionaries and even keep my search boxes in Firefox and Internet Explorer set on Dictionary.com rather than a search engine.

I suspect that courts will continue to cite online resources. Every once in a while, though, their published opinions may prove to be the only remaining trace of what those resources once said.

Hat tip to Professor Lisa Butler-Smith.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: new book discussing academic freedom

Two law professors, Robert C. Post - the David Boies Professor of Law at Yale, and Matthew W. Finkin - the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law at the University of Illinois, have just published a book entitled For the Common Good:  Principles of American Academic Freedom (Yale U. Press 2009).  The abstract from the publisher's website states:

Debates about academic freedom have become increasingly fierce and frequent. Legislative efforts to regulate American professors proliferate across the nation. Although most American scholars desire to protect academic freedom, they have only a vague and uncertain apprehension of its basic principles and structure. This book offers a concise explanation of the history and meaning of American academic freedom, and it attempts to intervene in contemporary debates by clarifying the fundamental functions and purposes of academic freedom in America.

 

[The authors] trace how the American conception of academic freedom was first systematically articulated in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and how this conception was in subsequent years elaborated and applied by Committee A of the AAUP. The authors discuss the four primary dimensions of academic freedom—research and publication, teaching, intramural speech, and extramural speech. They carefully distinguish academic freedom from the kind of individual free speech right that is created by the First Amendment. The authors strongly argue that academic freedom protects the capacity of faculty to pursue the scholar’s profession according to the standards of that profession.

You can also read an interview with the authors from Inside Higher Ed. here.

 

I am the scholarship dude.

 

(jbl)

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another large firm managing partner declares BigLaw "has changed forever."

The ABA Journal Blog is reporting that Womble Carlyle, a 530 lawyer firm in the Southeast and Atlantic regions, is cutting pay an average of 10% beginning today.  The pay cut is tied to performance meaning that some attorneys will have their pay cut more than 10%, while others may not see a cut at all.

For its part, Womble Carlyle is addressing with salary cuts for 'many' attorneys and paralegals a 'new world' in which the firm says it expects fees for transactional and litigation matters to stay flat or even decline. Those with stellar skills and work ethics may not see any pay reduction at all. However, those who are underperforming could see their pay cut more than 10 percent, the firm writes.

Current first- and second-year associates as well as new first-years joining Womble Carlyle in the fall can expect a 10 percent pay cut, according to the memo.

Read the full ABA Journal story here and see the internal firm memo stating that "the world of large law firms has changed forever," and announcing the pay cuts, here, at Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

North Carolina students give moot court argument before US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts

If you think your students get the jitters before their moot court arguments, think of the pressure on these students at North Carolina Central University who yesterday argued their case before Chief Justice John Roberts.  One student revealed her secret for preparing was "prayer, prayer, and more prayer."

Kudos to NCCU for providing these students with the thrill of a lifetime and to the students themselves for coming through with flying colors!

Click on this link to watch a local news report about this most exciting moot court experience.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

USNWR ranks part-time legal programs for first time - top 5 available online now.

The official USNWR rankings are just around the corner.  To whet your appetite in the meantime, below is a video report from the U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly announcing the first ever rankings of part-time legal programs.  Who made the top 5?  Number one - for the first year in a row, is Georgetown followed by George Washington, Fordham, American and George Mason rounding out the field.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)