Saturday, June 6, 2009

You say "tomayto," I say "tomahto" but how-the-heck do you designate the whole a.m./p.m. thing?

Before we call the whole thing off, let's first consult the Business Writer blog which tells us that:

The Associated Press Stylebook says:
4 p.m.

Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications says:
4 P.M.

The Chicago Manual of Style and Garner's Modern American Usage says:
4 p.m. or 4 PM (with PM in small capitals)

The Gregg Reference Manual says:
4 p.m. or 4 P.M. (with PM in small capitals).

Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Gaertner-Johnston tells us that whichever of these conventions you use, employ it consistently.  Because even though [foolish] consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, in this case you'll make your reader very happy according to this expert. 

I am the scholarship dude.


June 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advice for women faculty who are seeking pay parity with male colleagues

This comes to us from the advice column of Inside Higher Ed.  Here's an excerpt:

Your goal is to bring your salary into parity with those of your senior male colleagues. You also want to get this resolved through informal methods, not a formal grievance, although you are sufficiently fed up that you are also ready to take that path if necessary. Your unit head is probably telling you the truth when he says that he doesn’t have money in his budget to make the adjustments that would achieve your goal. You respect and like your unit head and you have a good relationship with him. Working from that foundation, let’s reframe your requests for salary equity into a form in which he’s more motivated to do something to fix the problem and can see a way to do that. Help him see himself as the good guy in this situation who is righting a wrong for a valued faculty member and colleague. Sympathize with his difficulties while also pointing out the need to get it fixed now and while it is can still be handled internally.

Read the rest of the column here.

I am the scholarship dude.


June 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Forget about "the dog ate my homework" and get ready for "the computer corrupted my file"

Free enterprise - 'ya gotta love it!  Where there's a need, and a buck to be made, you can be sure some  enterprising young rapscallion will step in to fill the void quicker than you can say "Adam Smith."  Case in point - this new website called which sells to students - get this - corrupted files they can send to their professors in lieu of the final assignment.  Why would a student want to send a corrupted file?  As the website exclaims:  "Don't hand in a garbage paper!  Hand in a corrupted file instead!"  

It will take your professor several hours if not days to notice your file is "unfortunately" corrupted. Use the time this website just bought you wisely and finish that paper!!!

Right now - it's only $3.95 but you better hurry because the price goes up to $5.95 on June 30.  But, really, what's a couple of bucks compared to the extra time you can take to polish your paper.  Sheesh!

What brazenness, eh?

You can read a full report on this new service and the blogoshere buzz about it here, courtesy of Inside Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.



June 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 5, 2009

final official report from Lone Star . . .

As the day ended and the local/regional participants headed off to the airport to catch their flights home, our participants from states such as New York, Illinois, and Minnesota were invited to choose from one of three West-Texas-themed dinner excursions.

While those of us who chose "Beef--It's What Texans Eat" failed to memorialize our fine dinner with a photo, the group that chose local Tex-Mex had the foresight to take a picture.

2009 May end 016 

So here's Kim Phillips (Texas Tech), Kathryn Sampson (Arkansas), Rosemary Dillon (Texas Tech), John Mollenkamp (Cornell), and Dale (Texas Tech) and Lilla Jones outside one of Kim's favorite local restaurants.  (If you're wondering about the hand gesture, that's a Texas Tech Red Raider "guns up!!" salute.)

Thanks to everyone who helped, participated, attended, or just thought of us and wished you were here.  We had a great time at the Lone Star LRW conference at Texas Tech.


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

report #8 from Lone Star

Our last two presenters of the day spoke on quite different topics: developing an appellate brief problem based on the rules of evidence and the uses and implications of social networking sites.

Robert Holland (South Texas College of Law), Building an Appellate Brief Problem Around Rules of Evidence.

P1020968 A discussion of how to create an appellate brief problem based on disputed evidentiary rulings of a trial judge during a criminal trial. The presenter will discuss how state or federal rules of evidence offer professors fertile material for multi-issue research and persuasive writing problems when paired with an easily-produced, abbreviated record of trial as the problem scenario. The discussion will suggest a process to identify and create the problem, and will provide attendees a complete sample appellate brief problem packet that is easily adapted to any jurisdiction.

John Browning (Gordon & Rees, Dallas) From Lawbooks to Facebook: What Lawyers Can Learn From Social Networking Sites.P1020960

This presentation examines the growing use and significance of social networking sites as a valuable research resource for attorneys. In all areas of practice, from criminal law and family law to employment matters and insurance coverage cases, lawyers are finding sites such as MySpace and Facebook to be a veritable goldmine of information on opposing parties and witnesses that can undermine or contradict an adversary's case. The program will discuss not only actual examples of the discoverability and use of such digital information, but the admissibility of such information, ethical issues involving lawyers and social networking sites, and the growing concerns about jurors' online activities.


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

report #7 from Lone Star

After lunch, Sonia Bychkov Green (at left in photo) and Mary Nagel (at right) (The John Marshall Law School) spoke on "Drop and give me 15 . . . minutes of argument.": Channeling Tom Landry for (Moot Court) Coaching Success.  As they described their presentation, 

P1020951  This presentation will address what it takes to be a responsible moot court coach as opposed to just a person in the picture standing with the team. We will focus our discussion on preparing a team prior to receiving the competition materials and will show how to set up a plan for efficient oral argument practices. We will also do a live demonstration of effective coaching during oral argument practice and talk about how to make the whole experience positive for coach and team.

Dr. Tarenko noted, 

Some tips for faculty working with moot court teams include making use of the “preseason”; including a “Crazy Question Day” during which students can practice responding to off-the-wall questions; and getting local practitioners involved in practice events, something that can lead to job offers to students.


Next, Sharon Blackburn (at left in photo) and Rosemary Dillon (TTU School of Law) spoke on Beyond Westlaw & Lexis: Introducing Other Online Legal Research Resources. 

P1020956 This session will focus on no-cost and low-cost legal resources available to and used by practitioners. The September 2008 ABA Journal reported that "the number of lawyers using free online legal research services has overtaken the number using for-fee services by 89 percent to 87 percent." The presenters will discuss reasons for teaching beyond Lexis and Westlaw, suggest topics and sites to teach, and include sample research exercises.

Karen Koch (Robert Leflar Law Center, University of Arkansas School of Law) spoke on What Did I Just Do? Using Student-Designed Flow Charts or Concept Maps to Add a Reflective Visual Component to Legal Research Assignments.

Visual reflection techniques are particularly effective in facilitating "whole brain thinking"about complex iterative processes - such as legal research. This fall I asked my 1L students to reflect on the research process they had just completed for their research memorandum and produce a flow chart, concept map, or some other visual diagram of the research steps. The project provided me with a depth of insight into the students’ thinking and provided several students who had been very introverted in class and conference with an alternate method of expression that worked very well for them.

This session will discuss the concept, some of the student samples from this fall, and identify and demo some of the software that can be used to create flow charts and concept maps.

Such a good afternoon, and we weren't done yet . . .


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

report #6 from Lone Star

Our luncheon speaker was Justice Ann McClure of the 8th Court of Appeals in El Paso.  After having mingled with the group since the evening before, she had an excellent sense of her audience!

P1020946 Justice McClure spoke on "Appellate Advocacy from a Judge's Point of View" and offered several examples from briefs her court has received to demonstrate both effective and ineffective writing.  She discussed understanding audience (including staff attorneys and law clerks), selecting and framing issues (hint: use a rifle, not a shotgun), and then offered a series of tips that caused me to have flashbacks to the student briefs I had graded just a few weeks ago:

Refer to the parties by name, shortened version, or acronym rather than Appellant or Appellee.

Avoid saying that "Smith" is shorthand for Smith [John Smith ("Smith") petitions the court for relief].

Use short sentences and short paragraphs.

Use active rather than passive voice.

Don’t embed long quotations in text.

Her talk continued in that vein--filled with  great teaching examples that colorfully (and perhaps sadly) demonstrated that the lessons we teach either weren't the lessons of previous generations or were not heeded.  Sigh.

After her presentation she took questions until 55 minutes before her flight was scheduled to depart, at which point I politely cut her off and headed her to the door with Dale Jones from Tech's LP program, who escorted her out to a big round of applause and our thanks for an enlightening and entertaining program.

And we still had the rest of the afternoon to go!


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

report #5 from Lone Star

Our next two concurrent sessions featured a discussion of academic support and of an integrated LRW program.

Marta Miller (Texas Wesleyan) described her presentation as follows:

This presentation will introduce and provide instruction on how to implement a one-to-one peer tutoring program. The tutoring program provides students with individual attention and accountability based on a particular student’s circumstances, learning style, and goals. As such, it works in conjunction with, but goes beyond, a traditional Law School Academic Support group.

The peer tutoring program involves one-on-one tutoring relationships using a series of lesson plans that are designed to help the 1-L students learn the process of getting to the core skills needed to succeed in law school.  During the relationship, both the tutor and the student also have the opportunity to evaluate each other for motivation, effectiveness, responsibility shown, etc.

Grace Mills and Mary Trevor (Hamline) described their presentation as follows:

The Legal Research and Writing Program at Hamline University School of Law has coordinated the teaching of 1st year law students between the legal writing professors and the librarians. We feel that our integrated approach not only effectively takes advantage of the respective skills of the writing professors, the librarians, and upperclass students, but also conveys important messages to the students. We will examine the strengths of the present LRW program and discuss how this Hamline approach could easily be adapted within other academic law schools.

And then it was time for lunch . . .


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

report #4 from Lone Star

After our break, we had several concurrent sessions.  Michaela Cashen of SMU presented on using Word's Table of Authorities feature in brief writing.  As she described her presentation,

Using Microsoft Word’s automated TOA feature, Michaela Cashen will demonstrate how to quickly create a TOA for the Moot Court Brief. She gives this lecture to SMU’s 1L’s every spring before the Moot Court Brief is due, and a video of her lecture is also streamed online for students who may want to watch it at home and/or more than once.

Everyone in the audience recognized the challenges that students face and the resistance they express about this sometimes-tedious part of brief writing!

In another room, Grace Mills (Hamline) was presenting on teaching advanced research.  As she described her presentation,

Instead of weekly assignments, which are often separate nuggets of information, this ALR course presents an integrated view of a research process from beginning to end. Each week the course participants investigate specific research tools useful in addressing the course problem. The sources include case digests, secondary sources, legislative history, federal executive orders, and various web sites. Session participants will glimpse at this interactive approach.

As Dr. Tarenko noted of her presentation,

One fruitful way to organize an advanced legal research course is to focus on the process of the research plan rather than a particular doctrinal answer.  In this course, students can choose which student “virtual” group to join for the semester project, such as a big law firm, a small law firm, a government agency, and a nonprofit group.  Week by week, the groups practice using research sources from the perspective of their work group, including budgets and billing hours.



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

Open advice thread for tips on conducting legal research on the cheap.

A brand new, law student edited blog called The Blackbook Legal Blog has started an open thread for exchanging tips on how to conduct legal research on the cheap.  Most of the comments so far seem pretty sound - you may either want to contribute suggestions yourself or pass the site along to your students.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An analysis of Judge Sotomayor's legal writing style

At last, you say, a post that's actually about writing.  And not just any kind of writing, mind you, but honest-to-goodness legal writing

Maybe I've just grown tired of bashing Twitter.

Anyway, the Blog of the LegalTimes is reporting on a panel discussion at Georgetown University Law Center during which a D.C. practitioner and a Georgetown professor, respectively, offered the following critique of Judge Sotomayor's judicial opinion writing style:

[The DC practitioner] described Sotomayor's opinions as 'thorough, long, and unimaginative' because of her tendency to walk through every step of her reasoning. He said her writing shows a 'slavish attention' to precedent and to statutory interpretation.

It's a style that Susan Bloch, a Georgetown law professor who was on the panel, said might be attributed to Sotomayor's status as a pioneering Hispanic woman in the judiciary. 'I think it comes from being a first and having people ready to trip you up,' Bloch said.

Read the full post here.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

Do men and women judges see the law differently?

This is an interesting article from yesterday's New York Times discussing, in light of the Sotomayor nomination, whether gender plays a role in judicial decision-making.  Here's an excerpt:

[T]he idea that women may inherently view the law differently on occasion is something that troubles even several female judges who believe it may be so.

Judge Judith S. Kaye, who was the chief judge of New York State for 16 years until her recent retirement, said she had long avoided engaging others on the question [of whether gender plays a roll in judicial decision-making]. 'I struggled with it for the 25 years I served as a judge,' Judge Kaye said.

But she said she had ultimately come to terms with defending the idea that women judges will, at times, see things differently. 'To defend the idea that women come out different on some cases, I just feel it,' Judge Kaye said.

'I feel it to the depths of my soul,' she added, because a woman’s experiences are 'just different.'

Lawrence Robbins, a veteran litigator in Washington, disagreed, saying, 'Any person in the real world should be highly reluctant to make these broad generalizations.

With respect to empirical studies, the article goes on to note:

The most prominent and recent academic study comparing male and female judges found that female judges were more likely than males to decide in favor of plaintiffs who alleged sex discrimination at the workplace. But the study, an unpublished paper by Christina L. Boyd, Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin, found no difference in cases involving disability law, environmental issues and capital punishment.

In addition, the study said female judges might exert their influence in cases that were decided by multijudge federal appeals panels.

'Likewise, when a woman serves on a panel with men, the men are significantly more likely to rule in favor of the rights litigant,' it said.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

More Twitter problems - especially for lawyers

Why be coy?  Let's just declare it open season on bashing the social networking trend du jour.  Seems like everyone else has including this report from the Legal Blog Watch noting that not only is Twitter not a good marketing tool for lawyers, it's also susceptible to worms and viruses that can infect the computers of Twitter followers.  

You're still not convinced Twitter is for the birds?  You want more negative hype?  My pleasure, sire.  LBW further notes that if you're a lawyer intent on using Twitter to market to the younger generation, you're barking up the wrong tree fido.  A recent study by Pace University shows that they don't like Twitter either.  

Read the whole story here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

On Twitter - "It's a man's world!"

According to a new study by Harvard, unlike other social networking sites, men tend to have more followers on Twitter and also tend to have more same gender reciprocal relationships than do women. Further, 90% of Twitter content is generated by 10% of the users - most Twitter users rarely, if ever, "Tweet."   The Chronicle of Higher Ed's coverage was less kind calling those 10% "self-absorbed" users who like to "talk about themselves" (which pretty much defines most men, eh, ladies?)

As the study notes: 

We found that an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman. Similarly, an average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman. Finally, an average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman. These results cannot be explained by different tweeting activity - both men and women tweet at the same rate.

twitter research 3.jpg

These results are stunning given what previous research has found in the context of online social networks. On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they knowi. Generally, men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women. We wonder to what extent this pattern of results arises because men and women find the content produced by other men on Twitter more compelling than on a typical social network, and men find the content produced by women less compelling (because of a lack of photo sharing, detailed biographies, etc.).

Read the rest of the study here.

Hat tip to the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

Global Legal Skills Conference

The fourth Global Legal Skills Conference (GLS IV) starts this afternoon at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. and continues through Saturday.


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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

report #4 from Lone Star

Saturday morning started off with a trio from Arkansas, Karen Koch, Kim Coats, and Kathryn Sampson, who talked about using a "test issue" to assess students' progress towards writing independence.  In their words,

How much guidance should a first year student have, before s/he takes on full independence as a researcher and legal analyst? The LRW faculty at the University of Arkansas School of Law have incorporated a "test issue" into two graded assignments, one at the end of each semester of our first year LRW program. After several semesters of experience with incorporating the test issue, we have confidence the test issue strikes a good balance between "sink or swim" on the one hand and "step by step handholding" on the other. This session will discuss the student benefits realized in utilizing this teaching approach and how to make the test issue concept work effectively.

Tech's writing specialist, Natalie Tarenko, had these additional notes: 

One tension that exists in teaching approaches is the tension between (a) providing a “paint by numbers” assignment in which the teacher does his or her utmost to help the student produce a good product by means of multiple drafts and comments during the process and (b) standing back and letting the student do the assignment with little or no input from the teacher during the process.  One way to combine these approaches is to include a “test issue” within the (a) approach.  That is, the teacher will give much input to the writing process except for some small piece, the “test issue,” that will test the student’s ability to research and write on his or her own.  Benefits of the “test issue” include students’ self-confidence when they get to the workplace that they can, indeed, write well without input from their writing teacher.

The morning's second session featured Kim Holst (Hamline) talking about ESL theory.  In her words,

This presentation will introduce basic ESL theories and techniques and relate them to the legal writing classroom. While most law students are native English speakers, they are not necessarily familiar withthe language and culture of the law. By understanding the barriers that exist to learning a non-native language, we can be more effective teachers of the law. A brief exercise will also be used to demonstrate how ESL techniques can be used in the law classroom.

As Dr. Tarenko noted about Kim's presentation,

Many fruitful intersections exist between ESL pedagogy and law students.  Many law students are coming from an ESL background or are interested in working outside the United States.  Furthermore, the language of law itself often strikes law students as an entirely “foreign language” that they are being asked to master.  A resource that is a work in progress is a Web site at

P1020936 The morning's third presentation featured John Mollenkamp (Cornell) and colleagues of his at Missouri and Cornell, Melody Daily, Greg Scott, and Michelle Whalen (shown on-screen).  They demonstrated web-based video conferencing sites such as and They describe the presentation as follows:

Often our students would benefit from hearing other voices tell them about legal writing. But, budget and travel constraints can make scheduling high-quality guest lecturers difficult.  This program describes and demonstrates the use of videoconferencing technology to permit classroom interaction with speakers more than 1,000 miles away.  Participants will learn what steps they should take to ensure a successful video and audio connection across great distances, including what to say to the tech people to make it happen and even how to do a simple, over-the-Internet video conference for free without technical support.

And that just takes us up to our break at 10:50!!  Check back for more . . .


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

LWI Conference on Marco Island

Marco Island Marco Island is lovely.  It will be a fantastic location for next year's Legal Writing Institute Conference.  Proposals for presentations at the 2010 Conference are due in less than two weeks, on June 15, 2009.  Click here for an earlier post on the Legal Writing Prof Blog with information about how to submit a proposal. 

If you're still wondering about whether you would like it here, have a look at this le, here's a photo from the conference hotel. 

The LWI Board and the Conference Site Committee have been meeting here for the last few days getting ready for next year.  The amount of preparation that goes into these conferences is amazing, but that is also the reason why the LWI conferences are SO good and simply not to be missed. 


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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tips for a successful summer clerkship you can pass along to your students

These come to us courtesy of the New York Law Journal.

As for work assignments, make sure to double and triple check the details. Use spell check and compare assignments to other similar work product in the document management system. Each firm has its own way of setting up documents and every attorney has his/her own style. Does the attorney have a sample from a previous case or deal that can be referenced? Is there an associate who has worked for a particular partner who can provide pointers? Always hand in your best work product, even if it's only a draft. Remember, there are no second chances to make a first impression.

Read the best of the rest, here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

Tech advice - how to deal with corrupt documents

This is too technical for me to summarize in a line or two.  So if you're interested in learning how to better deal with the dreaded "this document is corrupt" prompt, read on.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

One hi-tech way to enforce the ABA's attendance rule - track students with iPhones

One Japanese school is already doing it - using the iPhone's built-in GPS technology to track students' whereabouts and thus prevent absenteeism.  Could this be the end of circulating attendance sheets? 

Read the whole story right here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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