Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Association of Law Libraries

Here's a little something special for all of our citation junkie readers.  It's a link to the Citations Committee Page of the American Association of Law Libraries.  Enjoy.

(mew)

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

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hey baby, "It's the 4th of July"

Here's a little seasonal music courtesy of Dave Alvin.  This one goes out to a very special person in Palm City.

If the embedded video isn't working (even though I clicked "enabled" :-), go here.

Have yourself a very happy 4th.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

"Forthwith" versus "promptly" - you decide!

Here's an interesting post from AdamsDrafting in which contract drafting expert Ken Adams questions why lawyers continue to use archaic terms in their contracts like "forthwith" rather than "promptly" or "immediately." 

But progress is being made. To wit, blogmeister Adams found that of the more than 2200 contracts filed in the past month with the SEC on its EDGAR system, "promptly" led "forthwith" more than three to one. 

In the comments below his post, one attorney vividly recalls being traumatized about 18 years ago by a senior partner who balked at his use of "immediately" rather than "forthwith."  As a result, that attorney has never dared use the more pedestrian form since that soul-scorching experience.

Read the whole thing right here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Michigan bans electronic communication devices during jury trials

In response to complaints from prosecutors that jurors are distracted during trials by their cell phones, PDA's and similar devices, the Michigan Supreme Court has banned jurors from engaging in electronic communication during trials.  As the blog Law.com reports:

Michigan's new rule follows a wave of recent cases in which jurors have blogged, posted Tweets or sent text messages during trials, infuriating judges and triggering mistrials.

In Florida, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Scott Silverman in May declared a mistrialin a civil fraud case after discovering a witness -- a company executive -- was texting his boss on the stand during a side bar conference.

"I never had this happen before," Silverman stated. "This is completely outrageous."

Read the full article here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Are academic listservs, including LWI's, losing their appeal?

That's the question raised by this column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed which asks whether academic listservs are losing relevance in light of blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter and the like since they arguably do a better job facilitating exchange and debate among scholars.   While some say listservs are dead, other data shows that subscriptions are up, generally speaking, although the number of posts on many lists has steadily declined since 2000.

There have been some rumblings (and grumblings) recently about eliminating some of the unnecessary traffic on the LWI listserv.  So what do you think America?  Do you find yourself unsubscribing from listservs or perhaps not signing up for new ones that you might have joined in the past?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Westlaw goes "green"

In this YouTube video, Westlaw representatives talk about the steps they are taking to be more environmentally-conscious in their dealings with summer law clerks.

If the embedded video doesn't work (there have been some problems lately with the blog), try this link instead.

Hat tip to librarians extraordinaire Robert Hudson and Debra McGovern

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Excellent communication skills": bad boilerplate?

Among the "worst 10 boilerplate phrases" one should "seek out and destroy" in professional resumes is this standard reference to communications skills, says Liz Ryan of The Savvy Networker (posted in Yahoo! hotjobs).  Another "stodgy boilerplate" phrase is "team player."

Ryan advises job seekers to add a human voice to their resumes. Someone with excellent communication skills should have no trouble doing that.

(cmb)

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Still more on the "apprenticeship" model of law firm employment

We reported earlier that several law firms are slashing starting associate pay and instead placing new grads on an apprenticeship track that will provide supplemental skills training that law schools, at least according to these employers, are not offering.  Some law firms that reject the "apprenticeship" model have expressed their views to the online ABA Journal.  Here's one comment:

Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin's Washington, D.C., office, tells the National Law Journal that law students interviewing for jobs may be unwilling to give up the money. "If you're a top-flight law student and you talk to one firm offering $80,000 or $100,000 to take extra classes and then you talk to another firm offering $160,000 to do work you can bill to a client, I don't see that as much of a choice," he said.

In response, the managing partner of Washington D.C.'s Howrey, which is the largest firm to date to adopt the apprenticeship approach, says "the old model is broken."  The new model will provide grads with the training they need while saving clients from otherwise having to pay for the learning curve of these grads.

Interestingly, although an informal poll conducted by Above the Law showed that its readers overwhelmingly support the apprenticeship model, comments left in connection with this story indicate that many think the apprenticeship model is a pretext for lowering salaries while keeping the firm's reputation intact.

I am the scholarship dude.

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July 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The online ABA Journal's "Question of the Week": The worst briefs and oral arguments.

There should be good lessons to pass along to students based on this week's question to readers posed by the online ABA Journal.  Specifically, the Journal is asking its readers:

What kind of words and phrasing do you see in briefs that drive you crazy? And in court, are you always sitting through hackneyed oral arguments by lawyers who have clearly never read McElhaney on Litigation? If so, we want to read your horror stories.

You can track the answers in the comment section here.  Also please feel free to share your own war stories with our readers in the comments below. I am the scholarship dude. (jbl)

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July 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another sign 'o the economic times - Lexis and Westlaw offer free online services for unemployed lawyers

Westlaw has started a website called Between Cases which is intended to serve as an information clearinghouse for displaced attorneys looking for work.  In addition, as the Legal Blog Watch reports, Westlaw is donating $12 million in free research services to firms that support pro bono work:

Between Cases also offers free resources for displaced attorneys who want to use their transitional time to perform pro bono work. To that end, the second prong of West's initiative is something it calls Do Justice. In cooperation with the Pro Bono Institute, West is contributing over $12 million in free Westlaw access to law firms to support pro bono work they do. Read more about both of West's initiatives at the Thomson Reuters blog Legal Current and in this news release.

The Lexis effort to help unemployed attorneys is called Lend a Hand and is offered to those who worked in law firms with more than 50 attorneys. The services it offers include:

Attorneys who qualify for Lend A Hand have until the end of August to sign-up which will entitle them to six month of free service.

I am the scholarship dude.  (jbl)

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July 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Details on the Scribes Luncheon in Chicago on August 1st

Picture 039 Picture 053 Picture 012 Picture 009 We have the details now about the Scribes Luncheon that will be held in Chicago on August 1, 2009 during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.  Click here for details on the program and information on how to attend.  Included in the program will be a special recognition of the Legal Writing Institute on its 25th Anniversary.

Picture 085 Picture 173 Picture 171 Scribes is the American Society of Legal Writers.  The luncheon is usually well attended and always enjoyable.  The award presentations made at this event recognize excellence in legal writing.

(mew)

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

student bloopers

Sometimes a writing teacher just can't help it.  A typo or grammar error in a student paper creates such an amusing sentence, the teacher just has to share it with somebody.  So as a law student, how would you feel if you learned two law professors guffawed over your paper?  Would you feel differently if it were shared anonymously on a professors' listserve?

(spl)

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night when the 2009 Bulwer Lytton awards were announced

It was David McKenzie of Federal Way, Washington, who penned this year's winning entry in the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, that annual extravaganza that looks for clever, but awful (in a clever way) renditions of prose that will make you say, "Wha???" but then go on to inspire you to write a really stinky opening sentence for today's blog post.Snoopy

Way back in 1830, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton penned the immortal opening to his novel Paul Duncan:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Sponsored since 1982 by the English Department at San Jose State, the competition looks for the "opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." Entries are in fact limited to a single sentence, and competition administrators admonish entrants to try to keep their concoctions below a 60-word limit.

Ready to read the winning entry?

Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.

Click for more information, or to read winners in some of the 2009 contest's subcategory genres (e.g., Adventure, Detective, but so far, no category for Appellate Briefs).

(cmb)

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

More on the private sector apprenticeships to make-up for lack of adequate law school training

We'd previously reported here that a few BigLaw firms were slashing new associate pay and instead offering them a one to two year apprenticeship to teach new grads what the law schools are apparently not.  At a time when job security for legal writing professors, clinicians and librarians is coming under attack from within the legal academy (related story here), some employers are saying loud and clear that law schools are not doing an adequate job teaching students how to actually practice law.  The price of a legal education keeps increasing while the financial value of that degree - both to the graduates themselves and employers - is declining - certainly in the short term.  Nevertheless, the ABA keeps approving more new law schools (follow up story here).  

Interestingly, in a non-scientific poll, Above The Law asked its readers what they think of the salary cut in exchange for post-graduate training and a whopping 70% said they liked it (or at least liked it better than a deferral).

And in a password protected article in the National Law Journal, there's a report that more firms are jumping on the apprenticeship bandwagon.  Here's an excerpt courtesy of ATL:

[Ford & Harrison and Dallas' Strasburger & Price] are putting new recruits through additional apprenticeship programs that they say will better train their attorneys for life at a law firm and for handling clients. Think of it as the equivalent of a medical residency, only with suits instead of scrubs.

The latest -- and so far largest -- firm to move to an apprenticeship model, 659-lawyer Howrey, announced its program last week. Starting next year, first-years at the firm will get a pay cut -- from $160,000 to $100,000 in base pay plus a $25,000 bonus to pay down law school loans -- and they'll spend a good portion of their time attending classes with partners and shadowing them on client matters. The apprenticeship period will last two years.

While this hardly makes a sustained trend, change is certainly afoot in the private sector as firms look to adjust the salary of new law graduates to a level more commensurate with their skills as well as find a means to supplement the skills training that they feel law schools are failing to provide.  One would hope that employers (read:  large donors) would put pressure on law schools to place more emphasis on skills training but that may be naive thinking on my part.

The current economic circumstances coupled with renewed interest in skills training generated by such studies as the Carnegie Report and Best Practices for Legal Education, make me believe that there are major opportunities here for skills faculty if we take the initiative.  

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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June 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Did a State University Barter Jobs for Law School Grads in Exchange for Law School Admission of Under-Qualified, Politically Connected Students?

This isn't strictly about legal writing but it is of great interest to legal writing professors and other professors who work in state schools. All law schools should consider admission factors other than a student's grades or LSAT scores when deciding whether to admit a particular student. But the University of Illinois College of Law is involved now in a scandal about having considered political pressure to admit students who were not otherwise qualified.  The law school reportedly did so in exchange for offers of employment for other students.  Click here to read more in a new post on the Law Librarian Blog.  That post asks "Did the University of Illinois Barter Jobs for Law School Grads in Exchange for Law School Admission of Under-Qualified, Politically Connected Students?"  The answer?  Yes.

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.

(mew)

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

Scalia, Garner Discuss Legal Writing at Texas State Bar Meeting

Picture 125 Picture 133 Law.com picked up a story from aTexas Lawyer Blog (Called "Tex Parte") about a talk that U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and legal writing expert Bryan Garner gave in Garner's home state of Texas at the annual meeting of its state bar.   Among the writing tips Scalia shared was to limit the use of italics. He said that legal writing with lots of italics tends to read “like a high school girl’s diary.”  Click here to read more from Tex Parte.

The photos here are not from the event in Texas but from last year's Scribes luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York.  We still do not have any details about this year's Scribes luncheon, except that it will be in Chicago on the Saturday of the ABA Annual Meeting.

(mew)

June 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)