Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fun -- Westlaw Shows How to Prevent the Abuse of Stress Toys

A two-minute video from Westlaw that demonstrates how using Westlaw can prevent the abuse of stress toys.

Hat tip to David Austin at California Western School of Law


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

Global Legal Skills Conference

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 

Mark E. Wojcik

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

Julia Child and Legal Writing

Greipp, Melissa 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.

Click here to read the full post .


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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

director opening at Widener-Harrisburg

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.


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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When to use the phrase "in other words"

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.


September 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Justice Scalia offers some advice on effective advocacy

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."

You can read more from here and the ABA Journal here.

I am the scholarship dude.



September 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

more photos and coverage of Southeast Regional LW conference

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.


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

Monday, September 14, 2009

director opening at John Marshall, Chicago

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.


September 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A writing blog and website you may be interested in: "Practicing Writing"

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.   

Hat tip:  Oronte Chum via Inside Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

more highlights from Southeast Regional conference

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.


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

highlights from the 2009 Southeast Regional LW Conference

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!:

IMG_0376 Conference attendees were greeted by the friendly Stetson Student Ambassadors.

A fine breakfast in Stetson’s Great Hall.IMG_0377


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.


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

call for papers: Law & Semiotics

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,,, and  Selected papers will be published in a special edition of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.

hat tip:  Jessica Silbey


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

10 Must-See Movies for Law Students

If you made a list of ten movies that law students "must see," which movies would be on that list?  Make a few notes now and then see how your list compares to this one.

Hat tip to Amber Johnson


September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)