Saturday, January 24, 2009

too conservative for Iowa, alleges legal writing candidate in discrimination suit

The TaxProf Blog posted a story today about Teresa R. Wagner, an employee of the University of Iowa College of Law Writing Resource Center, who has sued the law school and its dean, Carolyn Jones, for rejecting her from consideration for a legal writing faculty position because of her conservative political views. From the Chronicle of Higher Education and Des Moines Register:

She argues that affiliations listed on her résumé, including stints with groups like the National Right to Life Committee, did her in with a liberal-leaning faculty. To bolster her case, the lawsuit dissects the political affiliations of the approximately 50 faculty members who vote on law-school faculty hires; 46 of them are registered as Democrats and only one, hired 20 years ago, is a Republican, the lawsuit states. Ms. Wagner also says that a law-school associate dean suggested that she conceal her affiliation with a conservative law school [Ave Maria] and later told her not to apply for any more faculty positions.

"She just wants to make it known that conservatives need not apply," Wagner's lawyer, Stephen Fieweger of Moline, Ill., said. "Liberals talk about diversity, except when it comes to bringing in a different, conservative point of view."

The Chicago Tribune reports that Dean Jones has denied the discrimination allegations, stating that the school found other applicants more qualified for the post than Wagner.

For more about the case, check these links:

hat tip: Paul Caron and TaxProf Blog


January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the White House web site

720pxuswhitehouselogo_svg The inauguration of a new President may stir greater student interest (for a while, anyway) in legal research of executive and administrative law. Legal researchers who use the Internet will enjoy exploring the redesign of the White House's web site.

  • Looking for Executive Orders by President Obama? Go here.

(President Bush's executive orders--and those of his predecessors--are stored at the National Archives.)


January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 23, 2009

New law review article on grammar

Since grammar issues seem to be burning up the Legal Writing Institute's listserv these days, I thought some readers of this blog might be interested in the following:  "Why Grammar Matters: Conjugating Verbs in Modern Legal Opinions," 40 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 1-47 (2008) - a new article by Professor Robert C. Farrell of Quinnipiac University School of law.

Here's a summary:

The United States Supreme Court has stated that it "naturally does not review congressional enactments as a panel of grammarians; but neither does it regard ordinary principles of English prose as irrelevant to a construction of those enactments." Thus, the verb phrase "he carries" is in the third person, singular number, present tense, active voice, and indicative mood of the verb "to carry." In addition to these forms, there are also verbals, consisting of gerunds, infinitives, and participles; these are verb forms that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. In contrast to the disability cases that emphasized the indicative mood and its basis in reality and fact, several other cases have focused on the subjunctive mood with its hypothetical, or contra-factual, perspective. Tense "Tense" refers to the time of the action of a verb. According to the Court, "By using these verbs in the past and present perfect tenses, Congress has indicated that computation of the credit must occur after the defendant begins his sentence. A federal statute doubled the punishment for "distributing, possessing with intent to distribute, or manufacturing a controlled substance in or on, or within one thousand feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school." In that constitution, the placement of the participle "making" after the word "bill" gave the governor the power to veto non-appropriations portions of appropriations bills.

I am the scholarship dude - doing what I do best.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Burton Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education

The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement have for 10 years given awards for good legal writing done by lawyers and law students. The Awards have promoted and publicized the cause of improving writing in the legal profession and have rewarded lawyers and law students who strive to write well. 

For the past five years, the Burton Awards have given an award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the education of lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking, or writing. The contributions considered may be significant single achievements or the accumulated achievements of a career. The previous recipients have been Dean Kent Syverud of Vanderbilt, Dean Darby Dickerson of Stetson University College of Law, Professor Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent, Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle University, and Professor Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State.

Nominations are invited for this years award.  Nominations should describe the contributions of the nominee and should be forwarded to one of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail: Anne Kringel; Grace Tonner; or Nancy Schultz. Nominations are due by February 13, 2009.

Hat tip to Anne Kringel at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More research on the neuroscience of decision-making.

This article from the Wall Street Journal discusses a $10 million, 3-year program funded by the MacArthur Foundation which brings together law professors, neuroscientists and philosophers to study how the brain makes decisions in a legal context.

In an initial study intended to reveal how our brains behave when we are asked to make a judgment about guilt or innocence, one neuroscientist noted that he was surprised by the amount of "emotional activity during an impartial legal decision.  [These decisions] may not be so detached."  Dr. Marois went on to say that the results of the experiment "shattered my preconceived ideas of the legal system."  The full study was published last month in Neuron

This kind of research should be of interest to any legal writing professor who wants to better understand the science of persuasion and legal decision-making.

Hat tip to the Above the Law Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The oath gaffe

The Language Log contains a nice, comprehensive report on the Presidential Oath of Office gaffe - including the relevant constitutional language, video of Justice Roberts administering the oath, a transcript, and commentary.


Hat tip to the Above the Law Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

visitor opening at University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Little Rock William H. Bowen Law School seeks applicants for a Visiting Professor to teach in our Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy program. The position is a coverage visit. We need one visitor for the Fall 2009 semester, commencing August 1, 2009.

The visitor will teach two sections of first-year Reasoning, Writing and Advocacy, a two-credit course. The visitor will have an office and access to faculty support services and other services on campus. Funds for conference travel and professional development are also available.

Salary for the semester will be between $42,000 and $53,000, depending on experience; compensation may include benefits and assistance with relocation expenses. Minimum qualifications are a J.D. from an accredited law school and strong writing and interpersonal skills. Preferred qualifications are outstanding academic credentials, prior teaching experience, and law review or moot court service.

For the last three years, the Bowen Law School’s legal writing program has been ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report.  The first-year program consists of a total of six hours of credit for courses in legal research and legal writing, spread across two semesters. Four full-time faculty members and one adjunct teach writing in the first year, joined by the library director who teaches legal research, assisted by several of the librarians. 

Little Rock is the capital city and largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, boasting extremely affordable housing, many cultural attractions and close proximity to extensive wilderness and recreational areas.  The Bowen School of Law is located in recently revitalized downtown Little Rock, less than two miles from the state capitol, the federal, state and county courthouses, the largest law firms in the state, and the Clinton Presidential Library.  Housed in a spacious 150,000 square foot building that was completely renovated in 1992, the law school is situated on the east side of historic MacArthur Park, a large urban park containing the Arkansas Arts Center and the MacArthur Museum of Military History, within the historic Quapaw Quarter.

Applicants should send an email, attaching a current curriculum vitae, together with a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, and at least three references, to Associate Dean A. Felecia Epps, at Those preferring to apply by standard mail should write to Associate Dean Epps at the UALR William H. Bowen Law School, 1201 McMath Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202-5142. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, an Equal Opportunity Employer, affirms the values and goals of diversity and strongly encourages the applications of all candidates, including women and candidates from historically under-represented groups.

For more information about the position, please contact Professor Coleen Barger at or at (501) 324-9957.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

150 Law Library/Librarian Blogs

Our friends at the Law Librarian Blog report that there are now 150 Law Library or Law Librarian Blogs.  Click here to read more.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

legal research -- the movie

ImagesIf you are trying to teach your second semester students to use their sources -- both print and online -- efficiently, and choose between them wisely, you may want to show them the legal research movie, at

hat tip:  Prof. Candle Wester-Mittan, Southern Illinois University


January 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Professor from Illinois Becomes President of the United States

Obama_2 and he can WRITE!

Congratulations, President Obama!


January 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 19, 2009

When is a book like a hammer; when is it like an LP?

This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times suggests that the debate over the obsolescence of books is both premature and more nuanced than we often consider.  The book, like the hammer, is a "tool ideally suited to its task."  It is a perfect invention that defies improvement.  In some contexts, though, a book may indeed be more like an LP - better ways have been developed to electronically summon the information once printed on paper. 

Encyclopedias?  Phone books?  Dictionaries?  They're more dead than Sean Young's acting career.  But in other contexts, you'd be hard pressed to improve upon the printed page as an efficient information delivery system.  As author James Gleick points out, a book is technology that works as well today as it did back in the day.

The book is dead!  Long live the book!

I am the scholarship dude.


January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If "Randy the Ram" could, he would. You should.

Getting paid for writing an article in the warmth and comfort of your faculty office is better than a kick (literally) in the head any day of the week.  That's why you should apply for an ALWD/LWI scholarship grant - but the deadline is fast approaching.

Compared to the things some people do to make a living, this grant money is like taking candy from a baby.  Count your blessings and apply for a grant today.

Here are the details as quoted from the original announcement:



The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) are pleased to announce the Legal Writing Scholarship Grants for teachers of legal research and writing for 2009.  These grants reflect the two organizations’ commitment to the professional development of legal research and writing professionals.

Each year, ALWD & LWI award several research grants to legal research and writing teachers.  These research grants enable gifted educators to spend their summers exploring scholarly ideas of interest to them and to produce scholarship that will assist others in the field. The grants also provide evidence of the two organizations’ support for the scholarly pursuits of legal research and writing professionals.

In the past, the grants have varied from $2000 to $5000.  The number of grants awarded depends on the quality of the applications and funds available.  The organizations award as many grants as feasible each year. Royalties from the ALWD Citation Manual are the primary source of ALWD funding each year.

In 2008 LWI and ALWD cooperatively evaluated and chose five applications to fund.  For the 2008 awards, the two organizations invested $17,500 in promoting scholarship projects by legal writing and research professors.  At the end of this document is the 2008 announcement of scholarship grants.

The joint ALWD-LWI committee that awards grants consists of two groups that function independently.  One group blindly reviews and scores grant applications.  The other group serves a mentoring function and applicants may approach the mentoring group for advice on the application.  Mentors will not score applications or participate in any way in deciding who receives a grant.  Application mentors for the 2009 application process are: Karin Mika (Cleveland Marshall); Amy Dillard (Baltimore); Kathy Stanchi
(Temple); Lisa Eichorn (South Carolina); and Sarah Ricks (Rutgers-Camden).


1.  Eligibility:  The Legal Writing Scholarship Grants, sponsored by ALWD & LWI are open to both full-time and adjunct teachers of legal writing and research. Teachers who have previously received an LWI or ALWD Summer Research Grant are ineligible for this program for three years after they have received such a grant.  LWI and ALWD Board members, officers, and members of either the LWI Scholarship Development Committee or the ALWD Scholarship Committee are ineligible to participate until they have been out of those positions for a full academic year.  LWI and ALWD encourage proposals from both veteran professionals and those new to the field.

2.  Deadline: Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Time on February 3, 2009.  Please email the Word document to

3.  Application materials: The grant application is a separate Word document which should have accompanied this Announcement.  If you are missing the Application, please check the announcements on the LWI ListServ or Dircon, or email Robin Slocum at for a copy.

4.  Where to get help and where to send the application.

If you would like mentoring on applying for a Grant, please contact:

                        Sarah E. Ricks
                        Clinical Professor & Co-Director,
                        Pro Bono Research Project
                        Rutgers School of Law – Camden

Completed Grant Application should go to:

                        Robin Wellford Slocum
                        Professor of Law
                        Chapman University School of Law

Hat tip:  Professor Sarah Ricks by way of Darren Aronofsky.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Well, this is just too cool-a website that explains the derivation of common English phrases, with over 1500 searchable phrases/sayings.  You can even sign up for the phrase of the week

Now excuse me while I go browse . . . happy as a clam.


January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations to Sarah Ricks

Ricks_sarah Professor Sarah Ricks of Rutgers School of Law-Camden has been appointed by the mayor of Philadelphia to serve on the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.  The Commission enforces the City's very broad antidiscrimination ordinance and also has a public education role. 

Sarah resides in Philadelphia and is a Clinical Professor and Co-Director of the Pro Bono Research Project at Rutgers School of Law-Camden.  She teaches Civil Rights, Advanced Legal Writing, Public Interest Legal Research, and Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research. 

She has been congratulated by Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, by Dean Raymon Solomon and her colleagues at Rutgers-Camden, and now by the national and international legal writing community

Sarah is also the author of a forthcoming book called Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation: Roles of the Courts, Attorneys, and Administrators.

Congratulations, Sarah!


January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cross-Generational Influences in Legal Writing

Mcgaugh_tracyTracy McGaugh, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising and an Associate Professor of Legal Process at Touro Law Center, has been exploring the topic of cross-generational influence in the field of legal writing.  If you'd like to see the first post in that series, click here.  Here's an excerpt:

The gap between Boomers and Xers is not only large because of the characteristics of those particular generations; it's also large because it also straddles the pre- and post-technology revolution line. In a field as new as legal writing, it's expected that progress will be marked in some respects by how well this very young field is able to navigate the political landscape of a very old profession. So those who strategize for this new field's success necessarily do so within their own framework of how youth (the new) deals with authority (the established). Ideas of what makes someone authoritative and how much deference one should give to authority vary widely between the Boomers and the Xers.


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