Friday, November 13, 2009

client-centered legal writing

Jason Cohen, at Rutgers, has written an article entitled Know Your Client: Maximizing Advocacy by Incorporating Client-Centered Principles into Legal Writing Rhetoric Practice.  Here's how he describes his shift in focus, in his abstract:

"This article seeks to slightly shift the landscape of legal writing theory, from one which primarily asks the writer to consider the audience, to one which also incorporates principles of client-centeredness which require the writer to focus equally on the client. Today, legal writing's model of persuasion communication is almost exclusively a linear theory that focuses on the dialogue between the attorney/writer and the decision-maker/judge. This model is embodied in legal writing's well-established advice that attorneys must 'know their audience.' The roots of this theory are well established: Classical and New Rhetoric Theory have consistently emphasized the audience's role in persuasive discourse.

"Clinicians, however, have developed theories of client-centered lawyering which require that the attorney uncover their client's values, goals and objectives that may go well beyond the discrete litigation at hand. Client-centeredness encourages the attorney to incorporate this information into his/her advocacy on behalf of their client. This article advocates incorporating select principles from client-centered lawyering into legal writing. The primary purpose for this application is persuasion and advocacy, not necessarily empowering the disenfranchised client.

"This article begins first by exploring current theory from legal writing scholarship which focuses on the writer's need to write for the audience. Although by now, the 'know your audience' approach is somewhat ingrained, what may not be well known is that this approach stems historically from rhetorical theories of communication. After establishing the rhetorical connection to audience, and the devices used to write for the audience, the article next explores the development of client-centered lawyering, which traditionally focuses on achieving the greatest client satisfaction, beyond merely winning the case. Inherent in this approach is the dialogue that must occur between practitioner and client. Third, the article proposes application of principles from client-centered theory to legal writing theory, suggesting a shift from relying solely on a 'know your audience' approach to now also including a 'know your client' approach. The devices that lawyers have been taught regarding audience can also be applied to knowing the client. Finally, the article concludes by examining practical examples of incorporating client-centered principles into advocacy writing."


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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to . . . US!!!

The Legal Writing Prof Blog started November 5, 2005.  We've had more than 300,000 visitors in the past five years and more than 450,000 page views.  Most of our readers are in the United States, but we have readers all over the world (including, most recently, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Uganda, rhe Russian Federation, the Netherlands, France, India, Jamaica, and Estonia).

We thank you for your continued support and contributions to the blog.  Thank you, everyone.

Nancy, Sue, Coleen, Mark, and Jim 

November 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LWI "Nuts and Bolts" Workshops on December 4 for New Writing Teachers and Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Legal Writing

LWI 25 The Legal Writing Institute is holding "Nuts and Bolts" Workshops on December 4, 2009 in Chicago (at The John Marshall Law School) and in New York Ciity (at the Manhattan Campus of St. John's University School of Law). 

Click here to download the latest version of the program, which includes the list of speakers and a printable registration form.  Download LWI New Teachers Workshop (Version 2.7)   You can also register online (see the information in the program).


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

for Veterans Day


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army


November 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

chair in Law in Advocacy (corrected)

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law is seeking nominations and applications for its Douglas Stripp Distinguished Professorship of Law in Advocacy.

For this position, candidates should have a J.D. degree (or equivalent) from an accredited law school, experience or promise in leadership and program development, a record or promise of scholarly writing that will make a meaningful contribution to the academic literature and the profession, and significant experience in teaching advocacy or as an advocate. 


The Stripp Professor will collaborate with law school and campus faculty, the legal community, and local and national advocacy organizations to develop an innovative, integrated, and interdisciplinary advocacy curriculum; organize regional and national symposia; and develop and implement programs that advance advocacy and advocacy education.  The expectation is for the Stripp Professor to build these activities into a Center for Advocacy at the law school.     

The position will be open until filled, and review of applications will begin Dec. 1st.  Nominations and applications should be sent to:


Professor David Jacks Achtenberg, Chair
Douglas Stripp Distinguished Professor Search Committee
University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
Phone: (816) 235-2382; Fax: (816) 235-5276


hat tip: Ed Richards





November 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

add an E to your IRAC

 AQKCAIST6DCCA7KJ216CAQDSI94CA6JK3YVCA7MLMA8CAIC770BCA7DD3DUCA0XAU54CAU731IBCARN1YY9CAR88PMDCAUGL4DICAZVH3RGCAG1KO2JCAPID333CATE8LV6CA2R2PDLCA7M5PHMCA6JS0PG   "Whether you're answering exam questions or arguing on your client's behalf, explaining the rule of law can help get your point across to your professor or the judge."  Thus says our blog co-author Mark Wojcik in his practical article on how to Add an E to Your IRAC.  Law students who are still learning how to craft strong written legal analysis and lawyers who could use a refresher to make sure their prose is as powerful as possible could all benefit from this quick read.


November 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rocky Mountain conference

ECGCARJ055NCA1CPXXLCAEGNY1SCA51G8MBCAXN3V81CAU0VTF3CAPVZYCRCABDQYJNCAKH8E4LCAADNCW9CA2QAGOGCAWF57ZTCANICV4ACA1I62R6CA3VSNHACARRT99YCA5NBSRXCAE4CK4SCAR5DMVT  The web site is now available for the Rocky Mountain Regional Legal Writing Conference.  The conference will take place March 19 & 20, 2010, in Tucson, Arizona.  On the website, you can already find information about registration, the call for proposals, hotels, and the Innovative Teaching Workshop.  The conference organizers will add even more information to the site as it becomes available.  Spring comes early to Tucson, so it's an excellent place for the winter-weary to plan to visit in March.  

hat tip:  Suzanne Rabe


November 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Teaching Writing for Social Justice

The SUNY Council on Writing has issued a call for proposals, for its annual conference, on the topic of Teaching Writing for Social Justice, taking place March 26 & 27, 2010, in Plattsburgh, New York.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Nancy Welch of the University of Vermont has focused her most recent scholarship on reclaiming the rhetorical strategies and tactics of U.S. social justice and labor movements for tackling the challenges to public writing and voice today.

The conference aims to consider the roles writing and writing instruction can, yet often fail, to play in making our larger political and economic contexts more equitable. Particular consideration will be given to proposals that explore how to define social justice through the teaching of writing.

The conference organizers encourage proposals exploring the juxtapositions and intersections particular to writing and social justice, such as:

o How do writers and teachers (re)construct identities that reflect and challenge their own and others' experiences of social injustice?
o How do program and student outcomes interact to limit and/or promote individual and social progress?
o How do departments support professional development for part time writing faculty that increases security and improves working conditions?
o What service learning opportunities do writing programs offer their students and faculty? What are their problems and possibilities?
o When and where are composition and rhetorical theory being applied for critical purposes? Are there contexts where such applications should be avoided?
o Can writing teach its practitioners to productively challenge yet wisely respect certain individual, social and ecological limits?
o How can the practices of writing, reading and critical thinking combine to promote social justice?
o How is writing an inherently revolutionary act?

Proposal Guidelines
Papers or panel abstracts should be no more than 400 words, including a brief description of individual presentations. In your abstract, include all contact information, the title of your paper or panel, and a description of your technology needs. Sessions will run 90 minutes, and panels may comprise 2-4 people. To present, registration is required upon acceptance.

Proposal Submission
Please send inquiries and proposals by January 15, 2010 to Nichole Bennett-Bealer at or Tom Friedrich at

hat tip:  Ben Opipari


November 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ALWD scholarship forum at Marquette

The following report was delayed only due to an unsuccessful effort to obtain photos:


On October 9, Marquette Law School hosted an ALWD Scholars’ Forum before the Central States Regional Conference.  The forum was an all-day event where legal writing faculty from all over the United States came to discuss their current scholarship in a roundtable format.



After Dean Rofes’ warm welcome, Professor Dan Weddle from UMKC Law School gave an excellent presentation on how to critique scholarship.  The group then broke up into small sections to give the participants a chance to discuss their scholarship and receive feedback.  At the end of the day, a panel of experienced authors gave helpful and practical advice on how to get published.  The participants agreed that the day was a great way to brainstorm ideas and get inspired. 


Special thanks to ALWD for providing us with a generous grant for the forum, to Dean Kearney for his overall support, to Dan Weddle for all his work in co-organizing this event, and to the following panelists and participants:  Hillary Burgess (Hofstra), Mary Ann Becker (DePaul), Ian Gallacher (Syracuse), Melissa Greipp (Marquette), Sue Liemer (Southern Illinois), Lisa McElroy (Drexel), Andrea Mooney (Cornell), Michael Murray (Valparaiso), Michael O’Hear (Marquette), Sarah Ricks (Rutgers-Camden), Susan Thrower (DePaul), Mary Trevor (Hamline), Amy Vorenberg (Franklin Pierce), and Dan Weddle (UMKC).


hat tip:  Melissa Greipp



November 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)