Friday, November 27, 2009

Terri LeClercq Named as First Ralph L. Brill Distinguished Visitor at Chicago-Kent College of Law

Brill, Ralph LeClercq, Terry .

The Chicago-Kent College of Law announced this year that is establihsing a Ralph L. Brill Professor of Law Chair.  This recognizes the contributions of one of legal writing’s most well-known and best-loved heros.  The law school plans for this to be a Chair at the school, but it is starting off now as a Ralph L. Brill Distinguished Visitor.  The first Ralph L. Brill Distinguished Visitor will be Terri LeClercq.


Terri LeClercq is the former Fellow, Norman Black Professorship in Ethical Communications in Law (ret.) at the University of Texas School of Law.  She served in many other roles at Texas, including Senior Lecturer in Legal Writing, and Director of the University of Texas Law International Programs.  She also has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at The University of Alabama Law School and at The University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School.  Terri is the author of Guide to Legal Writing Style (4th ed. Aspen 2007), Expert Legal Writing (Univ. of Texas Press 1995), and perhaps 90 articles on writing in various publications (including the  Second Draft, Perspectives, Scribes, Bar Journals, and the  Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute).  She has been a speaker at countless programs, including the Plenary speaker at several of the National Legal Writing Institute conferences.   


Terri will visit Chicago in February 2010.  Her husband, Jack Getman, the Earle E. Sheffield Regents Chair Professor at the University of Texas Law School and one of the country's most illustrious Labor Law professors, will also present two lectures at Chicago-Kent during that visit.  

Congratulations to Chicago-Kent, to Ralph Brill, and to Terri LeClercq and her husband Jack.


November 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Scholarship alert: A noteworthy article called "The Clinic Effect"

Here's one of the more interesting practice-oriented articles I've had come across my computer screen in a while.  Authored by Professor Rebecca L. Sandefu of Stanford's sociology department and Professor Jeffrey Selbin of Berkeley School of Law, it's available at 16 Clinical L. Rev. 57 (2009).  From the abstract:

Lawyers, law professors and experts on professional education perennially proclaim that law schools teach students to think like lawyers but not to act like them. Legal education’s emphasis in the cognitive dimension comes at the expense of critical professional development in the skills (expertise) and civic (identity) dimensions. Clinical legal education has long been prescribed as a pedagogic corrective to these perceived deficits in law school training, but little research exists to inform our understanding of whether - much less how, when, why and for whom - clinics deliver on this promise.

With data from a new, nationally representative survey of early-career attorneys in the United States, this article explores evidence of clinical education’s impact in the skills and civic dimensions of lawyer training. In the skills dimension, new lawyers rate clinical training more highly for making the transition to the actual practice of law than many other law school experiences, particularly the doctrinal core frequently the object of the standard critique. In the civic dimension, the study finds no evidence of a relationship between clinical training experiences and new lawyers’ pro bono service, and no consistent evidence of a relationship between clinical training experiences and new lawyers’ civic participation. Although there is no evidence of a general relationship between clinical training experiences and public service employment, the study finds a strong relationship between clinical training and career choice for those young attorneys who recall that they came into law hoping to improve society or help individuals. For this group of new lawyers, clinical training may have been an important factor in sustaining or accelerating their original civic commitments.

As a result of these findings and the continued dearth of data on these important questions, the article concludes with a call for a new generation of research into the effects of clinical legal education on the preparation of students for the practice and profession of law.  

Hat tip to Professor Mary Beth Beazley.

I am the scholarship dude.


November 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

more scholarship updates

Here are some more intriguing abstracts from LSN.  To access on of these articles free, just click on the title, then click on the download sign you'll see.  

"Ambiguity About Ambiguity: An Empirical Inquiry into Legal Interpretation" 

The Journal of Legal Analysis, Forthcoming
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 280
Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 09-50

WARD FARNSWORTH, Boston University School of Law
DUSTIN F. GUZIOR, Boston University School of Law
ANUP MALANI, University of Chicago
Most scholarship on statutory interpretation discusses what courts should do with ambiguous statutes. This paper investigates the crucial and analytically prior question of what ambiguity in law is. Does a claim that a text is ambiguous mean the judge is uncertain about its meaning? Or is it a claim that ordinary readers of English, as a group, would disagree about what the text means? This distinction is of considerable theoretical interest. It also turns out to be highly consequential as a practical matter.

To demonstrate, we developed a survey instrument for exploring determinations of ambiguity and administered it to nearly 1,000 law students. We find that asking respondents whether a statute is “ambiguous” in their own minds produces answers that are strongly biased by their policy preferences. But asking respondents whether the text would likely be read the same way by ordinary readers of English does not produce answers biased in this way. This discrepancy leads to important questions about which of those two ways of thinking about ambiguity is more legally relevant. It also has potential implications for how cases are decided and for how law is taught.

Boyle, Robin "How to Critique & Grade Contract Drafting Assignments"
The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, Vol. 297, 2009
ROBIN BOYLE, St. John's University School of Law
This article represents the transcribed proceedings of Professor Robin Boyle’s speech given in May 2008, for the Center for Transactional Law and Practice at Emory University School of Law, at a conference entitled “Teaching Drafting and Transactional Skills - the Basics and Beyond.” Prof. Boyle’s presentation at the conference described course content for her upper-level seminar on contract drafting. She also suggests ways to critique students’ contracts submitted for coursework.

"Learning and Unlearning in the Legal Academy" 
MAKSYMILIAN T. DEL MAR, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne
This paper argues that education, at its best, is based on a combination of learning and unlearning. Learning involves the development of sensory intelligence, a dynamic form of knowledge that is anticipatory and orientating. This sensory intelligence is always stylised, i.e., it consists in relations formed, over a certain period of time, by the senses with specific features of the environment. Unlearning, on the other hand, is the process of challenging this stylised sensory intelligence. These styles of seeing (and experiencing) are challenged by encouraging and facilitating different kinds of relations with these specific (or other) features of the environment. The paper is structured into three parts. The first part illustrates the principal themes of the paper by working through a number of examples of seeing (and experiencing). The second part elaborates and organises these themes into the above two concepts of learning and unlearning. The third part then applies the model of education (i.e., the combination of learning and unlearning) to the legal academy by focusing on two commonly engaged in activities: first, reading legal texts; and second, providing (hypothetical) legal advice.

Vorenberg, Amy "The Moral of the Story: The Power of Narrative to Inspire and Sustain Scholarship"
AMY VORENBERG, Franklin Pierce Law Center
This article describes how I discovered the power of story as a tool to inspire scholarship. We think of stories as a means to bring life to legal cases in a way that grounds them and makes them visceral and comprehensible. We use storytelling to teach our students - showing how the emotive power of a story can persuade. However, stories can also serve a different function. In my search for a way to inspire and sustain my own writing, I found out that a good story can be the source of a writer’s motivation to both create and sustain scholarship. Basing scholarship on a story essentially mimics the process that has been occurring all along in the formation of law. The common law develops and changes as new stories push the limits of existing rules. Thus, stories are natural and logical fodder for scholarship about current trends and doctrines.


November 25, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

Aalslogo Here's a reminder that the Fall 2009 newsletter of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is now available.  Hard copies are not being mailed, so please download a copy.  Download AALS Legal Writing Newsletter Fall 2009 FINAL

The Fall 2009 newsletter is 18 pages long and contains an extraordinary list of names and accomplishments of section members.  I hope you will be able to find your own name and the names of many colleagues and friends as we celebrate our collective accomplishments.

The newsletter also has (on page 24) the "Legal Writing Dance Card" for anyone attending the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans.  That "Dance Card" has the dates and correct times for the legal writing events you will want to attend, including the NEW time for the Blackwell Award (being presented by ALWD and LWI to Steve Johansen), the presentation of the AALS Section Award (to Joe Kimble), the new list of speakers for the AALS extended Section Program, and other programs of interest to those who teach legal writing, reasoning, and research.

Mark Wojcik
Section Secretary, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

November 25, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Bluebook publishes online "cheat-sheet"

The consortium of law reviews that publish the Bluebook has just launched a website called "Blue Tips" that serves as a "cheat-sheet," or FAQ if you prefer, for many commonly asked Bluebook questions.  The following topics are covered:

  • Cases
  • Citation Structure
  • Cross-References
  • Miscellany
  • Periodicals
  • Punctuation
  • Quotations
  • Signals
  • Statutes
  • Subdivisions

    Further, the Bluebook editors invite questions from readers that may become additional tips if the answers are of general interest: 

    The editors provide authoritative guidance to reasonable questions on subjects covered by The Bluebook. The most useful answers are gathered here as Blue Tips, classified by subject. These tips are searchable and linked to the Bluebook content they address. Send your questions to If our answer is useful to Bluebookers generally, it may be formulated into a new tip, below.

    A big hat tip to our good buddies at the Law Librarian Blog.  If you're not already subscribing to this one, you need to as it provides the best coverage on issues related to legal research, information management and social media in law school.

    I am the scholarship dude.


  • November 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

    Judge to Blackwater attorneys: "Don't single-space!"

    According to the Crime Scene Blog on the Washington Post, a D.C. federal district judge warned the attorneys representing criminal defendants in the Blackwater case that they need to comply with the court's standing order requiring that submissions be double-spaced.  Judge Ricardo Urbina found that defense counsel was circumventing the court's order - which requires all submissions to be double-spaced and use 12 point Times Roman or Courier font - as a way to cram more words into their memorandum.  The blog notes that the submission is under seal and thus its nature and content are unknown. 

    In a brief order filed in the case, Judge Urbina stated that counsel should consider this a warning since he was "loath to strike their submission" but the next time they violate the court's rules, they will indeed be sanctioned.  You can read the Washington Post's full coverage of this story here as well as the online ABA Journal's coverage here.

    I am the scholarship dude.


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

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Workshops for Adjuncts and New Writing Faculty

    LWI 25 The Legal Writing Institute is holding One-Day Workshops for Adjunct Professors and New Legal Writing Professors.  The workshops will take place on Friday, December 4, 2009, in two locations:  Chicago and
    New York City.  The program will be held live in each location.  There will be four sessions:

    1.  Nuts and Bolts (Choosing books, creating assignments, syllabus issues, and other essential issues);

    2.  Grading Papers and Handling Student Conferences

    3.  Teaching Legal Research and Citation

    4.  Thinking Forward

    Click here to see the full program and speakers.  Download LWI New Teachers Workshop (Version 2.7)

    The cost of the one day workshop will be $100 for those who register in advance, and $120 at the door.  We recognize that even this relatively modest amount may be too much for some to pay, so partial tuition
    scholarships will be available for both locations.  Contact Mark Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School [7wojcik at] for more information.  
    Participants may register on line by following the links below.  The first link is for New York and the second is for Chicago:

    This should be a great event, and we look forward to seeing you there.


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

    Legal Writing Articles on SSRN

    LWI 25 The Legal Writing Institute sponsors a page on the Social Science Research Network ( for articles relating to legal writing and its teaching.  You can access the legal writing page by clicking here.  


    If you register for SSRN (which is free, easy, and does not subject you to anything evil), you can also subscribe to the LWI page.  If you do that, you’ll get an email about once a month with the latest postings for articles on legal writing.  You can access almost all of these articles for free.  (SSRN is also a great research tool to teach to your students.)  Enter the abstract number (or author name or article title), click on the link, click download, choose a location (doesn’t really matter which one), and you will have the article (again, for free!).  As of November 20, 2009, there are 629 articles in the LWI database of legal writing articles on SSRN.

        Here is a list of some popular legal writing articles you can find on SSRN.  Some of these articles are in law reviews, some in practitioner journals, and some in publications specifically for law students:

    · Kenneth D. Chestek, The Plot Thickens: The Appellate Brief as Story,

    · Darby Dickerson, Reducing Citation Anxiety,

    · Susan Duncan, Thesis Paragraphs,

    · Anne M. Enquist, Unlocking the Secrets of Highly Successful Legal Writing Students,

    · Judith D. Fischer, Avoiding Plagiarism in Legal Documents,

    · Laura P. Graham & Miriam E. Felsenburg, Beginning Legal Writers in Their Own Words: Why the First Weeks of Legal Writing are so Tough and What We Can Do about It,

    · Michael J. Higdon, From Simon Cowell to Tim Gunn: What Reality Television Can Teach Us About How to Critique Our Students' Work Effectively,

    · Jan M. Levine, Designing Assignments for Teaching Legal Analysis, Research and Writing,

    · Susan Liemer & Hollee Temple, Did Your Legal Writing Professor Go to Harvard? The Credentials of Writing Faculty at Hiring Time,

    · Michael A. Millemann & Steven D. Schwinn, Teaching Legal Research and Writing with Actual Legal Work: Extending Clinical Education into the First Year,

    · Shawn G. Nevers, Legal Research Readings to Inspire and Inform Students,

    · Jessica Price, Imagining the Law-Trained Reader: The Faulty Description of the Audience in Legal Writing Textbooks,

    · Suzanne E. Rowe, Legal Research, Legal Analysis, and Legal Writing: Putting Law School into Practice,

    · Jack Lee Sammons, The Lawyer’s Moral Obligation to Write Well,

    · Wayne Schiess, Ethical Legal Writing,

    · David E. Sorkin, Sex Ed for Legal Writers,

    · David Thomson, CaseMap as a Tool for the Research Log Function: Finally, a Technology that Can Help Us Teach Better,

    · Kathleen Elliott Vinson, Improving Legal Writing: A Life-Long Learning Process and Continuing Professional Challenge,

    · Mark E. Wojcik, Add an E to Your IRAC,

    If you have particular favorites on SSRN, send us a note in the comment box.


    November 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    The Law Teacher newsletter

    The fall 2009 edition of The Law Teacher is now available on-line.  This newsletter is a publication of the Institute for Law Teaching and features short articles on law school teaching, learning, and curriculum.

    Here's how this edition of the newsletter ends:

    "On good days we are respectful, engaged, insightful, and eloquent.
     On great days our students are respectful, engaged, insightful, and eloquent."

    hat tip:  Frank Houdek


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

    job opening in Oregon

    The University of Oregon School of Law is seeking candidates for a full-time Legal Research and Writing position beginning July 16, 2010.  LRW is a required, two-semester course taught in the first-year curriculum, including research, analysis, writing, and other professional skills.  LRW faculty work collaboratively in a supportive environment that encourages experimentation.

    LRW faculty rotate teaching upper-level courses in drafting, research, judicial writing, etc.  LRW faculty serve on faculty committees and vote at faculty meetings.  Each faculty member receives professional development funds for travel and research assistance.  During the sixth year of appointment, an LRW faculty member will undergo a promotion that brings longer contracts, a salary increase, and the opportunity for a paid sabbatical.

    Applicants for this position should have a strong record of academic achievement; excellent skills in legal writing, research, and oral communication; a J.D. or its equivalent; and at least two years of post-law school legal experience.  Applications should be sent to Professor Suzanne Rowe, Director of Legal Research and Writing, University of Oregon School of Law, 1515 Agate St., Eugene, OR 97403-1221.  Applications should include a letter of interest, a resume, a list of three references, and a law school transcript.  The appointments committee will begin reviewing applications on December 11, with the goal of conducting interviews in January, though submissions will be accepted until the opening is filled.

    1. The position advertised may lead to successive contracts of only one to four years in length.
    2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings on virtually all matters (i.e., LRW professors vote on hiring of tenure-track faculty, but not on their promotion or tenure).
    3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the $55,000 to $70,000 range, plus 1/9 of the base salary for summer preparation work. LRW professors sometimes have the opportunity to teach summer school for additional compensation.
    4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the LRW professor will be 35 to 50, depending on the model we adopt for teaching upper level writing and research courses.


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