Saturday, December 12, 2009
We wrapped up the day at a reception in The Bridget and Alfred Pelaez Legal Writing Center--spiffy new digs for the Duquesne LRW program and faculty. The conference was a great success, and a good time was had by all!
Emily Zimmerman, Susie Bennett, Shannon Moritz, Allison Martin, and Doug Godfrey share an intense discussion in the Center's reception area.
After Shannon Moritz and I presented on "Laughing Matters: Using Humor in the Legal Writing Classroom," I attended the last session of the day, selecting a presentation by Doug Godfrey, Chicago-Kent: "Student Presentations: Empowering Upper-Level Students." Doug spoke about the benefits of teaching presentation skills to law students and mentioned that business schools teach those skills routinely. He also talked about the use of score sheets. audio tapes, and MediaNotes for critiquing. Finally, he addressed the over- and ill-use of PowerPoint.
Friday, December 11, 2009
After lunch, I attended a presentation by Camille Lamar (Nova Southeastern). She discussed a non-legal fact pattern that she uses as an introductory exercise not only for rules and the analytical paradigm, but also for professionalism and client counseling.
In short, the fact pattern involves a teenager ("Sheila") who is wondering what to wear for her first day of work. She is told by the manager to "dress professionally" and wonders whether a tube top meets the rule. The exercise then walks students through developing rules from examples (pictures of other employees, some of whom were disciplined for their attire) and then applying the rules and examples to Sheila's proposed attire.
Professor Lamar also uses the example to teach hierarchy of authority (manager, district manager, CEO). Very creative!
After the plenary and follow-up, the schedule offered five presentations per time slot vying for our attendance. I chose to attend "(Stop) Grading Drafts" by Larry Cunningham, formerly a clinician at Tech and now a prof at St. John's.
Larry focused on the reasons not to grade drafts, instead offering feedback alone on them and grades only on final products. He argued that over-grading can de-motivate students and that the value of good feedback is sufficient motivation for students to put their time and effort into drafts.
He also discussed interesting research on intrinsic v. extrinsic motivation and posited that some students resist external evaluation out of fear or ignorance and thus submit poorer quality drafts.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The law faculty at Southern Illinois University has voted to promote both Sheila Simon and Melissa Marlow from associate to full Clinical Professors. They are the first legal writing professors at the school to achieve this position. Congratulations!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In a follow-up to the plenary, the Duquesne LRW faculty discussed their program and its features that help to promote hope AND improve their student evaluations. For example, they don't hide the ball, coach instead of critique, delay grading, show respect to their students, and use a program-specific evaluation form.
Pictured are Tara Willke and Erin Karsman of Duquesne, relaxing at the reception at the end of the conference.
The plenary session, "Engendering Hope," featured Allison Martin and Kevin Rand of Indiana University presenting their research on hope theory and its relationship to law school success. They surveyed a group of law students and found that "hope predicts academic success and life satisfaction in the first semester of law school." They also presented several ways that law professors can engender hope in law students, including the following: help law students formulate or reframe goals; increase their autonomy; model the learning process; help them understand grading as feedback; and model and encourage agentic thinking.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A new article by Grant Morris (San Diego) is sure to raise some eyebrows in some more traditional law school classrooms: "Teaching with Emotion: Enriching the Educational Experience of First-Year Law Students". Click on the title there to read the full article. Here's the abstract:
"Through the case method and Socratic dialogue, first year law students are taught to develop critical legal analytic skills-to 'think like a lawyer.' Those skills, however, are primarily, if not entirely, intellectual. This article discusses the need to address emotional issues in educating law students. Unlike other articles, my article does not merely urge professors to raise such issues in their classes and discuss them analytically. Rather, I want students to actually experience emotion in the classroom setting as they discuss various fact situations and the legal principles involved in the resolution of disputes involving those facts. Law students need to understand and appreciate the emotions of people, including their own emotions, if they are to become the best lawyers they are capable of becoming. Educating law students about emotions should not be deferred until upper class clinical courses or professional responsibility courses. The place to begin that education is in the first year. To encourage such education, I present specific examples from my first-year Torts class in which I raise issues in a manner that results in an emotional response by students. I demonstrate how such methodology stimulates class discussion and enriches the law student’s educational experience."
The ABA has printed up a new supply of the Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs, 2d edition, which has been out of stock for some time. You should be able to find it now at http://www.abanet.org/abastore/index.cfm?section=Main&fm=Product.Search&type=b&sgcd=1&k=Sourcebook+on+Legal+Writing+Programs. It's also likely available in your nearest U.S. law school library and in the office of most U.S. legal writing program directors.
hat tip: Eric Easton, 2d ed. editor
Monday, December 7, 2009
Holy carbon paper, Batman! Following up on a story we blogged about last week, in the Christie's auction of Cormac McCarthy's typewriter on Friday (which the author used to do all his writing over the past 50 years including The Road) horrified the pre-sale estimate of $15k - $20k by ending at $254,500. Mr. McCarthy is donating the proceeds to charity.
I am the scholarship dude.
Here's her summary:
"This article examines tenure requirements currently in use in academic law libraries in the United States. It is one of two articles examining the effect of tenure opportunities on rank-and-file academic law librarians, their law libraries, and the profession of law librarianship. Its intended audience is library directors and other leaders within the profession of academic law librarianship. The article reports data gathered in an August 2009 survey of law libraries that currently provide tenure or continuous appointment opportunities for academic law librarians. To provide context, this article revisits faculty status and how it can naturally lead to law librarians having opportunities to attain tenured status. The article also considers the ideal of tenured status—what benefits are gained by the tenure system and what is meant by the concept of academic freedom which underpins justification of tenure generally. It identifies various tenure tracks for librarians and the standards for performance under which law librarians are currently reviewed, promoted to progressively higher rank, and awarded tenure. Finally, it recommends that library directors and other leaders within the profession make a concerted effort to encourage law libraries to employ more uniform and consistently rigorous standards for assessing law librarian performance for tenure or continuous appointment, and to develop more robust programs for encouraging librarian scholarship. Failing to do so can only weaken arguments that law librarians should continue to hold faculty status, and be able to attain tenured status, well into the future.
Carol's also written a companion piece, “Providing Tenure and Continuous Appointment Opportunities for Academic Law Librarians: Challenges for Librarians and Library Directors.”