Saturday, December 19, 2009
If joining a fantasy football league isn't for you, perhaps you'd prefer the new fantasy Supreme Court game? It lets you predict the outcome of cases pending before the Court. If you've always said you know how a case should come out, if only anyone would have asked you, here's your chance.
hat tip: Frank Houdek
I love Kressel's admonition to attorneys to stop capitalizing with abandon. He notes that capitalization should be limited to proper names, and his strict approach to capitalization is even more limiting than the Bluebook's. I also appreciate his plea to attorneys to use articles. When my 1-L's don't use articles, the cause is sometimes their quoting a headnote rather than the opinion itself. I have no clue what excuse to offer for others' non-use!
hat tip: Kay Fletcher, one of our assistant deans at Tech
The newsletter for the AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education is now available. Not only does it mention this blog (thank you!), it also includes:
- a message from Section President Bruce Winick
- a profile of Professor Calvin Pang
- Profsesor Larry Krieger's "ABCs of Clarity and Peacefulness"
- an invitation to Section events at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, including the business meeting, an informal gathering at the historic Sazerac Bar, and the Section program
- listings of recent conferences, events, and publications
- and lots more!
hat tip: Amy Bushaw
Friday, December 18, 2009
Scholarship alert: "A countervailing elite: the necessity of an effective lawyering skills pedagogy for a sustainable rule of law revival in East Africa"
[T]he lawyer in East Africa has to be much more than a competent legal technician. With the coming of independence, the manifold problems that beset developing countries have to be faced, and in doing this great changes will have to be made in the framework of society. Lawyers have a vital part to play in these developments, for upon them will fall a major share of the work of putting into practice the principles and ideas of their colleagues in the fields of politics, economics and science, and ensuring that the resultant system works fairly and efficiently. Legal education must take account of these facts, and see that students are made aware of and prepared for their future role.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
There's an article in today's online ABA Journal discussing the departure after three years of Washington & Lee Dean Rod Smolla for Furman College where he'll serve as president. The article mentions the curriculum reforms that Dean Smolla implemented which place a heavy emphasis on preparing students to actually practice law. (We'd previously blogged about the curriculum changes at W & L here and here). The reforms "eliminate traditional coursework and [focus] on the practice of law through simulated or real-work situations. More than 50 percent of Washington & Lee’s 3L’s are participating in the currently optional program, which will become mandatory in 2011."
The ABA story states that the curriculum changes have accounted for a 33% increase in applicants this fall. While the school claims there's a connection between its newly revamped curriculum and an increase in applications, other factors could also explain the change including the poor economy which has led to a significant increase in the number of applications at many law schools. But it would be nice to think that the applicant market responds this favorably to a school that emphasizes practice skills as much as W & L. If you know of any other schools that report similar results from implementing a practice-oriented curriculum, please let us know in the comments below.
I am the scholarship dude.
More of the good stuff. This one is by Professor John H. Scheid of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and can be found at 37 Cap. U. L. Rev. 631 (2009). From the abstract:
The following suggestions that I propose, after having taught first year law students for over thirty years, are probably most applicable to students in the first two or three semesters, where the professors use casebooks rather than other types of materials, such as problems and hypotheticals. ... Restating in one's own words the arguments and reasoning of the court takes work. ... A reversal of a lower court's judgment, by definition, rests on one or more crucial issues of law, which in turn become the principle or principles of the case. ... In short, the third category of legal ideas is the equivalent of footnotes, concepts that are "nice to know" but which are not central to the course. ... Reviewing class notes six times over the two weeks following a class will likely reinforce comprehension to such a degree that one year later the student will have a deep-rooted understanding--not recall, not mere memory, but fundamental comprehension. ... Similarly, ninety percent of learning takes place before anyone briefs a case or attends a class. ... X had a package under his arm, a package that was wrapped in newspaper. ... There is no transferred negligence as "risk imports relation" between defendant and plaintiff. 1. ... X says: This problem arises only when the facts show a "direct" injury to a plaintiff who was not "reasonably foreseeable."
I am the scholarship dude.
Co-authored by Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert of the Third Circuit, he was the recipient of of the Legal Writing Institute's Golden Pen Award a few years back. The article can be found at 31 Cardozo L. Rev. 1 (2009).
From the abstract:
Likewise, harried opinion readers will benefit from a better understanding of opinion structure and opinion writing technique as they struggle to parse - whether as students in a first year classroom or as advocates researching a case to be argued before the highest court in the land - just exactly what these dang opinions are intended to convey and why they are even written in the first place. ... Almost fifty generations of law clerks have served in Judge Aldisert's chambers; the coauthors are the most recent in this long line of apprentice opinion writers and avid opinion readers and researchers. ... Examine the following table for a summary of each element: Greco-Roman George Rose Description Rhetoricians Smith's Primer Opening Exordium Opening Traditional form: paragraph(s); the paragraph explanation of the orientation nature of the action below, of the parties, the judgment, and the issues on appeal; Issue form: also includes major issue to be discussed Summary of issues Divisio Indication of Statement of issues to discussed issues on be discussed appeal Material or Narratio Statement of Narrative or adjudicative facts the facts adjudicative facts
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Because I've been behind in my blogging, it's actually the word of last week. Technicalities aside, this one comes to us from from wordsmith.org and is particularly relevant during the month of December when most LRW profs are working through a pile of student papers.
The word is "periphrastic" meaning: 1. Using a roundabout form of expression; wordy. 2. Formed by the use of two or more words instead of inflection
Examples include: "daughter of John" (compared with "John's daughter);
"It did happen" (compared with "It happened");
"more stupid" (compared with "stupider"); and
"Do you have" (compared with "Have you").
Hat tip to Professor Mary Beth Beazley.
I am the scholarship dude.
hat tip: Lou Sirico
That's the title of a Salon article that's got some legal writing professors thinking:
For centuries in print and more recently on-line, women who adopted male pseudonyms have fared better than they did writing under their own, female names. So what happens when a law journal sees a male versus a female name on a submitted manuscript? And given how prevalent and readily acknowledged elitism is in the selection of manuscripts for the top U.S. law journals, how likely is it that sexism is absent? Why don't student-edited U.S. law journals use blind reviews, like the peer-reviewed J. ALWD and J. Legal Writing do?
hat tip: Mary Beth Beazley
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Maybe it's just me, but every time I publish an article in a student-edited law journal (for our non-U.S. readers, student-edited law journals are the norm in the U.S.), I find myself editing the publication contract before it even comes close to something I can sign. As a legal writing professor, I naturally want to put it in plain English. I also change the content of the ridiculous indeminity clauses, which often would make me liable for things entirely outside my control or responsibility. And then there's the matter of copyright, a topic I also teach occasionally. Sometimes student editors actually seem surprised that I don't want to sign away my entire copyright forever, but I stand my ground.
Now Ben Keele at Indiana-Bloomington has studied these copyright provisions. His new article is: "Examining Law Journal Publication Agreements for Copyright Transfers and Self-Archiving Rights". And here's his description of his study:
"This study examines 78 law journal publication agreements and finds that a minority of journals ask authors to transfer copyright. Most journals also permit author to self-archive articles with some conditions. The study recommends journals make their agreements publicly available and use licenses instead of copyright transfers."
Thanks to LWI and LSN, we have news of two new articles that offer innovative ideas for teaching legal research:
"Teaching Legal Research Online"
Susan Herrick, University of Maryland - Thurgood Marshall Law Library
Sara Kelley Burriesci, Georgetown University Law Center - Edward Bennett Williams Law Library
"Online instruction has great potential for accommodating the learning styles and preferences of Millennial law students, as well as for the effective teaching of legal research in the digital age. While integrating instructional technology into a face-to-face classroom legal research course is highly desirable and relatively easy, designing and teaching a purely distance or hybrid distance course provides some unique challenges as well as some distinct benefits for both instructors and students. This article will first evaluate individual instructional technologies independently of each other, since any of them could be used to supplement traditional face-to-face research instruction, whether formal or informal. Consideration will then be given to special problems of teaching a graded legal research course entirely or predominantly online. Legal research instruction presents some opportunities for experimentation and innovation with online learning techniques that may serve students better, accommodate the librarian’s technology skills and abilities and her time constraints, and inspire others at our law schools to follow suit."
"Introducing and Integrating Free Internet Legal Research Resources into the Classroom."
Jootaek Lee, University of Miami Law Library
"The Global financial crisis has been discouraging legal researchers and practitioners from accessing high-cost databases such as Westlaw and Lexis. On the other hand, internet legal research provides great benefits to researchers in that it is free or less expensive than Westlaw and Lexis. The necessity of teaching law students internet legal research skills is imminent.
"The cons and pros of internet legal research will be discussed along with the effective ways of approaching and evaluating internet legal resources in terms of coverage, currency, accuracy, authority, appropriateness, perspective, presentation and usability, and cost. Additionally, a garden variety of authoritative internet legal resources for different primary and secondary sources will be introduced."