Saturday, February 7, 2009

new and of note

Shoppingcart An interesting new article by Amy E. Sloan "reframes" our understanding of the process of legal research. In Step Right Up: Using Consumer Decision Making Theory to Teach Research Process in the Electronic Age, 60 S.C. L. Rev. 123 (2008), Professor Sloan discusses a different way to view the research process, helping us to understand "legal information as a product, the process of research as a purchase transaction, and research instruction as a form of consumer education."

What makes a cited authority authoritative, and to whom? Those questions--and others--are tackled in a new essay by Frederick Schauer, Authority and Authorities, 94 Va. L. Rev. 1931 (2008). He writes, "Citation is . . . law's way of justifying its conclusions in law's characteristically incremental and partially backward-looking way. It may turn out, therefore, that far greater attention to disputes about citation and the nature of permissible legal authorities will yield greater insight not only into how law operates, but also into just what law is."

(I am not the scholarship dude, but I do still like to keep up, and when I find something interesting, share it with you.)


February 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

more imagery, less text, better learning

AlisonjulienmarquetteMarquette legal writing prof Alison Julien has an educational post relating her new approach to using PowerPoint slides in classroom presentations. Drawing on an article by Ohio State prof Deborah Merritt (Legal Education in the Age of Cognitive Science and Advanced Classroom Technology, available here and here), Alison describes four principles she has adopted that affect her use of PowerPoint inside--and outside--the classroom.

hat tip: Jessica Slavin


February 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 6, 2009

New legal research scholarship: Law schools should take the lead in open access databases


This article by Professor Ian Gallacher of Syracuse University College of Law argues that law schools are best positioned to lead the legal profession towards open access online legal research.  The article, "'Aux armes, citoyens!:'" time for law schools to lead the movement for free and open access to the law," can be found in 40 U. Tol. L. Rev. 1 (2008) and here.

I am the scholarship dude - staying vigilant so you don't have to.


February 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Plain english" forms now available online from

As quoted from the NovaCityLaw blog:

The U.S. Courts website now has links to a number of both civil and criminal forms written in "simple, modern English". Revised by a group of judges, clerks and staffers at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the PDF files can be filled out online, printed and/or saved to the user's computer. 

Hat tip to Mary Paige Smith.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook instructional video for teachers

You may already be a member of the social networking site Facebook, or maybe you're still thinking it over. A couple of days ago, our own Jim Levy posted and linked to a Prawfsblawg discussion about the pros and cons of joining (and "friending" your current and former students).

If you have already plunged (or decided to take the plunge) into Facebook, check out "Facebook for Educators: An Instruction Guide for Teachers." Produced by Ben Ambrogi, the son of lawyer-blogger Robert Ambrogi, this seven-minute video tutorial walks you through the process of creating a Facebook profile and describes the basic features of the site (like the "Wall").

Facebook for Educators from Inigral Inc. on Vimeo.

And if you're already plugged in to Facebook, why not become a fan of the Legal Writing Institute?

hat tip for video: Kelly Browe Olson


February 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Linda Edwards joining faculty at UNLV

LindaedwardsmercerProfessor Linda Edwards, presently visiting at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, is making a permanent move to join the faculty there. Linda has been a member of the faculty of Mercer University's Walter F.George School of Law since 1990 (and is currently highlighted on its web site). Before joining Mercer's faculty, she was Coordinator of the Lawyering Program at New York University Law School (1987-1990).

The legal writing world knows Linda well for her many leadership roles: director of the home office for the Legal Writing Institute; co-sponsor of the several Notre Dame Colloquia on Legal Discourse (1998, 2000, and 2003); member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors; member of two ABA committees, Site Evaluation and Communications Skills. She has been one of the most pleasantly outspoken members of this community in encouraging more legal writing scholarship, giving a plenary presentation to the 11th Biennial Conference of LWI, “Scholarship By Legal Writing Professors: Voices From An Emerging Discipline,” in July 2004.

Linda was recently awarded one of this field's highest honors, the Thomas A. Blackwell Memorial for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing.

Linda is also well regarded for her textbooks, not just in legal writing, but also in property law: Legal Writing and Analysis, (2d ed. Aspen Publishers 2007); Legal Writing: Process, Analysis, and Organization, (4th ed. Aspen Publishers 2006); Estates In Land And Future Interests: A Step-By-Step Guide (2d ed. Aspen Publishers 2005). She is presently working on a new book, Briefs that Changed the World.


February 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

with best wishes for a swift recovery

CNN has reported that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer. We hope that the surgery went well and that the Justice recovers quickly and painlessly.


February 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Books to Recommend for Students Who Will Clerk for Federal or State Court Judges

Law_clerk_handbookAppellate_clerk  Here are two books to recommend to students who will be clerking for federal or state courts.  One is the Federal District Court Law Clerk Handbook and the other is the Federal Appellate Court Law Clerk Handbook.  Although the books are explicitly federal in focus, there is a great deal of information in here that will help students clerking for state court judges.  Both books are published by the American Bar Association, and special student pricing is available.  You can even order pdfs of the books instead of purchasing them if want to get an additional discount or if you cannot wait for the book to be delivered to you.  Go to the ABA Webstore and search for "Law Clerk" in their book titles (you will also find other titles of interest to law clerks).  Students can buy their own copies of these books (they are cheaper than most Aba textbooks these days), but they are probably already available to students in your school's law library.  Students who are going to clerk for a federal or state court judge will hopefully know how to find a book in your law library.  (If they don't, we're ALL in trouble!)


P.S. Click on the "comments" to see other book suggestions (and to leave some of your own suggestions).

February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Should you become Facebook friends with your students?

That's the question posed by Professor Robert Vischer on the PrawfsBlawg.  It's an interesting one that Professor Vischer allows others to answer in the comments which you can read here.  Of course, feel free to start your own discussion in the comment section, below.  Hat tip to the Above The Law Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

And if you answered "yes" to the Krispy Kremes question . . .

Here's a website you'll really enjoy!  "The Grammar Vandal" documents mistakes--a great source of illustrations for class. 

The February 2 entry is appalling--says that Birmingham, England, has decided to drop apostrophes from its street signs b'c they're old-fashioned and confusing.

aaaacckkk!!  Don't tell my students!  :)


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

do Krispy Kremes annoy you?

What popular alterations of grammar, usage, and spelling push you over the edge?  And is a passion for correctness really a demonstration of a need for control in a seemingly out-of-control world?  Read this article for more!

hat tip:  Kristen Murray, Associate Professor of Law, Temple University, Beasley School of Law


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

brief-writing competition

J0401804Mercer University School of Law and the American Bar Association host an annual writing competition in honor of Mercer’s former legal writing professor, the late Adam Milani. It is one of the few competitions for student-written briefs--not academic papers. Prizes can be as high as $1,000.

This year's topics are disability law; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Family and Medical Leave Act; or a state statute or municipal ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The deadline for submission is June 1, 2009. Further details are posted on the Mercer website.

hat tip: Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job opening at Touro

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center seeks applicants for the contract position of Legal Process professor. Legal Process is a six-credit, first-year course. Students receive three credits in the fall semester and three credits in the spring semester. In addition to the standard focus on predictive writing in the fall and persuasive writing in the spring, students are introduced to client interviewing, client counseling, and negotiation. Full-time Legal Process professors teach two sections of approximately 18 students each.

After two successive one-year contracts, Legal Process professors have presumptively renewable three year contracts, with renewable five-year contracts for scholarly publication. Legal Process is a directorless program with eight full-time professors who enjoy the same level of autonomy as the doctrinal faculty, as well as the same access to travel, scholarship, and other professional development funds.

Legal Process professors are involved in all aspects of law school life, including chairing and serving on major committees and serving as advisors to student organizations. They also have the opportunity to teach a variety of other courses. Legal Process professors attend faculty meetings and vote on all matters other than tenure and retention. The salary range for this position is $80,000-$89,000.

Touro is located in Central Islip, a suburban community on Long Island close to Manhattan and the wonders of New York City. Touro is housed in a new state-of-the-art facility directly across from the federal and state courthouses. Touro's innovative curriculum, court observation program, and Public Advocacy Center take advantage of this proximity by giving students hands-on experience and the ability to observe the skills they are learning in the classroom as they are applied in the real world.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and references by mail to Professor Deseriee Kennedy, Chair of Appointments Committee, c/o Marie Litwin, Secretary to the Dean, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, 225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY 11722.

The Appointments Committee would like to receive all material by February 13, 2009. The law school invites interested persons to contact any of the committee members for further information:
Rodger Citron; Deseriee Kennedy, Chair; Heather Melniker (Legal Process); Meredith Miller; Deborah Post; Gary Shaw; Michelle Zakarin (Legal Process).


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

who should be hired to teach legal writing?

Applicationform3 A few days ago, we told you about the lawsuit filed against the University of Iowa School of Law by a disappointed candidate for a legal writing job. The news has been reported on other blogs, including The Faculty Lounge, and The Volokh Conspiracy. Comments on the Lounge's post raise many interesting points about legal writing positions and desirable qualities for legal writing teachers, particularly at the entry level.

hat tip: Michael Higdon


February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lawyer, mother, superstar.

While surfing the web the other day, I fell into yet another rabbit hole that somehow led me to this biography of Boston lawyer Ruth O'Brien.  Her story of humble beginnings in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Yale Law School in the early 50's, to partner at a nearly all male law firm in the 70's by comparison makes OBama's rise to the presidency seem as certain as finding a vacancy at the Chernobyl Holiday Inn.

Sure, we all complain from time to time about too much work, too little pay and the difficulty of balancing work with some semblance of a personal life.   But before you dive too deeply into a pool of self-pity, just remember you never had to do all of that while raising 6 kids, fighting institutional sexism and wearing a body cast!  If this story wasn't true, you wouldn't think it possible.  Oh, yeah, turns out that one of her 6 kids is Conan O'Brien, the Late Night host.

What does this have to do with legal writing?  Not a whole heck of a lot - but how often does the Law Librarian Blog actually talk about books?  So cut me some slack, why don't 'cha.

I am the scholarship dude (who, thanks to Ms. O'Brien, is now more certain than ever that my life is completely meaningless).


February 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advice to summer associates in tough economy: sharpen your LRW skills!

For law students who've been lucky enough to score a summer job in this post-apocalyptic economy, the next hurdle will be to impress employers in a buyer's market.  Among the top 5 tips to enhance one's chance of getting a permanent offer of employment,'s columnist Julie Hilden says that students need to make sure their legal research skills are in tip-top shape and focus on making one's writing as clear as possible.

Read the full column here.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Friends don't let friends edit friends - It's the law! (or should be)

As writing professors, we're grading student papers all the time.  Although we tell students that our comments shouldn't be taken personally and we take pains to ensure that they can't be read that way, when students get upset, we still act surprised. 

This essay by Professor Rachel Toor from the Chronicle of Higher Education makes clear that sauce for the goose is not always sauce for the gander when it comes to the professoriate's ability to accept constructive criticism from colleagues.

"How to avoid hurt feelings and battered relationships when friends turn to you for a close read" offers practical advice for negotiating the diplomatic and emotional minefield that is the peer-editing process. 


I am the scholarship dude.


February 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In-house counsel's failure to do legal research costs the client a multiple damages award

According to this report in the ABA Journal Blog, an in-house attorney who failed to conduct legal research to determine whether a pregnant woman was covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act before she was fired, demonstrated a lack of good faith resulting in a federal trial judge doubling the jury's damage award plus adding $80k in liquidated damages.

You can read the full decision here.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

another perspective on citation manuals

199caabhj2scanu397vcaztpvodca5h2nzm Over on, an Irish blawg, you can read an interesting perspective on English-language citation guides.  While it is critical of the Bluebook, it gives a shout out to the ALWD Citation Manual.

hat tip:  Professor Rachel Smith, University of Cincinnati



February 2, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

kudos, Hollee!

1186781242_tn Professor Hollee Temple, at the University of West Virginia, worked in journalism before changing careers for the law and eventually teaching legal writing.  Now, along with a journalism school classmate, she's writing a bi-monthly column for the ABA Journal, on work-life balance issues.  Look for Hollee's bi-line in the Business of Law section of the Journal's February issue.  Hollee is also working on a book about the most recent generation of working mothers, The Boomers' Daughters.


February 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)