February 28, 2009
The Latest Issue of the "The Second Draft" is Now Available Online
The Legal Writing Institute has posted on its website the latest edition of its electronic newsletter, The Second Draft. Click here to read it. (That page also has links to back issues of the Second Draft.) The issue includes articles about "Teaching Through Technology."
The next issue will be about "Implicit Reasoning." The LWI website has details on the submission deadline (June 1, 2009) and requirements for submitting articles. If you haven't yet written for The Second Draft, have a look at the current issue and use YOUR implicit reasoning to come up with something for the next issue!
February 27, 2009
Facebook wants you! (to help them draft a user's bill of rights)
After last week's PR fiasco in which Facebook surreptitiously changed its user agreement to grant itself a license in perpetuity to all photographs, copyrighted material and other intellectual property posted by its users, the social networking giant is trying to redeem itself by asking you, the user, to help them draft a "User's Bill of Rights." As explained by SiliconValley.com:
The proposed 'Facebook Principles' cover such topics as the 'freedom to share and connect,' 'fundamental equality' and 'ownership and control of information.' Facebook users, now numbering 175 million around the world, are being invited to review, comment on and ultimately vote on the proposals in 'a virtual town hall' over the next 30 days.
Legal writing professors, including the Legal Writing Institute itself, have a large presence on Facebook. So here's your chance to live the fantasy of drafting, in effect, an online constitution that will govern the rights of a not insignificant percentage of the world's population. So get going you megalomaniac - the clock is ticking!
Hat tip to SiliconValley.com.
I am the scholarship dude.
"Yes we scan!" - Carl Malamud wants open access for all public legal materials
Maybe you've heard the story of Carl Malamud and his organization public.resource.org which is devoted to obtaining open access to every legal resource produced by the government. Here's how the Legal Blog Watch describes his quixotic quest:
His belief is that all primary legal materials produced by the government should be readily available to the public. It is a belief so seemingly simple and obvious that it is surprising he has had to fight so long and so hard to make it happen. This is the guy who, way back in 1994, put the SEC's EDGAR database online, shaming the SEC into eventually publishing the database itself. And he has been fighting this fight ever since, most recently taking on PACER.
Malamud has launched a somewhat audacious but wonderfully rational campaign to have President Obama nominate him to be public printer of the United States, the executive who sits at the helm of the U.S. Government Printing Office.
He calls the campaign "Yes We Scan" and he has assembled a group of big-name supporters as The Committee to Reboot .Gov. The committee is co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig of Stanford law school. Malamud's plank proposes a number of changes in the GPO's operations and in the government's approach to publishing. Among them:
- Have GPO take the lead in making all primary legal materials produced by the U.S. readily available to the public.
- Have GPO work with the rest of the U.S. government to bring about radical changes in the ways it presents information on the Internet.
- Ensure that GPO is itself fully transparent and is a forceful and effective advocate for transparency throughout the three branches of government.
Hat tip to the Legal Watch Blog.
I am the scholarship dude.
Central States proposals due in one week
If you're thinking of submitting a proposal to speak at the Central States legal writing conference, to be held in Milwaukee in October, it's time to stop thinking and time to start drafting your proposal. Next Friday, March 6th, is the deadline for submitting proposals. You can submit your proposal via the conference website (look for the "Submit a Proposal" link on the right-hand side of the screen). The exact boundaries of "Central States" can be subject to your own interpretation; in the past plenty of presentators and audience members have come from places with views of the ocean.
Revenge of the Associates - "Rate a Partner" now online
First, there was RateMyProfessors.com. Then came RateYourStudents.blogspot.com. So it was only a matter of time until law firm associates came up with RateAPartner.com. And with the Tsunami of recent law firm lay-offs, associates unfortunately have plenty of time on their hands these days.
Hat tip to Above The Law.
I am the scholarship dude.
Law Schools Invited to Sponsor the 2010 Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Conference
The 14th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute will be held from June 27-30, 2010 at the Marco Island Resort, Marco Island, Florida. Because this will be the first LWI Biennial Conference not hosted at a law school, the LWI has decided to create new opportunities for law schools around the country to show their support for legal writing programs.
The 2010 Conference Committee is soliciting proposals from law schools willing to contribute money or services in support of our conference, in exchange for prominent recognition in the conference program and on an on-site sponsor board (or other) recognition. School sponsorships can take several forms:
- Basic Sponsorship level ($500) – Sponsors at this level will receive recognition in the conference program, and they will be listed on an on-site sponsor board. They will also have the opportunity to provide an LRW program brochure, flier, or other item in the conference "goodie bag."
- Room Sponsorship level ($750) – Room sponsors will have the opportunity to sponsor a presentation room for one day of the conference. The room sponsor will be announced during the first session of the day, and a sign outside the sponsored room will indicate that the technology for that room was sponsored by XYZ School of Law. In addition to these sponsorship benefits, room sponsors will also receive all of the same sponsorship benefits as the Basic-Level sponsors. The conference organizers anticipate having five or six presentation rooms per day, and each room will have only one sponsor, so the number of room sponsorships available is limited.
- Gold Sponsorship (amount varies) -- Schools are invited to sponsor the goodie bags, snack breaks, or a meal. The amounts for these types of sponsorships will depend on the cost of the item sponsored.
The conference organizers will also consider "in kind" sponsorships as well (valuable services donated by a law school that relieves the conference of an equivalent expense). All "in kind" sponsorships will receive at least the Basic Level recognition, or greater recognition depending upon the value of the services donated.
For more information on sponsorships (and to lock in one or more of those sure-to-go-fast room sponsorships), contact one of the Conference Co-Chairs, Ken Chestek and Alison Julien, or Michael Higdon, Chair of the LWI Conference Finance Committee. And be sure that you save the 2010 dates for the LWI conference. It simply is a legal writing event not to be missed.
February 26, 2009
Summer job offers for law students drop by one-third
According to this press release issued by the National Association of Law Placement ("NALP"). While overall legal recruiting has been down substantially, to say the least, 2L recruiting has been especially hard hit:
The most dramatic impact of the current economic situation on legal employment opportunities was on the numbers that describe the fall recruiting of 2Ls for summer 2009 positions. Across employers of all sizes, the median number of offers extended dropped dramatically from 15 in fall of 2007 to 10 in fall of 2008. At the largest firms — firms with more than 700 lawyers firm-wide — the median number of offers dropped from 30 to 18.5. Similarly, the percent of callback interviews resulting in offers for summer spots fell precipitously to 46.6% from a figure that had hovered at or above 60% for the three years prior. Not surprisingly, the offer acceptance rate also jumped. At 32.5%, it is the highest rate recorded since 2002.
Although the news is grim, there will always be a demand for law students with solid research and writing skills. If students hope to compete at all in the new economic realities of the legal marketplace, they need to take their legal writing courses more seriously than ever.
Hat tip to the ABA Journal Blog.
I am the scholarship dude.
This image is bound to become a classic for all teachers of legal writing.
AALS Section on Academic Support Invites Proposals for the 2010 Annual Meeting in New Orleans
The Association of American Law Schools Section on Academic Support has issued a call for its 2010 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the AALS Annual Meeting to be held January 6-10, 2010. The theme of the 2009 Section's workshop will be: "Transforming Learning in the Classroom: the 21st Century Law Professor." The Section will showcase how professors are transforming the learning environment of their classrooms through innovative and creative methods. Many of these methods have their roots in traditional academic support tenets of varying lesson plans to reach different learning styles, providing feedback throughout the semester, assessing students in creative ways, engaging students both in and out of the classroom, and encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning. The committee requests proposals that demonstrate modern classroom and teaching techniques including but not limited to: active learning activities, teaching assessment procedures, exam drafting, skills development in doctrinal courses, and innovative lesson plans. The Program Committee will give preference to presentations designed to engage the workshop audience, so proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the interactive methods to be employed. In addition, they would like to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and will look for variety in presentations and presenters. If you do not have a proposal to submit, but are interested in participating in a presentation, please contact Emily Randon (see below), as assistance with the overall workshop is always welcome.
Based on participant numbers for the last several years, the organizers anticipate over 100 people attending the program. To assist the presenters in the interactive piece, the program committee members and other volunteers will be on hand to act as facilitators with audience members.
Proposals must include the following information:
1. A title for your presentation
2. A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.
3. A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.
4. The amount of time allocated for your presentation and for the interactive exercise. No single presenter should exceed 45 minutes in total time allowed. Presentations as short as 15 minutes will be
5. A detailed description of how the presentation will be interactive.
6. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.
7. A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional ASP or writing conferences, or other academic conferences. (The committee is interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.)
8. Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (include email address and telephone number).
9. Any articles or books that you have published describing the lesson you will be demonstrating.
Send proposals by Monday, March 9, 2009 to Prof. Emily Randon, University of California, Davis School of Law. The ASP Section Program Committee consists of Emily Randon, Robin Boyle Laisure, Hillary Burgess, Barbara McFarland, Kathy Garcia, and ASP Section Chair Pavel Wonsowicz.
Hat tip to Hillary Burgess
Some Law Schools Are Switching to Pass/Fail
An article on law.com notes that several leading law schools are rethinking their grading systems and deciding to move from letter grades to pass/fail grading. Harvard and Stanford are among the schools mentioned in the article that are moving away from traditional letter grades. Presumably this also includes their legal writing classes. Click here to read more.
February 25, 2009
In footnote 2 of an opinion released today, Justice Samuel Alito quoted the entire lyrics of a song by a former Beatle. You may say Alito's a dreamer, but he's not the only one. Four justices concurred, and there were no dissents. The case was Pleasant Grove City v. SUMMUM, No. 07-655, a free speech case involving a religious monument in a city park.
McGeorge Rethinks Its Writing Program
The Pacific McGeorge School of Law, by unanimous faculty vote, converted its legal research and writing program into a two-year program entitled “Global Lawyering Skills.” The new program will begin in the fall semester of the 2009-2010 academic year. Students will have two years of required legal research, writing, and oral advocacy instruction. The first year will focus on case analysis, objective legal writing, client counseling skills, contract drafting, U.S. legal research, and international legal research. The second year will focus on persuasive written and oral advocacy, including trial briefs and arguments, appellate level briefs and arguments, which culminate in a campus-wide moot court competition. It will also includes further instruction in U.S. and international legal research. The school plans to add additional components in drafting pleadings, discovery, transnational contracts, and other skills-based instruction.
It is encouraging to see a law school rethink its legal writing mission to include international law research and subjects such as transnational contracts. Because our students face an ever-increasingly international world, our legal education must include international law and international legal research as part of what our students will need to succeed.
Hat tip to Stephanie J. Thompson of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Follow Eric Holder's Twitter feed - NOT!
Hat to the ABA Journal blog.
I am the scholarship dude.
In bad economy, undergraduate humanities suffer
This may not bode well for the skill set we can expect to see in future law school applicants. The New York Times is reporting today that undergraduate humanities, which typically encompass courses with a heavy emphasis on writing and analytical thinking, are under siege these days due to the economy and tough job market. Professor Andrew Delbanco, director of American studies at Columbia, is quoted as saying: “Although people in humanities have always lamented the state of the field, they have never felt quite as much of a panic that their field is becoming irrelevant.” You can read the whole story, "In Tough Times, Humanities Must Justify Their Worth," here. I am the scholarship dude.
New study shows "stereotype threat" affects women and minorities on standardized tests
A new study by researchers from Stanford and Waterloo University, publication pending in Psychological Science but available here now, suggests that minority students and women under-perform on standardized tests like the SAT due to the phenomenon of self-fulfilling negative stereotypes. Inside Higher Ed has a good summary of the study's findings:
[T]hese stereotyped groups actually perform better than non-stereotyped groups at the same level of performance when this threat is removed from the academic environment.
When students are taking standardized tests such as the SAT and GRE, [one of the researchers] pointed out, this threat is triggered in minute ways, such as asking a test taker to self-identify his or her race and gender prior to taking the test. He noted, however, that a test taker might not even have to be triggered in this explicit way, but might already be hyperaware of a stereotype 'impugning the ability of [his or her] ethnic or gender group.'
Using data from the SAT, the study found that “stereotype threat” reduced the scores of women on the math section by 19-21 points. This depressed score is especially significant since the overall gender gap on this section is 34 points. The study also found that 'stereotype threat' reduced the scores of African and Hispanic Americans by 39-41 points. The overall gaps between these groups and white students are 199 and 148 points respectively.
Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed. I am the scholarship dude.
February 24, 2009
A new book on teaching with "clickers."
You know them, you love them. That's right, friends - it's the "ShamWow" of the contemporary classroom: Clickers. Well, Jossey-Bass has just published what may be the first book for teachers on how to make the best use of these little miracles of effective pedagogy. It's called "Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments" by Derek Bruff, the assistant director of Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching. While you're waiting for your review copy to arrive from the publisher, you can read an interview with the author from Inside Higher Ed right here. And you can watch a video demonstration of clickers here.
Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.
I am the scholarship dude.
Mark your calendar - October 20 is "National Writing Day."
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE to those of us in the know) has declared October 20, 2009 as "National Writing Day" in recognition of "the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and [to] help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft."
To help celebrate National Writing Day, the NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English, 'natch) is inviting "students, teachers, parents, grandparents, service and industrial workers, managers, business owners, legislators, retirees" - virtually anyone and everyone who would like to participate to submit a writing sample to the "National Gallery of Writing." Go to this page on NCTE's website and follow the instructions for submitting your own piece. The National Writing Gallery is a "digital archive of samples that exhibit how and why Americans are writing every day" and will be accessible through a free, searchable website.
I am the scholarship dude - bringing you the good stuff, day after day.
What it means to write in the 21st Century - a new paradigm
A new report released by National Council of English Teachers calls upon writing instructors to re-think what it means to 'compose" in the digital age and to adapt our teaching methods accordingly. The report, available here, is authored by NCTE past president Kathleen Blake Yancey and recognizes that
"21st century writing marks the beginning of a new era in literacy, a period we might call the Age of Composition, a period where composers become composers not through direct and formal instruction alone (if at all) but rather through what we might call an extracurricular social apprenticeship."
By way of example, Professor Yancey tells the story of a 16 year old Florida girl who looked out her window following a tropical storm and became alarmed at the rising flood waters threatening her neighbors. In response, she snapped a digital photo and attached it to an email sent to several people asking help which arrived in the nick of time. Professor Yancey says this example reflects the new model of composition in the digital era - the girl "saw a need; . . . she knew how to compose in a twenty-first century way," and she knew her audience. The result was a digital message that clearly and very effectively communicated her message.
The report ends with a list of challenges facing writing teachers: 1. Develop new models of composing; 2. design a new curriculum to support those models; and 3. create new pedagogies enacting that curriculum.
Um, OK. But first I've got to finish grading this pile of papers in front of me.
On a serious note, I recommend this report to anyone who teaches writing - there's a lot of very interesting information about the history of writing instruction in this country.
Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.
I am the scholarship dude.
New Salary Categories for LRW Job Postings
The Boards of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Wrigint Institute have jointly to update the salary categories on the job posting forms used for posting legal writing jobs on legal writing listserves. The old salary categories are out-of-date and needed to be updated. Law schools posting future jobs are urged to use these categories:
___ over $120,000
___ $110,000 - $119,999
___ $100,000 - $109,999
___ $90,000 - $99,999
___ $80,000 - $89,999
___ $70,000 - $79,999
___ $60,000 - $69,999
___ $50,000 - $59,999
___ less than $50,000
Obama to Face His Toughest Critics Tonight
“When President Obama speaks before Congress and the nation tonight, he will be facing some of his toughest critics. Grammar junkies.” Click here to read more from the New York Times.
Hat tip to Professor Andy Starkis at Massachusetts School of Law