Saturday, July 31, 2010
Many legal writing professors are attending and presenting at the SEALS Conference happening right now in Palm Beach, Florida. The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference continues until August 5, 2010.
On Saturday the programs included a session on moot court teams. The moderator was Professor Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech University School of Law) and the speakers were Dean Darby Dickerson (Stetson University College of Law) (pictured at right), Professor Susan Kay (Vanderbilt University Law School), and Professor Gary Myers (University of Mississippi School of Law).
On Sunday the programs begin with New Scholar Workshops. One of the presenters will be Professor Katerina Lewinbuk (South Texas College of Law).
An early afternoon program will be on "Incorporating Doctrinal Interests Into Legal Research and Writing Classes." Speakers will include Professors David Ritchie (Mercer University School of Law), Jason Bohl (Stetson University College of Law), and Anthony Niedwiecki (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago) (pictured at right). The moderator for the program is Catherine Cameron (Stetson University College of Law).
One session certain to be well-attended is "The Status of the Legal Writing Faculty in the Academy." The panel will examine "issues relating to the changing status of legal writing faculty, the relative importance of skills to the practice of law versus the status of skills courses and legal writing in law schools, and the future of the distinction between those professors who teach skills and substance." The panel moderator is Stephanie Vaughan (Stetson University College of Law) and the speakers are Professors Linda Barris (University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law); Richard Graves (Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law); Jane Cross (Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center), and Dean Richard Matasar (New York Law School).
There will be an informal gathering of legal writing faculty in the Tapestry Lounge (across from the registration desk). We'll meet after the West Publishing reception on Sunday evening. Look for me or for Catherine Wasson (Elon University School of Law) or just meet us in the Tapestry Lounge.
A session on Monday is called Research Assistance 2.0. Legal writing professors on that panel include Professors Brooke Bowman (Stetson University College of Law) (pictured at left) and Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago) (pictured at right).
The full text of Volume 7 of J. ALWD, the Metaphor & Narrative issue, is now available on the website for the Association of Legal Writing Directors. There's lots of interesting reading and ideas there folks. Congratulations to editors Joan Ames Magat (at Duke), Ruth Anne Robbins (at Rutgers), and managing editor Sue Painter-Thorne (at Mercer).
Hat tip: Linda Berger
Friday, July 30, 2010
The Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor is holding its 9th bi-ennial conference in Quebec City from August 13 to 15, 2010. The topics to be addressed include many familiar ones for the disproportionate number of legal writing professors who are (or have been) in non-tenure-line positions.
During Orientation, my Teaching Assistants help to teach the new first-year law students how to read and brief a case. I like to give the TA’s a short essay I wrote on how to keep straight the difference between the facts of a case and the procedural posture. It’s not exactly rocket science, but then, when you’re a 1L still trying to figure out who’s the plaintiff and who’s the defendant, you don’t really want to be learning rocket science. You can download Every Case Has Two Stories by clicking on the title.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Most legal writers appreciate how valuable a second set of eyes can be for finetuning any document. Now it turns out that, according to one study, a good editor may strengthen the impact of your writing by 30%.
hat tip: Alice Noble-Allgire
The University of Wisconsin Law School has announced that
hat tip: Mary Ann Polewski
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Scott Fruehwald, a legal writing professor at Hofstra, has written An Introduction to Behavioral Biology for Legal Scholars. As he explains in his abstract:
"Over the last ten years, behavioral biology has become an important tool for legal scholars. In fact, an informal survey rated behavioral biology as the second most important development in the legal academy since 2000. This paper will present the basics of behavioral biology for legal scholars. After giving an introduction to brain science, it will discuss such topics as the selfish gene and reciprocal altruism, universals, sexual selection, morality, culture, and the social contract."
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The American Bar Association Section on Legal Education has a Standards Review Committee that proposed eliminating the word "tenure" from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom.
The Committee also wants to abolish the a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors
In addition to other posts on this blog (and undoubtedly others), you can read more about faculty reaction to all of this in a new article from the National Law Journal. Click here.
If you want your students to know about the Federal Register for researching proposed regulations and amendments to existing regulations, you may lament the lack of classroom time when there are so many other things to teach as well. But we owe our students the chance to learn about how to use this important government resource -- and how to use it without having to pay expensive access fees through a commercial provider.
What to do? One option would be to include in your syllabus a five-minute YouTube Video. Students would likely welcome such a change from their reading assignment and a five-minute video is just about right for this. You could of course show this in class, but you could just as easily ask students to watch it on their own.
In your syllabus you can paste the link from the YouTube Video or, if you like, you could post a link to this very blog post: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/ / /
Here is the video that explains the new website for the Federal Register (as well as its history, going back to President Roosevelt).
Do you teach students how to research federal regulations? Do you teach them how to find not only a current regulation but also how to see proposed changes to federal regulations that may affect their future clients? Well have your students check this out -- the federal government is seeking public feedback on the 2.0 version of a Federal Register website.
The new websitewas launched on July 26, 2010 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register Act. Whoo-hoo!
The website will remain unofficial until the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register issues a regulation to make the website official. The Law Librarian Blog tells us that may happen sometime next year, but you'll want to teach your students about this in advance.
Being able to access the Federal Register without having to pay for a commercial provider will be an important research skill for our students. The website itself at http://www.federalregister.gov/ seems quite friendly. It's also easy to see how to submit your feedback too.
And click here for a related post about a new video about the Federal Register. You may want to include a link to the video in your syllabus for the Fall.
Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.
This year's speaker will be Professor Pamela S. Karlan, founder of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University School of Law.
Scribes will also recognize Professor Emeritus Richard C. Wydick, author of the million-copy best seller, Plain English for Lawyers (I'm guessing on that number of book sales but I don't think I'm far off!). If I read the invitation correctly, he'll be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Scribes. (When Justice Scalia received the same award from Scribes in New York, he urged Scribes to pick a new name for that award.) (Here is a picture from that Scribes luncheon in New York.)
Other presentations will include the Scribes Book Award and the Brief-Writing Award. The event will be held on Saturday, August 7, 2010, from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco (at 222 Mason Street, in the Carmel II Room on the third floor). Tickets are $50 per Scribes member or $90 for a Scribes member and guest. Nonmembers pay $60. And just why is it that you aren't a member?
Click here for the event flyer, which includes contact information. Download Scribes Luncheon 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Last Friday Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago -- and co-editor of this blog -- was elected as Secretary of the Illinois State Bar Association. With more than 35,000 members, the ISBA is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. His term as Secretary lasts for one year. Mazel tov, Mark!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
This weekend, the Standards Review Committee (SRC) for the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education considered dramatic changes to law school accreditation standards that relate to tenure requriements: "security of position" for clinic professors, and "academic freedom" for legal writing professors.
Just about every full-time legal writing professor’s position falls somewhere under the standards that the SRC is considering eliminating. For links to the details – including relevant SRC materials and materials submitted to them by many in legal education -- click over to the Tax Prof Blog.That blog post also notes that the Clinical Legal Education Association accuses the SRC of sandbagging the standards review process by posting some material only three days before its meeting in Chicago.
hat tip: Paul Caron
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Once the Board of Directors formalizes these promotions, Cooley’s legal writing faculty will include four full professors with tenure, five associate professors, and one assistant professor, all in tenure-line positions. Well done Norm and Tammy – and Cooley!
hat tip: Eileen Kavanagh
Friday, July 23, 2010
Back in 2001, I wrote a little advice column for the Illinois Bar Journal, on how to clean up your legal writing by focusing on the verbs. This week I got a request from a professor at another school for a copy of it, to replace his now damaged copy. When I realized it’s not available elsewhere on-line, I added Verbs Are It to my SSRN page, where you can download it for free. A lawyer or law student who struggles with passive voice verbs or nominalizations – or is not quite sure what those are – might find the advice helpful.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Carol A. Parker (New Mexico) has written an article explaining "How Law Schools Benefit When Librarians Teach, Hold Faculty Status, and Contribute to the Development of Curricula of Legal Research Instruction".
As her abstracts describes it:
"This work in progress explores how law schools benefit when non-director academic law librarians teach legal research skills, hold faculty status and have opportunities to attain tenure or continuous appointments. Principles of shared governance entitle library faculty to contribute to the development and delivery of programs of legal research instruction. This does not mean librarians must be the exclusive teachers of legal research skills; rather that at minimum, law faculties should consult with librarians in the development of programs of legal research instruction. Librarians hold graduate degrees in research methodology and have expertise in both the development and delivery of a pedagogy of legal research instruction. Initiatives to reform legal education curricula, spurred on by the Carnegie Report, should lead to greater support among law teaching faculties for librarian involvement in the educational process. Recognizing law librarians as participants in the shared governance of law schools should also lead to opportunities for more librarians to hold faculty status and attain tenure and other forms of continuous appointment. The author welcomes comments while she continues to refine this work in progress."
Writing Bad Briefs: How to Lose a Case in 100 Pages or More"
New York State Bar Association Journal, Vol. 82, No. 4, p. 64, May 2010
This is the latest entry in New York judge Gerald Lebovits's helpful column.
hat tip: Nolan Wright
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We may be teaching legal writing, but apparently not enough people are following through, because Neil Joel Dillof at the University of Baltimore has written "Get it in Writing: A Litigator's Perspective" .
As Neil explains:
"A basic principle in both the business and legal worlds is violated on a daily basis by well-meaning people as well as those who are not so well-meaning. Notwithstanding the mantra of get it in writing, presumably sophisticated business people, executives, and the audience for this article - lawyers - still fail to confirm in writing important conversations, agreements, dates and events. The objective of this article is to encourage both attention to and compliance with this cardinal principle."
Some of our readers may know legal writing professor Lisa McElroy (at Drexel) for her work on the Plain English feature over at Scotusblog. That blog has just received a 2010 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In conferring the award, the
Congratulations Lisa! Congratulations scotusblog!
hat tip: Chris Coughlin