Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scholarship alert: "Without stigma: using the JURIST method to teach legal research and writing"

This one is authored by Professor Abigail Salisbury and can be found at 59 J. Legal Educ. 173 (2009).  Like the article referenced below, Professor Salisbury's piece is not yet available online but at least you have the citation so you can later pull it if you want.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 9, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Meeting the Carnegie report's challenge to make legal analysis explicit-subsidiary skills to the IRAC framework"

This one is by Nelson P. Miller and Charles J. Bradley and is found at 59 J. Legal Educ. 192 (2009).  Unfortunately, as of this writing, it's not yet available on Westlaw, Lexis, Heinonline or SSRN.  But at least you have the cite and can later pull it if you want when it does become available.

I am the scholarship dude.



January 9, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The first draft is always bad

Since we already know that, I'm posting this more for the purpose of giving you a link to send to your students that shows them even the big guns struggle hard to turn out a polished draft.  One quote offered up by our good buddy Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer blog is from Ernest Hemingway who allegedly said "the first draft of anything is shit."   Mr. Ward then provides a link to a blog called Writing, Clear and Simple which further expounds on the idea that first drafts always suck.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

When it comes to pay, firms move away from lockstep and consider instead associate's skills

That's the story being reported today in the online ABA Journal blog.  The story notes that schools which place more emphasis on skills training provide a greater advantage to students in today's tough job market.  Although that's hardly an earth-shattering revelation, it's still worth mentioning:

Associate level distinctions and compensation based on class year, a standard at lockstep firms, are quickly being eliminated as more law firms move toward classifying lawyers by skill sets and career tracks.

As associates progress, they will be put into “buckets” or skill categories at firms more focused on advancing lawyers based on abilities rather than class year, predicts one legal recruiter.

“Firms are going to focus on what lawyers can actually do as opposed to what they should be doing at a particular level, class year or school they are coming from,” Beth Woods, managing director at legal recruiter Major Lindsey & Africa, told the ABA Journal.

While the transition is good news for industry experts opposed to the lockstep model and clients unhappy with high billable rates for unskilled associates, Woods cautions that change won’t happen overnight.

“Firms are loath and slow to change, and the ones at the top will still look at school ranks and grades,” Woods says. “But there will be opportunities at the middle tier for lawyers that are selling on a practical level to really succeed.”

Also, even though some firms have cut starting salaries, Woods says associates at firms that have adapted new training models may be more marketable and ultimately have greater earning potential. The same distinction may also give an advantage to law students at schools that offer practical training outside the classroom.

You can read the rest here.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

new assistant director for U. Arizona

The University of Arizona has hired Susan Salmon as the new Assistant Director of Legal Writing.  She's joining them with extensive practice and teaching experience already.  We hear she also sings vocals in a local rock band, so perhaps we'll get to hear more than an academic presentation from her at future conferences.  Welcome to the legal writing community Susie!

hat tip:  Suzanne Rabe


January 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Golden Gate U. Law School revamps 1L curriculum to emphasize legal skills

The blog "Best Practices in Legal Education" is reporting that Golden Gate has revamped the 1L curriculum to place more emphasis on the legal skills training.  Among the changes unanimously approved by the faculty include increasing annual credit hours for legal writing to five (two in the fall and three in the spring). 

Additional changes include:

[Creating] first-year electives that will have no more than 25 students and introduce students to a range of skills other than legal writing and research.  Students will be able to select these spring semester electives, some of which will focus on transactional skills, for example working with unmarried co-habitants who want to put their understanding in writing.  Other electives will focus more on litigation skills in the context of alleged employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or enforcing environmental laws through citizen lawsuits.  Golden Gate University will also offer one or two electives that focus on statutory interpretation and jurisprudence. 

Earlier this year the Golden Gate University School of Law faculty unanimously adopted the MacCrate skills and values as objectives of our JD program.  Creating these first-year electives will ensure that all students are not only introduced to skills such as client counseling and negotiation, but are also able to practice these during their first year and reinforce the analytical skills that they learn in the doctrinal courses.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Exciting news, courtesy of Sarah Ricks:

"Followers of the Supreme Court rely on SCOTUS blog to keep current on the business of the Supreme Court - what cert petitions the Court is considering in conference, what arguments the Court will hear or has heard - and rely on the blog's helpful links to briefs, opinions, dockets, etc.

"The most recent blogger to join the SCOTUS team (the original bloggers are the appellate practice group from Akin Gump) is Lisa McElroy, who will be translating the Court's proceedings into 'plain English.' Lisa teaches a class on the Supreme Court and annually brings her class to hear Supreme Court arguments. (She's also written several biographies of Supreme Court Justices for children - most recently of Justice Sotomayor). Here's Lisa's first posting:"

Lisa is a veteran legal writing professor, too!


January 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ABA launches free search engine for law reviews and journals

The Law Librarian Blog reports:

The ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center has launched a free search enginefor researching the free full-text of over 300 online law reviews and law journals, as well as document repositories hosting academic papers such as SSRN and bepress, and related publications such as Congressional Research Service reports. The SE launch page also provides each resource's URL and lists law reviews, law journals and document repositories which have free full-text available online, but which must be searched or browsed manually. Suggestions for free full-text law review/journal and related sites to add are welcome.

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One law school finds success by saying "nuts" to USNWR rankings and instead preparing students for practice

To paraphrase a famous line from The Graduate:  "I want to say one word to you.  Just one word:  Skills! [not 'plastics']."  With the job market in shambles (some sectors might get worse still) and with more law schools in the planning stages, the North Carolina Central University School of Law is taking an approach that other fourth, third and perhaps even second tier schools might follow.  As the Legal Blog Watch reports, NCCU is saying "nuts" to the USNWR rankings by focusing instead on preparing students for the practice of law by emphasizing skills training.  So far the formula seems to be working as evidence by the school's recent Princeton Review ranking (which solicits student opinion about several aspects of campus life) as well as being named the best value in legal education by Pre-Law Magazine.

To the extent competition for law school tuition dollars gets fierce in the years ahead, the elite schools will continue to care about USNWR rankings while lesser ranked schools may decide to avoid the fray in favor of finding alternative ways to distinguish themselves to students.

Thanks to the Legal Blog Watch for alerting us to this story first published in the Third Wave Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

ALWD and LWI to Present Blackwell Award to Professor Steve Johansen at AALS

Johansen, Steve Please join ALWD and the LWI as they honor Professor Steve Johansen on Thursday, January 7, 2010, at a reception in the Riverbend 1 Room of the Marriott New Orleans at the Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The reception runs from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., and will feature a jazz band as well as some delicious New Orleans treats.  The event follows the law school receptions, so bring your colleagues (and families). 
The Blackwell Award is given jointly by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute. The award recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improving the field of legal writing by demonstrating the ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence; a willingness to help other legal writing educators to improve their teaching skills and legal writing programs; and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students. 
The award is named for Thomas F. Blackwell, whose life was tragically cut short in 2002, while he was a Professor at Appalachian School of Law. At Appalachian, Tom taught Legal Writing, Contracts, Law Practice Management, and Intellectual Property. He had also taught Legal Writing at Texas Wesleyan School of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Tom earned a B.S. from the University of Texas and an M.A. in Philosophy from Duke. He earned his J.D., with highest honors, from Duke University School of Law.  He was active in both ALWD and LWI.

Steve Johansen teaches Legal Writing at Lewis & Clark College of Law in Portland, Oregon. He is a past President of the Legal Writing Institute and a past Chair of the AALS Section on Legal Research, Writing, and Reasoning. Further, he is the author of the first legal writing textbook in Latvian and has taught at the University of Cork in Ireland. He has been a program planner or presenter at conferences in the Czech Republic, Kenya, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. In these and many other ways, Steve has advanced the teaching of legal writing both nationally and internationally. 

The event will also continue the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Legal Writing Institute.

Hat tips to Mary Beth Beazley (President of ALWD) and Ruth Anne Robbins (President of LWI).

January 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The best 5 legal motions of 2009 by the editors of ATL

Here's a list of the top 5 legal motions from the past year compiled by the editors of Above the Law.  If they don't work as amusing fodder for your students, maybe they'll be a good distraction for you come  grading season.

5.   Motion to Compel State’s Attorney to Drop His Accent

4.   A Surprisingly Smutty Motion to Dismiss

3.   Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Wear Appropriate Shoes at Trial

2.   Plaintiffs’ Motion for a [sic] Honest and Honorable Court System

And the # 1 best motion of 2009 as selected by the editors of ATL is . . . .

1.   Best. Motion to Continue. Ever

You can read the ATL synopsis of each of these motions here.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is blogging legal scholarship?

Some who initially scoffed at the idea now concede that blogging can play a role in scholarly discourse.  Here's Joe Hodnicki's excellent summary of the evolving debate

Way, way back in 2006, I attended the "Bloggership: How Blogs Are Transforming Legal Scholarship" conference at Harvard Law School. Law profs had discovered blogging beyond the instant pundit genre but there were still plenty of raised eyebrows in the legal academy. I, for one, knew some tenure-track law profs who wanted to blog for our Law Professor Blogs Network but were worried about doing so until they had tenure.  

The big issue at the conference was, is blogging a scholarly (read respectable) activity that contributes something intellectually beneficial to legal discourse? OSU law prof Douglas Berman weighed in saying blogging certainly could make scholarly contributions. His conference paper, Scholarship in Action: The Power, Possibilities, and Pitfalls for Law Professor Blogs, is still the best analysis in my opinion and his long-running Sentencing Law & Policy is an excellent example of a blog doing so. At the time Orin Kerr and many others were skeptical. See Kerr's conference paper, Blogs and the Legal Academy. But recently he changed his mind: "I now think my old self was wrong. Or at least a bit off. I now think blogging actually does provide an effective way to present new scholarly ideas in many cases." Kerr explains why in his Rethinking Blogging-as-Scholarship post on The Volokh Conspiracy.

You can read the rest here via the Law Librarian Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Legal Writing Dance Card for the AALS Annual Meeting

Aalslogo Here is a list of the legal writing events at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, which meets this week in New Orleans.

PRINT THIS OUT or click here for a pdf that you can bring to the meeting.

Download Legal Writng Dance Card - New Orleans AALS


Legal Writing Dance Card!

AALS Annual Meeting

New Orleans, Louisiana


Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010


Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Friends of Legal Writing Luncheon

Plimsoll Club

2 Canal Street

New Orleans, LA

This is an “ad hoc” gathering of friends of legal writing.  Tickets were sold in advance.  The luncheon will include remarks by Professor Joseph Kimble of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, who will receive the section’s 2010 award. 


2:00 p.m.

Formal Presentation of the AALS Section Award

Versailles Ballroom, Third Floor

Hilton New Orleans Riverside

Professor Joseph Kimble will formally receive the 2010 Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. 


2:05 to 4:55 p.m.

Extended Section Program

Versailles Ballroom, Third Floor

Hilton New Orleans Riverside

Extended joint program of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research and the AALS Section on Teaching Methods.  The program deals with teaching students from other countries.  Speakers include:

· Juliana V. Campagna, The John Marshall Law School—Chicago

· Leah M. Christensen, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

· Grace Dodier, Northwestern University School of Law

· John Haberstroh, Northwestern University School of Law

· Brian K. Landsberg, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

· Deborah B. McGregor, Indiana University, Indianapolis School of Law

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School—Chicago


4:55 p.m.

Section Business Meeting

The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research will elect officers.  The following officers were put forward by the nominating committee for election:

· Chair: Martha Pagliari, DePaul University College of Law

· Chair Elect: Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School—Chicago

· Secretary: Kathleen Vinson, Suffolk University Law School


8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Blackwell Award and

LWI Silver Anniversary Celebration

Presentation of the Blackwell Award to Professor Steve Johansen, Lewis & Clark Law School and celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the Legal Writing Institute.  Join us after your other receptions!  Bring your colleagues!

· Live Jazz Band!

· Special New Orleans Drinks and Desserts!

· Special continuous slide show from ALWD and LWI!

· Television set with Texas v. Alabama BCS Championship Game!


Riverbend 1, Second Floor [New location, larger room]

Marriott New Orleans Hotel (at the Convention Center)

859 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans



Friday, Jan. 8, 2010


10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

AALS Section on Law Libraries

Legal Authority and Research in an Age of Accessiblity

Oak Alley, Third Floor

Hilton New Orleans Riverside

The AALS Section on Law Libraries presents a program on “Law Librarian as Scholar: Legal Authority and Research in an Age of Accessiblity.”  The section also holds a breakfast at 7:00 a.m. (you must purchase tickets through the AALS to attend).


3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Coffee Chat

Napoleon House, 500 Chartes Street

The Diversity Committee of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research will host a Coffee Chat during the AALS Annual Meeting on Friday, January 8, 2010 from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. The committee will gather at Napoleon House (, a café located at 500 Chartres Street in the French Quarter.  The purpose of this committee is to strengthen the legal writing profession by building community and providing support around interests of diversity for the benefit of American law schools.  If you have not confirmed your attendance, please contact Starla Williams by Wednesday, January 6, 2010 ( If you are unable to attend this event and wish to be on the Diversity Committee mailing list, please contact Cris Houston ( or Kim Chanbonpin (  The committee welcomes participation from legal writing professionals of color and other colleagues who are interested in promoting relationships among legal writing faculty across cultures of diversity, including class, race, ethnicity, religion or spiritual expression, gender, and sexual orientation. All law professors who teach legal writing are invited to attend, and there is no fee to attend the Coffee Chat.



 Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010


10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Committee on Libraries and Technology

Versailles Ballroom, Third Floor

Hilton New Orleans Riverside

The AALS Committee on Libraries and Technology presents a roundtable on “The Electronification of Law Libraries and Its Implications for the Legal Academy.”

January 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Books aren't dead yet - plus Kindle's effect on the first sale doctrine

Amazon's Jeff Bezos recently declared the imminent death of the book in light of eBook sales outpacing for the first time the sale of physical books during the holiday season that just concluded.

[T]he physical book really has had a 500-year run. It's probably the most successful technology ever. It's hard to come up with things that have had a longer run. If Gutenberg were alive today, he would recognize the physical book and know how to operate it immediately. Given how much change there has been everywhere else, what's remarkable is how stable the book has been for so long. But no technology, not even one as elegant as the book, lasts forever

The Kindle also became Amazon's most popular gift item and not just among electronic devices but "across all product categories.But see Kindle may be next year's 8-Track Player.

On the other hand, The Atlantic's Edward Tenner says don't count the book out so fast, Methuselah.  Just because a technology has been around for a (very) long time doesn't make it a forgone conclusion that it's headed for the metaphorical glue factory. 

Eyeglasses have had an even longer run than print, 700 versus 500 years. In science, the tools of glassblowing hasn't changed much in two millennia, or at least hadn't in 2005 when I attended a local lecture-demonstration about the craft. (Household glassware and light bulb production were largely automated in the nineteenth century, but not advanced products.)

Think of music. The keyboard arrangement as we know it is older than movable type, having survived many proposed alternative designs, and the piano is still going strong at 300-plus, virtually unchanged for almost half that time. Chemists are still probing the secrets of seventeenth-century Strads and Guarneris, the gold standard for today's luthiers.

And consider energy. Wind turbine electrical generators, descendants of late-medieval mills, date from the 1880s and were considered obsolete, along with decentralized power sources, by early twentieth-century utilities. The 1970s energy crisis even brought back woodburning stoves not so different from Ben Franklin's model.(For a global view of mistaken prophecies, see The Shock of the Old by David Edgerton.)

Mr. Tenner believes that in the future, there will continue to be a demand for both physical and eBooks. The only question is what mix of the two formats will users demand.  (The same has been said about digital versus brick and mortar libraries - that both will coexist going forward because users will still need the resources of a physical library). 

Mr. Tenner, as well as our good buddies at the Law Librarian Blog, also remind us that there are some significant drawbacks to eBooks that will continue to ensure the market viability of the hardcopy kind.  Specifically, the Kindle-George Orwell fiasco of this past summer reminds us that when purchasing an eBook, one only gets only a license to use it which can be altered or revoked at anytime by the licensor.  The copyright act's first sale doctrine is implicated, therefore, because unlike buying a hardcopy book, the owner of an eBook can't sell it at her next yard sale.  

The Kindle e-book is not a product but a license, and not even a done deal. Before you buy a Kindle, read the whole contract that you are signing. Especially this paragraph:

Amendment. Amazon reserves the right to amend any of the terms of this Agreement at its sole discretion by posting the revised terms on the Kindle Store or the website. Your continued use of the Device and Software after the effective date of any such amendment shall be deemed your agreement to be bound by such amendment.

You can read more of Mr. Tenner's commentary here and more from the Law Librarian Blog here.

Big hat tip to Joe Hodnicki of the Law Librarian Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


January 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More about the influence of blogs on judicial decision-making

We'd previously blogged about lawyers attempting to influence the outcome of a case by blogging about it.  Now comes this post from the blog suggesting that the under-40 demographics of most law clerks means they are more likely to read and rely on blogs when drafting opinions for their bosses.  Thus, blogs may come to play a larger role in influencing the outcome of cases:

First, some of the growing influence of law blogs can be put squarely at the door of demographics.  As a practical matter, those below 40 (which this author is not) are more likely to use the Internet to conduct legal research and search for information. 

Second, given this demographic reality, it would be important to know where younger lawyes [sic]have a disproportionate impact on shaping the law.  They are not, on the whole, managing partners at large law firms, general counsels at Fortune 500 companies, or judges sitting on the state or federal bench. 

They are, however, lawclerks to judges.  Despite the existence of permanent clerks and lawclerks who have already practiced, most still come directly from law school.  Lawclerks are likely to be younger and more technologically proficient than the bar as a whole.

They can, as a result, be counted on with some frequency to read law blogs that comment on cases under consideration within their respective chambers.  (The likelihood will no doubt vary depending upon the particular court considering the case, the public profile of the case, and the case's legal complexity).  As they research these cases, either to prepare their judges for oral argument or to draft opinions afterwards, they are likely to want to consider any erudite commentary that sheds light on these cases.

Blogs that focus on cases, therefore, can have an impact on ongoing litigation, even if in a sub silentio fashion.

You can read the rest here.

Hat tip to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports.

I am the scholarship dude (and this is almost certainly the first time in history "dude" and "Brian Leiter" have come within 100 characters of each other).


January 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans

Aalslogo The Association of American Law Schools holds its annual meeting this week in New Orleans. 

Here is the most recent newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.

Download AALS Legal Writing Newsletter Fall 2009 FINAL

The last page of that newsletter has a "legal writing dance card" that lists the sessions and events of interest to legal writing professors (such as the Friends of Legal Writing Luncheon and the Blackwell Award Presentation).

See you all soon!


January 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)