Friday, April 16, 2010

quotable

"If you think that you can think about a thing, inextricably attached to something else, without thinking of the thing it is attached to, then you have a legal mind."
  ~  Henry C. Blinn

April 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2009 Scribes student article winner nabs prestigious Bristow Fellowship

Congratulations to Michelle Renee Shamblin, 2009 LSU Law Grad and winner of the Scribes Law Review Award for best written student article on receiving one of the 2010 Bristow Fellowships to work in the U.S. Solicitor General's Office.  The Bristow, as you may or may not know, is one of the most prestigious awards available to a new law grad. 

[Recipients] help draft briefs in opposition to certiorari filed against the government in the Supreme Court of the United States and prepare recommendations to the Solicitor General regarding authorization of government appeals in the lower courts. The Fellows also assist staff lawyers in preparing petitions for certiorari and briefs on the merits in Supreme Court cases, work on special projects, and assist the Solicitor General and other lawyers in the office in the preparation of oral arguments in the Supreme Court.

This year, as in the past, only four applicants have been awarded a Bristow.  They often go on to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court.

So what was Ms. Shamblin's award winning article? "Silencing Chicken Little:  Options for School Districts after 'Parents Involved" and is available at 69 Louisiana L. Rev. 219 (2008). 

Here's a description of the Scribes student-authored article award (scroll down the page for a list of past winners):

Since 1987, Scribes has presented an annual award for the best student-written article in a law review or journal.  The Scribes Law Review Award is presented at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Law Reviews. 

LSU is understandably bursting with pride about Ms. Shamblin.  Cooley's Professor Joe Kimble, who is a guiding force at Scribes, helped make it happen.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)


April 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

spot for a legal writing article

Lawreview Every year, the Mercer Law Review reserves a spot for an article on a topic related to the teaching, study, or practice of legal writing.  The Law Review editors are now seeking articles on legal writing topics, and they welcome submissions received through May 15, 2010. You can submit your article online at

http://www.law.mercer.edu/academics/lawreview/manuscripts.cfm or directly via e-mail to Hayley Strong, the articles editor, at hstrong11@lawmail.mercer.ed.

hat tip:  Linda Edwards

(spl)

April 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

U.S. News 2010 Ranking of Legal Writing Programs

We have just received what seems to be the U.S. News & World Report's 2010 Rankings of Legal Writing Programs.  Click here.

 

Some people like these rankings, others not so much.  In a way it is actually crazy that we allow a magazine -- think about that for a second, a single magazine (!) -- to determine what is best about legal education in the United States.  Why don't other magazines jump in with their own lists?  It would be just as popular a feature and would dilute the power of the U.S. News Ranking.

 

Still, having said all of that, my school (The John Marshall Law School in Chicago) is still ranked in the top 10 legal writing programs so the methodology is obviously correct -- at least this year!

 

Who's first?  This year, Seattle and Mercer are tied for first.  (For those of you who don't know, Seattle was the traditional home of the Legal Writing Institute, which is now based out of Mercer.)   Stetson is third and has been doing a great job lately with its Legal Writing Webinars (and it doesn't hurt that the author of the ALWD Citation Manual is the dean of that school).  Indiana University is the home institution of the President-Elect of the Legal Writing Institute and it also hosted the very successful LWI Conference in 2008.

Here is a link to the 2010 Rankings for a number of programs, including Clinical Training, Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Tax Law, and Trial Advocacy.

And here are what we think are the 2010 Rankings for Legal Writing Programs.

1.  Mercer University (George) Macon, GA

1.  Seattle University Seattle, WA

3.  Stetson University Gulfport, FL

4.  University of Nevada--Las Vegas (Boyd) Las Vegas, NV

5.  Indiana University--Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN

6.  The John Marshall Law School Chicago, IL

7.  University of Oregon Eugene, OR

8.  Temple University (Beasley) Philadelphia, PA

9.  Arizona State University (O’Connor)

9.  Ohio State University (Moritz)

 

Click here to see the full list of rankings for last year (2009).

 

Hat tip to Ralph Brill

 

(mew)

April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Free legal research tips and legal research on-the-go.

Here are a couple of legal research tools you can add to your quiver (or pass them along to your students) courtesy of brother Mitch Rubinstein at the Adjunct Law Prof Blog.  The first is an article from the ABA's Litigation News blog on various free legal research tools from around the web (hint - start with your state's bar association webpage since they often compile links to free resources). 

The second is an iPhone app. called Fastcase that lets you do legal research on the go.  A review of Fastcase can be found here courtesy of the California Blog of Appeal.

A big hat tip to the Adjunct Law Prof Blog - please visit soon.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another update from the recently concluded Future of Legal Education conference

On Sunday we blogged about Elie Mystal's report from this weekend's conference sponsored by Harvard and New York Law School that was attended by approximately 75 deans, law faculty, employers, consultants, and other interested parties.  In his second report, Mystal tells us about a panel discussion he attended called "The Top Three Problems with the Current Model" during which panelists gave the expected critiques of Wetmore, Keith legal education concerning too much emphasis on theory at the expense of helping students develop practical skills (although Keith Wetmore, chair of Morrison & Foerster LLP, defended the need for "theory" courses because they help students develop creative thinking that is key to becoming a successful lawyer).

Not surprisingly, Mr. Wetmore (pictured here) also spoke about the need to improve the writing skills of new law graduates.

Joe Altonji of the law firm consulting group Hildebrandt had an interesting take on the future of law schools.  He noted that

law schools all teach to one business model: the Biglaw business model. He thought that some law schools should do that, while others should focus on types of law currently populated by people who “failed” to succeed at law schools as currently constructed. Altonji wanted a world where certain schools would be geared towards future government lawyers, while other schools tried to produce small and solo practitioners.

That seems like a plausible direction for some schools to explore.  You can read the rest of Elie's report here.  Additional coverage can be found at Law.com, here, which echoes many of Elie's comments. 

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

 

April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thank you, friends! Readership for Legal Writing Prof Blog continues to grow.

Professor Paul Caron, co-owner of the Law Prof Blog network, published stats this morning on his Tax Prof Blog showing that among all blogs edited by law professors, with a publicly accessible site visitor meter, the Legal Writing Prof Blog ranks in the top 35 for page views (31st) and visitors (29th).  That's pretty good considering the specialized focus of our blog as well as some of the heavyweights we're competing with like The Volokh Conspiracy, InstaPundit and the Tax Prof Blog. 

We definitely deserve the award for "the little blog that could" because once again we're near the top of the list in terms of the percentage increase in readership from the previous year.  Last year, we were number one.  This year we were only bested by the Faculty Lounge blog.

Before reprinting the listings here, we want to say thanks again to our loyal readers for making us a success.

Here are the largest percentage increases (page views and visitors) among the Top 35 blogs from the prior 12-month period:

Blog

Page Views

Blog

Visitors

1

The Faculty Lounge

124.5%

The Faculty Lounge

119.8%

2

Legal Writing Prof Blog

57.5%

Legal Writing Prof Blog

62.0%

3

InstaPundit

32.8%

InstaPundit

34.7%

4

Antitrust & Comp. Policy

30.3%

Antitrust & Comp. Policy

23.9%

5

Legal History Blog

28.1%

Legal History Blog

23.3%

6

Mirror of Justice

21.5%

Leiter Reports: Philosophy

22.6%

7

Althouse

20.2%

Opinio Juris

21.0%

8

Leiter Reports: Philosophy

17.0%

Althouse

19.4%

9

Opinio Juris

16.9%

Mirror of Justice

18.9%

10

Wills, Trusts & Est. Prof Blog

5.0%

TaxProf Blog

8.8%

In absolute terms, the Top 32 blogs with 2-year track records increased their traffic by 17.6% (page views) and 21.0% (visitors). 

Below are the updated quarterly traffic rankings (page views and visitors) of the Top 35 blogs edited by law professors with publicly available SiteMeters for the most recent 12-month period (April 1, 2009 - March 31, 2010), as well as the percentage change in traffic from the prior 12-month period:

Blog

Page Views

Change

1

InstaPundit

152,674,600

32.8%

2

Volokh Conspiracy

14,935,286

0.9%

3

Althouse

14,769,900

20.2%

4

Hugh Hewitt

8,923,944

-44.2%

5

Leiter Reports: Philosophy

4,069,673

17.0%

6

TaxProf Blog

3,604,223

3.8%

7

Patently-O

3,462,353

-4.8%

8

Legal Insurrection

2,979,162

 n/a

9

Jack Bog's Blog

2,510,690

3.2%

10

Sentencing Law & Policy

1,675,550

4.6%

11

Concurring Opinions

1,399,585

-26.3%

12

PrawfsBlawg

1,398,962

-2.1%

13

Balkanization

1,201,717

-33.0%

14

Leiter's Law School Reports

1,196,991

-8.9%

15

The Faculty Lounge

837,589

124.5%

16

Opinio Juris

719,343

16.9%

17

The Right Coast

515,083

0.0%

18

Workplace Prof Blog

454,545

-27.3%

19

Conglomerate

409,358

-27.1%

20

Wills, Trusts & Est. Prof Blog

407,955

5.0%

21

Discourse.net

399,473

-31.6%

22

ImmigrationProf Blog

367,807

-6.2%

23

Religion Clause

358,072

4.7%

24

Sports Law Blog

357,721

0.7%

25

White Collar Crime Prof Blog

357,006

-38.5%

26

Mirror of Justice

336,492

21.5%

27

Legal History Blog

314,992

28.1%

28

Election Law Blog

262,482

-4.9%

29

Antitrust & Competition Policy

260,027

30.3%

30

Ideoblog

256,961

2.1%

31

Legal Writing Prof Blog

255,028

57.5%

32

Legal Profession Blog

254,591

-3.9%

33

Harvard Law  Corp Gov

253,060

n/a

34

Dissenting Justice

223,576

n/a

35

CrimProf Blog

217,740

-26.0%

Blog

Visitors

Change

1

InstaPundit

148,450,470

34.7%

2

Volokh Conspiracy

10,920,879

0.3%

3

Althouse

8,082,115

19.4%

4

Hugh Hewitt

6,872,034

-47.8%

5

TaxProf Blog

2,789,969

8.8%

6

Leiter Reports: Philosophy

2,580,552

22.6%

7

Legal Insurrection

2,316,738

n/a

8

Patently-O

1,812,820

-1.6%

9

Jack Bog's Blog

1,073,737

6.7%

10

Sentencing Law & Policy

976,184

4.7%

11

Concurring Opinions

946,989

-24.6%

12

Leiter's Law School Reports

830,552

-10.4%

13

PrawfsBlawg

756,534

-8.4%

14

balkinization

726,475

-27.7%

15

The Faculty Lounge

489,039

119.8%

16

Opinio Juris

430,384

21.0%

17

The Right Coast

326,876

-8.0%

18

Workplace Prof Blog

313,820

-29.7%

19

Discourse.net

297,918

-32.2%

20

Conglomerate

281,749

-28.4%

21

Wills, Trusts & Est. Prof Blog

273,021

0.4%

22

White Collar Crime Prof Blog

261,189

-32.0%

23

ImmigrationProf Blog

254,269

-4.5%

24

Religion Clause

240,649

3.7%

25

Sports Law Blog

238,430

6.5%

26

Mirror of Justice

215,690

18.9%

27

Legal History Blog

213,995

23.3%

28

Ideoblog

192,793

6.5%

29

Legal Writing Prof Blog

175,206

62.0%

30

Election Law Blog

171,465

-2.0%

31

Legal Profession Blog

168,497

-2.9%

32

Antitrust & Competition Policy

159,373

23.9%

33

CrimProf Blog

159,077

-30.3%

34

Dissenting Justice

153,863

n/a

35

Harvard Law Corp. Gov.

152,580

n/a

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 12, 2010

First it was fake Rolexes and Prada, now China makes knock-off academic papers

There have been a couple of times over the years when I've come across a student paper in my legal writing class that I was sure had been ghostwritten by someone else.  After teaching for more than a decade, one develops a pretty good judgment about what a 1L, even one who's a star, is capable of in her first few months of law school versus writing that reflects a facility with the material that can only be learned through years of practical experience.  But because I knew I wouldn't be able to prove my hunch before the school's honor court, I had to hold my tongue as much as it frustrated me. 

On the bright side, at least I don't teach in China where, according to this article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed., academic ghostwriting is not only rampant, but big business generating more than $145 million annually in illicit product:

Ghostwriting, plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science.

The communist government views science as critical to China's modernization, and the latest calls for government spending on science and technology to grow by 8 percent to 163 billion yuan ($24 billion) this year.

State-run media recently exulted over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any except the U.S. But not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated.

"Academic fraud, misconduct and ethical violations are very common in China," said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University in the capital. "It is a big problem."

Critics blame weak penalties and a system that bases faculty promotions and bonuses on number, rather than quality, of papers published.

You can read the rest here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The worst year ever for faculty salaries.

Several media sources are reporting that faculty salaries grew on average an anemic 1.2% over the past year which is the worst figure since the American Association of University Professors began collecting such data 50 years ago.  As reported by Inside Higher Ed:

When factoring in a 2.7 percent inflation rate, the average full-time professor lost spending power this year. The average salary change for continuing faculty members was a gain of 1.8 percent, which also lagged the inflation rate -- marking the first time since the high-inflation 1970s that continuing faculty members have not seen a real increase in spending from one year to the next. 

While salary increases were minimal across sectors, they were particularly low at private baccalaureate institutions -- increasing by only 0.6 percent.

About one third of the institutions in the AAUP survey reported that overall average salary levels decreased this year. And about two-thirds of continuing faculty members work at institutions where the average salary change lags the inflation rates.

Is anyone surprised? 

Read more coverage from Insider Higher Ed here, the Chronicle of Higher Ed here and the New York Times here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

mindful writing

Master_of_Female_Half-length_-_Saint_Mary_Magdalene_at_her_writing_desk_-_16th_c  Everyone knows that writing is hard work and comes with its own special flavors of angst.  Over on the idealawg, Stephanie Allen has written a very helpful post, with tips from a conference on how to approach writing more mindfully and leave the angst behind.  She also includes links to more information on the approaches and a course in mindful writing.

(spl)

April 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The future of legal education conference: "Apocalypse now?"

Over at Above the Law, Elie Mystal will be reporting during the next few days about his impressions of the recently concluded "Future of Education" conference co-sponsored by Harvard and New York Law School.  In his first post entitled "Corporate Counsel Puts Fear Of God Into Legal Educators (And You Should Be Worried Too)," he reports that United Technologies General Counsel Paul Beach and USC Professor of Law and Economics Gillian Hadfield were pretty brusque in their criticism of the failure of law schools to adequately prepare students for practice.  Among the quotes Elie noted from the "Apocalypse Now" session on Friday:

'We don’t allow first or second year associates to work on any of our matters without special permission, because they’re worthless.'

'As [UT General Counsel] Paul said, graduating 3L students are worthless. They’re really, really awful.'

Mr. Beach suggested that law schools would ultimately pay the price for client dissatisfaction by having to lower their overhead: 

[Beach] noted that the money which fuels the law school business model (and high law faculty salaries) 'doesn’t come from law firms or lawyers.' The clear message was that clients are looking to drive down costs and that pressure will eventually show up in the bank accounts of faculty.

According to Mystal, panelists warned law school educators that additional pressure to "get small" would come from off-shoring legal work as well as the need to weed out law students "that don't want to be there."

These are provocative statements and that's undoubtedly the point; to force legal educators to think about the moral and practical implications of graduating law students burdened with heavy debt who face an  uncertain and ferociously competitive job market (at least in the near term).

Prescient genius that I am, last summer I organized a panel discussion for the 2010 biennial Legal Writing Institute Conference this June on Marco Island, Florida, that will ask a group of employers representing a variety of backgrounds (small firms, large firms, public service, etc.) what skills they want from graduating law students.  Among the panelists who signed-up early on is the new in-coming ABA President Stephen Zack who will either participate himself or send another representative from his firm Boies, Schiller.  Either way, it'll be a very interesting and timely discussion that we'll report on here at the conclusion of the conference.

Stay tuned, loyal readers.

In the meantime, continue to read Above the Law's ongoing coverage here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

April 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Preview of the 2010 LWI Conference - Day 1

LWI Board 2008-10 LWI 25 The 2010 Legal Writing Institute Conference opens on Sunday, June 27, 2010.  Many of you will arrive Sunday morning (and many of you are coming on Saturday or even earlier).  To help you plan your arrival, here are the events for the first official day of the LWI conference.

An LWI Golf Tournament will be held at 8:00 a.m.

The LWI Board will meet from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Conference registration will be open from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

From 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. there will be a "Kick-off party" for poster presenters (while setting up posters).

The LWI welcome reception will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. 

Click here for general information about the conference.

Click here for conference registration. 

Click here for hotel information if you haven't already reserved your room.

(mew)

April 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)