June 19, 2010
Marco Island Roundtable for Faculty of Color
Proessor Bill Chin of Lewis & Clark sent out a message to the Legal Writing Listserve about the Faculty of Color Roundtable in Indianapolis. He hopes that people can attend the session at Marco Island on Surviving and Thriving: The Experiences of Legal Writing Professors of Color Inside and Outside the Classroom. The program is Wednesday, June 30, 2010, from 10:00-10:45 a.m. (Session 1 for that day) in the Capri Ballroom, Salon 1.
Panelists will talk about the challenges and rewards of teaching as legal writing professors of color in the legal academy. Our panelists are Lori Bannai (Seattle University), Charles Calleros (Arizona State University), Luellen Curry (Wake Forest University), and Bill Chin (pictured).
Burton Awards 2010
June 18, 2010
The Law Street Journal
Several law students created what promises to be a very entertaining and informative blog for law students and pre-law students. Click here to visit the Law Street Journal. They welcome contributions from law professors as well -- see the blog for more information. Articles cover a wide range of topics from advice to personal experiences to current law news -- there is a great link there now about a law student whose efforts freed a woman who had wrongfully been in prison for almost 30 years.
Congratulations and welcome to the blogosphere!
Hat tip to the blog's creator, Allie Neil DeYoung
Friday Fun: Librarians Do Lady Gaga
Here's a Friday Fun Video . . . students and faculty from the University of Washington Information School make a video that makes you just want to go use the library catalog (and don't forget the databases!)
Hat tips to Sonia Bychkov Green, Beth Henning, and the University of Washington Information Dancers.
June 17, 2010
Congratulations to Kim ChanbonpinProfessor Kim Chanbonpin of The John Marshall Law School accepted an offer to publish her article “We Don’t Want Dollars, Just Change”: Narrative Counter-Terrorism Strategy, an Inclusive Model for Social Healing, and the Truth About Torture Commission, with the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy. It will be published in the Winter 2010 issue.
You can download a copy of the article by clicking here.
June 16, 2010
New JALWD Editorial Board Announced
Ever wonder what an LWI President does when her term is up? She becomes an editor of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors.
The new co-editors of JALWD will be Joan Magat of Duke and Ruth Anne Robbins of Rutgers-Camden. Also new to the editorial board or to editorial board positions are Sue Painter-Thorne of Mercer, the new managing editor, and Tim Blevins of Florida A & M and Jason Cohen of Rutgers-Camden who are new assistant editors.
Michael Smith of Wyoming, one of the founders of the Journal, s stepping down from the Editorial Board after six issues and eight years of service.
The Fall 2010 issue of J. ALWD will be available electronically this summer and in print form this fall. This Metaphor & Narrative issue is expected to be one of the best issues so far.
Congratulations to all the new editors.
Hat tips to Ian Gallacher and Linda Berger (outgoing co-editors)
June 15, 2010
Hecht Writing Award Goes to Dr. Jeremy Francis
The LWI Awards Committee announced that Jeremy Francis of Michigan State University College of Law was selected as the winner of the second Deborah Hecht Memorial Writing Contest Award. Dr. Francis wins this award for his article Finding Your Voice while Learning to Dance, which appeared in Volume 24, Number 1 of The Second Draft (Fall 2009). His school is quite proud of this accomplishment and wrote up a nice press release about it, which you can read by clicking here.
The Hecht Award honors Dr. Deborah Hecht, who served as Director of the Legal Writing Center at Touro University School of Law for eight years before her untimely death in 2005. Dr. Hecht was active in LWI and in the smaller legal writing advisors group, writing articles for The Second Draft’s column “From the Desk of the Writing Specialist.” The award in her memory honors a legal writing specialist who writes the best article or essay, based on effectiveness, clarity, and writing style, published in The Second Draft during the preceding two-year period.
The award will be presented on Sunday evening at the opening reception of the LWI Conference.
Professor Leah Christensen's article on relationship between LRW grade and GPA gets some play.
Although it was two years ago that we blogged about Professor Christensen (of Thomas Jefferson School of Law) article entitled "Lawyering Skills Grades as the Strongest Predictor of Law School Success (Or In Other Words, It's Time For Legal Education to Get Serious About Skills Training If We Care About How Our Students Learn)" 83 St. John L. Rev. 795 (2009) it's getting some recent acknowledgment on the Best Practices for Legal Ed Blog. You can check out that review here. Or you can head right to the source and read her article on SSRN here.
I am the scholarship dude.
AALS Section sponsoring poster presentations
AALS has sent out the invitation for proposals for poster presentations for the 2011 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research sponsors posters every year to be displayed at the AALS conference in January, providing a great opportunity for authors to present their research or innovative teaching ideas in an informal manner.
The deadline for poster proposals—including a short description of the poster and an actual copy of the poster—is September 3, 2010. The submission guidelines are available on the AALS website.
For questions, contact Samantha Moppett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 14, 2010
Scholarship alert: "Redirecting the scope of first-year writing courses: toward a new paradigm of teaching legal writing"
This one is by Soma R. Kedia, an attorney at Maryland Legal Aid. The article can be found at 87 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 147 (2010). From the introduction:
"Read over this file and start drafting a trial memo to the court on X. Here's some old research on the topic, but you'll have to update it as well as branch out and find some case law on Y and tie it in since Z statute was passed a few years ago. We'll want the memo to be as comprehensive as possible, because this is a new judge without much familiarity with the law in this area. Can you have a draft to me by tomorrow?"
Umm ... sure. Let me just chug a few Red Bulls and give me a few minutes to pound my head against the wall first.
Any first-year associate can tell you that their introduction to legal writing in practice is substantially different than the introduction they had to it in law school.
On the flip side of the coin, there is a common and persistent perception among senior lawyers, both today and those of times past, that law school graduates "can't write." This belief has endured throughout years of change in legal education, including the advent of legal writing courses in the legal curriculum. However, despite the perseverance of this issue over decades, few lawyers have ever been able to further articulate what they mean by this condemnation, leaving law students and young lawyers in the dark about how they might build the skills they need in the legal workplace.
Before we can discuss the hows and whys of legal writing pedagogy, we need to deconstruct the imprecise notion that law school graduates are functionally illiterate and articulate the exact problem perceived by practicing attorneys with regard to the writing skills of their subordinates. In other words, what's wrong with legal writing these days? Though some critics might say that there is a woeful lack of attention to grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation by young attorneys, there is little logic to this notion; in fact, most law students are painfully attentive to the minute details of their writing. What, then, is the problem? When senior attorneys hand back motions or briefs covered with red pen, to what are they really reacting?
Little has been chronicled or scientifically assessed regarding this dissatisfaction and censure, but it is certainly part of the lore of the legal profession:
Despite our lack of schooling in the rhetorical tradition, we are remarkably unforgiving when it comes to our colleagues' poor writing. We are quick to criticize, but we do not have a proper or common vocabulary for describing how or why legal writing is poor. Ask on-campus interviewers about the quality of young associates' writing, and they will tell you that young lawyers cannot write: "They don't understand the basics of good writing. Their analysis is not very good. And they know very little about grammar." Ask a law professor about the quality of written law school exams: "They can memorize the rules of law, but they don't know what to do with them."
The same article highlights actual survey data regarding judicial perceptions of legal writing.
I am the scholarship dude.
a legal writing wardrobe
While touring MIT today with offspring, I realized I was wearing my official souvenir polo shirt from the last Legal Writing Institute bi-ennial conference, held in Indianapolis in 2008. On a college campus that is decidedly oriented towards numbers, not words, I got some quizzical looks as passersby read the logo.
After teaching legal writing for 20 years, I have a nice little wardrobe of legal writing garments, and I know from talking to other long-time colleagues that I am not alone. The nice thing about souvenir clothing from legal writing conferences is that it comes in both men's and women's sizes, a benefit of being in a field that is 75% female, and so it actually fits those of us who are female. Since the dress code is casual at legal writing conferences, I'm thinking I can get through the whole Marco Island event wearing souvenir ALWD and LWI polos and tee shirts and fleeces. (I could also carry a different canvas bag each day I'm there, from my large collection of souvenir bags from regional legal writing conferences, but I think I'll stick with using those at the farmers market on Saturday morning.)
And all this leaves me wondering, what sartorial addition will I receive when I check into the 2010 LWI conference in a couple of weeks? Stay tuned.
New Design for the U.S. Courts Website
The website for the U.S. court system has been redesigned. Click here for a virtual tour and lots more information.
Hat tip to Mary Ann Robinson at Widener University School of Law
LWI Conference Information
The 14th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute opens in two weeks. It runs from June 27 to June 30, 2010 at the Marriott Resort in Marco Island, Florida. More than 600 persons have registered for the conference, which is just a few registrations shy of the LWI conference record set two years ago in Indianapolis. You can still register online for the conference by clicking here. Online registration will close at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 21. On-site registration will be available at Marco Island (but really, you WANT to do this now if you haven't already.) The Marriott Hotel is fully booked but there may still be some rooms at the nearby Hilton. Click here for information on how to reserve a room.
Hat tip to LWI President-Elect Ken Chestek.
June 13, 2010
Are You Ready to Celebrate the History of Legal Writing?
The Marco Island LWI Conference represents the conclusion of the celebration of the silver anniversary of the Legal Writing Institute. Over the past 25 years, the LWI has seen tremendous changes both in terms of the organization itself as well as in the teaching of legal writing, research, and analysis.
The Law Library Blog of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law included a post a few weeks back about the history of legal writing. You might enjoy reading that as a lead-up to the final celebrations of the LWI silver anniversary. Click here to have a look.
Hat tip to Karin Mika
LWI Diversity Initiatives Committee will meet . . . on the Beach!
The Committee will meet at Marco Island on Monday, June 28, 2010, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Quinn's on the Beach. (Now really, who would NOT want to be part of a committee that is smart enough to make that its first meeting spot?). This is an occasion for legal writing professionals of color to get acquainted in an informal setting and to explore initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in the LWI community.
If you cannot attend the meeting at that time, you can still stop by the LWI Committee Fair on Monday, June 28, 2010 from 3:45 to 5:00 p.m. to learn more about this important endeavor. All members of historically underrepresented groups in the legal academy are encouraged to attend, and all members of LWI are welcome.
Hat tips to Starla Williams and Teri A. McMurty-Chubb