Friday, June 25, 2010

Potential for serious weather heading into the gulf next week

Could anything be worse than the BP offshore drilling debacle that's turned into the worst natural disaster in U.S. history and will undoubtedly affect the economies of the gulf states for years to come?  How about adding a few dozen hurricanes to really stir things up?

According to FoxNews, there are a couple of weather systems now forming in the Atlantic one of which might  move into the gulf in the next couple of days.  After making landfall in Central America, if it then heads into the gulf, it will most likely track toward Mexico or Texas according to the forecasters at  

Here's a picture of their map: Tropical-disturbance-062510-600x405

Here's more detailed coverage from FoxNews:

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned Friday morning of not one but two weather formations in the Gulf of Mexico, both with the potential to swell into more serious weather systems. Responders in the Gulf of Mexico are eyeing the storm system closely, to see whether it turns towards the Gulf and interferes with ability to mop up spilled oil and cap the leaking well.  "We're watching the storm very, very closely," former Coast Guard commander and national incident commander Thad Allen told Fox News. 

There is a 70 percent chance that the low-pressure area centered off the coast of Honduras could become a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, warned the NHC, indicating winds as fast as 73 mph. Any faster and the storm could officially become the first Gulf hurricane of the season -- and will be named Alex. 

Meanwhile, a smaller weather formation just East of the Northern Leeward Islands is also being eyed. NHC describes it as "a large but disorganized area of cloudiness and showers ... associated with a tropical wave interacting with an upper level trough."
. . . .
Joe Bastardi, Accuweather's chief hurricane expert, told that the storm probably won't rage through the Gulf of Mexico, though it could become a hurricane. Instead it will move towards Belize, making landfall there by Sunday. By Monday it could reach Mexico, making landfall Tuesday somewhere between Tampico, Mexico, and Corpus Christi, Texas, he predicts.

But regardless of the strength of this first storm,  Bastardi worries that these storms are indicative of the severity of the season ahead. And raging storms will undoubtedly hamper efforts to clean up the massive Gulf oil spill.

Bastardi believes we'll see as many as 21 hurricanes in the Gulf area, which means "you may see a naming orgy this season," he predicted. Hurricane season for the western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30. That's when about 90 percent of the storms make themselves present. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) has predicted an active season, with as many as 23 named tropical storms. An estimated 8 to 14 of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes, and of those storms, 3 to 7 could become major hurricanes, NOAA said.
. . . .
[T]he real worry is that a hurricane might turn the millions of gallons of floating crude into a crashing black surf. A NOAA factsheet on the topic leaves many questions open. "The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported," it notes, and also points out that "movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane." Hurricanes-in-Gulf_doomsday_604x341
Read the rest of FoxNews' coverage here or, if you prefer, here's the site for the National Weather Service.

Hat tip to Doreen McKee.

I am the scholarship dude.


June 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

congratulations to Susan Thrower

Susan Thrower, of DePaul University College of Law, has just received tenure.  Congratulations!

hat tip:  Brad Clary


June 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday Fun: The Best Plagiarism Video Ever Made

This may be the best plagiarism video ever made.

It is from the University of Bergen in Norway.

Hat tip to Lurene Contento of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago


And you don't even have to speak Norwegian to get the point.


June 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ALWD Meeting at Marco Island

ALWD_Logo The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) will host a short membership meeting during the LWI Conference on Sunday, June 27, 2010, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern time) in the Marriott Capri Ballroom, Salon 6.  The meeting is open to everyone who is attending LWI.  You do not have to be a member of ALWD to attend.  ALWD will provide an update of its activities and information about how to become active in ALWD through membership, committee work, and teaching and scholarship grants. 

Beazley_marybeth Here is the agenda:

  • Welcome & President's Report: (Mary Beth Beazley) (pictured)
  • Report of President-elect (Mary Algero)
  • Treasurer's report (Grace Wigal)
  • ALWD Journal Report (Linda Berger)
  • DIRCON Policies & Procedures (Lyn Goering)
  • Acknowledgment of Departing Board Members and Officers (Mary Beth Beazley)
  • Welcome to new Board Members (Mary Algero

Hat tip to ALWD President Mary Beth Beazley of The Ohio State University


June 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Karin Mika Has Your Picture

Mika, Karin and Mark For the Legal Writing History video that will premier next Tuesday at the LWI Conference n Marco Island, Professor Karin Mika says that she collected "many, many pictures, past and present, from many sources and people."  Knowing Karin, that is a massive understatement about the amount of work she's done to document the history of the Legal Writing Institute and its members.  So many of you attending the LWI Conference in Marco Island may be surprised to see yourselves, or see some of the pictures that Karin was unable to unearth or otherwise secure by bribery.  Also plan to have a look at the poster for the ALWD/LWI Scholarship Committee, which will include a mosaic that is constructed entirely of pictures of Legal Writing profs.  Karin put together a database of about 300 pictures and used a mosaic program to construct the final image.  This is going to be fun.

(In the photo, Karin Mika and Mark Wojcik)


June 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Commercial anti-plagiarism software may now be used for application essays

Inside Higher Ed is reporting on a controversial new use of's anti-plagiarism software; admission officers who use it to catch applicants who plagiarize their college admission essays.  As you may know, Turnitin is  a service that allows teachers to submit suspicious-looking student work to a database that compares the writing in question to all other student work that has been submitted by teachers across the country.  (A bit of legal trivia for our IP readers - four high school students sued Turnitin for copyright infringement claiming the company violated their rights by including student work in a database they sold to teachers.  However, the court granted summary judgment to Turnitin on fair use grounds).

But there are risks to using this software in connection with application essays rather than work submitted for academic credit:

Some admissions officials, like those at Penn State, welcome the service. They feel that the problem is serious enough that they need help. Others, however, are skeptical, saying that the push by Turnitin will shift the focus away from more serious issues in college admissions and suggests that colleges aren't capable of uncovering plagiarism themselves.

Others worry about due process: Current students accused of plagiarism on the basis of a Turnitin (or a competitor company's) review have whatever rights their colleges give those accused of academic dishonesty. Colleges almost never tell applicants why they are rejected, however, so some fear that this system could lead to some would-be students being rejected on the basis of "false positives" for plagiarism on their admissions essays -- an accusation that they may never know about.

Turnitin is a huge force on campuses: it is currently used at 9,000 high schools and colleges, and has processed more than 100 million papers. Many professors value Turnitin and can be seen at scholarly meetings thanking its representatives in the exhibit hall. These faculty members tend to say that they used to feel helpless to fight plagiarism -- and that they were tired of using Google to try to find proof about work they suspected wasn't original.

In other academic circles, however, Turnitin is controversial. Some have raised intellectual property concerns about its use of students' essays. And many composition experts believe that colleges -- by focusing on scaring students that their plagiarism might be caught -- have missed an opportunity to teach students about issues of writing ethics. Others believe that software detection services produce an unacceptable number of false positives.

You can read the rest here courtesy of IHE.

I am the scholarship dude.


June 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

storytelling on the law job hunt

ABA Legal writing professors have produced scholarship, academic conferences, and even a few blog posts on the importance of strong story telling skills for lawyers.  Now over at the ABA's Book Briefs blog, Richard Hermann has applied much of the same thinking to arrive at The Critical Importance of Storytelling when looking for employment in the world of law.  If you think it's only about telling a compelling story during a job interview, think again and take a look.


June 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Another Court Comes Out Against the Use of "And/Or" in Drafting

We've been blogging about "and/or" for a long time.  Here, for example, is a post from 2007.

Well another court has added its voice to the chorus of those who find "and/or" to be abhorrent.  On page 8 of the decision from the Minnesota Appellate Court in Carley Foundry Inc. v. CBIZ BVKT, LLC,, you will see the court say this:

The phrase "and/or" is semantically and logically contradictory.  A thing or situation cannot be simultaneously conjunctive and disjunctive.  Laypersons often use the phrase and, surprisingly, lawyers resort to it from time to time. It is an indolent way to express a series of items that might exist in the conjunctive, but might also exist in the disjunctive. It is a totally avoidable problem if the drafter would simply define the "and" and the "or" in the context of the subject matter. Or the drafter could express a series of items as, "A, B, C, and D together, or any combination together, or any one of them alone." If used to refer to a material topic, as here, the expression "and/or" creates an instant ambiguity. Furthermore, as one legal-writing authority noted, a bad-faith reader of a document can pick whichever one suits him—the "and" or the "or." Bryan A. Garner, Looking for Words to Kill? Start with These, STUDENT LAW., Sept. 2006, at 12-14. At the very least, this sloppy expression can lead to disputes; at the worst to expensive litigation.


June 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 21, 2010

In-house legal department tries "apprenticeship program" for new law grads

Although the National Law Journal reported last week that commentators are more enamored with the "apprenticeship model" of law firm hiring then the firms themselves, Hewlett-Packard announced it will also give the program a try as an alternative to its usual hiring practice.  

Readers of this blog know that beginning last fall, in the wake of the legal market meltdown, a few firms announced that they would spurn the traditional BigLaw hiring model in favor of an "apprenticeship model" whereby new law grads would be hired at a below market salary allowing them the luxury of learning the necessary legal practice skills for a year or two without the additional pressure from their employers to immediately produce high billable hours.  The so-called "apprenticeship model" has generated a lot of discussion in the blogosphere with many commentators wondering if it would fundamentally change the way legal employers hire and train new grads.  But as the NLJ recently reported:

Proponents hail the programs as a positive step away from the sink-or-swim environment many young attorneys encounter when they show up at large firms, and as a practical response to the growing cost-consciousness of clients. The firms bill at much lower rates or not at all for work performed by the apprentices, who earn lower salaries than the industry standard.

Nearly one year in, partners said they are pleased with the progress new associates have made with more extensive training, while first-year associates said they have a better understanding of how lawyers work and what clients want. Firms need a few more years to gauge whether these apprenticeships ultimately produce lawyers who work more efficiently, bill at higher rates and stay with the firm longer than the typical associate, but Howrey, Drinker Biddle and Frost Brown all plan to continue the apprenticeships for new arrivals in September. "It's turned out fabulously, to be honest," said Frost Brown Todd partner Chris Habel, the chairman of the firm's attorney advancement committee. "The clients understand that we are trying to improve the legal profession, and the partners have been happy with it."

. . . .

Not that there's any rush to jump on the bandwagon — no other firms have announced similar programs since last summer. Critics worry that lower apprenticeship salaries will hurt a firm's ability to recruit top prospects and that the programs aren't worth the necessary partner time and resources. The few firms that have made the transition are either litigation-focused or regional in scope. No large general practice or white-shoe firms have started apprenticeship programs, which likely adds to the overall reluctance to take that step, said Jordan Furlong, a Canadian legal consultant. He discussed apprenticeship programs at U.S. firms during a recent symposium on the evolution of law firms at Georgetown University Law Center.

Nevertheless, the online ABA Journal is reporting today that Hewlett-Packard is going to try the "apprenticeship model" for its own in-house legal hiring needs representing a departure from the usual industry-wide practice of hiring laterals:

Like most corporations, Hewlett-Packard hired its in-house lawyers after they got some experience at law firms.

Now the company is trying a different tack. It is hiring four lawyers fresh out of law school and paying them $115,000 a year, plus a $15,000 hiring bonus, the Recorder reports. HP will train the lawyers in programs similar to the ones implemented at Howrey and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

. . . .

The training program will be divided into practice areas, including intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and employment law, the story says. Skills emphasized will include research and writing, negotiation, litigation and business acumen.

You can read more of the ABA's coverage here and the NLJ coverage here.

I am the scholarship dude.



June 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poster Presentation Proposals for the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco

Aalslogo When you (and more than 600 others) are attending the LWI Conference at Marco Island, you may get some inspiration for a poster to present at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research sponsors posters every year to be displayed at the AALS annual conference in January.  These posters provide a great opportunity for authors to present their research or innovative teaching ideas in an informal manner.

The deadline for poster proposals for the 2011 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco is September 3, 2010. By this date you must submit a short description of the poster and an actual copy of the proposed poster. The submission guidelines are available on the AALS website by clicking here.  

Examples of posters selected for presentation in recent years are set forth in the Section's Spring 2010 Newsletter (beginning on page 5) and in the Spring 2008 Newsletter (beginning on page 4).

Hat tip to Samantha Moppett and members of AALS Poster Committee (Susan Chesler, Kendra Fershee, Lara Freed, Andrea Funk, Nancy Modesitt, Daphne O’Regan, Myra Orlen, and Amanda Smith).


June 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Got an idea for an AALS professional development workshop?

Top_logoThe AALS Committee on Professional Development has extended the deadline to July 16, 2010 to submit a proposal for a day-long professional development program for the January 2012 Annual Meeting or a two-day program for the June 2012 Mid-Year Meeting.  
Some past workshops have included:
1) subject matter programs aimed at law faculty who teach particular subjects,
2) programs for law professors with similar interests other than course subject matter, 
3) programs that cut across subject matter lines or integrate traditional subjects,
4) programs that focus upon a type of skill or discipline,
5) programs dealing with matters of law school administration or legal education generally, and
6) programs exploring the ramifications of significant developments in or affecting the law.
AALS asks that proposals be as specific as possible, including a description of the areas or topics that might be covered and an explanation of why it would be important and timely to undertake such a program in 2012.  It encourages recommendations of women, minorities, those with differing viewpoints, and new teachers as speakers.  So surely there's a place for legal writing professors.

The workshops are administered through the AALS sections, so it's a good idea to run your idea past the Chair of the section most relevant to your workshop idea.  Most section chairs will welcome ideas and participation.  Proposing a workshop and agreeing to do the work to put it together may make you a section program committee chair.  Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to For questions, contact AALS Managing Director Jane La Barbera at

June 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Revised Third Edition of Sloan and Schwinn's "Basic Legal Research Workbook"

Sloan, Amy 2 Schwinn, Steve If you use the Basic Legal Research Workbook by Amy Sloan (University of Baltimore School of Law) and Steve Schwinn (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), you should know that there is a revised third edition that has just become available.  This is not a complete new edition of the book but an updated version of the third edition.  Click here for more Information
Hat tip (and congratulations) to Amy and Steve


June 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wojcik Honored for Service to Bar Associations

Marks award 007 Marks award 002 Our stalwart blog co-editor, Professor Mark Wojcik, recently was honored by The John Marshall Law School for his service to various professional associations, including the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Association of American Law Schools. 

Mark has served as Publications Officer for the ABA Section of International Law and Co-Editor of its International Law Year in Review.  He was recently re-appointed as a Dvision Chair for the Middle East and the Americas.  He has served on the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association and was recently re-elected to a three-year term.  In the Association of American Law Schools, he was this year elected Chair of the Section on International Law and is Chair-Elect of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. 

Mark also serves on the Board of the Legal Writing Institute and the International Law Students Association, which organizes the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.  He also chairs the Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

The service award was presented to him at the law school's graduation.  Congratulations Mark!
(Photos courtesy of his next door neighbor, Ananias Samuel.)


June 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ALWD Announces First Four Visiting Scholars in Rhetoric and Writing

ALWD_Logo Professor Mary Beth Beazley (Michael E. Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University) announced on behalf of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors that it had selected several Visiting Scholars in Rhetoric and Writing.  Under this program, ALWD will award up to $3,000 to each of four law schools to fund visits by legal writing scholars.  Although the program began only this year, a high number of qualified grant applications were submitted.  The applications were reviewed by an Initial Review Panel to determine compliance with the program's goals and then forwarded to the Final Review Panel. The Final Review Panel then carefully reviewed the applications in accordance with the criteria outlined on the grant guidelines. The members of the final review panel were Darby Dickerson, Raymond P. Ward, and Christopher G. Wren.  Thomas D. Cobb, Judith Stinson, and Karen J. Sneddon served as members of the Initial Review Panel.

As might be expected in a community such as ours, the final review panel faced a difficult decision. But they selected four grant applications: 
  • Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University will host Linda Berger as a Visiting Scholar.
  • The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law will host Linda Edwards as a Visiting Scholar.
  • Vermont Law School will host Teresa Godwin Phelps as a Visiting Scholar.
  • Rutgers School of Law-Camden will host Michael R. Smith as a Visiting Scholar.

Congratulations to the grant recipients and winning schools. 

Hat tip to Mary Beth Beazley and ALWD


June 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)