Saturday, February 13, 2010

Modern Language Association looking for speakers on professional writing

Proposals are now being accepted for the four technical and professional communication sessions to be held at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA) Conference in Albuquerque, NM, October 14-16, 2010.  Proposals for presentations should include a 200-word abstract and a 50-word biographical statement. Faculty and graduate students are encouraged to submit; co-authored proposals and panel proposals are especially welcome.  Proposals are due by March 7 and acceptance notifications will be sent by March 20 so that presenters can pay current-year RMMLA dues ($35 for faculty, $25 for students) before April 1 to appear in the program.

The sessions will include:

1. Technical and Professional Communication in the Classroom.
Panel Chair: Ryan Hoover,
Proposals should discuss new and innovative strategies used in the classroom. Methods for applying theories of rhetoric, composition, ethics, electronic technology, or information design are especially welcome.

2. Technical and Professional Communication in the Workplace and Beyond.
Panel Chair: Erik Juergensmeyer, 
Proposals should discuss ways to integrate coursework with internships, service learning, employment, or any other types of experiential learning.

3. Theory and Research in Technical and Professional Communication.
Panel Chair: David Reamer,
Proposals should discuss current research being conducted, courses in research theory and practice, or new theories in need of wider implementation.

4. Forces of Change in Technical and Professional Communication.
Panel Chair: Alan Blackstone,
Proposals should address new directions or trends in the field, including how the discipline is changing in both academia and the workplace.

RMMLA is a friendly and well-attended conference that offers interesting excursions and evening activities.  Please send proposals as e-mail attachments in MS Word to the session chair listed above or to the RMMLA program chair for technical and professional communication: <>. Proposals may also be sent using snail-mail to the following address (postmarked by March 1, 2010):
David Reamer, PhD
Assistant Professor of English
The University of Tampa
401 W. Kennedy, Box R
Tampa, FL 33606

hat tip:  Ben Opipari


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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another blogger kicks the tires on WestlawNext and lives to tell about it

Contract drafting expert and commentator Ken Adams of the Adams Drafting blog travelled to Eagan, Minnesota earlier this week to get a firsthand look at WestlawNext.  Here's a portion of his report:

You can search on WestlawNext using “natural language” or by using Boolean terms and connectors. But a natural-language search on WestlawNext is much more sophisticated than a natural-language search on Westlaw. For one thing, that’s because WestlawNext’s search algorithms leverage West’s extensive proprietary analytical content, notably the West Key Number system. If two cases are grouped together in the Key Number system, a WestlawNext search that retrieves one of the cases will take that grouping into account in determining whether to include the other case. Similarly, WestlawNext searches also consider KeyCite citation links between documents.

I found it particularly intriguing that in handling a given search, WestlawNext also considers customer usage with respect to comparable searches. More specifically, it looks to “meaningful interactions.” If a customer looked at a given document retrieved in a search, that’s not especially meaningful. But if the customer printed the document, or saved it to a folder, that would increase the odds that the document was particularly relevant for purposes of a similar search performed subsequently. When amassed over thousands upon thousands of searches, that sort of incremental information should add real value.

You can read more of Ken's review here.

I am the scholarship dude.




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

When the Legal Writing Prof Blog talks, Westlaw listens.

While extremely doubtful, I'd still like to believe it's true anyway  

The other day I complained on this blog that I don't yet have an academic pass for WestlawNext - the new legal research platform from West that's been five years in the making.  After my comment got picked up by, West issued a statement (ok, so it was speaking to law librarians and not me) explaining that academic passes for WestlawNext will be forthcoming soon. 

Here's a copy of West's open letter to legal writing professors law librarians courtesy of the Law Librarian Blog:

This month marks the official launch of WestlawNext. This new version of Westlaw has been in the making for several years and was developed in large part through research and collaboration with our customers. Many academic law librarians provided feedback as part of the development process, and their input was instrumental in shaping our product and launch strategies.
Our plan is to offer law schools a phased rollout of trial passwords, beginning with librarians and faculty this spring. In addition to preview events in a variety of cities throughout the United States, we also will offer customized in-school presentations for librarians and faculty. In the coming weeks and months, your Academic Account Manager will schedule these events and distribute trial passwords.

We're now finalizing plans for launching WestlawNext to law students, with possible introduction as early as the Fall 2010 semester.

WestlawNext for law school subscribers will be included as part of your current Westlaw subscription agreement. There will not be an incremental charge to access WestlawNext.

We are pleased to work with law school librarians and faculty to evaluate WestlawNext, and we look forward to your feedback. We'll be in touch soon; until then, please contact your Westlaw representative with any questions you may have.

Anne Ellis
Senior Director, Librarian Relations
Thomson Reuters

A big hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog for breaking the news.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

fun with collective nouns

After I had read a number of student drafts, I felt compelled to administer a short quiz on pronoun agreement and collective nouns.  In the course of my research, I came across the following entertaining sites: (this is a humorous list of made-up collectives, including "a quarrel of lawyers") (I especially like "an attitude of teenagers")


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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Supreme Court issues order requiring shorter reply briefs.

Effective next Tuesday, February 16, 2010, the United States Supreme Court is mandating that advocates trim 1500 words from their reply briefs.  Until then, attorneys can still use 7500 words with which they can try to persuade the Court.  

According to the Legal Blog Watch:

In an explanatory comment on the change, the clerk of the Court said the Court was returning to a length close to what it had required in earlier years when it used page limits rather than word limits. The clerk explained that “[e]xperience has shown that the increased volume limit has allowed for the filing of some briefs that repeat previous arguments rather than address only new material presented in intervening briefs.”

You can also read more about the new rule change here at the Blog of the Legal Times.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: Volume 18, (Fall 2009) "Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing"

Brutal Choices in Curricular Design...

Mika, Karin. Games in the law school classroom: enhancing the learning experience. 18 Perspectives 1-6 (2009). 

Enquist, Anne. Multitasking and legal writing. 18 Perspectives 7-10 (2009).

Teachable Moments...

Scott, Jane. Intro to plagiarism. 18 Perspectives 11-15 (2009). 

Liemer, Susan. Teaching students to harness the power of word processing as they write. 18 Perspectives 16-17 (2009). 

Turner, Tracy. E-mail etiquette in the business world. 18 Perspectives 18-23 (2009). 

Centeno, Candace Mueller. A recipe for successful student conferences: one part time sheets, one part student conference preparation questionnaire, and a dash of partial live editing. 18 Perspectives 24-29 (2009). 

Writing Tips...

Armstrong, Stephen V. and Timothy P. Terrell. Why is it so hard to front-load? 18 Perspectives 30-33 (2009). 

Olszewska, Mary and Thomas E. Baker. An annotated bibliography on law teaching. 18 Perspectives 34-42 (2009). 

Bintliff, Barbara. Legal research and writing resources: recent publications. 18 Perspectives 43-48 (2009). 

Hotchkiss, Mary A. Index to Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, volumes 1-17 (1992-2009). 18 Perspectives 49-92 (2009).

I am the scholarship dude.


February 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professionalism alert: How not to write to a potential employer.

Many of you may remember this law student-employer email dust-up from a few years back that traveled the globe and back, serving as a warning about how private emails can go viral as well as a lesson in how not to talk to an employer. 

It's happened again. This time it involves a still unidentified 3L and an IT consultant who mistakenly received the student's resume.  We'll let Above the Law's Elie Mystal take it from there:

The situation started innocently enough. The unidentified 3L sent in a résumé and cover letter to Webster & Associates LLC, looking for legal work. The letter was inartfully addressed to “Esteemed Mr. Webster, Partner:”

The problem is that Webster & Associates is not a law firm; it’s a company run by a man named Bruce Webster that specializes in IT consulting. Two seconds on the Webster & Associates website would have revealed this fact.

Webster sent the job seeker back an — admittedly curt — response. And then things got out of hand.

You can read about the denouement here.

Hat tip to the online ABA Journal and ATL.

I am the scholarship dude.



February 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are law profs lazy?

Maybe, according to this article in the National Jurist (a magazine targeting law students and law students-to-be).  According to the author: 

As in most other aspects of life, the “Seven Deadly Sins” manifest themselves in legal education.

There’s plenty of Professor Kingsfield–style wrath (see class discussions with unsuspecting 1L’s). There’s both pride and envy (Google “law school rankings” for some examples). And there may even be lust.

But the one “Sin” in legal education that is the most pervasive and serious, in light of today’s legal landscape — affecting not just groups of students but every law student and recent law grad — is sloth.

Call it complacency, apathy, inactivity, inertia or plain ole’ laziness, but one thing is clear: When law professor’s slack, the students (and future lawyers) suffer.

Take the examination process, for example. Several recent news stories have broken about law professors “accidentally” using questions from previous exams or previously released practice questions, no doubt resulting in huge headaches for their respective administrations. (Make students retake the exam? Count it as a “pass/fail” grade? Grade as is? Any conceivable option presents some level of unfairness to some students, plus potential complaints, unnecessary costs and logistical nightmares for administrators.)

So far, so fair.  But then the NJ author plays the dreaded "student-as-consumer" card:

Clients are the lifeblood of any business, and law students are the lifeblood of legal education. If you’re already in law school, your tuition dollars pay your professors’ salaries. You are their client. Make their instruction worth your while.

I can't imagine any law prof would disagree with the statement that students have a right to excellent classroom instruction. Beyond that, comparing law students to "consumers" of legal ed. breaks down pretty quick.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog also picked up on this story under the headline "Are Law Professors Just Plain Lazy?" Speaking for myself, I'm pretty doggone sure I work more hours than any of my students.  But, that's just like my opinion, man.

Big 'ol hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 9, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Do you have your WestlawNext free academic password yet?

Apparently not many do - including me - according to Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog.  Joe suggests that West may be reluctant to distribute free passwords to the academy until its paying customers make the upgrade.

You can read the rest here.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 9, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

uneven career effects of poor skills curriculum

Irene Segal at NYU has articulated previoulsy unconsidered challenges for legal education in her article on "The Undertraining of Lawyers and its Effect on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession".  Here's her abstract: 

"The undertraining of law students documented in a century’s worth of critiques of legal education, most recently by the Carnegie Foundation, has different and much more detrimental consequences for the post-J.D. careers of women and minority attorneys. However, studies of their early careers focus primarily on problems with law-firm mentoring and pay little, if any, attention to how the earlier training that these lawyers received (or failed to be given) in law school might have contributed to the later career obstacles they face. Conversely, studies of the ways that law schools undertrain law students pay little or no attention to how the deficiencies in the current model of law school education may disproportionately disadvantage women and minority law students later in their careers. This article examines an emerging literature, narratives of professionalization by women attorneys of color, and puts those narratives into the dual context of critiques of legal education (exemplified by the Carnegie Report) and critiques of law-firm practice (exemplified by the recent A.B.A. study “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms”) in order to demonstrate how law schools contribute to the career difficulties faced by women and minority attorneys. Two types of undertraining occur: 1) formal curricular undertraining; 2) self-undertraining, caused by the disengagement produced by law school culture. Only by reforming the curriculum and culture of legal education can law schools live up to the democratic civic mission they espouse as proponents of equal opportunity."


February 9, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dan K. Webb Advocacy Center at Loyola Chicago

Loyola University Chicago School of Law has just announced that it has named its nationally recognized Center for Advocacy after law alumnus Dan K. Webb (JD ’70). Webb, the chairman of the Chicago law firm Winston & Strawn, is widely considered one of the top trial attorneys in the United States. Effective immediately, the advocacy program at Loyola’s School of Law will be called the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy to honor his distinguished career, and to recognize his significant contributions to the School of Law, including a recent major financial commitment.


February 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

job opening in Los Angeles

In the one part of the country where it's not snowing, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law is seeking an assistant or associate director of legal writing and advocacy for its international LLM program.  This person will assist the director of the school’s broader legal writing and advocacy program in administering and teaching the LLM legal writing classes, helping to develop curriculum, hire and train adjunct instructors and student fellows, and teach.  The successful candidate will also assist the director of Graduate and International Students programs with academic support for LL.M. students, as well as teaching and administering the legal writing aspects of the four-week summer session for international students.

Applicants should have experience teaching legal writing or English to international students and should have practiced law for at least two years, preferably in a global setting of some kind.  JD required; California bar preferred.

Please send your cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Michael Earnhart, USC Gould School of Law, 699 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90089.  

1.  The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
2.  The professor hired will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $80,000 - $89,000.
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 30 or fewer.

A candidate may be able to teach a non-legal-writing class if time allows.

hat tip:  Jean Rosenbluth


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