Monday, June 27, 2011
The June 23-25 ALWD Conference in Sacramento offered many informative presentations and included lots of opportunities for networking. A recurring theme was the ABA's new emphasis on assessments in law schools, which was the subject of several sessions.
A highlight was the luncheon speech by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (pictured at right), who was engaging and informative as she discussed how the California courts are dealing with deep budget cuts.
Asked about legal writing, the Chief Justice emphasized that briefs should be clear and direct. She added that a brief is not a novel: she doesn't want to be surprised and looks for signposts that lay out the brief's structure. She also advised lawyers who disagree with the court's previous opinions to do so respectfully, especially if some of the same justices are still on the court. And she recommended that lawyers use "little ink for basic points."
Errors that particularly annoy the Chief Justice are frivolous arguments, misrepresentations of the record, and colloquialisms.
The conference planners, led by Nancy Soonpaa, and the faculty at McGeorge, led by Mary-Beth Moylan, deserve kudos for their superb planning and for making things run so smoothly.