Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Utah lawyer Bryan J. Pattison’s recent article Writing to Persuade includes some good tips for legal writers. He sets the stage by asking the reader, “What were you thinking about the last time you wrote a brief or trial court memorandum? Sticking it to opposing counsel ? . . . Impressing your client?” If the answer is yes, Pattison says, “hit reset,” because the only goal should be to persuade the judge. The article includes a judge’s list of five things not to do—for example, don't “develop a reputation as a ‘churner’—an attorney who files unjustified motions for ulterior motives.” That will damage a lawyer’s reputation with the court.
Monday, July 25, 2011
The Association of American Law Schools will hold its next annual meeting in Washington DC from January 4-8,2012. The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research will be holding a large number of activities of interest to legal writing professors. Registration is now open. Click here and follow the links to register for thw 2012 AALS Annual Meeting.
Plan to arrive in DC on Wednesday, January 4th so that you are ready to leave at 9.15 the next morning for the section field trip to the Law Library of Congress. (This is a ticketed event that we expect will sell out. When you register for the AALS annual meeting, be sure to register also for the Section field trip.) It is going to be an amazing day -- we get to poke around in parts of the library that are not open to the public. We will have special meetings with the legal specialists and with the librarians who design amazing resources that many of us teach to our students (such as the THOMAS website for tracking federal legislation). The ticket price came in a little higher than we expected (I think it is going to be $110) but when you think that a section lunch at the hotel would cost $65 it isn't that much more for the field trip. We also hope to present the section awards at the luncheon that at the law library. Register early for the field trip to avoid disappointment.
On Thursday evening we will have a separate section business meeting for legal writing professors. This is a special opportunity to present your ideas for section activities and AALS programs. You'll also get to meet many other section members and friends.
The section will sponsor posters again this year. These posters usually convey a great amount of information of interest to legal writing professors. The posters will be on display at the conference hotel in Washington DC.
On Friday, January 6, the section will have a program from 10:30 am - 12:15 pm called "In the New Millennium, What Are the Best Practices in Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research?" Presenters will be selected from a call for papers.
On Saturday, January 7, the section is co-sponsoring a panel with the AALS Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers. The topic of that panel is "Legal Research and Writing for Non-U.S. Lawyers: What Resources Do Law Schools Need to Provide?" Presenters for that program will be selected from a call for papers. This program will be of particular interest to those of us who have students who speak English as a second language.
And on Sunday morning, January 8, we have an additional three-hour session on "Legal Writing in the 21st Century: Practical Teaching Tips for Legal Skills Professors." Presenters for that program will also be selected from a call for papers. That program will run from 9 a.m. until noon so keep that in mind when you are making arrangements for your return travel.
The calls for posters, papers, and section award nominees are all being made soon. Registraton for the 2012 AALS Annual Meeting (including the field trip) is open now.
Mark E Wojcik, Chair, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research
There seems to be a lot of discussion this summer about whether law school is worth the investment of time, energy, and money. Here are several additional views that were published in the New York Times, including some comments about whether the writing requirements for law students are rigorous enough. Click here.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law is taking applications for an LRW opening. Candidates are expected to produce legal scholarship and are eligible to earn professional-skills-tenure. If you're interested in the job, email a résumé and a cover letter indicating your research and teaching interests to Professor Huyen Pham, chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, materials may be mailed to Professor Pham at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102- 6509.
1. The position advertised may be offered as a tenure-track appointment.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range of $90,000-$99,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 41 - 45. The typical LRW teaching load is two classes per semester, approximately 20-22 students in each class.
hat tip: Tanya Pierce
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The legal writing folks at the University of San Francisco are excited about their upcoming conference, How to Hit the Ground Writing: Meeting the Expectations of the Changing Legal Market, being held on August 26-27. They recently updated the conference website with hotel information. And they will update it again soon with the full schedule of the presenters and panelists. For now, you can calendar that the conference will take place from 3:00pm-7:00pm on August 26, and from 8:30am-5:00pm on August 27. And you can register here.
hat tip: Grace Hum
Monday, July 18, 2011
If you will be in Chicago on the evening of July 21, 2012, plan to swing by the Chicago Cultural Center where Chicago-Kent will be honoring legal writing maverick Ralph Brill. The event will be in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago.
The law school would appreciate an rsvp so that theycan order enough food and drink. Here's the link: http://www.kentlaw.edu/depts/alums/rsvp/brill.html.
Hat tip to Karin Mika
In the report of a new study, Professor Christopher Trudeau of Thomas M. Cooley Law School explained that he often advises students to write in plain English. Recently, he set out to test the soundness of that advice by learning what clients really think when lawyers use complex legalese.
Funded by an ALWD grant, Trudeau's empirical study revealed that many clients “have struggled to understand their attorneys at some point.” Trudeau concluded that “when attorneys use complex constructions or complicated terms, they put unnecessary barriers in the way of [clients'] understanding.”
For more of this study's interesting results, click on The Public Speaks: An Empirical Study of Legal Communication.
hat tip: Mark Cooney
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Many legal writing professors have to write (or want to write) and have their work published as a component of their jobs. There are a lot of ways, often touted on this blog, for legal writing professors to get advice on how the publishing game is played in academia. But often practicing lawyers and law students, who may want to write more practice-oriented or business-building pieces aimed at other lawyers, don't know where to start. There's helpful advice to get you started over on the Legal as She is Spoke blog.
hat tip: Sarah Berent
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Doug Abrams has written a short article that may help law students better understand the audience they are writing to when that audience is a judge. In Effective Written Advocacy before Generalist Judges: Advice from Recent Decisions, he uses judges' own perspectives and words to explain what is helpful (and not helpful) for them. The article is published in the Spring 2011 issue of Precedent, the Missouri bar's quarterly magazine.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Legal writing professors have been known to argue at length about appropriate fonts. (Just sayin', not naming any names.) And more and more, we are seeing helpful, serious scholarship on point. But since it's about to be a mid-summer weekend, we'd like to share with you perhaps the oddest font seen yet, the llama font.
hat tip: Deborah Borman
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Jim McEhlaney's column in the June ABA Jurnal offers more of his no-nonsense tips about brief writing. This time he offers a "dirty dozen" ways to write a bad brief, starting with "Make it a 'long,' not a brief." Other briefing faux pas include "Load up the citations" and "Quote like crazy." "Flunk the giggle test" seems especially helpful for beginning legal writers like our students. That tip counsels against "arguing wild impracticalities or ignoring a body of useful, well-established law."
Lisa Kinzer at the University of Texas has collected data that confirms what many of us think we've been seeing: law students are quickly adopting WestlawNext for legal research. Lisa was able to show that the majority (~56%) of first-year J.D. students at the University of Texas School of Law reported using WestlawNext more often than Westlaw or Lexis. As she says, "This is particularly remarkable when you consider that the students were required to participate in Westlaw and Lexis training, but were not required to learn WestlawNext."
Just click on the article title to read the full draft of her report,The 'Next' Generation: Measuring First-Year Student Response to WestlawNext.
Chapman University School of Law is seeking applications for the position of Assistant/Associate Professor of Legal Research & Writing. Applicants must be admitted to at least one state Bar and have a superior law school academic record, legal practice experience, and demonstrable writing abilities.
The Assistant/Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing will be responsible for teaching legal research and writing courses, including courses designed to assist those students who need more focused attention on writing skills. The individual will also be expected to assist with the development of writing projects, and the implementation of writing and advocacy competitions for first-year law students. The successful candidate will have a full-time, non-tenure track appointment at the Assistant Professor or Associate Professor level, depending on his or her experience and qualifications. Final candidates will be required to undergo a background check.
Please send letters of interest to:
Professor Celestine Richards McConville
Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee
Chapman University School of Law
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
1. The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
For personnel issues: May vote on contract faculty personnel issues for candidates at or below the individual’s rank. May not vote on personnel issues involving tenure track or tenured faculty.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $80,000 - $89,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 41 - 45.
Typical teaching load is two classes per semester, approximately 20-22 students in each class.
hat tip: Nancy Schultz
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The University of New Hampshire will be hosting the New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers' conference on December 16, 2011. Although it's technically a regional conference, legal writing professors everywhere are invited. We'll let you know more details here as they're available. And yes, most years you can ski in New Hampshire by December 16th, so you could combine this conference and an uncrowded ski trip.
hat tip: Amy Vorenberg
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Veteran legal writing professor, Diane Edelman, who teaches at Villanova, has been tapped to be the next Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP). Among Diane's many accomplishments, she teaches a 1L LRW courses that includes instruction and practice using international law sources. Congratulations on your appointment, Diane!
Monday, July 11, 2011
The Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair being held this year in Los Angeles (from September 8-10) includes this year a Junior Scholar's Forum. For those of you writing on legal issues relating to sexual orientation (including gender identity), this forum gives you an opportunity to present your work to an audience working in the field. To submit a proposal for consideration, please send it to <<scholars [at] lgbtbar.org>> with a copy to Professor Elizabeth Glazer at Hofstra University <<elizabeth.glazer [at] hofstra.edu>>. In both of those emails, replace the [at] with a @. The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2011.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
How bad has legal writing gotten? Well, a former student recently sent a legal writing professor this horrendous example from an actual contract:
"The terms defined therein and not otherwise defined herein being used herein as therein defined."
(A currently practicing law firm produced the contract, so we think it best to protect the identity of both the professor and former student.)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
When you pack for the beach this summer, along with your souvenir beach towel from last summer's LWI conference, now you can include something to read that was written by a legal writing professor. Pam Jenoff, at Rutgers-Camden, has penned another intriguing historic novel, The Things We Cherished. This one focuses on the many lives that an antique clock has touched. You can find more information on it here.
hat tip: Sarah Ricks