Friday, September 30, 2011

Save the Date: Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica

Spring Break in Costa Rica?  The answer may well be yes for many legal writing professors attending the next Global Legal Skills Conference.  Save the dates -- March 12-14, 2012 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

(mew)

September 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Illinois Amends its MCLE Rules

The Illinois Supreme Court amended its rules this week for minimum continuting legal education (MCLE) and the MCLE fee schedule.  The new rules will allow Illinois attorneys to participate in non-traditional CLE activities (such as judging moot court competitions, or writing a law review or bar journal article) without paying a $20.00 fee (for reporting periods ending June 2012 and after).  Attorneys will also be able to carry over excess professional responsibility credits.  Another change will allow new attorneys to satisfy a portion of their hours by participaning in a mentoring program approved by the Commission on Professionalism.

The amended MCLE Rules are available on the Illinois Supreme Court website. The amended rules do not change the number of required credits or deadlines for any two-year reporting period.

(mew)

September 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Second Circuit applies a "straight-face" test

Today I saw a good guide that I'll recommend to my students as they learn to develop legal arguments: the "straight-face" test.

The Second Circuit recently applied it in Johnson v. Nextel Communications, Inc. In that case, clients had retained a law firm to sue Nextel for discrimination. But the firm may never have intended to file suit: instead, it entered into an agreement with Nextel to settle the claims cheaply and receive millions of dollars from Nextel. The clients sued both the law firm and Nextel, alleging that the agreement between the two involved improper collusion. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim.

On appeal, the law firm argued that Nextel’s payments to it were part of a legitimate settlement that simply included attorneys' fees. However, because the payments were not tied to a recovery for the clients, the Second Circuit rejected that argument as not passing “the straight-face test.” The court vacated the dismissal.

(jdf)

September 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 26, 2011

AALS Section Newsletter

AALS logo The latest newsletter for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is available by clicking here. Download AALS-LWRR 2011-1 Newsletter  This issue is 22 pages long and filled with information of interest to legal writing professors.  Judy Rosenbaum, the Section Secretary, was the editor for this issue.

Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

September 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

iPhone 5 and iOS 5 for Legal Writing Profs

With the release of the iPhone 5 and iOS 5 (Apple’s mobile operating system) likely within the next few weeks, I thought it would be helpful to preview some new features that will be of interest to legal writing professors who use iPhones and iPads.  In addition to being the operating system for the iPhone 5, iOS 5 will be available as an upgrade to the current operating systems on Apple devices including the iPhone 4 and both versions of the iPad.  The official release date is still under wraps, but Al Gore (a member of Apple’s board of directors) let October slip as a potential release date for the iPhone 5.  Presumably, Apple will release iOS 5 on or near the date that it releases the new iPhone.   So professors using one of these devices will have the benefit of iOS 5’s features in the near future.

iCloud Rollout and Integration

Apple is expected to rollout iCloud, its cloud computing service for home and business users, at or near the same time it releases iOS 5.  This service will make it easier for legal writing professors to go paperless and have easy access to all class materials from any device, anywhere.  The term “cloud computing” refers generally to storing user content (like word files, photos, or music files) or running applications from remote web servers.  The key benefit of cloud computing is having your documents available from any device, anytime without having to physically “sync” your devices.   Some iCloud features have been available for a few months, including some cloud-based music storage features. 

But iOS 5 and iCloud should hopefully make document synchronization between Apple devices available.  Currently, great third-party apps like Dropbox are filling the gap, but iCloud should make your documents instantly available on every device without the extra app.  This means that if you run a paperless class, you will have access to your handouts, PowerPoint presentations, and students’ work from any network connected device.  If you make comments on your students’ drafts on a Mac or PC in Word, you can make the drafts and your comments available on your iPad or iPhone for student conferences or for your own review without physically syncing the devices.

iMessage

iOS 5 will deliver SMS/text style messaging to all of your iOS 5 devices through a feature called iMessage.  You can even group message (a feature that has long been lacking with standard text messaging).  iMessages will not count against your text message bill because they are sent through the internet, not your wireless provider.  This tool has great potential to aid student communication through group chat, but unfortunately it appears to only support messaging between Apple devices.  Many students do not have an iPhone or iPad.  I hope Apple (or a third-party developer?) finds a way to bridge this gap so that I can have group chats about class topics with students via iMessage.

To-Do Lists

Adding a built-in task list to the iPhone/iPad is a major improvement that needed to happen years ago.  Apple is making it happen with a new feature called Reminders.  This new feature will allow users to manage to-do lists and sync wirelessly with both Outlook and iCal.  iPhone/iPad task lists will benefit legal writing professors and anyone else who relies on electronic calendaring.

Email Formatting

Finally!!  iPhone/iPad users will be able to format email using italic, bold, and underlined font.  For legal writing professors who answer citation questions via email, this feature will liberate you from your laptop and allow you to send properly formatted citations from your mobile device.

Other Features

Apple is rolling out a number of other features that may not be directly relevant to legal writing but are cool nonetheless.  Improved Twitter functionality, camera features, calendar views, and news reading capabilities are among the features iOS users can expect.

Who knows the specific date Apple will make iOS 5 available.  When it does, you can upgrade your compatible device for free by synching with iTunes on your desktop or laptop.

(dbb)

September 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reminder: AALS Section Award Nominations Due by September 30

The Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research periodically makes a section award to honor individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the field of legal writing and research.

The following persons are members of the 2012 Section Award Committee: Ralph Brill, Anne Enquist, Ardath Hamann, Richard Neumann, and Helene Shapo.

TO NOMINATE SOMEONE -- Send your nomination to one of the committee members by September 30th.  There is no formal nomination form, but usually a letter explaining why the particular person deserves the award.  We hope to present the 2012 award at the Section's Field Trip to the Law Library of Congress.

Mark E. Wojcik, Section Chair, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

September 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Empire Strikes Back Again! Save the Date for the next Empire State Legal Writing Conference

The Third Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at the University at Buffalo Law School in Buffalo, New York.  Last year’s conference at St. John's University School of Law featured over 50 presenters from around the country, with a focus on creative teaching ideas that attendees could implement immediately.  The Call for Proposals will be circulated in early November.  It sounds like a great place to visit in June, particularly after the LWI Biennial Meeting in California from May 29 to June 1. 
 
Hat tip to Stephen Paskey (University at Buffalo Law School)
 
(mew)

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Florida job opening

We're seeing a lot of legal writing teaching job announcements now and will try to post them as time allows.

For starters, Florida International University College of Law, a public law school located in Miami, Florida, is seeking applicants for the position of Lecturer in Legal Skills and Values.  The Legal Skills and Values program consists of two required courses in the first year of law school, and an additional required course by the end of a student’s fourth semester. They need dedicated legal writing and skills teachers to teach legal research, analysis, and written and oral communication skills, all with a heavy emphasis on professionalism.

This is a full-time faculty appointment, with an initial one year term, with the possibility of successive three-year and then five-year terms. The anticipated salary is between $60,000 and $80,000, depending upon experience.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and c.v. to Professor Marci Rosenthal, FIU College of Law, Modesto Madique Campus, RDB 2052, Miami, FL  33199. Applicants also may submit materials electronically to facappts@fiu.edu.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Applicants also must register and create an on-line Profile through the university’s website at http://www.fiujobs.org; reference Position No. 33291.

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.

3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $60,000 - $80,000.

4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 31 - 35.

hat tip: Marci Rosenthal

(spl)         

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Seventh Circuit rebukes a lawyer for poor writing

This week, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a case dismissal after an attorney, Maksym, repeatedly filed substandard documents. Stanard v. Nygren, __ F. 2d __ (7th Cir. Sept. 19, 2011). Maksym filed complaints that were “generally incomprehensible and riddled with errors,” thus failing to give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against them. His Second Amended Complaint was incoherent, as illustrated by a “staggering and incomprehensible 345-word sentence” (which the court reproduced for the reader’s edification in footnote 7). The pleading contained so many spelling and grammatical errors that the judge said it would be impractical to add “[sic]” to each. The judge concluded that the document was “little more than gibberish” and dismissed it without leave to amend.

On appeal, the Seventh Circuit observed that not all prolix complaints merit dismissal, but when prolixity and other errors make a complaint unintelligible, then dismissal is warranted. In this instance, Maksym had even failed to learn from his missteps in the district court. His appellate brief  contained “all the deficiencies” of the trial court documents. And although he cited 81 cases, most were irrelevant to the issues. Finding Maksym's work “alarmingly deficient,” the Seventh Circuit upheld the dismissal, sent a copy of the decision to the Illinois bar’s disciplinary body, and ordered Maksym to show cause why he should not be removed from the court’s bar.

This case would serve as an excellent cautionary tale for your students who don't think that judges really care about good writing and careful drafting.  Pages 13-17 focus on the court's exasperation with poor writing skills and general incomprehensibility.  (You've got to love an opinion that uses language like this:  " . . . prolixity was not its chief deficiency.")

You can also use the case as a teaching tool to show students that you can also listen to oral arguments on the Seventh Circuit website.  It's sometimes fascinating to listen to the argument of a case you are going to use in a brief or memorandum.

hat tip:  Mireille Butler, Assistant Professor, Legal Research and Writing Pepperdine University School of Law

(njs and jdf and mew)

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LWI One-Day Workshops

LWI The Legal Writing Institute will hold one-day workshops at various locations around the country on Friday, December 2, 2011. Here is a list of the law schools confirmed to host:
  • California:  Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Florida:  University of Miami
  • Georgia:  Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
  • Illinois:  Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Massachusetts:  Northeastern University School of Law, Boston
  • Minnesota:  Hamline University School of Law
  • Missouri:  University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • New York:  Brooklyn Law School
  • North Carolina:  Campbell University Wiggins School of Law, Raleigh
  • Pennsylvania:  Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia
  • Tennessee:  University of Memphis Humphreys School of Law

We are confirming additional locations in Ohio and the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area.

The topics covered in the workshops have been expanded to include these four areas during the day:
 
1.  Teaching Legal Writing [9:00 to 10:20 a.m.] (including topics such as creating problems, grading, selecting materials, conducting paper conferences, and including other assignments as part of the research and writing course). 
2.  Teaching Persuasive  Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and Moot Court [10:40 to noon] (including materials, practice sessions, and guidelines for moot court practices and competitions).
3.  Legal Research Update [2:00 to 3:20 p.m.] (including updates on new research methods and materials that you and your students need to know).
4.  Other Innovations [3:40 to 5:00 p.m.] (a potpourri panel that will differ at each location, where individual speakers and faculty roundtables can discuss classroom teaching innovations, scholarship opportunities, effective use of researh assistants, and other subjects of interest to legal research and writing faculty).
 
The workshops have been a great opportunity for legal writing faculty around the county to meet and share new ideas.  Adjunct faculty who are often unable to travel have found the sessions to be particularly valuable, but as you can see from the topics they are now designed for all legal writing faculty.  The programs have also been of interest to persons who are thinking about entering the legal writing academy as teachers. Those presenting at the workshops have found them to be a great speaking opportunity too.
 
The one-day workshops are a fundraiser for the Legal Writing Institute to allow it to continue its many fine and important programs.  Attendees are asked to pay a $100 registration fee, which will be donated to the LWI.  As in past years, scholarships for attendees will be available to persons who cannot pay the registration fee.  Law schools who host these generously donate the facilities and often also donate coffee and lunch to make the day particularly wonderful for us. 
(mew)

September 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Print Citators and Professional Negligence

While teaching basic research skills to 1Ls this week, a potentially blasphemous idea crossed my mind:  Is using the print-based version of a citator to update an important source professional negligence?  The answer is probably no, but the ubiquitous and easy-to-use nature of online source updating does make me question the prudence of using print.  At the least, practitioners who use a print citator without calling a research service to obtain up-to-the-minute case updates may be at risk of using a source that was overruled since the last print update.

Even if using the books instead of the online citators does not rise to the level of negligence, using print definitely entails peril for the practitioner.  It is easy to miss critical notations in the fine print of a book, and it is even easier to misunderstand the somewhat complex process to update the citator itself.  Perhaps the real question is whether using print citators to update cases is wise.  My answer is that in most cases it is not.  The cost in time would likely outweigh the cost in electronic research services for most attorneys.

Should legal writing and research professors teach students how to use print citators?  Or should we teach students that using print is a bad idea when online services like KeyCite and Shepard’s are on the market?

(dbb)

September 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Nominations for the AALS Section Award

The Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research periodically makes a section award to honor individuals who has made a significant lifetime contributions to the field of legal writing and research.

You can click here to see the announcement of the 2010 Section award when it was given to mighty Joe Kimble (who is pictured there with Justice Antonin Scalia).

And here's a link to an announcement of the 2011 award, which went to Betsy Fajans.

The following persons are members of the 2012 Section Award Committee: Ralph Brill, Anne Enquist, Ardath Hamann, Richard Neumann, and Helene Shapo.

TO NOMINATE SOMEONE -- Send your nomination to one of the committeemembers by September 30th.  There is no formal nomination form, but usually a letter explaining why the particular person deserves the award.  We hope to present the 2012 award at the Section's Field Trip to the Law Library of Congress.

Mark E. Wojcik, Section Chair, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

September 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing for Generalist Judges

Professor Douglas E. Abrams of the Univeristy of Missouri has witten an article that appears in this month's issue of The Nebraska Lawyer, the magazine published by the Nebraska State Bar Association.  His article (on page 17) is on "Effective Written Advocacy Before Generalist Judges: Advice from Recent Decisions."  He notes that judges often lack familiarity with many areas of law and that lawyers who live in those specialized fields may have to dial back their use of jargon specific to a particular field.  He cites examples from fields such as patent law and reinsurance. 

In the reinsurance field, for example, Professor Abrams cites Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who wrote that "[e]very esoteric term used by the reinsurance industry has a counterpart in ordinary English."  Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Co. v. Reinsurance Results, Inc., 513 F.3d 652, 658 (7th Cir. 2008). 

We can't have too many of these articles in journals for the practicing bar.  Carry on, Professor Abrams, and help those lawyers write in plain English!

(mew)

September 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Volunteer for the LWI One-Day Workshop Committees

In December 2009, the Legal Writing Institute held its first one-day workshops in two locations (In Chicago at The John Marshall Law School and in New York City at the Manhattan Campus of St. John's Univeristy).  In December 2010, we held workshops in 14 locations across the country.  The programs were universally successful, and the LWI Board has asked One-Day Workshop co-chairs Robin Boyle Laisure, Tracy McGaugh, and Mark Wojcik to plan the 2011 One-Day Workshops.

The co-chairs are seeking 6-10 additional committee members to help them plan and organize the 2011 One-Day workshops.  We anticipate that the committee members will assist with the program, registration, handouts, publicity, and other matters.  

•     We need people to help coordinate the common materials program book that will be used at each location.  That's the program materials subcommittee.

•     We need people to collect the names of speaker volunteers and to assign them to the different locations.  That's the program subcommittee.

•     We need one or two people to coordinate the bios of all the speakers.  That's the program book subcommittee.

•     We need one or two people to help coordinate the national registrations.  That's the registration subcommittee.

•     We need a couple of people to help generate publicity and to promote the workshops.  That's the publicity subcommittee.

•     We need people to check into CLE credit for various states.  That's the CLE subcommittee.


If you are interested in volunteering to serve on this committee, please email:


Suzanne Rabe
Chair, LWI Committee on Committees
rabe [at] email.arizona.edu

(mew)

September 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

intensive workshop on legal persuasion

On December 15-16, 2011, in Las Vegas, lawyers, judges and scholars from around the country will participate in an intensive workshop that will provide insights into all forms of legal persuasion. The William S. Boyd School of Law is bringing together excellent attorneys, nationally-known trial consultants and leading professors to provide two days of instruction in advanced techniques for all facets of legal persuasion: negotiation, written and oral advocacy, and visual persuasion. The enrollment will be limited to facilitate a dynamic and interactive learning environment.

For attorneys and judges, this program offers the opportunity to learn about persuasive techniques inside and outside the courtroom and new developments within the study of persuasion. Scholars and consultants will also benefit by learning about some of the latest research in the field of legal persuasion and how theory becomes practically implemented within legal communication. You can read more here.

You can apply for participation in this event here. The organizers will review the applications with the goal of selecting a good mix of participants, including judges, lawyers, academics and consultants.

For answers to your questions, contact Associate Dean Mootz at Jay.Mootz@unlv.edu.

hat tip: Susan Heinzelman

(spl)

September 18, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pictures from Central States Regional Legal Writing Conference

The Seventh Central States Regional Legal Writing Conference attracted more than 200 attendees, making it probably the largest regional legal writing conference.  It was held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  Karin Mika attended on the first day and compiled this collection of photographs . . . together with some pretty questionable captions.  Have a look.  (And thanks Karin!)

 

(mew) 

September 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Confirmed Locations for the LWI One-Day Workshops on December 2

LWI On Friday December 2, 2011, the Legal Writing Institute will hold one-day workshops for legal writing faculty (including adjunct faculty) at various locations around the country.   Here is a list of the law schools confirmed to host:
  1. California:  Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  2. Florida:  University of Miami
  3. Georgia:  Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
  4. Illinois:  Chicago-Kent College of Law
  5. Massachusetts:  Northeastern University School of Law, Boston
  6. Minnesota:  Hamline University School of Law
  7. Missouri:  University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  8. New York:  Brooklyn Law School
  9. North Carolina:  Campbell University Wiggins School of Law, Raleigh
  10. Pennsylvania:  Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia
  11. Tennessee:  University of Memphis Humphreys School of Law

We are confirming additional locations in Ohio and the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area.

The format of the one-day workshops has been expanded to cover these four topics:

  1. Teaching Legal Writing (including creating problems, grading, selecting materials, conducting paper conferences, and including other assignments as part of the research and writing course).
  2. Teaching Persuasive Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and Moot Court (including materials, practice sessions, and guidelines for moot court practices and competitions).
  3. Legal Research Update (including updates on new research methods and materials that you and your students need to know).
  4. Other Innovations (a potpourri panel that will differ at each location, where individual speakers and faculty roundtables can discuss classroom teaching innovations, scholarship opportunities, effective use of research assistants, and other subjects of interest to legal research and writing faculty).

The workshops have been a great opportunity for legal writing faculty around the county to meet and share new ideas.  Adjunct faculty who are often unable to travel have found the sessions to be particularly valuable, but as you can see from the topics they are now designed for all legal writing faculty.  The programs have also been of interest to persons who are thinking about entering the legal writing academy as teachers. Those presenting at the workshops have found them to be a great speaking opportunity too.

The one-day workshops are a fundraiser for the Legal Writing Institute to allow it to continue its many fine and important programs.  Attendees pay a $100 registration fee.  As in past years, scholarships will be available to anyone who cannot pay the registration fee. 

Information will be available soon on how to register for the conference and on how to volunteer to be a speaker at one of our locations.  For now, save the date and plan to attend a workshop near you.    

Mark E. Wojcik, Board Member, Legal Writing Institute

September 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Central States Regional Legal Writing Conference

JMLS Simon, Sheila The Central States Regional Legal Writing Conference will be held in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School this Friday and Saturday.

More than 150 people have already registered to attend.  Professors are flying in from as far as California and New York to take part in this regional conference.  That's quite a central region! 

Click here to see the program and speakers

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon will address the conference on Saturday morning.  She previously taught legal writing at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.

(mew)

 

 

 

September 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LWI 2014 Conference to be held in Philadelphia

LWI President Ken Chestek of the Legal Writing Institute announced today that the 16thBiennial LWI Conference will be held from June 29 to July 2, 2014 in Philadelphia, just before the fourth of July.   The conference will be held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown,which will extend the special discount rate for those of you whose families want to explore some real American history firsthand.   Philadelphia is full of amazing Revolutionary War history and is a major destination for family vacations -- and its a city that got its fame from the legal documents written there.  Save those dates and plan to come to Philadelphia!
 
As a reminder about the big LWI conference next year, that's in California and will be held at the JW Marriott Desert Springs from May 29 to June 1, 2012.  (That's the week of Memorial Day 2012.)
 
(mew)

September 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Harry Potter and Bluebook Rule 10.2

Wow.  Here's some great news from Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Elon's Library Director Kate McLeod and LRW Professor Patricia Perkinshave been working since last spring on their secret passion to be movie directors and to bring the Bluebook to life.  Harry Potter and Bluebook Rule 10.2 -- I can see it now!  
 
Or maybe not exactly that title.  But Kate and Patricia have created a series of short videos designed to help students learn legal citation.  They received some deservedly wonderful feedback and suggestions during a “test run” at last spring’s North & South Carolina Legal Research andWriting Colloquium, and now we learn from Catherine Wasson (the Director of Legal Research and Writing at Elon) that the first several videos in this ongoing project are now available for viewing on the Elon Law website.    The videos are about 3 to 5 minutes long (about the attention span of my students), and each shows students how to construct a certain part of a case citation.    
Catherine tells us that more videos on case cites, statutes, and other sources are in the works – and that Kate and Patricia welcome your feedback and suggestions as they continue to create new videos for the series and slowly work their way to Hollywood.   Here's one of their videos:
Hat tips to Catherine Wasson, Kate McLeod, and Patricia Perkins.  Click here for more videos.
(mew)

September 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)