January 8, 2011
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon
Inaugural festivities start today in Springfield, Illinois to celebrate the inauguration of SIU Legal Writing Professor Sheila Simon, who on Monday (January 10, 2011) will be sworn in as the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. The ceremony is at 11:00 a.m. at the Prairie Convention Center in Springfield, followed by an open house at the Executive Mansion and an Inaugural Ball on Monday evening.
We are tremendously proud of Sheila and celebrate with her, her family, and her legal writing colleagues across the country on this special occasion.
January 7, 2011
Qatar University needs a legal writing director
So are you tired of the winter cold? Well, the College of Law at Qatar University is looking for a Legal Writing Center Director. Over 50% of its courses are taught in English.
The Director is expected to provide workshops on legal writing, organize writing competitions, help develop the critical argument writing of the students, attend conferences, and work with departments inside and outside of the College to maximize the potential of the center. Required qualifications include a J.D or Ph.D. in a relevant legal subject, with a record of publications; interest in, and evidence of, superior teaching at the LLB degree level; IT proficiency for personal and classroom use; and the ability to provide leadership and engage in department development.
Benefits include a tax-free salary, furnished accommodations, annual round trip air tickets for the faculty member and dependents, an educational allowance for faculty children, health insurance for the faculty member and family, annual leave in accordance with QU HR policies, and end-of-contract indemnity.
hat tip: Jon Mark Truby
law student information literacy
For a carefully thought-out approach to teaching legal research, take a look at Dennis Kim-Prieto's article explaining "How Law Student Information Literacy (LSIL) Standards Address Deficits Identified by the MacCrate Report and the Carnegie Report, and What They Mean for Legal Research Education & Training".
Kim expalins that "Legal Research Education has been slow to adopt Information Literacy (IL) as a framework, despite recognized demonstrations of the utility this framework presents to be when applied to library instruction and assessment. This article defines Law Student Information Literacy (LSIL), analyzes how LSIL Standards address existing and identified deficits in the current state of legal research education, and offers a copy of the current LSIL Standards."
January 6, 2011
Mark Wojcik Elected as New Chair of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research
Congratuations to our own
Mark Wojcik! You may have previously known him as a legal writing professor at The John Marshall Law School and a co-editor of this Legal Writing Prof Blog. Now he has been elected as the Chair of the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. He will serve as chair until the next AALS meeting in January 2012.
Mark has previously chaired other AALS Sections, including the AALS Section on International Law, the Section on Graduate Programs for Foreign Lawyers, and the Section on North American Cooperation.
The immediate past chair of the AALS Section is Martha Pagliari (DePaul University). Thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of the Section, Martha.
The new Chair-Elect is Kathleen Elliott Vinson (Suffolk University). And the new Secretary is Judy Rosenbaum (Northwestern University). Congratulations to you, too!
January 5, 2011
when good quotation marks go astray
Busy legal writers can be driven to the brink of sanity by quotation marks that face in the wrong direction. On the legal writing professors' listserve, Jan Levine (at Duquesne University), has shared helpful information on what to do about this problem:
"This fall I noticed a large number of strange errors in student papers, where they were writing a quotation-within-a-quotation, and the nested single quotation mark followed immediately after a double quotation mark at the start of a quotation. The single opening quotation mark was oriented in the wrong direction, as if it was placed after the quoted text.
"So I did a little research on why this was happening.
"MS Word, Corel WordPerfect, Pages, and other word processors are set up to do what is called curly quotes, where the quotation marks (single or double) are curved (curly) and go in different directions before and after the language being quoted. The older quotation marks are straight, sometimes being angled (and sometimes not).
"MS Word's 'Smart Quotes' feature, which is turned on by default in Word Options, replaces all quotation marks with curly quotes. But it has one error - the one I kept seeing. There is no way to fix that behavior, other than turning off smart quotes, which will end up with the old style straight quotation marks.
"There are a slew of explanations for curly quotes in MS Word, and how to change from one type to the other. The problem is the algorithm MS Word uses, which ignores this one instance.
"For examples and explanations, click on these links:
"The only simple workaround I found was on the Typography for Lawyers site (and yes, the book and website are great!): http://www.typographyforlawyers.com/?page_id=1322
"Basically, what he suggests that if you run a search-and-replace within Word, changing single quotation marks to single quotation marks, the direction of the errant single quotation marks will be fixed.
"I took this one step further, and just recorded a simple Word macro to do exactly that procedure. I named it FixCurlyQuotes (you cannot have spaces in MS Word macro names), saved it in my default template, and assigned it to the keystroke combination ctrl-alt-'. If I then hit that keystroke combination, the macro will run and fix all the errors. If you have never recorded a Word macro, it's not hard, and you'll not find one easier to create than this.
"Naturally, Corel WordPerfect does not have this problem."
hat tip: Jan Levine
Rocky Mountain Reminder: Proposals Due Next Week
The Eleventh Annual Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference will be held on March 25-26, 2011 at The University of Nevada Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Program Committee invites participants to submit proposals for conference presentations. Presentations may be on any subject of interest to those teaching legal writing and research. Presenters have two options regarding time:
1. Presenters are encouraged to suggest ideas for 25-minute slots. These are often practical presentations on teaching methods or assignments that have been especially successful for you. Many of these slots are available.
2. There are also a few slots open for 50-minute presentations.
3. And since the conference is in Las Vegas, there are also slots avaiiable at casinos and even at the airport if I remember correctly. Good luck! And yes, you can send half of your winnings to me directly.
The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, January 12, 2011. To submit a presentation proposal, please send the following information to Sara Gordon (at sara.gordon [at] unlv.edu) and Jean Whitney (at jean.whitney [at] unlv.edu):
- Contact information for all presenters and co-presenters
- Title of presentation
- Brief (one-paragraph) description of the presentation
- Time needed for presentation (25 minutes or 50 minutes)
- Technology needs for the presentation
You can register for the conference and find information about hotels under the "Conferences" link by clicking here.
Hat tip to Sara Gordon
January 4, 2011
update on Scribes deadlines
We previously posted about the newly designed website for Scribes and mentioned the deadline for submission for its Law Review Award here. Now we've received a correction: that deadline is January 21, 2011. Scribes has also posted information on its Student Brief-Writing Award now, and the dealine for those submissions is April 15.
hat tip: Chris Wren
learn to write well by editing law firm bills
Yes, you read that right. Over on the Above the Law blog, in his Inside Straight column, Mark Herrmann (aka The Curmudgeon), explains how.
I've heard veteran legal writing professor Jan Levine tell the story of his son's first word: "memo." And my own kids learned the law of trespass while in primary school, by reading a picture book featuring the Three Little Pigs that Lexis produced to teach 1Ls how to use digests. Now here's Mark explaining how his son learned to write clearly and concisely in high school by helping to edit law firm bills. Perhaps it's time for a social scientist to study the effect on offspring of having a professional legal writer as a parent.
Global Legal Skills Conference VI
Here's a reminder that the sixth Global Legal Skills Conference will take place on May 5-7, 2011 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Persons interested in making a presentation or organizing a panel for the conference should submit proposals to the Planning Committee by January 31, 2011, by sending it to 7wojcik[at]jmls.edu.
You will be notified as to whether your proposal has been accepted by the middle of February. There is no particular format for proposals. Some proposals may be quite detailed, while others might have just the title of the proposal, a brief description (unless it is clear from the title), and contact information for presenters. You might propose an entire panel, or just an individual presentation that we might combine with others. Submissions are welcome on all aspects of international legal skills education, with a special (but not exclusive) focus on teaching students who speak English as a second language. Previous conferences also included presentations on Legal Spanish, on teaching Trial Advocacy in Ireland, on legal translations, and on other aspects of international legal education. However, most
presentations will focus on the special educational aspects of teaching students trained in other languages and other, frequently non-common law, legal traditions.
In your proposal, please let us know how much time you will need. Please choose 20 or 50 minutes. Please also let us know where your proposal fits within the following categories:
1. How to teach: Tips for those who teach international students either here or abroad.
2. How to do: Tips by and for U.S. and foreign practitioners who have global practices.
3. Curricular development: Presentations on what schools offer, or should be offering, their foreign students.
4. What it's all about: Lessons on law/culture/practice in other countries.
5. Developing Materials: Ideas on developing materials for class.
6. Other: Anything that does not fit within the other categories.
Please send any questions to Mark Wojcik by email at mwojcik[at]jmls.edu or intlawprof[at]gmail.com.
January 3, 2011
Narrative Implications of Evidentiary Rules
Narrative coherence (the context in which statements are made) and narrative integrity (protecting a witness’ statements from "contamination" by extrinsic narratives) shape some evidentiary rules and practices. For example, allowing or restricting leading questions usually reflects whose story is being told - the witness’ own narrative, or one presented by a cross-examining attorney. In addition, prohibiting the use of "speaking objections" protects against attorneys’ arguments being presented at inappropriate times, and also protects against impermissible coaching of witnesses while they are being questioned by the opposing attorney. Furthermore, the development of context in dealing with embedded narratives provides a better explanation than more conventional justifications for treating most forms of party admissions as non-hearsay (or as admissible hearsay). However, narrative considerations also suggest that - contrary to common practice, such as under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(D) - a vicarious statement by a party’s agent should not be treated as a party admission, but should instead be tested for admissibility either as a previous statement by a non-party witness, or as an exception to the hearsay rule.
Congratulations on your paper, Bruce!
Your AALS Legal Writing Dance Card - EXPANDED and WITH LOCATIONS
There's a number of events of interest to legal writing professors (and their supporters) at the upcoming AALS meeting in San Francisco. Here's an UPDATED "Dance Card" for legal writing events at AALS, including additional events and locations. This is NOT an official list of legal writing events, it is just my own list. It is three pages long. You can print out and take with you to the AALS Meeting. See you in San Francisco!
Mark Wojcik, Chair-Elect, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research
AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research - Draft Bylaws
Be an informed voter! Click here to see the draft bylaws. Download AALS-LWRR Section Bylaws (2011 Revision Draft 1.1)
AALS Meeting in San Francisco - LRW Profs Speaking on the International Law Program
Many legal writing professors are speaking this year at the AALS Annual Meeting. A large number of them are speaking on the Section of International Law program, the 2010 International Law Year in Review. Click here to download the schedule of speakers for Thrusday. Download Intlaw 2010 YIR - AALS Schedule and Speakers (Version 2.7)
January 2, 2011
The Right Writing Sample
Do you need to advise students about the writing samples they use for job interviews? Have them click here for an article on "The Right Writing Sample."
I published this article in the April 2009 issue of the ABA Student Lawyer Magazine, sharing not only my own observations but those of other legal writing professors. That list of contributers includes Anne Rector (Emory), Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers--Camden), Louis J. Sirico, Jr. (Villanova), Peter Friedman (Case Western Reserve, then visiting at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law), Andrej Thomas Starkis (Massachusetts School of Law), Mary Beth Beazley (Ohio State University); and . . . well, you have a look. Click here to see the article.
I've heard from a number of students who said that the advice in the article helped them understand what employers are looking for when they ask for a writing sample. Your students may benefit as well. And if you'd like to teach them how to download an article from SSRN (also a good idea, so that they can start using that as an additional research tool), have them visit http://ssrn.com/abstract=1681467.
video-recording feedback on legal writing papers
Jessica Slavin at Marquette University has been experimenting with providing feedback on legal writing papers by recording her reader response and editing suggestions via video. You can find her blog post explaining how she does it on the Marquette University School of Law faculty blog here. She includes tips for getting started and some sample videos, too.
possible legal writing job opening in Georgia
If you're currently a lawyer who's wondering what it's like to teach legal writing, or you're currently a legal writing professor who's wondering what it's like to teach at another school, you might want to contact Linda Berger at Mercer University, in Macon, Georgia. Because of a sabbatical for one of the professors who teaches legal writing, Mercer anticipates hiring a visitor to teach legal writing and another course during the spring semester of 2012. The visitor likely would teach one section of legal writing and one other required or elective course. If interested, the visitor could also participate in one of their advanced writing groups in their advanced writing certificate program.
Macon is about an hour's straight highway drive south of Atlanta, so a semester there would offer the hassle-free life of a smaller town, the full resources of a venerable private university, and easy access to the big city.
If you think you may be interested, send Linda Berger, firstname.lastname@example.org, a cover letter and CV no later than Tuesday, January 18, 2011.