Friday, March 11, 2011
And do it while certifying that it is compliant in length. The Court is NOT amused. (Words and phrases like "rambling" and "flagrancy of the violation" and "district court summarily affirmed" make its lack of amusement abundantly clear!)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law has exciting news! Legal Writing professor Susan Duncan will become the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development on July 1. Susan has served the legal writing community in many capacities, including as president of the Legal Writing Institute. This new appointment continues a trend of legal writing professors moving into upper administrative positions. Congratulations, Susan!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
An article in the February 2011 issue of The Practical Lawyer contains a quick test on grammar and apostrophe usage. Author Michael G. Walsh adapted examples from a 1928 textbook into an up-to-the-minute diagnostic. Walsh apologizes to readers who find the test “insultingly simple,” but many law students could no doubt brush up on some of its items.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Click here to see the latest draft of the program for the 11th Annual Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference, to be held from March 25-26, 2011 at the Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas.
I will attend and was going to present on the topic of "Live Grading." I'm happy to see, however, that two other presenters also chose that as a presentation topic. That's great (we need more live grading and more presentations on how to do it effectively!)
But as there will be two other presentations on that, I'm now going to present instead on another topic that I think we can talk more about -- how to present legal writing seminars for law firms, government agencies, and bar associations. We can learn a lot when we teach outside the classroom. For those of you who regularly present seminars, please feel free to contact me with your advice to share -- or, better yet, join the discussion at the conference!
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
Monday, March 7, 2011
A recent article in the Student Lawyer provides a short critique of West’s new research system, WestlawNext. Author Shawn Nevers, a legal librarian at Brigham Young University, calls WestlawNext a “smarter search engine” and reports that it produced good results in one of his test searches. But because the new system can generate an unmanageable number of results, Nevers believes terms-and-connectors searching still has its place. West spent lavishly on developing WestlawNext and charges users a premium for it, as noted below on this blog. Students will want to be aware of this so they don’t suffer a rude awakening when they enter the work world.
The Legal Writing Institute announced that the eighth LWI Writers’ Workshop will take place on July 11-13, 2011 at the Colorado Chautauqua at the foot of Boulder’s Flatiron Mountains. The workshop will give up to twelve Legal Writing faculty the opportunity to spend time working on their academic writing projects and improving their scholarly skills.
The Workshop will take place immediately after the Applied Storytelling Conference at the University of Denver Law School. Workshop participants will leave Denver on the morning of Monday, July 11 and return to Denver on the morning of Wednesday, July 13, 2011. All members of the Legal Writing Institute are eligible to apply for the Workshop. You must have a scholarly writing project well underway and beyond the initial stages of performing the initial research and drafting a tentative outline. You must at least have some sort of partial draft. You should arrive with a substantial work product. In most cases, a scholarly writing project should result in a law review article.
Participants make presentations on their projects to small groups of three and receive feedback. Each session runs about ninety minutes. They also may take part in several guided discussion groups, each on a different topic. Participants will also have time to work on their drafts. Facilitators for the Workshop will be Steve Johansen (Lewis & Clark), Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii), Chris Rideout (Seattle), and Lou Sirico (Villanova).
Participants will pay approximately $300 as a registration fee plus their transportation to and from Denver. LWI will cover transportation to and from Chautauqua, the cost of the facility, and all meals on July 11 and 12 plus breakfast on July 13. For more information, contact Lou Sirico by email: Sirico [at] law.villanova.edu
Hat tip to Lou Sirico
Sunday, March 6, 2011
WestlawNext, WestSearch, and the Secret Recipes for Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and McDonald's Special Sauce
Ronald E. Wheeler, the Director of the Dorraine Zief Law Library and Associate Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law, has written up his thoughts on Westlaw Next in an article called "Does WestlawNext Really Change Everything: The Implications of WestlawNext on Legal Research." He concludes that the new propriety engine for WestlawNext (called WestSearch) really is revolutionary, and that its secret is closely guarded, "like the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken[,] or McDonald's Special Sauce." So if that's not enough to get you to read the article, I don't know what is! Click here to download a copy from SSRN. Among its features, WestlawNext does not require researchers to choose a database or source before searching. Professor Wheeler notes that this feature will have a number of effects, and not all of them negative. (One positive effect is that researchers will learn about previously unknown sources, databases, and documents.)
We learned about the article from Suzanne E. Rowe, the Dean's Distinguished Faculty Fellow and an Associate Professor and Director of Legal Research and Writing at the University of Oregon School of Law. Thanks Suzanne!
One feature not often discussed about WestlawNext is its cost, which is more than regular Westlaw. As we teach various sources, teaching cost-effective legal research becomes ever more important.