Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
In the second session, I sat in on two great presentations on tips related to teaching oral argument effectively.
Deborah Borman and Dana Hill (Northwestern) talked about using improvisational theatre games to help prepare students for oral arguments. One idea to help students become more comfortable with speaking is to use the "yes, and" game: one student starts to tell the client's story, then the next student picks it up and continues, then the next, until the story is told.
Bruce Ching (Valparaiso) talked about helping students to understand the impact of non-verbal persuasion by teaching them some basic concepts (body language, voice cadence and pitch) and then asking the students to find a video clip and analyze it using those concepts. He demonstrated with YouTube clips of John McCain and then showed a student's analysis of a talk by President Obama.
On an unusually cool and windy day in Las Vegas, the Rocky Mountain regional LRW conference started off with a full slate of sessions at 2 pm.
Susan Wawrose, Victoria VanZandt, and Sheila Miller (Dayton) spoke on using focus groups to learn what legal employers think of and want from law students and recent grads. The trio talked about the logistics of putting together focus groups, the well-made investment of having a professional facilitator to lead the groups, the need for Institutional Review Board approval to tape the groups and use their responses, as well as some of the insights they received from the employers (including everything from analytical skills to appropriate office attire).
Next, Wendy Humphrey and DeLeith Gossett (Texas Tech) spoke on teaching "real world" professionalism and accountability to law students. They discussed allocating a percentage of the semester grade for professionalism points (students start with full points and lost them only for behaviors such as lateness, prohibited web surfing, etc.), as well as using analogs of real-life legal documents (scheduling orders, motion for continuance, order to show cause) in the course to help students link the expectation and demonstration of professional behavior with the consequence of not doing it.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Hey! Where are law schools in the United States? Have a look at this map to see where ABA-approved law schools are located in the United States.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The reason I love giving my students checklists is because simply putting something on a checklist makes it much less likely I will need to comment on it repeatedly on my students' papers when I critique them. Of course checklists can be powerful learning tools for students, too, and lifesavers for busy attorneys. Now Jennifery Romig, at Emory, has written "The Legal Writer's Checklist Manifesto",
8 J. ALWD (2011). Here's how she explains her manifesto:
"Saving money, saving time, and saving lives: these are the accomplishments of the 'humble' checklist outlined in Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (Metropolitan 2009). The Checklist Manifesto explores various types of checklists and their benefits for professionals working in various fields such as medicine, aviation, and construction. This book review focuses on checklists’ potential benefits for lawyers - and more specifically, for lawyers engaged in the task of legal writing. Widely available checklists provide excellent tools for new lawyers to check their work and internalize common stylistic practices of legal writing. These same checklists can also help experienced lawyers to edit their work efficiently and to notice and change bad writing habits they may have acquired. Yet the benefits of checklists extend beyond the individual writer laboring to complete an assignment. The Checklist Manifesto also explains the benefits of process-based checklists, which require members of a team simply to check in with one another at specified intervals. These process-based checklists could help teams of lawyers to work together more efficiently and produce more effective written work product. Process-based checklists also contribute to a healthy and open working dynamic in which all members of a team have robust opportunities to participate. The Checklist Manifesto makes a compelling case for the benefits of checklists in various industries. Legal writing - as one concrete embodiment of law practice itself - stands equally to gain."
If you get the ABA Litigation magazine, take a look at The Evolved Appellate Brief by Larry A. Klein (Fall 2010, Vol. 37 No.1). The article contains advice that legal writing professors give in class and follow in their own writing. This piece is unique because the author wrote from the perspective of a former appellate judge who has returned to private practice. He describes how and why he writes appeal briefs differently now than he did before he became an appellate judge. His main points: clarity is king, and the little techniques that help achieve clarity matter a lot.
In a similar vein, there's a helpful, short article in February's Florida Bar Journal, by Raoul Cantero, who served from 2002-08 on the Florida Supreme Court and is now practicing law. He mentions three ways in particular to improve an appellate brief:
1. shorten the brief, by writing more concisely
2. include an introduction
3. organize the brief into sub-sections
hat tips: Mark Cooney & Ellen Saideman
Monday, March 21, 2011
For a little mid-semester humor, check the February 2011 Texas bar Journal, where John G. Browning presents some interesting case names. His article, Saying it with Style, includes some aptly paired party names, like Plough v. Fields, Silver v. Gold, and Klump v. Duffus. Another case name sounds like a roll call of “The Sopranos.” And some “in rem” names are particularly intriguing—for example, United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins. Another noteworthy title (not included in the article) is Roe v. Wade—which seems to present two ways to cross a river.
The opening colloquium will focus on the relationship of critical theories to law school teaching, legal scholarship, and professional service. Law and society scholar Prof. Martha Fineman will be the keynote speaker, followed by these distinguished panelists:
Susan L. Brody, Professor of Law, John Marshall Law School
Gregory Johnson, Director of Legal Writing & Professor of Law, Vermont Law School
Margaret Johnson, Assistant Professor & Co-Director, Center on Applied Feminism, University of Baltimore School of Law
Andrea McArdle, Professor & Director of Legal Writing, CUNY School of Law
Teri McMurtry-Chubb, Director of Legal Analysis and Writing & Assistant Professor of Law, LaVerne College of Law
Teresa Godwin Phelps, Director of Legal Rhetoric & Professor of Law, American University (Washington College of Law)
Kathryn Stanchi, Professor of Law, Temple University School of Law
Saturday’s full day of concurrent sessions will include presentations on interdisciplinary and other approaches that legal writing and lawyering skills teachers are using to integrate theory and practice within their teaching, scholarship, and service. Friday morning’s program will feature small-group scholars’ workshops and forums.
Registration for the conference is free, but encouraged. Additional information is available at www.law.mercer.edu/selwc. The conference is hosted by Mercer Law School with additional support provided by LexisNexis, Wolters-Kluwer, ALWD, Westlaw, and Carolina Academic Press.
hat tip: Linda Barger