April 14, 2011
professionalism = playing nice
If you need a professionalism example for your students, look no further than this case (Download D Kan Order Regarding Professionalism ) out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. And if your students conclude that professionalism no more than playing nice, that wouldn't be a bad conclusion to draw.
Thurgood Marshall, the legal writer
This is a busy time of year for legal writing professors, but on the theory you may be compiling a summer reading list, we'll continue bringing promising reads to your attention. Recently Anna Hemingway alerted us to an article she's co-authored with three other Widener University colleagues, Thurgood Marshall: The Writer. Here's their abstract:
"This article profiles Thurgood Marshall as a writer in his roles as an advocate and social activist, a legal scholar and a Supreme Court Justice. It examines the techniques that he used as a writer to inform and persuade his audiences in his life-long endeavor to achieve equality for everyone. This examination of Marshall’s legal, scholarly, and judicial writings can help lawyers, academics, and students increase their knowledge of how the written word profoundly impacts society. The article first studies his arguments and legal strategy in two early civil rights cases, University of Maryland v. Murray and Smith v. Allwright. It goes on to examine several letters Marshall wrote while he was working on Lyons v. Oklahoma, a murder trial where the prosecution sought the death penalty. It explains how his creativity as a legal strategist was fashioned of necessity as a young African-American lawyer representing African-American clients in a still segregated society. The second profile explores how the social context and the ethical dilemma that Marshall faced in drafting his brief in Brown v. Board of Education influenced his use of persuasive writing techniques. It shows how Marshall’s choices as a writer accomplished an effective strategy that was simultaneously principled and practical. The article then considers Marshall as a moral activist by examining his speech and writing on the occasion of the Bicentennial Celebration of the Constitution in which he famously refused to applaud it. It compares the contemporaneous reaction to his stance to the consequent controversy about his position that arose during the Senate confirmation hearings of Marshall’s most famous clerk, Elena Kagan. Finally, the article looks at Justice Marshall as a writer in his dissent in Payne v. Tennessee, a capital sentencing case. It demonstrates that by choosing to attack the assumptions underlying the majority’s argument, he was able to craft a broad and powerful writing in which he not only advocated his position opposing the death penalty, but also defended a panoply of individual rights that he believed essential to attaining and maintaining his aspiration of equality for everyone."
April 13, 2011
workshop for beginning legal writing professors
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) is holding a workshop for new legal writing professors and new directors of legal writing programs, June 22-23, in Washington, D.C. The programming will cover how to: teach in the classroom, design assignments, assess student work, hold effective conferences, design your course, pursue legal scholarship, and deal with status issues. For more information, click here.
helpful editing advice
If you scroll down Scott Fruehwald's SSRN page, you'll see a number of practical articles that are actually lessons on legal writing and editing. The topics include editing for wordiness, active and passive sentences, paragraphing, sentence structure, emphasis, and clarity. Each lesson includes exercises to help the reader apply the information right away, so these articles can be very helpful for students or lawyers who need help with a particular topic. (You'll also see some intriguing other titles that Scott has authored.)
April 12, 2011
are you actually writing poetry?
An interesting piece in today's New York Times suggests everyday prose is rife with poetry. If that's true, then surely legal prose contains its share of poetics, too. (Be sure to peruse the comments, too.)
hat tip: Valerie Munsion
April 11, 2011
Anthony Niedwiecki Elected as Next ALWD President-Elect
Congratulations to Anthony Niedwiecki, Director of the Lawyering Skills Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, who has just been elected as the next President-Elect of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. He will begin as ALWD President-Elect (vice president) in August 2011 and become president in August 2012.
Here are the election results
- President-Elect: Anthony Niedwiecki (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago)
- Treasurer: Susan Thrower (DePaul)
- Kirsten K. Davis (Stetson)
- Teresa Godwin Phelps (Washington College of Law, American University)
- Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers-Camden)
Write More Good
Mark Hale and Ken Lowery, founders of a twitter feed that pokes fun at the Associated Press Stylebook, have published a book titled Write More Good. According to a review, the book features “snarky observations . . . and writing tips so awful they’re good—or at least hilarious.” Interviews with the book's authors and with a site contributor are available on line.