Friday, January 14, 2011

words that should be banned

What words should be banned?  Well, politically related (e.g., refudiate) and technology-related (e.g., viral) words top the 2011 list.  Thanks to Lake Superior State University for its annual compilation!


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LRW Posters at the AALS Annual Meeting


The Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research sponsored four posters at this year’s AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  Here, viewers look at (from left) “Got Issues? An Empirical Study about Framing Them” (my poster); “How the 1L Legal Analysis & Writing Course Can Bring the ‘Real-World’ of Law Practice to the Classroom,” by Nicole Chong of Pennsylvania State; “Beyond Etiquette: Bringing E-Communication into the LRW Classroom,” by Elena Margolis and Kristen Murray of Temple; and “The 1-L Journaling Project,” by Jeffrey Proske of McGeorge.

Posters remained up throughout the conference, and presenters were assigned a specific time to be available for questions.  Below are closer views of the last two posters listed above.

AALS Posters-1 
Poster presentations have recently become common at academic conferences.  After the first AALS poster display in 2006, I wrote up some suggestions about poster design and logistics for future presenters.  See page 4 of the Spring 2006 Section Newsletter.  Since then, I have switched to creating posters with PowerPoint instead of Microsoft Publisher, but the piece's other suggestions still apply.



January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job announcement from Washburn University School of Law

from Aïda M. Alaka, Associate Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law:

Washburn University School of Law invites applications to fill one or more positions in its well-regarded, first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing program.  Applicants should have a distinguished academic background, evidence of scholarly potential, and law practice experience.  The ideal candidate will have experience in, and a commitment to, teaching legal writing, a demonstrated interest in scholarship, and a desire to serve the law school and the legal community.   Washburn anticipates hiring the successful candidate at the associate professor rank. 

Washburn’s legal writing program is cooperatively managed and tenure track.  LARW is a two-semester, six-credit course that focuses on predictive and persuasive legal analysis and communication.  As the name indicates, the course also integrates legal research instruction into the curriculum. 

Although the primary responsibility of each LARW faculty member is to teach two sections of LARW each semester, opportunities occasionally exist for teaching other courses.  Washburn has a particular need for legal writing professors interested in developing and teaching upper-level writing courses, which are currently taught by visiting faculty members.  Additionally, the opportunity may exist for the successful candidate to teach in doctrinal areas of expertise. 

Interested candidates should contact:
Bill Rich, Professor of Law
Chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee
Washburn University School of Law
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

1.  The position advertised is a tenure-track appointment. 
2.  The professor hiredwill be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $90,000 - $109,999.
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 45.



January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the legal writing roller coaster

Many law schools in the U.S. start their spring semesters right after the approaching long weekend holiday.  Gearing up this week for another semester of LRW, I was reminded once again of that feeling of approaching a roller coaster ride.  This week was the equivalent of planning to go on the roller coaster ride.  Next Tuesday, we'll step up to the ride car, sit down, and fasten our collective seat belts.  And then, the semester will take off, and there will be no stopping it.  We will grind gears slowly uphill as we prepare materials for class, hold day-after-day of student writing conferences, and critique stacks of papers.  In between there will be lively classroom interactions, triumphant student "ah-ha" moments, and nimble-minded oral arguments that seem to just flash past.  Four months from now, on a warm day in the middle of May, we'll be handing in final course grades, sitting back, and contemplating the ups and downs of the ride.

Here's hoping all LRW professors have a great semester!


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

another tenure vote!

Picture-115 Susan Duncan has received a positive tenure vote from the law faculty at the University of Louisville.   Susan may be the only person to have served as President of the Legal Writing Institute and President of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Research, and Reasoning during overlapping time periods.  Her multi-tasking also extends to excellent teaching and scholarship, and service to her campus, the local bar, and the state bar.  Congratulations Susan!

hat tip:  Judy Fischer 

January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reminder: Registration Deadline for Capital Area Legal Writing Conference is January 15

The Capital Area Legal Writing Conference Planning Committee is planning what seems to be a pretty great conference to be hosted at the George Washington University Law School on February 25 - 26, 2011. The conference will features 65 presenters from over 25 law schools in 20 States.

The registration deadline is fast approaching.  The good news?  Registration is free.

Dr. George D. Gopen, Professor of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University, and the 2011 recipient of the Legal Writing Institute’s Golden Pen Award, will deliver the Keynote Address.  In addition, a plenary session will feature Professor Teresa Godwin Phelps of American University’s Washington College of Law, and winner of the 2009 Terri LeClercq Courage Award.

The deadline to register is January 15, 2011. There is no registration fee, and all attendees must register whether or not they are presenting at the conference. To register, please visit:  The registration site contains information about reserving a room at a group rate at one of the conference hotels, within walking distance to GW Law.  Space is limited, so please book your room now!  If you have any questions, please contact the organizers at:

Hat tip to Christy H. DeSanctis


January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Suggestions for Brief Writing

The January 2011 ABA Journal contains some helpful suggestions for brief writing.  In a column titled “Listen to What You Write”, Professor Jim McElhaney urges brief writers to avoid stuffy language.  His pointers counsel writers to avoid double negatives, use real names instead of “plaintiff” and “defendant,” and avoid “former” and “latter.”  The column first appeared in 1995, but its suggestions remain timely for today's law students as many of them begin writing briefs.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reminder: Deadline for Southeast Regional Writing Conference is January 21

The Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference has issued a call for proposals for its conference on April 15-16, 2011 in Macon, Georgia.  The conference theme will be “Opening the Lens:  Re-Visions in Legal Writing Teaching, Theory, & Practice.”  The deadline for conference proposals is January 21, 2011.

The conference intends to focus on interdisciplinary approaches that enrich understanding of legal interpretation and composition and highlight the ways in which legal writing teachers integrate theory and practice.  Proposals may draw on interdisciplinary perspectives or emphasize new ways to bring together theory and practice in legal writing teaching, scholarship, and service.  The Program Committee encourages proposals for 25-minute individual presentations or panel discussions but anticipates that there will also be a few 55-minute slots. 

Proposals must be submitted by email to Jennifer Sheppard, Program Committee Co-Chair, at Sheppard_jl [at]  The deadline to submit proposals is January 21, 2011. Please include the following in the proposal submission:

  1. Title of proposed presentation or panel.
  2. Brief description of proposed presentation or panel.
  3. Time needed for presentation (25 minutes or 55 minutes).
  4. Technology needs for your presentation (please describe).
  5. Contact information:
  • Name(s) and title(s) of presenter(s)
  • Institution(s)
  • Email address(es)
  • Mailing address(es)
  • Telephone number(s)                                      

Hat tips to Jennifer Sheppard and Karen J. Sneddon


January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

welcome to our new Contributing Editor!


Veteran legal writing professor, Judy Fischer, who teaches at the University of Louisville, will be joining this blog as a Contributing Editor.  She's made quite an impact over the years on the profession of teaching legal writing, through her teaching, scholarship, and service.  Click on her name above for details on her impressive work and career.  We look forward to hearing from you here, Judy!





January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

teaching jobs at William and Mary

William and Mary Law School is hiring a Director of Legal Skills and four Legal Writing Instructors. Each ad is set out below.

Director of Skills/Professor of Practice

William & Mary Law School seeks outstanding, experienced professionals to serve as Director of our enhanced Legal Skills Program. The new Director will play a lead role in the process of integrating full-time legal writing instructors into our award-winning Skills Program. The Director's overarching responsibility is to orchestrate our sophisticated Legal Skills Program. First and foremost, this requires effective management of our new full-time legal writing instructors, adjunct instructors who will oversee non-writing skills pedagogy, 3rd-year student teaching assistants, and other support staff. We expect the Director to identify and recruit talented instructors and successfully integrate them into the Program. The Director must keep abreast of evolving trends and innovations in the teaching of legal skills, and work the best new ideas into the Skills Program. Finally, the Director will teach one section of legal writing (approximately 20 students) and so must possess all attributes required for writing instructors: basic mastery of first-year law school courses; superior writing skill; ability to teach the art of writing to first-year law students; and the ability to provide appropriate feedback on writing within a tight time frame.

Qualified applicants will have a J.D. or comparable degree from an ABA accredited or Canadian accredited law school, a distinguished academic record, and extensive legal writing experience. Experience teaching writing, particularly in a law school, is strongly preferred, as is some experience in the practice of law. Experience managing others, especially in an academic environment, is a big plus. The Director will hold the faculty title of Assistant or Associate Professor of the Practice of Law, or Professor of the Practice of Law, depending on their experience. The Director will be eligible for long-term, annually renewable contracts that comply with ABA Standard 405 regarding security of position. The Director will serve on faculty committees, attend faculty meetings, and have some voting rights. Other perquisites, such as professional development funds, are negotiable. Salary will be commensurate with experience and ability.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, legal writing sample, and three references (i) via William & Mary’s online recruitment system at, and (ii) to Gladys Kratsas, William & Mary Law School, (regular mail: P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795). Applications should be received by February 4, 2011. The College of William & Mary is an EEO/AA employer. Confidential inquiries are welcome, and may be made to Professor Eric Kades, Vice Dean, Review begins February 7th, 2011, and will continue until the appointment is made. For more information about William & Mary Law School, please visit our web site:

Legal Writing Instructor 

William & Mary Law School is looking for superior legal writers for our celebrated Legal Skills Program (LSP). The Faculty recently decided to revamp the program by adding full-time writing instructors.

Qualified applicants will have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited or Canadian accredited law school. A strong academic record is a significant plus. In addition to superior writing and teaching skills, ideal candidates will excel at legal research and oral communication. Teaching experience, especially at a law school, is desirable. Each instructor will teach legal writing to two sections of students, with about 20 students in each section. In addition, they will devote considerable time to assisting students one-on-one with their writing. Although writing instructors will for the most part work independently, they must also be able to work cooperatively with their peers, the Director, adjunct skills instructors, student teaching assistants, and the librarians who help design legal research instruction. We anticipate that those hired will begin in the position on or about May 1, 2011, though there will be some flexibility in start dates. Legal Writing Instructors will serve under renewable contracts. Salary will be commensurate with experience and ability.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, legal writing sample, and three references (i) via William & Mary’s online recruitment system at, and (ii) to Gladys Kratsas, William & Mary Law School, (regular mail: P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795). Applications should be received by February 18, 2011. The College of William & Mary is an EEO/AA employer. Confidential inquiries are welcome, and may be made to Professor Eric Kades, Vice Dean, Review begins February 7th, 2011, and will continue until an appointment is made. For more information about William & Mary Law School, please visit our web site:

hat tip: Prof Eric Kades, Vice Dean, William & Mary Law School


January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Congratulations, Sheila Simon!

Simon, Sheila 2 A few hours ago Sheila Simon, a legal writing professor at Southern Illinois University, was sworn in as the new Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.  Sheila is known to many (but maybe not everyone) in the legal writing academy.  She has spoken at many LWI Conferences and is an author (with Richard Neumann) of a popular legal writing text.  We congratulate Sheila again on her tremendous victory.

(mew and spl)




January 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference

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] 

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] 


January 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest Issue of the LWI Newsletter (The Second Draft) - Focus on Outcome Measures and Assessments

LWI 25

The Second Draft is the Official Newsletter of the Legal Writing Institute.  The new board of editors has just published its first issue, which focuses on the effective use of outcome measures and assessments in teaching legal analysis, writing, and research. 

Click here to download the latest issue of The Second Draft, the official newsletter of the Legal Writing Institute.  Download Vol. 24, No. 3 Fall 2010

Hat tip to Mary Ann Becker and the other editors of The Second Draft.


January 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Last Chance for that Conference in Las Vegas!

OK, the deadline to submit a proposal is in two days.  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.

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] and Jean Whitney (at jean.whitney [at]

  1. Contact information for all presenters and co-presenters
  2. Title of presentation
  3. Brief (one-paragraph) description of the presentation
  4. Time needed for presentation (25 minutes or 50 minutes)
  5. Technology needs for the presentation

Hat tip to Sara Gordon


January 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

transitioning from law practice to law professor

Most law professors were practicing attorneys once.  (The data show just about every legal writing professor was a practicing attorney once.)  If you are an attorney who is curious what it would be like to make the transition to academia, Sherri Lee Keene offers her view in "It Was the Best of Practice, it Was the Worst of Practice: Moving Successfully from the Courtroom to the Classroom", 48 Duquesne University Law Review 533 (2010).  As she explains, "[t]his article discusses some of the challenges that experienced attorneys encounter when they move from practice to academia and and recommends ways for new professors to bring professional knowledge successfully into classroom teaching."


January 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)