Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
We want to remind you about our earlier post praising Bryan Garner and Scribes for the incredible treasure in the current issue of Scribes. Bryan interviewed justices of the U.S. Supreme Court about their views on legal writing and advocacy. The transcripts are amazing -- you will learn things about the justices, and about legal writing and advocacy. Click here for more information
If you're not a member of Scribes, seeing this issue of its journal should alone be enough to get you to join!
The legal writing professors at Nova Southeastern teach a course called Lawyering Skills and Values (LSV).
This year, full professor Charlene Smith, who teaches both LSV and Torts, received the University’s 12th Annual Student Life Achievement Award (STUEY), as Co-Curricular Advisor of the Year. The STUEYs are university-wide awards presented annually to members of the Nova Southeastern community to recognize excellence in scholarship, leadership, involvement, service, commitment, integrity and inclusion. The award recipients in ten different categories were selected by a University committee based on nominations from each of the University’s 17 graduate and undergraduate program centers. Charlene was nominated by the Law Center in recognition of her involvement as the Executive Director of the Inter-American Center for Human Rights.
And Assistant Professor Heather Baxter, who teaches LSV and Criminal Procedure, received the Stephanie Aleong Impact Award. The Law Center’s Student Bar Association created the award in 2009 in memory of Professor Aleong, following her sudden death after a difficult battle with cancer. This unusual award consists of two parts: First, the Law Center faculty selects one student each year who is well-rounded and exemplifies the ideals of compassion, involvement in school and community activities, hard work, and dedication. Then that student selects the faculty member who had the greatest impact during his or her law school career.
Congratulations to Charlene and Stepanie!
hat tip: Elena Langan
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A millennium ago or so in Iceland, people took advantage of the longest days of the year to conduct legal matters. You can click here to learn how the Icelandic Parliament used to meet in the natural ampitheater partially pictured here, during the two weeks surrounding the solstice, to hear law cases. A man learned in the law, the Law Speaker, stood on Law Rock, about where you see the flag in the picture, to recite the law. He also made legal decisions, which were then voted on by some three dozen chieftains.
So, here's hoping you can put today's extra daylight to equally good use. Have a bright day!
Monday, June 20, 2011
If you know a lawyer or law student who struggles with grammar and other basic mechanics of legal writing, a helpful, new, online resource for them is Core Grammar for Lawyers. It starts with a diagnostic test (which my students, teaching assistants and writing professors beta-tested last fall). Some of what's tested is just standard American usage, making it easy to identify gaps in knowing how to use the basics of grammar, punctuation, etc. Some of what's tested is unique usage for American lawyers, so don't expect new 1Ls to get more than about half the test correct. Once they know where to focus, test takers can do the exercises and access the answers and explanations, as well as additional practice exercises. I'm thinking of having our whole 1L class use it this fall. (And no, I don't get a penny from the publishers.)
Shawn Nevers has written a short article for Student Lawyer with practical tips on how to approach legal research in a law student's first summer law job. would be a good handout for the last LRW class in the spring, for law school libraries to have in a stack of near the door for students to help themselves, or for law offices to include in summer orientation materials.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Take a look at Jennifer Romig's book review, "The Legal Writer's Checklist Manifesto". In it she explains:
"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 nternalize 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."