Saturday, July 2, 2011
The Power of Rigor: James Madison as a Persuasive Writer is the title of a new article by Tom Berg, Julie Oseid, and Joe Orrino.
As they explain:
"This article is the third in a planned series of articles about the writing qualities and habits of our most eloquent American Presidents. The focus of all the articles is on the lessons modern legal writers can learn from the Presidents. James Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. Even though he was not a lawyer, Madison had all the best writing habits that lawyers should emulate – attention to audience, careful preparation, and attention to consequences. Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. 'The great little Madison' may have lacked physical presence and personal charisma, but he overcame those limitations to become one of the most influential public figures in American history by cultivating his particular strengths. He had an analytical mind that he developed to see and clearly express arguments, counterarguments, and distinctions. He had, despite poor health, an appetite for work that he used to out-prepare others. And he had a sensitivity to surrounding circumstances that he cultivated to address his audience’s concerns and to envision the practical consequences of various actions. The article considers why rigor is an essential writing quality, reviews Madison’s life and writing habits, and analyzes three examples of Madison’s writings (The Memorial and Remonstrance, Federalist No. 10, and a letter from Madison to Thomas Jefferson)."
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Susan Thrower, who used to be a member of the ALWD Board of Directors, has been elected Secretary. When she moves into that post on August 1st, the newest member of the ALWD Board of Directors will be Teri McMurtry-Chubb. Congratulations to you both -- and to ALWD for getting your talents!
hat tip: Diane Dimond
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
As you can see pictured here, the legal writing professors at Pacific McGeorge (who are more formally known as the Global Lawyering Skills Faculty), literally pulled out all the stops at the ALWD conference just held at their law school. They even brewed ale for the event.
photo credit: Karin Mika
Those who attended the recent ALWD Conference in Sacramento enjoyed both informational and social events. Pictured at left are conference attendees and legal writing pioneers Marjorie Rombauer and Norm Brand, author of one of the early legal writing textbooks. At right, Cassandra Hill and Teri McMurtry-Chubb enjoy the plenary luncheon, where the Chief Justice of California gave a lively address.
At Saturday night's River Cats game, participants were treated to ballpark fare by LexisNexis. Below, baseball fans Ralph Brill, Marilyn Walter, and Diane Dimond keep score.
photo credit: Karin Mika
Monday, June 27, 2011
The June 23-25 ALWD Conference in Sacramento offered many informative presentations and included lots of opportunities for networking. A recurring theme was the ABA's new emphasis on assessments in law schools, which was the subject of several sessions.
A highlight was the luncheon speech by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (pictured at right), who was engaging and informative as she discussed how the California courts are dealing with deep budget cuts.
Asked about legal writing, the Chief Justice emphasized that briefs should be clear and direct. She added that a brief is not a novel: she doesn't want to be surprised and looks for signposts that lay out the brief's structure. She also advised lawyers who disagree with the court's previous opinions to do so respectfully, especially if some of the same justices are still on the court. And she recommended that lawyers use "little ink for basic points."
Errors that particularly annoy the Chief Justice are frivolous arguments, misrepresentations of the record, and colloquialisms.
The conference planners, led by Nancy Soonpaa, and the faculty at McGeorge, led by Mary-Beth Moylan, deserve kudos for their superb planning and for making things run so smoothly.