Saturday, October 29, 2011

two intriquing articles

BannerLast spring's Second Colonial Frontier LRW Conference, held at Duquesne, resulted in some intriquing law journal articles. You can read the two to be most recently published in the Duquesne Law Reivew's 49th volume:

Mary Barnard Ray, Writing on the Envelope: An Exploration of the Potentials and Limits of Writing in Law

Elizabeth Fajans, Legal Writing in the Time of Recession: Developing Cognitive Skills for Complex Legal Tasks

hat tip: Jan Levine


October 29, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

got a proposal for the Capital Area Legal Writing Conference?

1If you get it in this weekend, you'll still make the deadline for sending a proposal to speak at the Second Annual Capital Area Legal Writing Conference, to be held on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, March 9-10, 2012, at The Georgetown University Law Center. Out of town participants are welcome.  And there will be no conference fee.

The deadline to submit proposals is October 30, 2011.  The proposal submission form can be downloaded from  Completed forms should be emailed to: If you have any questions, please email

hat tip:  Kristen K. Tiscione


October 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

your visit to New Hampshire in December

IndexWhy would you want to go to New Hampshire in December? Because you can:

1) see the beauty of a New England winter without the extreme cold later in the season,
2) get in some early season skiing or snowboarding before the crowds, and
3) attend a fun and exciting one-day conference on practice-ready LRW assignments.

Here's the skinny:

Creating Practice-Ready Assignments and Exercises Legal Writing Conference
December 16, 2011
UNH School of Law, Concord, NH
FREE and OPEN to Everyone
RSVP today to attend or submit a proposal for a presentation at:

hat tip:  Amy Vorenberg

(spl -- who has climbed Mt Monadnock, in the photo)

October 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Smileys: Professional Writing Scourge:( or Boon:)?

I have noticed a steady increase in my colleagues' use of smileys in professional email correspondence lately.  While I remain officially undecided on whether this is appropriate, The New York Times effectively lays out the arguments regarding the smiley's impact on the quality of modern writing.  On one hand, smileys allow a writer to set the tone they want to set in email.  On the other hand, setting a tone using smileys feels like force feeding to some readers.  Some highlights from The NYT:

Lisa M. Bates, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia, has lately embraced the smiley — as have her academic colleagues, albeit “sparingly and strategically,” she said. “Basically, I’m often sarcastic and in a hurry, and a well-planted smiley face can take the edge off and avoid misunderstanding,” Dr. Bates wrote in an e-mail. “I figure they have saved me some grief from misconstrued tone many times.”

[One] harsh critic...Marsha Farinet [writes] “To me, it’s like bad moviemaking, where as soon as Dad grabs the puppy, the shot immediately goes to Junior’s teary face — like the director does not trust the audience to have an appropriately developed emotion by itself,” Ms. Farinet wrote in an e-mail. “That’s what emoticons do. PLEASE don’t ‘show’ me that I should be happy-faced or sad-faced or that you are sad-faced or happy-faced.

“Can you imagine,” wrote Ms. Farinet, “reading the end of ‘The Great Gatsby’

like that?: So we beat on, boats against

the current, borne back ceaselessly into

the past :-( ”

How are legal writing professors addressing the use of smileys and other emoticons in class?  What does the existence of the issue say about the impact of electronic communication on professional writing?  Does anyone think we should use more smileys on the blog?;)  Or should we ban them completely and impose fines for smiley use?:(


October 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ideas for covering rule synthesis

FigleyIn a new article, Paul Figley presents some practical ideas for teaching rule synthesis. Teaching Rule Synthesis with Real Cases, 61 J. Leg. Educ. 245 (Nov. 2011).  He begins by explaining why rule synthesis is important: a writer who simply discusses and applies cases one by one is not engaging in legal analysis. Figley next offers a homespun example, “Crabby Mrs. McGinty’s Garden Hose,” to illustrate how a rule might be synthesized. He then presents a series of excerpts from Massachusetts slip-and-fall cases to show how students might synthesize and apply a rule. These exercises may be especially helpful to newer teachers looking for effective ways to cover rule synthesis.


October 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LRW profs on the move

Washburn has hired two experienced professors for its tenure-track legal writing positions. They'll be joining two already-tenured professors and one who is applying for tenure this semester.

Joseph P. Mastrosimone is former Chief Legal Counsel for the Kansas Human Rights Commission and senior counsel to the National Labor Relations Board. He also practiced with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Cowell & Moring and the Kansas City law firm of Stinson, Morrison & Hecker. Professor Mastrosimone has also taught legal writing at the University of Kansas and the George Washington University law schools. 

Emily Grant is former Senior Court Counsel for the Pulau Supreme Court and a former judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. District Courts for the Central District of Illinois and the District of Kansas. She has also taught legal writing at the University of Kansas and University of Illinois law schools. 

 hat tip: Tonya Kowalski


October 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reminder About LWI Golden Pen Nominations

LWIThe Awards Committee of the Legal Writing Institute announced its call for nominations for the 2012 Golden Pen Award.  Any member of LWI may nominate someone for the award.  The LWI Committeee ask that you submit your nominations directly to Hether Macfarlane at hmacfarlane [at] on or before November 15, 2011. Here's more information about the award:

                The Golden Pen Award recognizes those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing.  These contributions may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents, improving the quality of legal writing instruction, advocating for better writing within the legal community, outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing, or exceptional writing in law practice.  The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of LWI, but active members are considered in exceptional circumstances. 

                Previous recipients of the award are Arthur Levitt, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Don LeDuc, Dean of the Thomas Cooley Law School; Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times; the late Honorable Robert E. Keeton of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Richard Wydick, Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Law; the Honorable Ronald M. George, the Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, and the Honorable James D. Ward, Justices of the Supreme Court of California and the California Court of Appeal; the Honorable Ruggero J. Aldisert of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; the National Association of Attorneys General; William C. Burton, Esq.; and George Gopen, Professor of the Practice of Rhetoric in the English Department at Duke University.
The Awards Committee consists of Kirsten Dauphinais, Sue Liemer (my co-blogger), Hether Macfarlane, Sharon Pocock, Judy Rosenbaum, and Lou Sirico
Hat tip to Hether Macfarlane

October 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)