Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do you allow laptops in class?

Lnav034 Kristen Murray, at Temple University, has written an article to try to persuade all of us to "Let Them Use Laptops: Debunking the Assumptions Underlying the Debate Over Laptops in the Classroom".  Here's her premise, in her own words:

"Law professors have struggled with the issue of laptops in the classroom since students started bringing laptops to class almost fifteen years ago. Some believe they are a powerful educational tool while others believe that they inhibit learning. Many balance these competing thoughts when deciding how to handle the issue; some decide to ban laptops altogether.

"What has troubled me about this debate is that both sides make arguments based on untested assumptions about student laptop use and without taking account of existing knowledge about today’s law student learners. Thus, I decided to survey law students about how they use their laptops to support their learning. The results, when combined with knowledge about how today’s law students learn, show that many of our assumptions are incorrect and that laptops provide a tremendous opportunity to enhance student learning in an age of changing classroom dynamics.

"Thus, I conclude that law professors should allow students to use laptops in lecture courses. In the article, I analyze five assumptions that arise in the laptop debate — what I call “laptop myths.” I first set forth the arguments commonly made in the laptop debate. I then provide background on generational research, including the modern law student’s relationship with technology. I then summarize my survey and use the survey data and learning theory to challenge some of the assumptions that underlie the laptop debate. Ultimately, I conclude that students’ self-directed learning makes good use of laptops and therefore laptops should not be completely banned from law school classrooms. Finally, I offer some thoughts and examples of alternatives to all-out laptop bans."


March 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Former Legal Writing Professor, Tony Zito (1942-2011)

Zito, Tony Professor Anthony S. Zito, Jr. passed away earlier this week, surrounded by his family.  Tony was born April 17, 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from John Adams High School where he was an avid baseball, soccer player and wrestler. He worked his way through college and law school, earning his A.B., J.D., and L.L.M. from The Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tony wasassociated with law firms in Cleveland and Cincinnati and taught at Dyke College in Cleveland and Northern Kentucky University Law School before joining the faculty of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1974. At John Marshall, he organized the Legal Writing and Conditional Licensing programs. He authored several law review articles and taught Legal Ethics, Family Law, and Corporations. He retired after 35 years in 2009.

Tony was affectionately known as "Papa Bee" to hundreds of soccer playing youth in the Lisle/Naperville area, whom he coached and managed as founder of the Stingers F.C. Tony organized the popular, annual "Jack O'Lantern Soccer Tournament" for 14 years. Tony and his wife Joanne (nee Provenzano) met in 1962, and were married for 47 years. He is also survived by two children, Judie (John) Nash and Thaddeus (Gina) Zito all of Channahon. His world was his three beautiful grandchildren, Lilith and Scarlett Nash and Sam Zito. He also leaves behind a sister, JoAnn (James) Jonovich of Cleveland, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. He is preceded in death by his parents, Anthony and Lena(nee Anselmo) Zito.

A Funeral Mass will be held in Tony's honor tomorrow, Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 10:30 A.M. at St. Ann Catholic Church, Channahon, Illinois.

Tony's colleagues at The John Marshall Law School extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends, and former students.  We thank him for his early leadership and contributions to the improvement of how we teach legal writing.


March 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Smaller Entering Classes for at Least Two Law Schools

The New York Law Journal reports today that at least two New York law schools (Albany and Touro) plan reduce admissions this fall because of the sluggish job market for law school grads. The newspaper quotes one dean as saying that the smaller class size is the "ethical and moral thing to do."


March 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New Edition of the Charles Calleros Legal Writing Book -- It's All About the Bricks

The cover of the new sixth edition of Charles Calleros's book on Legal Method and Writing (Aspen Publishers) is a picture of bricks.  The bricks are a metaphor for court cases (and other sources of legal authority).  But beyond an attractive cover, the book (one of the leading ones in the field) has been revised to include new materials (such as how to write an email memo) and an expanded section on how to deal with legal uncertainty. 

If you're not familiar with the book, you can click here for more information (and, if you teach legal writing, to request an examination copy).  Charles will be one of the speakers at the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference being held in Las Vegas from March 25-26, 2011.  He'll be talking about "Teaching Traditional Office Memoranda in an Age of E-mail Memos."


March 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

more credit for LRW at Temple

It's always fun to report good news.  Yesterday the law faculty at Temple University voted to add an additional credit to their first-year, fall semester, required Legal Research and Writing course. In addition to the positive faculty vote, the legal writing professors were especially heartened by the support of the proposal from several of their non-legal-writing colleagues, who spoke eloquently and passionately about the excellent work their legal writing professors do, the need to recognize it, and the need to telegraph the importance of the course to the student body.

Congratulations to Kristen, Ellie, Bonny, Kathy, Susan, and Lee!


March 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Videos for oral argument preparation

These videos may be helpful to both professors and students as many classes prepare for oral arguments this spring. In this short clip, Chief Justice Roberts talks about oral argument, emphasizing how to handle questions from the bench. This longer video shows a student's winning argument at a Washington and Lee moot court competition. And many legal writing professors have used this short video, in which comedian (and former teacher) Taylor Mali mimics a speaker whose verbal tic is phrasing statements as questions.


March 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Supreme humor

JRoberts In the FCC opinion handed down on March 1, Chief Justice Roberts engaged in some humor about the meaning of the words “personal” and “person,” bantering about pairs like “corn” and “corny” and “crank” and “cranky.”

It was also a banner day for humor at oral arguments. When one lawyer seemed to evade JusticeSSotomayor  Sotomayor’s question, Justice Scalia observed, "She's helping you, I think!" Then, when Scalia asked a question, but before the lawyer could answer, Roberts slyly confided, "He was not trying to help you." also reports other quips, calling it “open-mike night” at the Supreme Court.

Hat tip: John Brown


March 2, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 15 deadline to apply for U. Oregon job

If you teach at another law school and you're interested in applying for the visiting position teaching legal writing at the University of Oregon School of Law this fall, you only have until March 15 to get your application in. (If you don't currently teach at another law school, the deadline doesn't apply, but then you take your chances that the position may be filled shortly after that.) Their classes begin on August 22, but the contract would begin on August 1 to allow for planning and coordination.

Applicants for this position should have a strong record of academic achievement; excellent skills in legal writing, research, and oral communication; a J.D. or its equivalent; and at least two years of post-law school legal experience.  Applicants also should have either teaching experience or a demonstrated potential for excellence in teaching.  Send you send application (or questions) to Suzanne Rowe at  Applications should include a letter of interest, a CV, a list of three references, and (for recent graduates) a law school transcript.   

1.  The position advertised is a one-semester visiting appointment.
2.  The professor hired will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $50,000 - $69,999 (prorated for the semester).
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 50.


March 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

video of D.C. plenary presentations

By all accounts, the Capital Area Legal Writing Conference held at the George Washing University Law School in Washington, D.C., this past weekend was a huge success.  For the video of Terry Phelps' presentation, click here.  For the video of George Gopen's presentation, click here.

hat tip:  Karen Thornton and  Christy DeSanctis

March 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)