Monday, April 30, 2012

the reasoning behind your writing

Professors Barbatra Spellman and Fred Schauer at U. Va. have written an intriguing article on "Legal Reasoning". Here's how they sum it up:

"The nature of legal reasoning, and its relationship with reasoning, has long been a topic of importance for lawyers and legal scholars. But it is also a topic with psychological implications, especially cognitive ones, and indeed most of the existing views about legal reasoning depend on psychological assumptions about the way in which ordinary people, lawyers, and judges reason and make decisions. This article, a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Thinking and Reasoning (K. Holyoak & R. Morrison eds.), explores the intersection between cognitive and social psychology, on the one hand, and legal reasoning and thinking and decision making, on the other. It attempts to show how existing psychological research is germane to the important questions about the nature legal reasoning – particularly with respect to precedent, analogy, authority, and rule-following – but even more it attempts to suggest a range of topics and questions that additions to the now-small body of psychological research might usefully address."

hat tip: Nolan Wright


April 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Burton Award Winners Announced

We're big fans here of the Burton Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in legal writing and its teaching.  The Burton Awards will next be given out on June 11, 2012 in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress. The event will include special guest U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, who will receive a Book of the Year Award.

The special evening will also include a performance by Bernadette Peters.  Wow.  That's the glamorous world of legal writing!

Among the winners to be recognized for Legal Achievement in Writing are Claudia Salomon and J.P. Duffy, who are partners in the International Arbitration practice at DLA Piper.  They are being recognized for their article “Enforcement Begins When the Arbitration Clause is Drafted,” which was published in volume 22 of the American Review of International Arbitration.  Congratulations to Claudia Solomon and J.P. Duffy on their awards.  

To see the full list of award recipients (or at least those of the names released so far), click here. 

Hat tips to Rhonda Walker and Karin Mika.


April 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wikipedia as authority in law reviews

Between 2002 and 2008, American law review articles contained more than 4800 citations to Wikipedia, Books croppedaccording to Houston law librarian Daniel J. Baker. I tell my students that they may not cite to the on-line encyclopedia in my class, so I was interested to read Baker’s views about it. He notes that Wikipedia has limited probity and permanence and then presents data on citations to it. He then concludes that “the legal community as a whole should discourage most citations to Wikipedia.” Baker counsels authors and editors to find better resources and urges faculty advisors to empower student editors to question Wikipedia citations. Baker’s article, A Jester’s Promenade: Citations to Wikipedia in Law Reviews, 2002-2008, was published in the winter 2012 issue of the Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society. An earlier version is available on SSRN.


April 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Dean at California Western

Niels Schaumann of William Mitchell College of Law will be the new Dean at California Western School of Law in San Diego.  He begins officially on August 1, 2012.  He will replace Dean Steven Smith, who has served as President and Dean of California Western since 1996.  Dean Smith is also the current President of Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers.


April 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Milani Award Nominations

Mercer University School of Law and the ABA Commission on Disability Rights have requested nominations for this year's Adam A. Milani Disability Law Writing Competition.  The award honors excellent student brief writing in the area of disability law.  The first place prize ranges from $300 to $1,000, depending on whether multiple awards are given. Nominations must be postmarked by June 4, 2012.  For more information, click here.



April 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Judges' citations to Bob Dylan

For a diversion from grading, especially if you’re a Bob Dylan fan, check a new article about judges’Long propensity to cite Dylan’s songs.  Author Alex B. Long of Tennessee (pictured at right) says Dylan has been cited in court opinions more than any other popular musician. Long believes this phenomenon occurs partly because folk songs are “stories with a point” and partly because Dylan’s songs are full of imagery.


April 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Missouri Lawyers Women's Justice Awards go to legal writing profs!

WJA2012-logo Temm Shieldsa4As awards season continues, legal writing professors are turning up on more and more stages. Last Thursday night, among the receiptions of the Missouri Lawyers Media Women's Justice Awards were Wanda Temm, who teaches at the University of Missouri -- Kansas City, and Ann Shields Davis, who teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. Both women won a Legal Scholar Award, which is awarded "to women faculty members or administrators at area law schools who fulfill the ... ideals through their own work with the justice system, through their research or scholarship, or through teaching and inspiring others."


April 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tina Stark to receive Burton Award for legal writing education

Stark_tina Logo2When the Burton Awards are presented in June, expert drafting professor Tina Stark will receive the award reserved for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. Tina is retiring from her position as  Professor of the Practice of Law at Boston University School of Law. She pretty much wrote the book on teaching transactional legal writing. Kudos!

hat tip: Anne Kringel



April 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Save the Date: 2013 Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica

The eighth Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 11-14, 2013.  That's Spring Break for a lot of professors and law students.  And it's a good time of year to visit Costa Rica even if you don't have a Spring Break!

We expect to hold the Global Legal Skills Conference twice next year -- once in Costa Rica (in March 2013) and once in northern Italy (in late May or June 2013, to be confirmed).


April 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hopefully, you concur.

If you disagree with the use of "hopefully" in the title sentence above, you apparently are now in the minority in the U.S. The broader acceptance of the word is reported here. Since legal writing tends to lag popular writing, most legal writing professors should be safe in continuing to mark this use of "hopefully" as inappropriate for the intended audience.

hat tip: Ben Oppipari



April 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lurene Contento is the Winner of the 2012 Hecht Award

Contento, LureneThe winner of the 2012 Hecht Memorial Award is Professor Lurene Contento, Director of the Writing Resource Center at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  She was selected for her article, “Freeing Students to Write More Effectively -– Taking the Fear Out of Plagiarism.”

Lurene will receive her award at the 15th Biennial Conference of The Legal Writing Institute at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, California.

The Hecht Award is names for Deborah Hecht, who served as the Director of the Legal Writing Center at Touro University School of Law for eight years.  During that time, she worked to develop Touro’s Legal Resources Center, including developing a website.  She was also active in the Legal Writing Institute and in its smaller legal writing advisors group, writing articles for the LWI Newsletter (The Second Draft) for the advisors’ page “From the Desk of the Writing Specialist.”  Deborah died on November 4, 2005.  To honor her memory and her contributions to the legal writing profession, the legal writing advisors created the Deborah Hecht Memorial Writing Contest Award.  The award is given every two years to the best “From the Desk of the Legal Writing Specialist” column published in The Second Draft since the last time the award was given.

Hat tip to Ken Chestek, and congratulations to Lurene Contento.


April 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Thoughts on the Comma


(illustration credit: Peter Arkle)

Professor Ben Yagoda has a great piece on commas in the NY Times.  The article, Fanfare for the 
Comma Man
, discusses current student comma trends and how those trends may one day become standard punctuation.  Some highlights:

As a professor at the University of Delaware, I read a lot of writing by college students, and in it a strong recent trend is reversion to comma-by-sound. I attribute this not so much to students’ love of the Constitution and the classics but to the fact that they don’t read much edited prose (as opposed to Facebook status updates, tweets and the like). Two things that you really need to read a lot to understand are punctuation and spelling. (Not coincidentally, spelling is the other contemporary writing disaster.)

As far as comma use goes, my students play it by ear. I see this most dramatically in sentences that start with conjunctions like “And,” “But” and “So.” (Your junior high school English teacher may have told you never to start a sentence with a conjunction. To the extent that was once true, it isn’t anymore.)


This brings up a key question: Who decides when and how punctuation rules change? The short answer is, no one. The longer answer is that presumably and eventually, the editors of “The Associated Press Stylebook” and “The Chicago Manual of Style,” and the worthies who decide such matters for The New York Times, the Modern Language Association and a few other enterprises reach a consensus on these matters, and their decisions filter down to the rest of us.



April 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stinson wins award!

Image_115_80239425Judy Stinson may now be the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Arizona State's law school, but we knew her when she was still mostly a legal writing professor. Now she's won ASU's 2012 Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Congratluations!

hat tip: Tamara Herrera





April 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ALWD election results

ALWD_LogoThe results are in for the 2012 ALWD election:

President-elect:  Kathleen Vinson

new members of the Board of Directors:  Teri McMurtry-Chubb, Mary-Beth Moylan, Richard Neumann, Terry Pollman

Congratulations all around!

hat tip:  Diane Dimond


April 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Number of Students Taking LSAT Declines

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the number of Law School Admission Tests (LSATs) administered this academic year has dropped by 16.2 percent, the largest drop in more than a decade according to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).  According to the Chronicle, the number of tests administered dropped from 155,050 in 2010-11 to 129,925 this year, and that follows a 9.6-percent drop the prior year.

The Chronicle says that the decline "reflect[s] widespread pessimism about the value of a legal education today as education debts soar and job prospects remain dim."


April 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Congratulations to Barbara Wilson

Wilson, BarbaraBarbara Wilson at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law has been selected by the Association of Women Law Students at the University of Missouri at Kansas City to receive the Tiera Farrow Faculty Award for her leadership, dedication, and commitment to improving the position of women in the law and the community.  The award is named for UMKC’s first woman graduate, Tiera Farrow, who graduated in 1903.

Hat tip to  Wanda M. Temm University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law


April 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Women and Rhetoric

A conference on "Women and Rhetoric: Influence, Inspiration, Inclusion" will be held on April 20, 2012 at the Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas.  Call (940) 898-2253 for more information or click here.


April 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IP Writing Competition for Law Students in Michigan

The Second Annual Michigan Innovation and IP Legal Writing Competition is open to all students enrolled in any ABA-accredited Michigan law school from January 1, 2011 to May 1, 2012.  The deadline to enter is inexplicably on May 15th, during finals for many students.  Get more information about the competition by clicking here.


April 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

History of Scribes

A recent post on this blog mentioned Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers. For more informationScribes J about the organization’s history, check the cover article in the latest New York State Bar Association Journal.  In it, Gary Spivey describes how a group of prominent legal authors founded Scribes in 1953 in the hope that it would be "a potent foe of 'legalese.'" Scribes continues to promote “clear, succinct and forcible” legal writing through its many activities, which include awarding prizes for student writing and publishing a lively journal, the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing (shown at right).


April 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Up to a Dozen Spots Open for Empire State Scholars' Workshop

The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) will hold a Scholars' Forum in connection with the Third Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference.  The Scholars' Forum will take place on Friday, June 22, from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm at SUNY Buffalo School of Law in Buffalo, New York, a day before the Empire State Conference.

The Forum is open to as many as 12 faculty members who have scholarship in the works – from idea stage to a full draft article. The Forum will be led by the fabulous Sarah Ricks, a Clinical Professor of Law at the Rutgers School of Law – Camden. Participants will be divided into small groups with an experienced scholar as a leader, and will have an opportunity to present their scholarship and receive feedback from the group. Past participants have found the ALWD Forums to be a wonderful, supportive environment to exchange and develop ideas.

Scholarship projects on any topic are welcome, but the organizers encourage interdisciplinary scholarship that encompasses both legal communication and other academic disciplines.  

There is no fee for either the Forum or the conference, but enrollment in the Forum is limited to 12 participants. We will fill spots on a first-come basis.  The application deadline is Monday, June 4, 2012.  To participate in the ALWD Scholars’ Forum, please register on the Conference web site by clicking here

Hat tip to Christine Bartholomew (SUNY Buffalo)


April 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)