Monday, October 29, 2012
Legal Research and Writing is a graded, year-long course with a curriculum emphasizing effective legal analysis, communication and advocacy skills, both written and oral, with significant opportunities for one to one interaction between professors and students. Each professor teaches two sections of approximately 20-25 first-year students; each section meets once a week. Each professor also teaches one semester of Ethical Lawyering, an innovative course combining professional ethics with client interviewing and counseling skills for upper division students. In addition to teaching, professors are expected to collaborate in the designing of course materials, to provide service to the greater law school community, and to participate in the professional legal writing community.
Candidates must have superior academic records, expertise in research and writing, and at least four years of professional experience beyond law school graduation. Teaching experience is preferred.
To apply, submit a resume and a list of three references. Include a cover letter that explains your qualifications and your interest in teaching the course. Materials should be submitted to Barbara Lu Baltazar, Director of Human Resources, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL, LOS ANGELES, 919 Albany Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015 or by email to email@example.com, by December 10, 2012.
Questions about the LRW program or this position can be directed to Professor Cindy Archer, Director of Lawyering Skills at 213-736-8380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of
five or more years.
2. The professor hiredwill be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $80,000 - $89,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 41 – 45 (spring semester) and more than 60 (fall semester).
Sunday, October 28, 2012
If you need a fix of LRW idea sharing between national or regional conferences, take a look at the LRW webinars that Stetson has recorded and now made easily available on the web here. The topics include:Teaching the Basics of Tribal Law in First-Year Legal Research and Writing
Live Commenting and Grading
Diversity in the Legal Writing Classroom
Empirical and Statistical Studies in Legal Writing
Outcomes and Assessment in Legal Writing
Citation in the Next Edition: Revisions to the ALWD Citation Manual
Scholarship Highlights: New Voice and New Ideas in Legal Communication
Using Technology to Comment on Papers
What is “Legal Writing Scholarship”?
Innovations in Upper-Level Legal Writing Courses
Designing the First-Year Legal Writing Curriculum: Outcomes and Assessment
hat tip: Kirsten Davis
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Emory professor Jennifer Romig recently wrote that statistics can help make legal writing more effective. Her Georiga Bar Journal column argues that "Lawyers wishing to improve their own legal writing or that of others may benefit from using readability statistics such as the 'Flesch Reading Ease' score and the 'Flesch Kincaid Grade Level.'" These tools, Romig explains, will make legal writing easier to read and therefore more persuasive.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thanks to the efforts of legal writing professors Joan Magat, Noah Messing, and Tami Lefko, the editors of the Bluebook have agreed to include in their table of abbreviations for law journals (Table 13) two of the professional legal writing journals: Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute and Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD. LWI and ALWD have tried for many years to have their journals included in the table. The law students who create the Bluebook finally understand that scholarly journals created, peer reviewed, edited, and filled with articles researched and written by legal writing professors are sources of scholarship relied on by lawyers, courts, and other law professors, who need to know how to cite to these sources. Thanks is also due to Mary Prince, the Bluebook's coordinating editor.
Sometimes seemingly small things speak volumes (pun intended).
hat tip: Ruth Anne Robbins
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Here's another fine guest posting from Kristen Murray:
Over at The Faculty Lounge guest blogger Michael Madison has started a list of notables who started law school but then went on to careers in other fields that brought them fame. So far, Professor Madison and the commenters have identified Gene Kelly, Paul Simon, Harper Lee, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others. No one has speculated about their legal careers, but I can't help but wonder...what might their first-year memos have looked like?
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Six really helpful videos that dramatize professionalism issues for law students are now available free online. Widener legal writing professors Mary Ann Robinson and Alison Kehner created the videos as teaching tools to share with all of us. All of the videos are brief – half are only about five minutes long. The videos and related teaching materials are available here.
The vignettes explore:
Preparedness: Learn from Kate, who struggles with being adequately prepared for a conference with her law school professor – and again years later at an important workplace meeting.
Social Networking: Law school students express frustration at sitting through a presentation about the appropriate use of social networking sites. Years later, one of them learns the hard way how Facebook photos can create problems in his professional life.
Misuse of Technology: John uses his laptop during class to check email and surf the internet, and despite being embarrassed when he’s caught by the professor, he doesn’t learn his lesson. Years later John exhibits similarly distracted behavior in a client meeting.
Anticipating Consequences: Managing Client Expectations: A client who seeks immediate turnaround on a revised will poses multiple challenges for a new attorney. Different approaches to the situation are explored with video rewinds taking the viewer back in time, to explore the ramifications of the attorney’s different choices.
Mistakes: Video rewinds are used again with junior associate
Alice to show two differing approaches to handling an error she made with an
important firm client.
Self-Direction (& Law School Study Skills): Go for burritos with friends or go to study group? Poor choices in law school and on the job illustrate how critical it is to become self-directed learners, who take responsibility for mastering law school material and, later, the client’s file. Teaching materials include discussion questions and handouts from academic success professionals on effective law school study skills.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
In the fall 2012 issue of JALWD, Tracy Turner of Southwestern presents an interesting analysis of IRAC and its permutations. She lists twenty variations of the mnemonic device and discusses the reasoning behind each. She also identifies four organizational methods on which most legal-writing textbooks agree: rule-centered analysis, separation of discrete issues, synthesis of case law, and unity. Turner suggests that these might be better guides than “dogmatic adherence to a particular acronym.”
Monday, October 15, 2012
In the alphabet soup of the legal academy, both LWI and ALWD resources were helpful at the AALS hiring conference in D.C. this past weekend.
Teri McMurtry-Chubb (at Mercer) took the lead in organizing the AALS information session for faculty candidates interested in becoming legal writing professors. She was joined by Cassandra Hill (at Thurgood Marshall) and Mimi Samuel (at Seattle U.), leading "a lively and engaging session." The participants received hand-outs with information about the LWI website, LWI's upcoming One-Day Legal Writing Workshops, the definitive articles on finding a legal writing teaching job by Jan Levine (Duquesne), and Jan's webpage URL. Meanwhile Sue Liemer (Southern Illinois) represented the ALWD New Directors Committee and lent an ear for new(er) directors at the hiring conference.
Were any other LRW folks there?
Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Almost a decade ago I recommended that LWI members should be proud of the Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes. I meant, of course, that we have much to offer our faculty and students.
I am offering a new type of diamond: after 10 years, I've completed a graphic novel for inmates. Yep. Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write. It's 5th-grade reading level. The pro bono hero teaches inmates to avoid frivolous grievances; a workbook at the end helps inmates overcome the technicalities of the Prison Litigation Reform Act so they can, perhaps, take their grievances into courts. I'd like to send a copy of this educational, much-needed graphic novel into the library of each federal and state prison. Will you please take a look at the project and funding suggestions?
Click here for more information or to donate to the project.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
The Appellate Record Blog has a great piece on the best fonts for briefs. Unfortunately for those of us who use Times New Roman, it appears that the font has fallen out of favor with at least one appellate court. From the court:
Typographic decisions should be made for a purpose. The Times of London chose the typeface Times New Roman to serve an audience looking for a quick read. Lawyers don’t want their audience to read fast and throw the document away; they want to maximize retention. Achieving that goal re- quires a different approach--different typefaces, different column widths, dif- ferent writing conventions. Briefs are like books rather than newspapers. The most important piece of advice we can offer is this: read some good books and try to make your briefs more like them.
The Appellate Record goes on to suggest a few good book fonts, including Century Schoolbook and Book Antuiqua.
Here's another guest post from Kristen Murray at Temple University:
The New York Times Opinionator Blog has an interesting piece called Escaping One’s Own Shadow, in which writer Michael Erard discusses “structural priming,” through which “your brain’s activity in one part of the day shapes it in another, especially when it comes to creating sentences.” The piece offers advice about writing across different contexts, genres, and styles:
"Each time you sit down to write, you should cleanse your linguistic palate by reading some things that are vastly unlike what you’ve been writing. I like to page through Virginia Tufte’s 'Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style,' which is a catalog of the flexibility of the English sentence. As a warm-up activity, you might try actively imitating a writing style different from your own. It’s hard to do and highly unpriming.
"Also, it’s imperative that you shut off the Web and don’t look at e-mail while you’re writing. Each time you look at Facebook or Twitter, you get primed with another kind of language, whether it’s your friends’ or your own. But maybe you want to write like you tweet. In that case, prime away."
I’m now thinking about how the concept of priming affects my own writing (articles, emails, tweets, blog posts, and so on) and how I might introduce the concept to my students. (Credit to my colleague Ellie Margolis, who passed the link along to me.)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Two articles in the October National Jurist discuss the increasing focus on practical training in law schools. In Too Esoteric?, author Bruce Buckley quotes last year’s speech by Chief Justice John Roberts, who criticized academic legal scholarship as too theoretical and unhelpful to the bar. Buckley writes that, with many law graduates unprepared to practice law, some schools are reacting by adding more practical training, including clinical courses. In a separate article, Meltdown in St. Louis, author Jack Crittenden recounts a dispute that arose at St. Louis University School of Law when the university president, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, indicated in August that the law school would emphasize scholarship less and move toward a more practical training approach. Dean Annette Clark resigned over that decision, and St. Louis trial lawyer Thomas Keefe assumed the interim deanship, presumably to move the school in a more practical direction.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Acronyms often cause difficulties in legal writing, especially when they are overused. So wrote Mark Cooney in the July Michigan Bar Journal. Acronyms and initialisms, Cooney wrote, are difficult for readers to keep straight. His example of an acronym-laden paragraph from Constellation Power Source, Inc. v Select Energy, Inc. is nearly incomprehensible. Cooney concluded, “Courts and commentators have debunked the notion that readers appreciate acronyms and that there’s no way to avoid them.”
Monday, October 8, 2012
The fourth biennial Applied Legal Storytelling Conference will take place July 22-24, 2013, at Gray’s Inn, and at Inn of Court at City Law School, which is part of City University, London, UK. This Inn of Court is located in Central London, in the Holborn district.
This conference will bring together academics, judges, and practitioners to explore the role of narrative in legal practice and to discuss curricular strategies that will prepare students to use story and narrative as they enter the practice of law. The conference organizers welcome and encourage presentations across the lawyering and doctrinal curriculum. To understand how large and diverse a topic “legal storytelling” is, you can view the program from the previous conference here.
The conference will include 50-minute and
25-minute time slots. Roundtable presentation proposals are also welcome. The
deadline for submissions is December 14, 2012. Submissions should be sent electronically to Jovana
Anderson, Lewis & Clark Law School, email@example.com.
You can feel free to contact the conference planning committee with any questions you may have:
Steve Johansen , firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert McPeake, R.J.Mcpeake@city.ac.uk
Brian J. Foley email@example.com
Ruth Anne Robbins firstname.lastname@example.org
Stefan H. Krieger Stefan.H.Krieger@hofstra.edu
Erika Rackley email@example.com
A new website provides a fairly comprehensive listing of award programs for the legal profession. The site is intended to encourage more lawyers and law firms to participate in the various award programs and to encourage even greater perfection in the practice of law. Through the new website, lawyers can match skills and accomplishments with the awards that might be available.
The "Featured Award of the Month" right now is The Burton Awards, a non-profit program founded by the Burton Foundation, rewarding excellence in the legal profession. The Burton Awards recognizes major achievements in law, ranging from literary awards to the greatest reform in law, from regulatory excellence to publishing awards, and from recognition for public service to public interest. Regular readers of this Legal Writing Prof Blog know that the Burton Awards are given at the gala event held at the Library of Congress. (The last award presentation even included a performance by Bernadette Peters!)
Other legal writing awards on the website include the Scribes Award (given by Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers), the Thomas Blackwell Award (given jointly by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute), and the ClearMark Awards given by the Center for Plain Language.
The new website features several dozen programs in fourteen categories, including: civil rights, education, e-lawyering, environmental, family law, general, legal writing, legal aid, advocacy, marketing, media, pro bono, and women in law. The site is organized by profit or non-profit awards, features a program of the month, and offers advertising opportunities for programs, logo services, and in-depth descriptions.
Hat tip to Michelle Rayzman
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Kristen Murray at Temple University sends this post as a guest blogger (and we're hoping she'll become a regular here):Professor David Becker of Washington University has a piece posted on SSRN entitled To Tweet or Not to Tweet, That is the Question. Here is the abstract:
"Twitter and tweets are now the rage among people in the world of sports, entertainment, media, government, and lately academia as well. They have even entered the world of law schools and law professors. This essay examines how twitter and tweets are being used by law teachers and whether it is wise to tweet at all. More specifically, this essay critically examines the risks and dangers inherent in twitter use and, further, whether it is the most effective, efficient, and desirable form of pedagogic communication between law teachers and their students."
Professor Becker concludes that the answer is “not to tweet,” at least for individual law professors; he is less concerned about institutional twitter accounts.
We started a twitter account for the Temple LRW Program (@TempleLRW) this year, as a way of interacting with current students, alumni, and the larger legal writing community. I can see (and have seen!) successful use of twitter by individual law professors as well. What about you? Do you tweet? Should we tweet?
Thursday, October 4, 2012
An article in the October 2012 Atlantic Magazine contains both bad news and good news. The bad news is that author Peg Tyre confirms what some of us suspected: many K-12 schools are not teaching grammar, sentence structure, and lucid writing. The good news is that one high school turned around its students’ performance after discovering a weakness of poor student writers: they did not know how to use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. Once its teachers focused on expository writing skills, including the appropriate use of conjunctions, the students’ performance improved dramatically.
This may prompt some of us to redouble our attention to connectors in legal writing.
Hat tip: Anne Kringel
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A college writing instructor recently commented that undergraduates want more handholding these days. In the September 21 Chronicle of Higher Education, Lynda Lambert wrote that she has seen a noticeable change over her seventeen years of teaching. Students, she said, now believe faculty members should be “essentially giving them the answers to the questions we pose.” Students “expect assignments with finite parameters, clear grading paths, and a checklist of things they can tick off to get an A.” But, she wrote, giving students a map “does not teach them how to drive.” Instead, they should be challenged to engage in analysis. That point is particularly relevant in the law school setting.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
For everyone who is addicted to iPad or iPhone and uses The Bluebook, rejoice. The Bluebook is now available for both devices via Rulebook, an app dedicated to legal rules. One of the best things about iPad is that it allows you to carry a library of materials in one tablet. This app means one less book to carry when I travel.
While I still have an affinity for the paper version, not having to carry it around makes the electronic version worth it. Also, the same app makes The Bluebook available on your iPhone for a quick citation answer anywhere. Downside: The iPad Bluebook costs around $40 bucks (the same price as the print version).