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 13, 2012
Congratulations to Barbara Wilson
Barbara 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
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.
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 12, 2012
History of Scribes
A recent post on this blog mentioned Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers. For more information 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).
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 11, 2012
Joseph Kimble mentioned in the Washington Post
Legal writing expert Joseph Kimble of Thomas M. Cooley Law School was recently mentioned in the Washington Post. He was cited for his expertise on plain English in the law and for his forthcoming book on the topic. Kimble's earlier book, Lifting the Fog of Legalese, is already available for those who want to read more of his insightful ideas about plain language.
Joe is a board member of Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers. He's also the U.S. representative for Clarity, the London-based global organization dedicated to promoting clear communication in legal writing.
hat tip: Mark Cooney
April 10, 2012
Avoiding the twenty most common sentence-level faults in legal writing
The Michigan Bar Journal recently published Bryan Garner’s list of twenty sentence-level faults that often appear in lawyers’ writing. Having just finished grading a stack of student briefs, I can attest that law students tend to make the same errors. Among those I saw too frequently were misplaced and dangling modifiers, comma splices, unclear pronoun antecedents, and inappropriate tense shifts. Garner’s article includes an example of each error along with a corrected version and a reference to a fuller discussion in Garner’s Modern American Usage.
Clickers in the Classroom
Could clickers make a difference in the legal writing classroom? The NY Times has a great article on clicker use in various classrooms. It seems that they are becoming ubiquitous at the undergrad level:
In recent years, college students have been bringing clickers to lecture halls, where professors require their use for attendance, instant polls and multiple-choice tests. Corporate executives sometimes distribute the devices at meetings, and then show survey responses immediately on Power Point slides. Just two of many companies that make clickers have sold nearly nine million units, which typically cost between $30 and $40 apiece, in under a decade. One the companies, Turning Technologies, sold 1.5 million in 2011 alone.
I have colleagues that use clickers in doctrinal courses, but to the best of my knowledge, my legal writing colleagues have not adopted them yet. It seems like a clicker would be a great tool to respond to a writing sample displayed on a slide. I wondered if any legal writing programs have made good use of clickers. Please feel free to post a comment if you have.
April 9, 2012
Thomas Jefferson: On Lawyers and Books
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. In honor of the anniversary of his birth (which will be on Friday), we share this quote:
"[A] lawyer without books would be like a workman without tools."
Thomas Jefferson (at age 25), in a letter to Thomas Turpin (Feb. 5, 1769).