May 5, 2012
handbook for judges' clerks
Did you know that there's a handbook for federal judges' clerks? And it has a helpful chapter on legal research and writing. But of course.
hat tip:Evelyn Calogero
May 4, 2012
Another poorly-written complaint is dismissed
For another reminder of the importance of clear, succinct legal writing, check a recent opinion by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of D.C. In Chennareddy v. Dodaro, he dismissed the plaintiffs’ sixth amended complaint, which consisted of 39 pages accompanied by 238 pages of attachments. Judge Sullivan denounced the document’s “vague, narrative style, argumentative assertions about discovery violations, and voluminous evidentiary attachments,” some of which were incoherent, as failing to provide the “short and plain statement” required by Rule 8.
May 3, 2012
ancient Roman legal citation signal discovered!
Much obliged to blog co-editor emerita, Coleen Barger, for alerting us to this gem in the Virginia Law Weekly.
May 1, 2012
humans teach writing
Slogging through a stack of final papers, every legal writing professor fantasizes about better ways to mechanize the process of giving law students feedback on their writing. But no matter how many macros you create or how good you get at using specialized electronic software, critiquing student writing is a lot of work. Rachel Toor over at the Chronicle reminds us why, and why this work is so important.
hat tip: John Edwards
Atticus Finch and professionalism
As the semester ends, if you like to remind your students of the high ideals of the legal profession, take a look at a recent short article, To Kill a Mockingbird: When Lawyers Were Heroes. Its author, Los Angeles lawyer Jeffrey A. Shane, invokes the example of fictional lawyer Atticus Finch, who took public service seriously and believed in equality as a “living, working reality.” Shane says the American Film Institute’s choice of Finch as the greatest hero in film history shows that altruism is “still heroic” and remains an important value in the practice of law.
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
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.
Hat tips to Rhonda Walker and Karin Mika.