January 13, 2012
Brenda Gibson reassures us in Syllabus
Syllabus is the newsletter of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. In the latest issue of this newsletter, Brenda Gibson, LRW director at North Carolina Central, has written a helpful article on Why Many Law Schools Are Better Prepared Than Anticipated for the Proposed ABA Standards 302-205. It's worth a read, so you'll be in the know and able to reassure your law school colleagues.
Tips for writing a successful brief
Some good tips on writing a winning brief appear in a recent article by Mississippi appellate lawyer Margaret Cupples. She emphasizes points we often cover in our legal writing courses: include a “map” and “landmarks” to guide the reader; consider the standard of review when framing issues; state the issues persuasively; be both honest and persuasive in the statement of the case; and present a readable argument. Cupples also reminds brief writers to “pay attention to technicalities,” including the required format for the brief. Her article appears at 30 Mississippi Law Review 1 (2011).
January 12, 2012
Letter Writing Tips From Across The Pond
For those teaching letter writing in the spring semester, Legal Week (UK) put out a nice piece this week, Taking Out The Heat -- Key Points to Avoid in Legal Letter Writing. It looks like many of the same pitfalls exist on both sides of the Atlantic:
- Do not accuse people of crimes. It only winds them up.
You really don't want to be defending a claim for defamation either.
The better way may be to write to your landlord saying you are concerned that your respective accounts do not tally and that you need a breakdown of how he has calculated your arrears so you can check if his records are correct - rather than accusing him of "stealing" or "fraud".
Are you so convinced a crime has been committed that you've called the police? Well then, leave it out of your letter.
- Don't threaten people. It only makes them want to call your bluff.
Think about it. You'll only feel sheepish if they tell you to, "go ahead and take this to the Supreme Court/European Court of Human Rights/Anne Robinson".
It is always better to be seen as the reasonable and slightly bemused guy who's trying to sort this problem out rather than ranty man who people can't have a conversation with without police intervention.
Maybe Anne Robinson will be the final arbiter of your complaint. At least you will be able to show her that you've tried to do everything possible to resolve it before having to involve her.
The article goes on to include additional solid advice. Students might enjoy seeing the universal nature of problems that lawyers in both countries face, and the vocabulary in the piece might be a jumping off point for a discussion about the differences between our systems.
Congratulations, President Stephenson!
Gail Stephenson, the legal writing director at Southern University, is the new President of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Gail has always been a positive force to be reckoned with, so the local bar in her city is in good hands.
hat tip: Michele Butts
January 11, 2012
the oft misunderstood comma splice
If you don't know what a comma splice is, aren't quite sure, or are quite sure, you'll find some interesting coverage of the topic here. True puncutation geeks will also enjoy the comments following the post.
hat tip: Ben Opipari
redefining "electronic books"
If you love books, and what legal writer doesn't, you just have to click here.
hat tip: Mary Ann Robinson
Another Photo from the Law Library of Congress
Last Thursday, the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research brought more than 100 law professors to visit the Library of Congress and the Law Library of Congress during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. It was the section's first field trip.
Photo by Karin Mika.
January 10, 2012
help a 1L to be hopeful
LRW professor Allison Martin (Indianapolis) has co-authored a new article in the National Law Journal, discussing a study about hope and law school success that was the focus of the 2009 Colonial Frontier LRW Conference. A law journal report of the study was previously published in the Duquesne Law Review, along with many other articles from the conference responding to Allison's work.
hat tip: Jan Levine
January 9, 2012
See what happened at AALS:
Click here for pictures from the Law Library of Congress Field trip.
Click here for the full video of Susan Brody and Mary Ray receiving the AALS Section Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.
Click here for the full video of Suzanne Rowe receiving the Thomas F. Blackwell Award.
Last Thursday evening the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) conferred what has become one of the highest honors in the legal writing community, the Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing. The award was presented to Suzanne E. Rowe of the University of Oregon School of Law. LWI President-Elect Mel Weresh and ALWD President J. Lyn Entriken presented the award at a reception held during the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools.
The award is given in memory of Thomas F. Blackwell, a legal writing professor at Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. Tom's widow, Lisa Blackwell, and two of their three children were able to attend this year's ceremony in Washington, D.C.
This year marked the tenth time that the award had been given. Previous award winners were:
- Richard K. Neumann, Jr. (2003)
- Pamela V. Lysaght (2004)
- Ralph Brill (2005)
- Mary Beth Beazley (2006)
- Louis J. Sirico, Jr. (2007)
- Diana V. Pratt (2008)
- Linda H. Edwards (2009)
- Steve Johansen (2010)
- Carol McCreahan Parker (2011)
The event in Washington included the now traditional slideshow of legal writing photos (provided by David Austin, Karin Mika, and Mike Curran) organized by Mary Beth Beazley and Ruth Anne Robbins. Another great jazz band (an idea initiated by Mary Algero) made the evening very special indeed.
January 8, 2012
Law Library of Congress
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research had a great field trip to the Law Library of Congress. No, not just great, but absolutely amazing and fantastic. The law library staff went over the top in everything they did for us. I'm sure we will have more photos and comments through the week. Please send us your photos if you attended the trip.
During the opening presentation, Robert Newlan snapped a photo of me (which was itself captured and put on the Law Library of Congress Twitter Feed).
Many thanks again to the Law Library of Congress. We learned a great deal about the research resources of this great national (and international) treasure.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
Thursday deadline for Empire State LRW Conference
If you've been thinking of sending in a proposal to present something at the Third Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference, remember it's due by this Thursday, January 12, 2012. The conference will take place Saturday, June 23, 2012, at the SUNY Buffalo Law School in Buffalo, New York. The planning committee invites proposals for presentations on a broad range of topics relevant to those who teach legal writing and research. Proposals may be geared to either new or experienced teachers. Both panel presentations and proposals from those who have not presented at a conference before are especially welcome.
For details on submitting a proposal, see the Call for Proposals here. Your proposal should go to Stephen Paskey at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy to email@example.com.