Friday, June 22, 2012
“Managers are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace.” So writes Sue Shellenbarger in a June 20 Wall Street Journal article. Managers tend to attribute this epidemic to the informality of electronic comunication, "where slang and shortcuts are common.” Readers of this blog might cite lax or nonexistent coverage of grammar in some of today’s schools, a point that has been mentioned here recently. Shellenbarger’s article also quotes legal writing expert Bryan Garner, who suggests that the decline in professional copy editing is another cause of rampant grammar gaffes. Whatever their cause, managers say grammar errors "'can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials and cause communications errors.'"
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The ABA has announced the publication of a new guide for lawyers, on punctuation, grammar, workplace productivity, and time management. The fact the very productivity of the legal workplace is implicitly linked to writing mechanics in the title of this book speaks volumes -- although what it says may need to be translated for legal writing students to understand. We haven't had a chance to see the book yet, but if you have, let us know what you think about it.
Professor Suzanne Rowe (pictured at right) of the University of Oregon wrote recently that many students come to law school “without sufficient writing instruction or practice.” She even overheard a university professor exclaim disdainfully that college courses shouldn’t include grammar. (Speakers Suzanne Rabe and Susie Salmon made similar points at the recent LWI Conference.)
The students’ resulting lack of knowledge is “not their fault,” Professor Rowe says. To help remedy the problem, her Oregon State Bar Bulletin article includes a list of basic tips for comma usage.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Susan Duncan, former president of the Legal Writing Institute, has just been named interim dean of the University of Louisville's Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Susan has served the legal writing community in many different capacities, including through her scholarship about legal writing. Her appointment is exciting news for our entire community. Those who would like to contact her can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The ABA Journal is holding a contest to identify the best legal novel of the year. The judges have narrowed it down to three finalists for the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Surely legal writing professors are well qualified to vote on this matter, and you can cast your vote here.
Monday, June 18, 2012
In the latest issue of the National Jurist, Professor Aaron Taylor of St. Louis University (pictured at right) gives reasons why law school is still a good investment. In the current weak economy, lawyers’ incomes are still good—the median income for 2010 was $113,000, and the median starting salary was $63,000. Taylor also argues that a law degree is helpful in many good jobs that do not actually require a J.D. And the current decreased number of applications means an individual applicant may have a better chance of being admitted to the school of his or her choice.
Hat tip: Cynthia Fountaine