January 21, 2012
another view of plain English
CHINUA ASUZU, of the Assizes Lawfirm in Lagos, Nigeria, has written an article called: "I Give You that Orange: Language and Style in Nigerian Legal Writing", urging lawyers in his country to use plain English. His references to the archaic uses of English among lawyers in Nigeria may make it easier for some U.S. lawyers to recognize their own bad habits. His memorable turns of phrases are highly quotable. He even refers to our co-blog-editor, Judy Fischer, as "learned author" (which, indeed, she is).
January 20, 2012
on teaching legal writing
Congratulations to Amy Vorenberg at the University of New Hampshire School of Law! Aspen has just published her short book, Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Legal Analysis and Writing. It is available through her SSRN page or directly from Wolters Kluwer. The book aims to help new legal writing teachers,but may also be helpful to veterans.
January 19, 2012
2012 LWI Golden Pen Award
Matthew Butterick is the designer of the popular website Typography for Lawyers, and of the book by the same name. Click here to have a look. Matthew Butterick has become the go-to person for document design information in the legal world. In the three short years since his website first went live, and the twelve months since his book Typography for Lawyers was published, he has made a very large impact on legal practice. Otherwise-temperate critics have showered his work with praise. Harvard's William Rubenstein calls Butterick "a messiah." Bryan Garner describes Butterick's advice as "infallible," and the first edition of Typography for Lawyers as not only "bold and fresh and original" but also "fully developed," reading like "a fifth edition."
Mr. Butterick has also designed two typefaces for attorneys: Alix and Equity. Alix is a monospaced typeface, like Courier, but immeasurably superior. Lawyers who are occasionally required to set documents in a monospaced font now have a more readable choice. Mr. Butterick’s newest font, Equity, is a proportional typeface, like Times New Roman, and has similar overall dimensions and architectural features, allowing it to be easily substituted for Times New Roman. Equity is specifically designed not just for use in long documents but for legal documents in particular.
Mr. Butterick will be honored during the 15th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, May 29 through June 1, 2012, at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort in California.
Hat tip to Ken Chestek.
Are You a Member of Scribes?
Scribes is "The American Society of Legal Writers." If you're reading this blog, you're probably a legal writer and you should probably consider joining Scribes as a member. Click here for more information about the organization and how to join it as an individual or insitutitonal member.
Mark E. Wojcik, Board Member, Scribes
January 17, 2012
Job Opening at Indiana University Maurer School of Law
The Indiana University Maurer School of Law is seeking applicants for appointment as a full-time Lecturer to teach in the LLM program, including legal research and writing, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year. Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, a strong academic record, an interest in teaching writing, and a sensitivity to the needs of international law students. Applicants with substantial practice experience and/or previous law teaching experience preferred. Initial appointment is for two years, renewable annually thereafter with the possibility of promotion and a long-term contract after six years. Applications from minority group members are welcomed. Salary range, depending on qualifications and experience, is in the mid-$50,000s for a 10-month appointment. The position also includes a generous benefits package.
The committee will begin to consider applications on February 13 and will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. To apply, please submit a statement of interest, resume, writing sample, and contact information for three references to Julia Lamber, Professor of Law at firstname.lastname@example.org (or mail an application to Professor Lamber, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 211 S. Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405). Indiana University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
1. The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $50,000 - $59,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 40
Position Type: long-term
Submission Deadline: 2012-02-13
Sponsorship Opportunities for the LWI Biennial Conference
The 15th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, scheduled for May 29-June 1, 2012 in Palm Desert, California will be the second LWI Biennial Conference not hosted at a law school. To continue to keep the registration fees for the conference as low as possible (while still providing high-quality events and programming), LWI is soliciting contributions to support the conference.
Sponsorship Levels for Law Schools and Other Organizations:
Bronze Sponsors ($500-$999): All Bronze sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Bronze sponsors will have the opportunity to sponsor the LWI Fun Run or one of the new morning Coffee Sessions.
Silver Sponsors ($1,000-$1,999): All Silver sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Silver Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Room Sponsorship. Room sponsors will have the opportunity to sponsor the presentation technology in one room for one session. In addition to recognition in the program and on the on-site program board, the room sponsor will be listed outside the sponsored room for each session.
- Coffee Break or Afternoon Break Sponsorship (minimum donation $1,500): In addition to recognition in the program and on the on-site program board, Coffee Break or Afternoon Break Sponsors will be recognized in signage prominently displayed during the Break.
Gold Sponsors ($2,000-$4,999): All Gold Sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Gold Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Committee Fair Sponsorship
- Poster Presentations Sponsor
- New Teachers’ Workshop Sponsor
Platinum Sponsors ($5,000 and up): All Platinum Sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Platinum Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Breakfast Sponsor (Title Sponsorship for one day available at $5,000, and Co-Sponsorship available at $2,500. Co-Sponsors will be recognized as Gold Sponsors.)
- Lunch Sponsor (Title Sponsorship available for one day at $7,500; Co-Sponsorship available at $3,000. Co-Sponsors will be recognized as Gold Sponsors.)
- Program Sponsor
Because there are limited sponsorships available at each level, the choice of sponsorships will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Law schools and other organizations interested in supporting the LWI conference should contact Rachel Croskery-Roberts, Ken Chestek, Mel Weresh, or Ruth Anne Robbins.
- Rachel Croskery-Roberts, Secretary of the Legal Writing Institute rcroskery [at] law.uci.edu
- Ken Chestek, President of the Legal Writing Institute kchestek [at] iupui.edu
- Mel Weresh, President-Elect of the Legal Writing Institute melissa.weresh [at] drake.edu
- Ruth Anne Robbins, Immediate Past President of the Legal Writing Institute ruthanne [at] camden.rutgers.edu
The Legal Writing Institute is committed to a policy against discrimination and in favor of equal opportunity for all of its members regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. All conference sponsors must comply with LWI’s non-discrimination policy.
January 16, 2012
AALS Legal Writing Section Diversity Committee - Congratulations and Thanks to Kim Chanbonpin
Among the many events held during the annual meeting of the Association of American Law School was the Diversity Committee Luncheon for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. That luncheon was organized by Professor Kim Chanbonpin of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, who has been working steadily with the Diversity Committee over the past few years and who had moved up the committee ranks last year to become Chair of the AALS Section's Diversity Committee.
Kim has brought special energy and vision to the legal writing community through the section's Diversity Committee. In addition to her work with the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, Kim has also helped out quite a bit with special projects for he Legal Writing Institute and the Society of American Law Teachers.
Congratulations and thanks to Kim Chanbonpin and the AALS Section Diversity Committee
Remembering Martin Luther King's rhetoric
On the Martin Luther King holiday, we should recall that King was a superb advocate. Many legal writing professors use King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail to illustrate persuasive techniques. King wrote the letter to a group of clergymen who had criticized his recent activities. This passage illustrates his skill in refuting their arguments:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. . . . The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
King then presented moving examples as he asked readers to imagine having to “explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children . . . .” That language appears in a lucid 316-word sentence, which spectacularly breaks the usual guideline to keep sentences short.
Near the letter’s end, King effectively used antithesis:
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
The rest of the letter is a treasure trove of examples of persuasive writing.
January 15, 2012
LRW director opening at U. Penn.
The University of Pennsylvania Law School seeks to appoint a full-time Senior Fellow and Associate Dean to its faculty to develop, administer, and teach in a newly expanded skills program in legal writing, drafting, and communication. The Senior Fellow will develop the new curriculum in three broad areas.
First, the Senior Fellow will design and implement a new first-year legal research and writing program and a new LLM research and writing program that recognize the diverse communications skills needed for today's lawyers; the Senior Fellow will recommend the appropriate staffing and will have the assistance of the School's research librarians.
Second, the Senior Fellow will also design and implement with appropriate staff an upper level writing curriculum that builds on the required first year program but also recognizes the varied types of writing and communications skills used by lawyers in diverse practice settings.
Finally, the Senior Fellow will to the extent possible identify and implement ways to enhance the communications learning opportunities broadly. After gaining an in-depth understanding of the full Penn Law curriculum, the Senior Fellow will integrate and coordinate the program with analytical and doctrinal courses, clinical and practice courses, externships, pro bono learning, and the Penn Law Center on Professionalism programming.
Penn Law seeks candidates with strong practice experience, distinguished academic and professional achievement, dynamic teaching and supervisory skills, a track record of excellent team skills, and a collaborative approach. Candidates must have a minimum of five years of relevant practice experience; prior teaching and/or substantial experience mentoring new attorneys is desirable but not required. Candidates must hold a J.D. degree and be a member of a state bar.
Please submit all letters of interest with supporting CV/resume and other documents via e-mail to: email@example.com
1. The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
2. The professor hired will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range over $120,000.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be more than 60.
Penn Law has an incoming class of 250 students, plus 100 LLM students. We expect that the person hired will work with the Director and current faculty to determine overall staffing levels in the first year and LLM programs, as well as to build on upper level offerings.
hat tip: Anne Kringel