July 27, 2012
Are You Coaching a Jessup Team?
Be sure to let your students know about a panel on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at the ILSA International Conference. It's called "How to Succeed at the Jessup Moot Court Competition." Click here for more information about the conference, which is being held in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School.
Does "shall" deserve a respectful burial?
In the August ABA Journal, Bryan Garner argues that lawyers should abandon the use of "shall" to indicate a mandatory action. He points out that Americans seldom use the word in ordinary discourse, and that its several meanings can create ambiguities--it can mean should or even may. Garner himself avoids the word and repalces it with must, will, is, may, or is entitled to to express his intended meaning.
July 25, 2012
Inspirational Movie Clips About Writing
In connection with the upcoming Boyd School of Law Public Interest Film Festival, I’ve
gotten to thinking about film clips for use in the legal writing classroom. We can easily identify films that highlight advocacy or client representation, but what about the struggle of the writer? These types of clips can really resonate with students muddling their way through legal writing assignments. You can find two of my favorites here and here. Happy fall semester planning!
Secrets of Great Writers Revealed!
For this post, we welcome a new contributing editor to our blog, Kristen Murray, at Temple.
I thought great writers had golden pens. As soon as they started writing, the words flowed and everything fell into place. Did Hemingway really need thirty-nine revisions of the final page just to get the words right? The answer is yes, and that happens to be the number one secret of great writers—rewriting.
An important reminder for professors finishing up summer writing projects and students getting ready to tackle their legal writing courses this fall!
July 24, 2012
Fruehwald on Law Teaching and Neurobiology
Just up on SSRN, an interesting piece from Scott Fruewald explores the relationship between teaching and modern science. From the abstract:
Legal education is changing. Law schools are incorporating skills classes into their curriculums, and law teachers are integrating new techniques into their teaching. Subjects that were never taught before are now appearing in law school curriculums. Now for the last step – turning law professors into expert teachers.
This article applies cognitive psychology and learning theory to explain how to become an expert teacher. As Best Practices has asserted, “Members of a law school faculty should base their teaching decisions on research about effective teaching, or at least hypotheses grounded in research.” More specifically, as Diane Halpern has stated, “It is clear that a successful pedagogy that can serve as a basis for the enhancement of thinking will have to incorporate ideas about the way in which learners organize knowledge and internally represent it and the way these representations change and resist change when new information is encountered. Despite all of the gains that cognitive psychologists have made in understanding what happens when people learn, most teachers do not apply their knowledge of cognitive psychology.”
This article begins by discussing the neurobiology of learning, then it uses this understanding to move onto educational theory and finally to the details on how to be an expert law teacher. Part II of this article addresses how humans learn (the neurobiology of learning) in order to provide the foundation for the rest of the article. Parts III and IV apply this learning theory to specific methods of improving teaching and learning. Part III examines the idea of “engaged teachers” and “engaged learners.” Part IV discusses how to become a “self-regulated” and “reflective” learner/teacher. Finally, Part V presents the attitudes and habits of expert law teachers, while Part VI covers what expert law teachers teach.
Happy downloading and reading!
July 23, 2012
Poor Grammar Can Limit Job Prospects
The Harvard Business Review posted an interesting article on the relationship between grammar and hiring in the broader business community. Some notable highlights:
Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.
I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren't issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.
That's why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they're detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.
This is a great piece for incoming 1Ls!
hat tip: Lisa McElroy
David Hill receives teaching award
David Hill is a Clinical Professor of Legal Methods and the Director of Academic Support at the SJ Quinney College of Law (otherwise known as the law school at the University of Utah). He's received his school's Peter W. Billings Excellence in Teaching Award, which goes annually to a full-time faculty member. Congratulations David!