Saturday, August 11, 2012
Summer is almost over, as is prime writing time for law professors. But don't give up just yet. Anna Hemingway provides a lot of advice for getting your writing done in her article, "Accomplishing Your Scholarly Agenda While Maximizing Students’ Learning (A.K.A., How to Teach Legal Methods and Have Time to Write Too)".
Here's the abstract:
"In response to the demands of prospective law students, pressure from outside law organizations, and forces from within the legal academy, law schools are offering more skills training for students and more job security for Legal Methods professors. As a result, Legal Methods professors’ primary responsibilities in the legal academy are changing from a single focus of teaching to a dual focus of teaching and scholarship. Although the changes are welcomed, the task of producing scholarship remains especially difficult for Legal Methods professors because in many instances they still lack the necessary funding and time to fulfill this new obligation. The modest salaries many Legal Methods professors earn, and the weighty teaching responsibilities all Legal Methods professors carry, present obstacles that need and can be overcome to enable the production of meaningful scholarship. The article articulates the dilemma facing Legal Methods professors and law schools as more job security and writing opportunities become available. By rethinking teaching methodologies and highlighting ways to produce scholarship, the article proposes solutions that can enrich students’ learning and the teaching, scholarship, and discipline of Legal Methods."
Friday, August 10, 2012
The Second Annual Western Regional Legal Writing Conference begins at Oregon Law later today. The conference continues through tomorrow and will include presentations from legal writing professionals from around the country (program available here). It looks to be a collaborative and educational weekend built around a timely theme, Olympic Gold: The Teaching, Scholarship, and Service Triathlon. Thanks to the folks at Oregon Law for bringing us together as the academic year gets underway.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Kevin Brady at the University of Chicago has written up his study, "Are Readable Judicial Opinions Cited More Often?". Try guessing the answer, and then see if you were right.
Here's his abstract:
"Are judges, lawyers, and law professors more likely to cite readable judicial opinions? To answer this question I created a dataset of nearly one hundred opinions and analyzed them based on their readability. It turns out readability doesn’t correlate with the frequency of citations. Instead, variables such as the number of words and the opinion’s subject matter are significant predictors.
"Readability, of course, is subjective. But linguists have created objective measures of readability — such as the number of passive sentences in the opinion and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. Part I provides background information on readability. Part II summarizes the data, and Part III presents the results."
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Legal writing professors looking for examples to use in class should check out the ABA Journal's new list of "the theater's greatest courtroom dramas." Topping the list are The Merchant of Venice, Twelve Angry Men, and Inherit the Wind. For the full list, see 12 for the Stage in the August issue of the Journal.
Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida, seeks applications for a faculty opening for 2013-2014 to teach in their Lawyering Skills & Values program. All candidates should have a J.D. or a degree of equivalent rank, at least two years of experience in the practice of law, an outstanding academic background, and a clear commitment to teaching and scholarship.
Appointment is at the rank of Assistant Professor of Law, for one-year renewable contracts. After the fourth successful year of teaching, five-year renewable contracts are available, in compliance with ABA Standard 405(c). Contract faculty members have full voting rights with respect to all faculty issues including hiring, tenure, and promotion; are eligible for promotion in rank; receive full benefits with respect to travel, professional dues, and research assistants; and are eligible for the same research grants, sabbaticals, and other writing support as tenure-line faculty.
To apply by snail mail, send your resumé and cover letter to:
Professor Marc Rohr, Faculty Appointments Committee Chair, Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, 3305 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida 33314-7721.
To apply by e-mail, send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, with a cc to Mr. Joe Baldelomar at email@example.com).
In your cover letter, indicate if you will be attending the AALS recruitment conference in October.
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 of $80,000 to $89,000.
4. The person hired will teach legal writing, each semester, to 30 or fewer students.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Professor Linda Berger has been awarded the Family Foundation Professorship at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. Prof. Berger has been teaching at Boyd since July 2011, and very much deserves this important honor. Congratulations Linda!
Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- held its annual meeting last Friday at the Union League Club in Chicago. As far as we know, it was the largest Scribes luncheon that the organization ever held. The speaker was Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Book and brief-writing awards were presented, and a special lifetime achievement award was given to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (who accepted in a video presentation).
At the end of the meeting, the Scribes business meeting was held and the following officers and directors were elected.
Dean Steve Smith of California Western School of Law in San Diego, who finished his term as President, is now the immediate Past President of Scribes.
The previous Treasurer, Judge Michael B. Hyman, was elected as Vice President of Scribes. (Judge Hyman is also a past president of the Chicago Bar Association.)
Mark Wojcik (hey, that's me!), a Professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and a current board member of Scribes, was elected as Treasurer of Scribes.
The current secretary, John R. Wierzbicki of Thomson Reuters, was elected for another term as Secretary of Scribes.
Three board members were re-elected to three-year terms ending in 2015. They are:
- Beth D. Cohen. She is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, Massachusetts)
- Charles Dewey Cole, Jr., He is a distinguished trial and appellate lawyer in New York.
- Christopher G. Wren. He is an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Appeals Unit at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Raymond P. Ward was elected to fill out my unexpired board term (which runs until August 2014) as a board member at large.
Other members serving on the Scribes Board include Bryan A. Garner (editor of Black's Law Dictionary), Judge Mark Painter, Ann Taylor Schwing of California, Professor Richard Wydick (author of Plain English for Lawyers)
The Executive Director of Scribes is Norman Plate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, an institution that has been a longstanding supporter of Scribes.
The photo above is of me, Joe Kimble (who serves as Editor of the Scribes Journal), and Chris Wren. We'll have some photos from the event soon. Mark E. Wojcik (the new Treasurer of Scribes!)
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis plans to hire a full-time clinical-track professor for the 2013-2014 academic year. The new writing professor will teach the first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication course, a graded course worth two credits each semester. The ten-month contract begins on August 1, 2013.
Applicants must have a juris doctorate degree from an accredited law school, excellent writing and analytical skills, and a strong academic record with experience in law practice or a judicial clerkship. Prior teaching experience is preferred. The committee will begin reviewing applications on August 15.
To apply by snail mail, send a cover letter and your resume to:
To apply by e-mail, send a cover letter and your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
position type: long-term contract
hat tip: Deb McGregor
There are employers outside the legal field who will not hire someone with poor grammar skills. You can read one employer's view on the matter here. Of course within the legal field, where a misplaced word can cause litigation, grammar really does count. Answering an inquiry recently from a lawyer wanting to work on grammar skills, I recommended the same things I use with my law students: Core Grammar for Lawyers, which is an inter-active, on-line program, and Richard Wydick's book Plain English for Lawyers.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Tony Renzo is moving to U. New Mexico from Vermont Law School. Also, David Stout, a local attorney, previously an adjunct at UNM, will join their legal writing faculty full-time now.
Jennifer Lear will be visiting at George Washington, from Widener, for the academic year. It is a bit of a return for her, as she is a GW alum.
U. Kentucky has filled its two new, full-time legal writing positions: Diane Kraft previously was UK’s Director of Academic Success and Assistant Director of Legal Writing. Kristy Hazelwood previously taught at Vanderbilt and most recently at Belmont.
And last year Debbie Lanin was an adjunct at Touro, and Sarah Adams was a visiting professor at Lewis & Clark. This year they will both be full-time legal writing professors at Touro.
Blog followers who work with adjuncts may be interested in an August ABA Journal article about the pros and cons of adjunct teaching. Author Deborah L. Cohen reports that more lawyers are seeking adjunct positions today, partly in order to add to their incomes. Some hope adjunct teaching will be a path to full-time teaching, but Associate Dean Michael Kaufman at Loyola of Chicago told Cohen that rarely happens. Adjunct work can also infringe on time available for a lawyer's practice, and the pay is not high. However, being an adjunct professor can burnish a lawyer's credentials. Ohio State emeritus professor Michael Braunstein said the prestige of being a professor has helped him obtain clients.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
For those interested in Brian Tamanaha's work on problems facing (or created by) legal education, check out this Washington Post review of his book Failing Law Schools. From the review:
Tamanaha argues that most law schools should emphasize lower-cost practical training, perhaps in fewer than the three years of study that are standard now. The resulting lawyers would serve the mundane but vital needs of ordinary people, a surprisingly large number of whom cannot afford representation even though they are not indigent. It would be an honorable calling and a decent living.
Tamanaha’s message — that law schools fail to fulfill this social purpose and that their failure is due to their selfishness and myopia — may not go over well in faculty lounges. But it is an important one nonetheless.