Saturday, December 1, 2012
Chicago's Northwestern was the site of the one of the first one-day legal writing workshops of 2012, on Friday, November 30. Northwestern Dean Daniel Rodriguez began the day with an enthusiastic talk about the importance of preparing practice-ready students, which was the workshop's theme.
That theme was then developed through a variety of enlightening panel discussions. One presentation, by Cindy Adams, Lori Johnson, Mary Nagel, and Elizabeth Inglehart, discussed writing for today’s partners. The panelists and the practitioners in the audience observed that 1) today, associates are often asked to summarize research in emails; 2) assigning lawyers want different levels of depth in those emails, so an associate should ask what is expected; 3) associates do still write memos; 4) writing a shorter email requires the same depth of understanding that a full memo does; and 5) even though fewer full-length memos are assigned in practice, assigning memos in law school is a good way to teach legal analysis and clear expression.
That was only one of the outstanding panels!
The event was flawlessly organized by the Northwestern legal writing professors. Pictured below are Northwestern professors Dana Hill, Judy Rosenbaum, Elizabeth Inglehart, and Deborah Borman. Not pictured is Professor Chris Martin, also one of the organizers.
Friday, November 30, 2012
The National Jurist Magazine has just named 24 legal educators and one "legal education public policy advocate" to its 2012 list of the 25 most influential people in legal education. The list will be published in the January issue of the National Jurist Magazine.
One legal writing professor included on that list is Sophie M. Sparrow of the University of New Hampshire, who is currently in residence as a visiting professor in the Lawyering Skills Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Sophie is well known in the legal writing community (indeed, I'm surprised that there were 24 other people named to the list of the most influential people!). She has given dozens of workshops and presentations on teaching, professionalism, assessment, and legal writing. Her publications include "Teaching Law by Design" and "Teaching Law by Design for Adjuncts" published by Carolina Academic Press. She is also a co-author of a forthcoming book called "Team Leadership for Lawyers," also from Carolina Academic Press.
Click here to read more about those selected and the magazine's selection process. That link also allows you to sign up to receive a digital or iPad version of the January publication.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
While we are on the topic of glasses half full, the editor-in-chief of the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Brian Farkas, has a nice piece up on Inside Higher Ed. The essay argues that traditional doctrinal scholarship serves a purpose and is tied, contrary to recent criticism, to the practical needs of the profession. From the article:
Yes, some journals are “theory-heavy”—the Yale Law Journal, William & Mary’s Bill of Rights Journal, and Washington University’s Jurisprudence Review, to name a few. But average law reviews and most specialty journals (journals that focus on particular areas, like real estate or intellectual property) are keenly interested in publishing relevant scholarship. Don’t believe me? Visit a few law journal websites and scroll through their recent tables of contents. Sure, you’ll encounter the occasional oddball pretentious titles. But you’ll also find articles firmly grounded in reality — articles that, as Sherrilyn Ifill of the University of Maryland said, “offer muscular critiques of contemporary legal doctrine, alternative approaches to solving complex legal questions, and reflect a deep concern with the practical effect of legal decision-making on how law develops in the courtroom.” Indeed, many law journal articles are written or co-written by practicing attorneys.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
There's been a lot of national and legal press arguing that a law degree is not worth the investment of students' time, effort, money, and forebearance. But now you can read the glass-half-full perspective here.
hat tip: Cindy Fountaine
The Winter 2012-13 issue of The Second Draft, the newsletter of the Legal Writing Institute, will examine scholarship as it relates to legal research, writing, and lawyering skills faculty. For professors of LRW, does scholarship mean focusing only on issues uniquely related to legal writing instruction, such as teaching research skills or how to construct and draft legal memoranda; or, should it also mean developing an additional “doctrinal” area of expertise? This newsletter welcomes articles addressing these questions and also articles explaining where to publish articles; how to develop and choose ideas for scholarly articles; alternative forms of scholarship such as CLE presentations and books; advice on strategically developing a body of scholarship; and the benefits, both personal and professional, of engaging in scholarly writing.
Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15.
hat tip: Teri McMurtry-Chubb
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Veteran legal writing professor Kathy Vinson at Suffolk has developed a writing checklist now available as a free app here. The new iPhone app, iWrite Legal, includes tips for clear communication, writing checklists, and other resources designed to help students thoroughly revise, edit, and proofread a legal document. Thank you Kathy!
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Ellie Margolis (Temple) and Greg Johnson (Vermont), the Co-Chairs of The Joint LWI-ALWD Scholarship Committee, have announced the application procedures for the 2013 Legal Writing Scholarship Grants. As the announcement notes:
Each year, ALWD, LWI, and LexisNexis award several research grants to legal research and writing teachers. These research grants enable gifted educators to spend their summers exploring scholarly ideas of interest to them and to produce scholarship that will assist others in the field. The grants also provide evidence of the three organizations' support for the scholarly pursuits of legal research and writing professionals.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. East Coast time on February 15, 2013.
Monday, November 26, 2012
In the November 2012 issue of the Kentucky Bench and Bar Journal, Kristin Hazelwood of the University of Kentucky offers advice for writing e-mails. Her article, titled E-Mails to Clients: Avoiding Missteps, presents guidelines for messages to clients. But her advice will be helpful for law students who write e-mails in other settings. Among the suggestions students will want to consider is whether e-mail is an appropriate medium for sensitive information. Students should also consider the guideline to double-check the list of addresses so the message does not go to unintended recipients.