December 8, 2012
Kudos for LWI's one-day workshops
Kudos for this weekend’s one-day workshops have been pouring in on the legal writing listserv. Participants have posted high praise for
Sarah Morath and Elizabeth Shaver at Akron
Suzanne Rabe at the University of Arizona,
Danielle Shelton, Lisa Reel Schmidt, Melissa Weresh, and Melanie Carlson at Drake,
The organizers at Michigan State University,
Anne Goldstein, Lynn Su, Jodi Balsam, Kim Hawkins, David Epstein, Lynnise Pantin, Kirk Burkhalter, Erika Wood, Chaumtoli Huq at New York Law School,
Gail Stephenson and her colleagues at Southern University Law Center,
Tania Pierce at Texas Wesleyan,
Trish Plunkett Hurley and Roxanne Livingston at UC Berkeley,
Gail Greene at U.C. San Diego,
Craig Smith at UNC Chapel Hill,
Olympia Duhart and Michele Struffolino at Villanova, and
Jay Messenger and the other organizers at Willamette.
Former LWI president Ken Chestek wrote, "And thanks to you, Robin, along with Mark Wojcik and Tracy McGaugh, all former LWI Board members who got this project started a few years ago . . . . The three of you got the program started off right, and Joan [Rocklin] and Laurel [Oates] are doing an excellent job keeping the program running well!"
December 7, 2012
That vs. Which: A Rule Living in Infamy
The Chronicle of Higher Education featured an article examining the that vs. which rule and concluding that it is unfounded. The article uses an historical example that is particularly relevant today:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” That was how President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened his famousinfamy speech, 71 years ago. Ignoring the writing handbooks, he opened with a passive construction, which of course is just right for the rhetorical context (America as innocent victim). And he also ignored another bogeyman rule: He introduced a restrictive relative clause with which.
The false belief that restrictive which is an error stems from a quixotic reform effort of the early 20th century. That attempt to change English failed, but American teachers and editors took note of it, and misinterpreted it as legislation, blithely ignoring the evidence of FDR’s sentence and thousands of others in all kinds of literature.
hat tip: Lou Sirico
December 5, 2012
History of LRW to be featured at Willamette workshop
Those interested in the history of our field might enjoy the one-day workshop at Willamette on Saturday,
December 8, which will feature a talk by Ralph Brill. His title: "Fifteen Years After The Sourcebook - Where Have We Been & Where Are We Going." Another pioneer in the field, Mary Lawrence, will be attending. Click here for information about this and other one-day workshops that will take place in early December.
hat tip: Karin Mika
Spelling, Commas, and the Constitution
Oregon recently voted to change some of the language in its constititution to bring it more in line with national conventions (e.g. the legislative, executive, and judicial "departments" will now be referred to as "branches"). This prompted the Christian Science Monitor to reflect on spelling, usage, and grammar in the U.S. Constitution. The famous document may be a model for democracies but not for legal writing students:
The most notable flat-out spelling error, according to Mount, is "Pensylvania," with only a single "n" in the first syllable. Pennsylvania, as we all know, was named for William Penn. That an entire commonwealth was named for one man somehow makes me feel better about Trump Tower and its ilk.
The original Constitution includes such archaisms as "chuse" for "choose" and "controul," as well as "British" spellings such as "defence." Noah Webster and his Americanizing spellings still lay decades in the future as the Framers labored (laboured?) in Philadelphia.
There is even an "it's" where "its" is called for – see Article I, Section 10.
Some modern students of the Constitution are surprised at its original Capitalization. Almost every important Noun seems to begin with a capital Letter, and what's up with that?
And what about punctuation? The commas in the Second Amendment alone have inspired reams of legal writing.
December 4, 2012
LWI One-Day Workshops on December 7 and 8
This past week, I've been lucky enough to attend the Legal Writing Institute One-Day Workshops at George Washington University Law School and Villanova University School of Law. Kudos to GW's Iselin Gambert (my former student!) and Villanova's Heather Baum and Candance Centeno for coordinating those programs, and to Laurel Oates and Joan Rocklin for coordinating the workshops nationwide.
There are four different themes for this year's workshops: The Evolving Legal Writing Classroom, Preparing Practice-Ready Students, Student Populations: Diversity Matters, and The Scholarly Way.
I love these workshops (some of which were recapped earlier on the blog), which always give me new perspectives and ideas on everything from my writing assignments, to classroom exercises, to my own scholarship.
If I've piqued your interest, I have good news...there's still a chance to attend one of the remaining workshops, most of which are this Friday, December 7, at the following law schools:
- Drake University Law School (Des Moines, IA)
- Michigan State University College of Law (East Lansing, MI)
- New York Law School (New York, NY)
- Nova Southeastern Univ. Law Center (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
- Southern University Law Center (Baton Rouge, LA)
- Texas Wesleyan School of Law (Ft Worth, TX)
- University of Akron School of Law (Akron, OH)
- University of Arizona (Tuscon, AZ)
- University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
- University of North Carolina School of Law (Chapel Hill, NC)
- University of San Diego School of Law (San Diego, CA)
The final workshop is at Willamette University College of Law (Salem, OR) on Saturday, December 8.
AALS Section Award Announced
Congratulations are in order for this year’s recipients of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Award: Terry Pollman (UNLV) and Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii). They will be honored at the AALS Section lunch during the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans on Saturday, January 5th at noon, in the conference hotel. Tickets to the lunch are available online through the AALS website (pre-registration is required) and at the AALS meeting site until that Friday evening, if space is available. Kudos, Terry and Jill!
hat tip: Kathy Vinson
December 2, 2012
LWI one-Day workshops at George Washington and Washburn
LWI one-day workshops on November 30 included one at George Washington University Law School. Participant Elizabeth Beske wrote, "Congratulations to Christy DeSanctis, Karen Thornton, Iselin Gambert, and others at George Washington University Law School for a terrific one-day conference on Friday! I left the conference with tons of new ideas and insights and a huge appreciation for the people in our great field."
Of Washburn's workshop, Karin Mika wrote, "Congratulations to Tonya Kowalski and the other members of the Washburn community for hosting a terrific workshop . . . . The panels provided incredible insight into dealing with matters regarding how best to educate our struggling students as well as a real life view from students as to what it's like to be a disabled law student. We also discussed diversity in the classroom -- traditional notions of diversity, as well as other students who might feel marginalized, whether we're aware of those students or not."
hat tips: Elizabeth Beske and Karin Mika