February 24, 2012
Wanda Temm Wins Legal Scholar Award
We've learned that Wanda M. Temm of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law has been selected for the "Legal Scholar Award" as part of the annual Women’s Justice Awards presented by Missouri Lawyers Media. The Women's Justice Awards recognize Missouri's leading women professionals. The Legal Scholar Award is given to women law faculty and administrators who improve the quality of justice, inspire others, and exemplify "the highest ideals of the legal profession."
Hat tip to Suzanne Rowe
Another lawyer is chastised for verbose writing
Recently, another lawyer was chastised for filing a verbose document. When a motion to dismiss the lawyer’s forty-five-page complaint argued that it was confusing and convoluted, the judge reproduced this example of its verbosity:
[b]reach of Contract - Failure of the original lender to Transfer or to Assign respectively either the Note or the Deed of Trust to US Bank National Association as Trustee for the Investors in the Mortgage Backed Security and the Defendants’ lack of authority to vary the terms of Plaintiff’s loan by agreement as a result of the securitization of the loan and the involvement of MERS in this series of transactions
The judge held that the complaint violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires “a short and plain statement of the claim.” He then observed, “Given the prolixity of the complaint and the plaintiff’s silence, it is difficult to tell whether amendment would cure any of the plaintiff’s claims.” He therefore dismissed the complaint with prejudice.
The plaintiff’s lawyer was later able to convince the court to remove the “with prejudice” language and let him amend the complaint. But the embarrassing assessment of his writing remains on the record.
February 23, 2012
Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Copyright Protection for Trial and Appellate Briefs
Several lawyers are suing Westlaw and Lexis on the theory that trial and appellate briefs sold by the services are copyrighted. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Edward L. White, a Oklahoma City, Okla., lawyer, and Kenneth Elan, claim WestLaw and LexisNexis have engaged in “unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created by, and owned by, the attorneys and law firms who authored them” — namely publicly filed briefs, motions and other legal documents.
In the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court, White and Elan are hoping to represent two classes of lawyers: ones who have obtained copyright registration of their works and ones who haven’t done so.
Will this mean a big payday for current and former trial and appellate brief writers? What if those writers have also lifted passages from other briefs? Lifting from other briefs without attribution is a common occurrence in practice, but could it subject the copying attorney to liability for infringement?
Among academics who teach writing outside the law, there is a just-now-coalescing organization called WAWN, the Writing About Writing Network. You can read the new WAW newsletter here, and perhaps some LRW professors have essays to contribute to it.
hat tip: Michele Mekel
February 20, 2012
Raising bar passage rates
Some law schools’ bar passage rates are higher than one would expect based on their entrance statistics. How do they accomplish that? The National Jurist recently published the results of a study probing that question. The magazine ranked schools according to bar exam performance in relation to student LSAT scores. Topping the list are Louisiana State, Campbell, Stanford, and Wake Forest.
Campbell’s academic support director explained how her school boosted its bar passage rate to an enviable 92% by adding a free course in which practice essays are graded like bar exam questions. And now that the ABA has lifted its ban on for-credit bar preparation classes, other schools have begun to offer for-credit courses. One such school is Capital University, which ranks a respectable 30 on the National Jurist list. Capital raised its passage rate from 62% to around 90% by offering a for-credit course that includes weekly quizzes and essays. For more about the study, see the article at page 28 of the February 2012 National Jurist.
more legal writing openings in Florida
Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, anticipates teaching openings in its Research, Writing and Advocacy (RWA) program for the 2012-2013 academic year. RWA is a three-semester course taught in the first and second year of law school for which students earn two graded credit hours per semester. Applicants should have excellent academic performance and teaching experience, particularly in a legal writing course. Professors of RWA are needed for the traditional 1L research, writing and oral advocacy curriculum, and possibly for the upper-level litigation based writing course. To apply, send a cover letter, resume, a writing sample and academic transcripts by March 15th to:
Maureen M. Milliron
Director of Research, Writing, and Advocacy Program
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, Fl 34119
1. The position advertised
a. is tenure-track.
b. can lead to long-term contracts.
X c. has neither of these forms of job security.
2. The person hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
X b. not true
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in
the range checked below.
___ over $120,000
___ $110,000 - $119,999
___ $100,000 - $109,999
___ $90,000 - $99,999
___ $80,000 - $89,999
___ $70,000 - $79,999
___ $60,000 - $69,999
_X_ $50,000 - $59,999
___ less than $50,000
4. The person hired will teach legal writing, each semester, to the total number of students in the range checked below:
a. less than 30
X b. 30 to 44
c. 45 to 59
d. more than 59
February 19, 2012
legal writing promotions at Detroit-Mercy!
Congratulations are in order for Deborah Paruch and Cristina Lockwood, both legal writing professors at Detroit Mercy. Their faculty has voted to recommend tenure for Deb and a promotion for Cristina to Associate Professor of Law, along with her successfully passing her mid-term review.
This is an especially happy occasion for the legal writing professors at UDM, because Deb and Cristina began their careers there as contract faculty teaching legal writing. As the terms of employment for legal writing faculty improved, they moved to fully vested 405(c) status and then to the tenure track. Kudos all around!
hat tip: Pam Lysaght