Friday, May 31, 2013
The University of Missouri at Kansas City has joined the trend toward directorless legal writing programs. Like professors in other fields, UMKC's writing faculty, whose combined experience totals more that 60 years, will now be autonomous. The former director, Wanda Temm (pictured at right), says this change will allow them “to be even more creative and innovative” in their teaching.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research has recently put out the Section’s Spring 2013 newsletter. It is available here Download AALS Spring 2013 Newsletter. The newsletter includes stories about the programs and activities at last January’s AALS Annual Meeting. It also includes news about the promotions, publications, presentations, honors and awards received by LRW faculty during the past six to eight months. There is also information about program changes and LRW conferences, both upcoming and recently concluded.
Many hours of hard work go into the preparation of the newsletter which continues to look better and better each year. Many thanks go to Section Secretary and Editor of the newsletter, Jennifer Murphy Romig of Emory University School of Law for her efforts in mastering the publication skills necessary to produce such a high quality product, her improvements to the format and style and method of submitting news, and her long hours of work preparing it. As those of us who have worked on the newsletter in the past can attest, sometimes preparing the newsletter can seem like more of a full time job than our LRW jobs.
Thanks also to Kimberly Holst, Chair-Elect, Kathleen Elliott Vinson, Immediate Past Chair, and Bob Brain, Executive Committee member for their assistance in proofreading the newsletter to make it as “error free” as possible.
Judy Rosenbaum and the leadership of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research hope you enjoy reading it and celebrating the LRW community’s accomplishments over the past year.
Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Law Student Writing Competition. Note to Law School Deans/Professors (extra incentive to distribute flyer/encourage entries): An additional $1,000 to the winning student’s law school scholarship fund.
TOPIC: The scope of permissible topics is broad, i.e., any aspect of workers’ compensation law. Students are encouraged to present:
- a public policy issue;
- a critique of a leading case or doctrine; or
- a comment on a statute or the need for a statutory modification.
ELIGIBILITY: All students currently enrolled in accredited law schools in the United States and all those recently graduated from them (graduation on or after May of 2013).
First prize - $1,500, plus $1000 to winner’s law school scholarship fund
Second prize - $1,000.00
Third prize - $500.00
The winner’s article will also be considered for publication in the Workers’ First Watch, The Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group (WILG) magazine, and the ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section Law Journal. The winner will also be invited (expenses paid) to the Annual College Induction Dinner to be honored during the program.
The College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers 2013 Law Student Writing Competition Rules
Articles must be original from the applicant and limited to one entry. Articles must not presently be under consideration for any other publication or written as part of paid employment. All articles are to be submitted in the following format:
- Submitted by email (no author name in body of article, only in cover letter) to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please reference “Writing Competition” in the subject line.);
- All articles are to be submitted by Jan. 15, 2014;
- Double-spaced, on 8 ½ inch by 11 inch paper, 1 inch margins;
- Entries should be between 10 and 20 pages in length (including bottom of page footnotes);
- Citations are to conform to “A Uniform System of Citation” (The Bluebook).
If published by the College, the articles become the property of the College. No submitted article may be published elsewhere until after announcement of the winners of the competition. Announcement of the winners will be made at least 30 days in advance of the Annual College Induction Dinner, Spring 2014.
Include a cover letter with your entry stating your name, mailing address and phone number (both school and permanent), name of school and year of graduation.
Applicant must be currently enrolled in an accredited law school or submit entry within 60 days of graduation.
The evaluation standards will be organization, quality of research, depth, originality of analysis, clarity of style and readability. The College reserves the right not to award or to reject any submission.
Hat tip to Elizabeth Theine
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Here's a reminder that the Scribes Annual Luncheon and Awards Ceremony will be held in San Francisco on Friday, August 9, 2013 during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.
Professor Julie Oseid of Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas School of Law has added a new article to her continuing series about the writing of U.S. Presidents. Her abstract explains that this latest article presents Theodore Roosevelt “as a role model for the importance of zeal in persuasion. . . . His moral certainty and belief in action led him to write and speak with conviction. Finally, his love of stories inspired him to use vivid language.”
Monday, May 27, 2013
General Order No. 11
Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
[Photo courtesy Tom Bell, Director of
Media Services & Telecommunications,
John A. Logan College,
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude, -- the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
III . Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN,
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Legal writing professor Linda Edwards of UNLV has written an article exploring the relationship between critical theory and law. As her abstract explains, the piece “uses narrative theory and cognitive science to help traditionalists begin to understand critical theory—specifically, why critical theory insists on telling stories and why those narrative critiques are legitimately a part of law.” Edwards presents the story of Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen who was detained for years at Guantanamo Bay, as an instance where narrative can inform a legal decision. She frames the Supreme Court's real choice in that case as one “between the story of the nation’s founding and the story of redemptive violence,” which she explains as the notion that revenge will heal.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
The WSJ Law Blog recently featured an article by Professor Paula Franzese, Seton Hall, contending that framing curricular issues as skills v. doctrinal misses the mark. Instead, Franzese contends that we should focus on right v. left brain. From the WSJ blog:
The notion that law schools should teach more practical skills and hands-on training is in vogue these days.
But Paula A. Franzese, a property and government ethics professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, thinks that the theory v. practice debate needs to be reframed. The more important divide, she says, is between the two sides of the brain.
“Much of what we tend to do in the law school classroom is aimed at honing left-brain thinking,” writes Ms. Franzese in a forthcoming essay in Seton Hall Law Review.
The left-brain approach emphasizes “reasoning through precedent.” Students are taught the facts of a case; the strengths and holes in the arguments; how and why a court ruled a certain way; how it was different from what came before.
That kind of training often misses the bigger picture of things — a conceptual, contextual and empathetic understanding that gives the other side of the brain a workout, says Ms. Franzese.
“It behooves us to give those metaphorically “right hemisphere” abilities…their due in the law school classroom,” she writes.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The names for linguistic phenomena may interest only word lovers—but there are many of those among this blog’s followers. Legal writing expert Bryan Garner, who counts himself among the word lovers, presents a passel of arcane but interesting tags in the May ABA Journal. For instance, synecdoche is a metaphor that uses a part to represent the whole: you drive your wheels. And metonymy refers to a thing with the name of something related: you see a play on Broadway, and the bench may issue a ruling. A zeugma combines terms in an unexpected way for humorous or dramatic effect: “I lost my wallet and my temper.” See Garner’s article for more fascinating terminology. (Yes, I am a word lover who finds these terms fascinating!)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas - William S. Boyd School of Law will be hosting an upcoming conference which may be of interest to legal writing professors, as it deals with the intersection of psychology and lawyering skills. More info below:
In recent years both academics and practitioners have increasingly begun to recognize that the field of psychology has a tremendous amount to offer practicing attorneys. Traditionally, those who connected law and psychology focused primarily on juries, trials, and criminals’ states of mind. But today, researchers are broadening their focus to examine the ways in which psychology can be of use to a wide variety of common lawyering practices, including interviewing, counseling, writing, negotiation, and ethical conduct as well as attorney satisfaction and business success.
We welcome proposals (250 words or less) from prospective presenters from law, psychology, or other disciplines who wish to present on how insights drawn from psychological research can be applied to help lawyers better represent their clients. (Presenters will be expected to pay their own expenses, except that UNLV will provide some nice meals.) Please submit your abstract electronically as a Word document or PDF to Jean.Sternlight@unlv.edu by July 15, 2013. Include a title and your contact information as well. The Nevada Law Journal has offered to publish approximately ten papers arising out of this conference. Please let us know if you think you might be interested in this publication opportunity. Final papers would be due in the summer of 2014.
Finally, if you are interested in attending the conference but prefer not to make a presentation, please let us know that as well. We will need panel chairs, attendees, and quite likely commentators. While there is no conference registration fee, attendance will be limited. You can reserve a spot by registering here: http://law.unlv.edu/registration-LawPsych2014. We will be providing more details on the conference, accommodations and other matters closer to the date.
If you have questions or would like further information please contact:
Jean R. Sternlight
Saltman Professor of Law & Director Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Boyd School of Law
Monday, May 20, 2013
If you're looking for some inspiration for staying the course as you grade a stack of 1L papers, you may appreciate brief right, a blog written by Kirby Griffis, a Washington, D.C., litigator. After marking the umpteenth misplaced apostrophe, it can be reassuring to see that you're not the last person on the planet who knows the difference.
Friday, May 17, 2013
We're now teaching students who enter law school used to texting all day long. In an interesting article on "Texting and the Friction of Writing", Lindsey Gustafson looks at the implications. Here's her abstract:
article begins with a picture of a moving target: a summary of the current
state of mobile phone use, with an emphasis on how frequently young people
text. The article then covers law teachers’ first obvious concern with
texting’s impact on more formal writing: whether frequent exposure to and use
of text speak weakens general language acquisition and students’ growth as
expert legal writers and readers.
"A deeper concern is addressed next: whether the ease of texting will make students accustomed to quick, easy writing, and will thereby compromise students’ ability to use writing to work through and solve problems. Finally, the article closes with a reason to show students that they are already part of a community of writers: it not only may relieve students’ anxiety about learning a new form of writing, it may also give them a greater awareness of their linguistic options and how to use them to meet the needs of their new, law-trained audience."
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It's already the middle of May, and then June will follow, and then it will be time for the ALWD conference. If you plan to attend and haven’t yet registered, note that the conference fee is $400 if paid by Sunday, May 26th, and $450 after that date. You can register on the conference website.
The conference will be held at Marquette Law School from Wednesday, June 26th through Friday, June 28th. It begins with an opening reception at the law school on Wednesday evening. Presentations will run throughout the days on Thursday and Friday, with an ALWD membership meeting and ABA standards update during lunch on Thursday and a plenary presentation during lunch on Friday. And there will be a fun fish-fry polka dinner on Thursday evening and an ice cream custard social and trip to Summerfest on Friday evening.
(What's that you say? Don't know how to polka? Can you count to three? Well then, you can polka.)
hat tip: Susan Bay
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
Fifty percent of Bryan Garner’s students believe their writing has gotten worse since they started law school. To explore that belief further, Garner asked to see the previous writing of one honors English major who thought his writing had declined. The introduction to his moot-court brief contained a misplaced modifier, verbose and flowery writing, and a hyperbolic tone; Garner agreed that the brief’s low grade was warranted. But the student’s senior thesis was no better: its beginning was “empty and confused,” with "roundabout wording" and flawed sentence structure. Garner’s speculates that the paper's grader may have been “so jaded by rampant illiteracy” that “plausibly formed English sentences” were enough to summon an A.
What causes the incongruity between the students’ confidence and their actual performance? Garner explained in the May Student Lawyer that many students’ writing has been so overpraised that they’ve never developed the skills necessary to do good persuasive writing. “[M]any who think they’ve lost skills they once possessed,” Garner writes, “never really had them at all.”
Friday, May 10, 2013
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in a somewhat curious use of Star Trek references, offered an opinion that addressed a pornography downloading issue and included a Google maps screenshot and an elaborate chart (see pages 7 and 9 of the opinion) to aid understanding. Read the first paragraphs below (highlighted language added)--or read the entire opinion.
The judge started with a quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and then said, "Plaintiffs have outmaneuvered the legal system.They’ve discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs. And they exploit this anomaly by accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. Then they offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense. For these individuals, resistance is futile; most reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloading porn. So now, copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow, starving attorneys in this electronic-media era to plunder the citizenry. Plaintiffs do have a right to assert their intellectual-property rights, so long as they do it right. But Plaintiffs’ filing of cases using the same boilerplate complaint against dozens of defendants raised the Court’s alert. It was when the Court realized Plaintiffs engaged their cloak of shell companies and fraud that the Court went to battlestations."
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Lisa McElroy of Drexel University has been awarded tenure. An active member of the legal writing community, Lisa has been on the boards of directors of both LWI and ALWD. She has also written about Supreme Court practice, contributed op-ed pieces in the national media, and written for the Plain English section of SCOTUS blog. Congratulations, Lisa!
Hat tip: Terry Seligmann
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Amy Sloan of has been appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Amy's dedicated involvement in the legal writing community is legendary--she is a past president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and among her many publications is a book on legal research. Now she continues a trend of legal writing professors assuming positions of leadership in law schools. Congratulations, Amy!
hat tip: Eric Easton
Digitization of legal materials has its pitfalls, as West Virginia’s legal writing director Hollee Schwartz Temple explains in the May ABA Journal. Contrary to popular belief, not everything is available in digital form—and budget cuts are exacerbating that situation. And uniformity is a continuing problem as librarians grapple with how to ensure perpetual access to legal materials. Read more in Temple’s article, Fading Fast.