Saturday, March 16, 2013
Mary-Beth Moylan, director of the legal writing program at Pacific McGeorge School of law, was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. An article in the Washington Post shows how impressive this year's inductees are.
hat tip: Hether Macfarlane
Friday, March 15, 2013
Posted on behalf of Empire State Legal Writing Conference Organizers.
Albany Law School is hosting an ALWD Scholars’ Forum on Friday, April 19th, 2013, the afternoon before the Fourth Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference, to be held on Saturday, April 20th. This is a terrific opportunity to present and discuss an idea you are currently considering turning into an article or receive critiques on an article you are currently drafting – (or, rehearse your presentation for another conference!) Lunch will be served and fantastic assistance from our wonderful Empire State Legal LW Conference committee will also be provided. We are thrilled to announce that Robin Boyle of St. John’s University School of Law will be facilitating the forum. Robin Boyle is the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Professor of Legal Writing at St. John’s Law School in Queens, NY. She has taught legal writing for 19 years and additionally teaches Drafting: Litigation Documents and Contracts and also Contracts I for conditional admission students. She has served as a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute and as a Director and Secretary for the LWI Board of Directors. She has published on topics of pedagogy and learning styles.
To apply for the forum, please submit the following information by March 28, 2013: (1) your name, title, law school affiliation and contact information; (2) an article abstract; and (3) a description of where you are in the writing process. For example, do you have an outline, a partial first draft, a full first draft? Please send submissions and any questions at all about the forum to Dede Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org. (As an alum of the LWI Writers’ Workshop at the 2010 Biennial, I can attest to how motivating and useful these gatherings can be to guide you through the sometimes daunting process of writing an article!)
In addition, registration for the Fourth Annual Empire State LW Conference will go live very soon. The Conference will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Albany Law. We hope the 10:00 a.m. start time will encourage those of you who would prefer to make this a one-day outing to join us. For those who wish to spend more time in Albany, we are reserving a bank of rooms at a hotel right across the street from the law school for Thursday night (for those participating in the ALWD forum) and for Friday and Saturday nights (for those attending the conference – or both events). We plan to organize an informal dinner for Friday night. Stay tuned for an e-mail with a registration link for the conference and more details.
We hope to see many of you in April!
Dorothy (Dede) Hill, Associate Lawyering Professor, Albany Law School, email@example.com
A post on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog continues the discussion about students’ preparation for university education. Michele Goodwin cites Kenneth Bernstein’s warning (discussed earlier on this blog) that students are poorly prepared because K-12 teachers perceive a need to “teach to the test” instead of cultivating higher-order thinking. Goodwin laments that those poorly-prepared students have now arrived at the university level. She also charges that “law schools are complicit” as they allow—or promote—grade inflation.
I see poor preparation reflected in some of my students’ appellate briefs. The Table of Contents for a brief is essentially an outline, but many students don’t know how to draft a coherent outline, even after I cover the topic in class and provide outside resources. When I started teaching legal writing 23 years ago, students understood outlining and I didn’t need to devote much class time to the topic.
Hat tip: John D. Edwards
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Texas Lawyer has some advice on when to employ, or not to employ, creative briefing strategies, like illustrations, poems, and other unconventional tactics. Using photographs, drawings, and dialogues in briefs has become more common as lawyers attempt to breakthrough with an overburdened appellate bench. From the article:
First and foremost, make sure it really works. The poem, play or drawing may seem brilliant when first written, but do others agree? Vetting themes or even whole drafts with colleagues or spouses is a great idea for any brief, but it is essential when dispensing with the standard form. It's probably best to return to the tried and true if more than one reader responds with a puzzled look or asks, "Are you really sure that's a smart idea?"
Second, carefully consider the specific nature of the task at hand. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and desperate legal challenges are better candidates for novelty than run-of-the-mill matters.
Third, flouting custom works best when simplicity can do the job. Opening appellate briefs require questions presented, statements of fact, summaries of argument and so on. There is no way to condense one into a single photo or cartoon, and such devices will inevitably grate on the court if a lawyer takes them too far. On the other hand, a short brief that will make one or two simple points may be more susceptible to innovation.
Fourth, no lawyer should wander off the reservation without the client's wholehearted endorsement. Counsel should explain beforehand why an out-of-the-box approach can work in this case and make sure the client fully understands and agrees. If things go south, charm and novelty may look strange and ill-conceived.
William Zinsser, the former Yale professor whose On Writing Well is now a classic, has published a new book on writing. The Writer Who Stayed is a collection of essays from Zinsser's column in the American Scholar magazine. Like his earler book, this one emphasizes clarity and economy in writing. It should be a good reference for legal writing students and professors.
Monday, March 11, 2013
It's hard to think of anyone more deserving of the Burton Award for Legal Writing Education than this year's recipient, Mary Lawrence. This award recognizes "outstanding contributions to the education of new lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking or writing." The award will be presented at a gala event in Washington, D.C., in June at the Library of Congress. Mary is Professor Emerita at the University of Oregon School of Law and one of the founders of our field. Congratulations, Mary!
The awards will be held on June 3, 2013. Click here for more about the Burton Awards.
hat tip: Anne Kringle
(spl and mew)