Friday, April 5, 2013
I got some great ideas at the conference!
Debby McGregor (Indiana) offered a list of YouTube videos to illustrate specific concepts and to inspire/entice students generally.
Judith Popper and Wanda Temm (UMKC) described a week of cross-curricular skills training in the first year that draws on the content of core doctrinal classes, but presents them in the context of real life, with accident/scene investigation, expert guest speakers, etc. The program takes considerable administrative coordination and the cooperation of all the professors in one section, but also energizes the students and helps them to appreciate the context in which law is applied and the skill that go along with its application.
Suzanne Rabe (Arizona) and Terrill Pollman (UNLV) talked about those things that the LRW community *doesn't* talk about: do we cheerlead even when not merited? do we support without question? is there a party line, and how do we deal with those who think differently?
It was a good afternoon!
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The University of Colorado Law School recently hosted the Thirteenth Annual Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference in Boulder, Colorado on March 22nd and March 23rd. Although an unexpected storm dumped about a foot of snow, that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those who braved the weather. Participants were inspired by an opening session, led by Mary Beth Beazley, Lyn Entrikin, and Richard Neumann, concisely titled “Emerging Theories in Normative Transgression and the Etymology of Gasconadish Phenotypes, Situationally Induced Puerility, and Counter-Consonance within Scholarly Discourse Communities.” And the next morning Mimi Wesson talked about compelling storytelling in a presentation titled “Writing the Hillmon Case: An Instance of the Legal Storyteller’s Predicament.” About 100 participants from around the Rocky Mountain West, the rest of the nation, and as far away as Australia and Qatar attended.
Pictured below are CU law school engagement coordinator Amy Griffin and legal writing professors Corie Rosen Felder and Natalie Mack, conference co-chair. Chatting on a stairway are Gabrielle Stafford of CU and Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State.
The unexpected snow
Photo credits: Karin Mika and Natalie Mack
Monday, April 1, 2013
Professor Phillip Sparkes of NKU Chase College of Law has written a helpful explanation of verb moods in the latest Kentucky Bench and Bar magazine. Of the three English verb moods—indicative, imperative, and subjunctive—the most troublesome is the subjunctive; often, writers don’t know when it's appropriate or how to construct it. But, as Sparkes points out, the subjunctive mood is useful for, among other things, expressing a situation that is hypothetical or contrary to fact: “If I were the defendant, I would settle the case.” The subjunctive verb “were” cues the reader that the writer is not actually the defendant. But Sparkes also explains that not all clauses beginning with “if” concern matters contrary to fact. For example, a verb that merely expresses uncertainty about the past needs to be in the indicative, not the subjunctive, mood. Here’s my example: “If I was at that meeting, I’ve forgotten it.” The indicative “was” cues the reader that the statement is not hypothetical or contrary to fact, but could be true.