Saturday, January 12, 2013
Raizel Liebler and June Liebert have conducted a study with alarming results: "Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010)". Below is their summary of the problem:
are the cornerstone upon which judicial opinions and law review articles stand.
Within this context, citations provide for both authorial verification of the
original source material at the moment they are used and the needed information
for later readers to find the cited source. The ability to check citations and
verify that citations to the original sources are accurate is integral to
ensuring accurate characterizations of sources and determining where a
researcher received information. However, accurate citations do not always mean
that a future researcher will be able to find the exact same information as the
original researcher. Citations to disappearing websites cause serious problems
for future legal researchers.
"Our present mode of citing websites in judicial cases, including within U.S. Supreme Court cases, allows such citations to disappear, becoming inaccessible to future scholars. Without significant change, the information in citations within judicial opinions will be known solely from those citations. Citations to the U.S. Supreme Court are especially important of the Court’s position at the top of federal court hierarchy, determining the law of the land, and even influencing the law in international jurisdictions.
"Unfortunately and disturbingly, the Supreme Court appears to have a vast problem with link rot, the condition of internet links no longer working. We found that number of websites that are no longer working cited to by Supreme Court opinions is alarmingly high, almost one-third (29%). Our research in Supreme Court cases also found that the rate of disappearance is not affected by the type of online document (pdf, html, etc) or the sources of links (government or non-government) in terms of what links are now dead. We cannot predict what links will rot, even within Supreme Court cases.
"We suggest several potential solutions, including more expansive use of the Internet Archive."
Friday, January 11, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Stephen Wilbers is a long-time columnist for the Minneapolis StarTribune; his expertise is effective business writing. He has a good website with tips, quizzes, writing resources, and more. For today's class, I plan to bring an old column of his on short- and long-term writing goals and ask my students to set some writing goals of their own.
What are your writing goals for 2013?
As we approach the 50th anniversary of Gideon, Elizabeth Megale has written a timely article on "Gideon's Legacy: Taking Pedagogical Inspiration from the Briefs that Made History". Here's her summary:"In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Gideon decision, this article guides the rhetorical study of the party briefs as a strategy for cultivating individual voice in legal writing. It is a rhetorical study of the party briefs filed in Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutional right to counsel in state criminal proceedings and provides specific lessons to be used in the classroom setting to enhance students’ understanding of advanced persuasive techniques such as logos, ethos, pathos, and storytelling. Each lesson has been created through the lens of cognitive theory, in particular the concept of categories as organizers of perception. This article proposes that categories can either be reinforced or redefined to accomplish rhetorical purposes, and having a meta-cognitive understanding of that power is essential effective advocacy."
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Two legal writing professors' posters were chosen by the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research for dispaly at the AALS annual meeting in New Orleans this past weekend. The winners and their topics were:Heidi H. Thompson ((Louisiana State), Over the Rainbow: Using Color and Pop Culture to Gently Introduce 1Ls to the Structure for Legal Analysis
Ann Nowak (Touro), Anticipate
The Poster Committee included Lisa Beske, Lurene Contento, Sabrina DeFabritiis (co-chair), Brad Michael Desnoyer, Cathren Koehlert-Page, Jane Moul (co-chair), Gerald Rock, and Emily Zimmerman.
Thank you to each of you for helping the rest of the legal academy see some excellent work by LRW professors.
hat tip: Kathy Vinson
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
A recent Atlantic piece highlights a disturbing emerging trend: women are increasingly signing business emails with an xoxo. As someone who would have been embarrassed to sign a note to my middle school crush with an xoxo, I cannot imagine ever concluding a business email with hugs and kisses.
In my personal life (with family and dear friends), I conclude most emails with “love, me” (the comma, of course, is essential otherwise it looks like a command). But I live in fear that on one very busy work day I will mindlessly sign a work email with a “love, me.” The fear is so pronounced that at the end of my busiest days, I have been known to scroll through my outbox to confirm that I have not committed the sin of concluding a work email with “love.” Since this is my worst nightmare, you can imagine that I’m not a fan of the voluntary xoxo. Indeed, 100% of dinner party attendees (three lawyers, a business owner, and a scientist) agreed that xoxo should never be used, despite the Atlantic’s claims that it’s all the rage.
One more thing to add to my lecture on business appropriate email...
The Association of Legal
Writing Directors (ALWD) has issued a call for applications for the
Legal Communication & Rhetoric: 2013 Visiting Scholars Grant Program. ALWD will award grants up to $2,500 each to law
schools to fund visits by legal writing scholars, for up to three law schools annually.
Law schools must use the grant to bring in a visiting scholar for a one- to two-day visit that includes one or more presentations to students, faculty, alumni, or local practitioners. The presentation should draw on the visiting scholar’s research, and its focus should be helping law students or practicing lawyers become more rhetorically effective and persuasive. This grant program extends ALWD’s commitment to support, strengthen, and encourage scholarship that focuses on the study and practice of professional legal writing. ALWD already supports such scholarship through its financial and other support for its journal, Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD.
The application for a Visiting Scholar's Grant and a more detailed description of the program guidelines are available here. The application deadline is February 15, 2013.
hat tip: Ursula Weigold
Monday, January 7, 2013
On January 6, the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research presented its annual section awards to and Jill Ramsfield of the University of Hawaii and Terrill Pollman of UNLV. Among their many contributions to the field, Jill produced the first annual survey of legal writing programs, and Terry co-wrote a landmark article on scholarship by legal writing professors.
At a festive reception at the AALS Annual Meeting on January 5, awards were presented to Judy Stinson, Jeffrey Rosen, Darby Dickerson, and Mary Lawrence. Stinson (pictured at left), a professor at Arizona State University, received the Blackwell Memorial Award, which honors “a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing.” The award is named for Thomas F. Blackwell, who was a prominent contributor to the field. George Washington University’s Jeffrey Rosen (pictured at right), who is also legal affairs editor of the New Republic, received the Golden Pen Award for his “extraordinary contribution to the cause of better legal writing.” Darby Dickerson, Dean at Texas Tech Law School, was the first recipient of the Darby Dickerson Award for service to legal writing. And Mary Lawrence, a pioneer in the field, received a special Lifetime Achievement Award, shown below.
hat tip: Karin Mika