Friday, May 24, 2013

Narrative, court decisions, and critical theory

Edwards LLegal 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.


May 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A New Take on the Skills v. Doctrine Debate

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.



May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Attention, word lovers

The names for linguistic phenomena may interest only word lovers—but there are many of thoseGarner 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!)


May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Notification of Conference and Call for Proposals - Psychology & Lawyering: Coalescing the Field

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 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: 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 
(702) 895-2358


May 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 20, 2013

brief right

Brief-right-brand-logoIf 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.



May 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)