Saturday, January 19, 2013

Call for Proposals, Empire State Legal Writing Conference

The Fourth Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference will take place on Saturday, April 30, 2013, at Albany Law School in Albany, New York. They invite proposals for presentations on a broad range of topics relevant to those who teach legal writing and research and welcome proposals from those who have previously presented, as well as from those presenting for the first time.

Possible topic suggestions in this tumultuous time in legal education include everything from practical suggestions for teaching to point-counter-point dialogue about plain language; effective methods for teaching rapidly-changing legal research at a state, national, or even international level; teaching writing for email or social network sites; creating effective methods of both formative and evaluative assessment; and making do with fewer resources. Individual and panel presentations are both welcome. 

 Please limit your proposal to one single-spaced page and include the following:
1. Presenter(s), title(s), and school affiliation(s);
2. Title of the proposed presentation;
3. A short description of the proposed presentation and teaching method (lecture, simulation, small group exercises, etc.);
4. A two-sentence summary of the proposed presentation for the program brochure;
5. Whether the presentation would benefit new or experienced instructors (or both);
6. The time needed: no longer than 50 minutes (we try to accommodate requests, but make no guarantee);
7. Technology needs for your presentation (please describe);
8. Contact information for one presenter, including email address, mailing address, and phone; and
9. Whether you have previously presented at any national or regional conferences.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 8, 2013. The organizers hope to have program selection completed by the first week of March. Please e-mail proposals as a Word Document attachment to: Pam Armstrong, Conference Chair, Albany Law School,  (518) 445-2364, with a copy to .                    

If you have questions or would like to see sample proposals, please contact a Planning Committee member. They look forward to reviewing your proposals!

The Empire State Legal Writing Conference Planning Committee:
Pam Armstrong, Albany Law School, Conference Chair,
Robin Boyle, St. John’s University School of Law,
Ian Gallacher, Syracuse University College of Law,
Ann Nowak, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center,
Stephen Paskey, SUNY Buffalo Law School,
Amy Stein, Hofstra University School of Law,
Marilyn Walter, Brooklyn Law School,
Michelle Whelan, Cornell University Law School,


January 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 18, 2013

conference on Technology and the Teaching of Legal Research & Writing

DU-Legal_Writing_Web_Header-690x301Technology and the Teaching of Legal Research & Writing is the theme of this year's Third Colonial Frontier Legal Writing Conference, taking place Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, PA.

This conference is intended to give law professors the opportunity to improve the ways in which they use computer technology for teaching legal research and writing.

The cost of registering for the one-day conference is $50, which includes on-site parking, a continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments, and a closing open-bar reception. Attendees will be able to receive CLE credits.

Duquesne has arranged for a block of discounted rooms at the Marriott City Center hotel, which is adjacent to the campus and within walking distance from the law school and downtown Pittsburgh.  A double room will cost $124 per night, plus tax.  

You will find the agenda and be able to register for the conference here. The conference website also has information about travel to the conference and Pittsburgh attractions. Direct any questions to Prof. Jan Levine at



January 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is it "Pleaded" or "Pled"?

The two women pleaded guilty.

Or maybe they pled guilty.

Read more at the online ABA Journal by clicking here.


January 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reminder: 2013 Legal Writing Scholarship Grants deadline

Applications for the 2013 Legal Writing Scholarship Grants are due on February 15.

You can find details in the original announcement.


January 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Going Paperless

Paper stackWhile getting ready for class this week, I realized that even though I use my iPad for reading and grading papers, doing my own research, and presenting at conferences, I'm still pretty dependent on paper when I'm in the classroom. I use technology in my teaching, but I walk into the classroom with an armful of paper--a binder of teaching notes, a hard copy of the syllabus and class list, and various other materials. 

Then I came across this Lawyerist post about not going paperless at trial, which got me thinking about why I'm still so paper-dependent. I think the answer is that I originally organized my materials in a teaching version of a "traditional trial binder" (I am a former litigator, after all) and I've just updated those materials every semester since. I also have lots of post-its and scribbled notes that I probably haven't looked at in years but am afraid to throw away casually.

But I've decided it's time to go paperless in the classroom, too. There will be some start-up cost to organizing my materials electronically, in a way that makes them easy to access and flip through during class. However, once I make this investment, I expect I'll be able to use those same materials (with some updating) for many semesters to come. And I'm already thinking about how liberating it will be to recycle all those old teaching notes and clear off the shelf in my office.


January 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica

Here's a reminder that the next Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 11-13, 2013.  The registration website is available at  There are some speaking slots still available on Tuesday, March 12.  Contact Professor Mark Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago for more information.


January 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't use "they" to refer to a singular noun

The legal writing listserv is abuzz with posts about whether a writer can use "they," "their," or "them" to refer to a singular noun. In legal writing, this problem tends to arise in two different situations. One is where a singular entity--often a corporation or a court--is made up of individuals. When speaking informally, many English speakers would say, "The corporation published their annual report." The problem also arises where an individual's gender is unknown or unimportant, leading to the informal wording, "A student left their book on the desk." 

Language does change; for example, the second-person singular pronouns "thou" and "thee" have disappeared from contemporary English, leaving only the potentially ambiguous "you" for both the singular and the plural.  (We in the South use the convenient "y'all" to indicate a plural meaning.)  English may now be undergoing a change in the usage of third-person plural pronouns.

However, both of the above examples remain incorrect in current formal writing. As some listserv contributors have pointed out, using "they" for a singular antecedent is especially problematic in legal writing, which should be both formal and exact. There are several ways to avoid an incorrect "they." Instead of writing, "A lawyer should file their brief on time," a writer can make the antecedent plural: "Lawyers should file their briefs on time." For other suggestions, see my article on judges and gender-neutral language.


January 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Plain Language Association International Conference in Vancouver this October

The Plain Language Association InterNational will hold its ninth conference and its 20th anniversary celebration in Vancouver, Canada from October 10-13, 2013.  The conference coincides with International Plain Language Day, which is of course a major holiday celebrated by this blog. The Call for Participation and the Sponsorship Package are available now on the web site

Hat tips to Karin Mika and Terri LeClerq


January 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Use acronyms with caution

Abrams-dAcronyms, when overused, can be tedious and confusing.  University of Missouri professor Douglas E. Abrams recently reminded readers of that hazard in Missouri's bar magazine, Precedent. Abrams urged lawyers to balance two considerations about acronyms: Is the acronym so well known that it makes a document easier to follow? Or is it so obscure that it will impede the document's flow?  Illustrating his point with examples, Abrams explained that "Freewheeling use of acronyms can create unnecessary, avoidable roadblocks" for readers.


January 14, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

visiting professor job in Arkansas

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law, seeks applicants for the position of Visiting Professor to teach in their Reasoning, Writing and Advocacy program. The position is a coverage visit; they only need one visitor for Fall 2013.

The visitor will teach two sections of first-year Reasoning, Writing and Advocacy. A section typically has 16-18 students. The visitor will have an office and access to faculty support services and other services on campus. Funds for conference travel and professional development are also available.

Salary for the semester will be between $42,000 and $53,000, depending on experience; compensation may include benefits and assistance with relocation expenses. Minimum qualifications are a J.D. from an accredited law school and strong writing and interpersonal skills. Preferred qualifications are outstanding academic credentials, prior teaching experience, and law review or moot court service. 

For more information about the position, you can contact Professor Coleen Barger at or at (501) 324-9957.

To apply, send an e-mail, attaching a current curriculum vitae together with a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, and at least three references, to Associate Dean A. Felecia Epps, at If you prefer, you can apply via snail mail by writing to Associate Dean Epps at the UALR William H. Bowen Law School, 1201 McMath Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 7220F2-5142. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, an Equal Opportunity Employer, affirms the values and goals of diversity and strongly encourages the applications of all candidates, including women and candidates from historically under-represented groups.

position type: visiting
faculty vote: no
salary: $42,000-$53,000 for single semester
students per semester: 30-35
application deadline: March 15, 2013

hat tip: Coleen Barger(spl)

January 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)