Friday, August 9, 2013
Judge Gregory Orme of Utah recently published a review of a new book, The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing, by Theodore Blumberg. The sins are “passivity, abstraction, adverbiage, verbosity, redundancy, footnotes, and negativity.” The “sin” of abstraction drew my attention because it’s a problem I notice increasingly in student writing. As an example of abstraction, Orme quotes Blumberg's reference to a statute that mentions “certain actions against the State.” Blumberg sensibly suggests naming the particular actions.
While Judge Orme sees the phrase “deadly sins” as hyperbole, he agrees with most of Blumberg’s list and likes the 34-page book, especially for its price of $7.95. For Orme's review, see page 41 of the May/June 2013 Utah Bar Journal.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
What's the difference between an accurate treatise on an area of law and a treatise that becomes the definitive source in its area? It may well be the writing, as Attorney Corey Field suggests in "Melville Nimmer the Writer: A Review of the 1963 First Edition of 'Nimmer on Copyright' on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of its Publication".
As Field explains, "2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the leading treatise on copyright law, 'Nimmer on Copyright.' In honor of the 50th Anniversary, The Journal of The Copyright Society of the U.S.A. published a commemorative issue with essays marking the anniversary. This essay looks at the original 1963 First Edition of 'Nimmer on Copyright,' and reviews it not based on changes in copyright law in the period 1963 to 2013, but as an examination of the legal writing style of Melville Nimmer, the original author of the treatise. The approach of the paper is to examine how the writing style itself, in addition to the research and scholarship, established 'Nimmer on Copyright' as a paragon of legal scholarship that has endured for 50 years."
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Some time ago, a very astute observation was made over on Prism Legal. As your law school spruces up for the new school year, take a look at the writing that is posted on the walls outside or inside the building. What is it communicating to the new students about the writing of lawyers?
hat tip: Mark Burge
Monday, August 5, 2013
Looking for a good legal novel to read or recommend to students? The ABA Journal has just published a list of the twenty-five greatest law novels of all time. The top three books on the list are To Kill a Mockingbird, Crime and Punishment, and Bleak House. Tied for twenty-fifth place are Old Filth, by Jane Gardam, and The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter van Tilburg Clark. Check the journal’s website for the full list, the names of the judges, and a lively reader discussion about the judges' choices.
Legal writing professors continue to be tapped to serve as various types of deans at U.S. law schools:
This fall Meredith Aden will be the new Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs at the University of Memphis School of Law, while also directing the school’s academic support program.
Larry Cunningham has been appointed the Associate Academic Dean of St. John's University School of Law.
And Mehmet Konar-Steenberg now serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty at William Mitchell Law School.