Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Earlier this year, the Onion ran an amusing mock report of violence among followers of The Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual Of Style, and the MLA Handbook. The punchline: "[A]n innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma ha[s] died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
Hat tip: Christopher Wren
Monday, August 12, 2013
A recent book offers some good hints for enlivening prose. Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing, by Constance Hale, urges writers to use strong verbs. It also covers other topics, including the subjunctive mood and baseless grammar “rules,” like the canard about not ending a sentence with a preposition. The book is written for a general audience, and I find its tone a little too breezy for use as a textbook, so I wouldn’t assign it to my legal writing students. But professors can get some good ideas from it, and I may recommend it to a few students as supplemental reading.
Hale is a writer and critic who says she’s been compared to “E.B. White on acid."
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Awards Presented at the Scribes Luncheon in San Francisco: Chase College of Law, South Texas College of Law, and Elon University Win the Brief-Writing Awards
Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- held its annual luncheon and awards presentation during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.
The 2013 Brief-Writing Awards were given to the following persons:
- First Place: Ashley Brucato and Nathan Lennon (students at Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law)
- Second Place: Katherine Harrington and Michael Hodge (students at South Texas College of Law)
- Third Place: Sarah Boshears and Grant Buckner (students at Elon University School of Law)
Scribes presented a Legal-Publisher Award to Carolina Academic Press for its longstanding service to the legal writing community. As you may know, it published Plain English for Lawyers by Richard Wydick and has sold at least 800,000 copies (and probably more than a million copies, but records don't go back far enough). It also publishes many other legal writing and legal research titles. Keith Sipe, the publisher, accepted the award.
The prestigious Scribes Book Awards went to two books:
- First Place: John Fabian Witt, for Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History
- Second Place: Allan A. Ryan, Yamashita's Ghost: War Crimes, MacArthur's Justice, and Command Accountability
Robert Brun, Q.C., President of the Canadian Bar Association, was a special guest at the luncheon and shared his thoughts on legal writing and the need to communicate clearly with clients.
The luncheon speaker was Judge William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Photos (which we'll probably have at some point) were taken by Professor Kim Holst of Arizona State University, incoming Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. Attendees included legal writing professors, deans, lawyers, and law students from across the United States.
Mark E. Wojcik, Treasurer, Scribes
If you didn't get to go to London for the Legal Writing Institute's Storytelling Conference, here's another opportunity. The American Bar Association Section of International Law will host a one-day International Legal Education Summit in London, England on Saturday, October 29, 2013.
Registration will be FREE but space is limited. (Please register ONLY if you are sure you can go.) The International Legal Education Summit is designed to foster innovative exchanges and networking. There will be special programming for students and new lawyers, small group information and innovation exchanges for educators and lawyers, and plenary session roundtables on the changing aspects of international legal practice and the future of international legal education. One of the breakout sessions is expected to focus on legal writing and skills education.
Programs will be held at the University of Law in Moorgate (City of London). The registration link is included in the flier. Download London Education Summit 2013
P.S. The next Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in Verona, Italy from May 21-23, 2014 at the University of Verona Law School.