Friday, February 8, 2013
This just in from Ursula Weigold, the coordinator of the LC&R: Visiting Scholars Grant Program:
The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) will award grants to law schools to fund visits by legal writing scholars under a program that will recognize the Legal Communication & Rhetoric Visiting Scholars. ALWD will provide grants of up to $2,500 to each of 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. The 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 Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD.
But hurry! The applications are due next Friday, February 15, 2013.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The law review and the Racial Justice Project at New York Law School are presenting a conference on Exploring Civil Society through the Writings of Dr. Seuss. It's Friday, March 1, 2013, 8:15 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
The keynote speaker will be Donald E. Pease, Professor of English and the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities at Dartmouth College. He's literally written the book on Seuss.
There will also be panels on:
- The Shared Interests in Society in Horton Hears a Who
- Personal Rights of Identity in The Sneetches and Yertle the Turtle
- The Nature of War in The Butter Battle Book
- Business and Society in The Lorax
And plans are being made for a Seuss-themed networking reception.
Many have observed that the use of oral argument in federal appellate cases has decreased in recent years. Now two professors have quantified that decrease. David R. Cleveland (right) of Valparaiso and Steven Wisotsky (left) of Nova have published a detailed documentation of the decline of oral argument since the 1970s. But they argue that oral argument should not be lightly discarded: “[T]here is significantly greater value in oral argument than presently recognized by federal appellate court rules and practice. We recommend that this value be more fully appreciated and that the federal appellate courts make greater use of oral argument.” The article is available at 13 J. App. Prac. & Process 119 (2012).
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit have a revised version of their charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Spring 2013 submission season for the 202 main journals of each law school.
The first chart contains information about each journal's preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., ExpressO, Scholastica, email, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review. The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report, as well as data from Washington & Lee's law review website.
Note that there has been movement toward Scholastica, and the authors have tried to track which law reviews prefer Scholastica or exclusively accept through that channel.
Also, they now include, where available, information about when journals are open to receive article, i.e. the opening date for the submission season.
For those teaching drafting (or contracts) this spring, James Daily, author of The Law and Superheroes, has a thorough analysis in Wired Magazine of the contract between Bilbo and the Dwarves from the movie, The Hobbit. A quick glance at the contract gives me ideas for a style-revision exercise.
Here's a sampling of Daily's analysis:
Two clauses describe Bilbo’s primary obligations:
I, the undersigned, [referred to hereinafter as Burglar,] agree to travel to the Lonely Mountain, path to be determined by Thorin Oakenshield, who has a right to alter the course of the journey at his so choosing, without prior notification and/or liability for accident or injury incurred.
The aforementioned journey and subsequent extraction from the Lonely Mountain of any and all goods, valuables and chattels [which activities are described collectively herein as the Adventure] shall proceed in a timely manner and with all due care and consideration as seen fit by said Thorin Oakenshield and companions, numbering thirteen more or less, to wit, the Company.
All contracts require some consideration from all parties to the contract. Consideration, in the contract sense, means a bargained-for performance or promise. Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 71(1). Basically, this is something of value given or promised as part of the agreement. This can be anything that the parties agree is valuable; the classic example is a single peppercorn. Whitney v. Stearns, 16 Me. 394, 397 (1839).
Here, Bilbo is promising to go with the Company to the Lonely Mountain and performing various services there, including extracting the treasure, plus a few more services we’ll get to later. In turn, as we shall see, the Company promises to pay Bilbo one fourteenth of the profits, plus a few other obligations. Thus we have “a promise for a promise,” otherwise known as a bilateral contract.
There are some other details to notice in these clauses. One is the use of defined terms (e.g. “referred to hereinafter as Burglar”). The parties to a contract may define terms however they wish, even in ways that contradict the definition used in statutes or regulations.
This is important in this case because of the use of the defined term “Burglar.” Contracts to do something illegal are ordinarily unenforceable (e.g. collecting on an illegal gambling debt). But here what matters is not that the parties used the word ‘burglar’ but rather what sort of meaning they assigned to that defined term. As we shall see, the contract doesn’t require Bilbo to do anything illegal (or at least not obviously illegal), and so the contract will probably not fail for use of a questionable term.
Monday, February 4, 2013
The faculty at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law has voted unanimously for Rebecca Scharf and Sara Gordon to move from 405(c) (clinical professor) positions to regular tenure-track positions. Congratulations to you both!
The Hamline University School of Law reports that veteran legal writing professors, Mary Dunnewold has been appointed to the position of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. This administrative office that has historically been held by a casebook faculty member at Hamline. Congratulations Mary!