Thursday, January 4, 2018

AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego

Thorton AALS PanelThe Association of American Law Schools is holding its annual meeting this week in San Diego. Many of the substantive panels are heavy with legal writing content. One such panel is a program sponsored by the AALS Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers, Co-Sponsored by the AALS Section on International Legal Exchange and the AALS Section on North American Cooperation. The panel is called "Focus on the Facts: Teaching Civil-Law Trained Lawyers to Work with Facts in U.S. Legal Writing."  Here's the panel description:

Those who teach first-year J.D. students know that it can be challenging to teach them to support their legal arguments by working with the facts in the detailed way that U.S. legal audiences expect. Indeed, it can be even more challenging to teach this skill to our international law students. These students usually come from civil-law legal systems in which cases do not have binding precedential value, so judicial opinions do not need to be made factually consistent with precedent to the extent required in the U.S. Accordingly, many international lawyers are not accustomed to working with the facts at a detailed, concrete level, and find our need to analogize our facts to, and distinguish them from, those of precedent surprising and even perplexing. The panel will discuss what they do to help their international law students develop the skill of writing fact-based U.S. legal analysis, including pre-writing to identify how U.S. lawyers use facts in legal writing; planning to identify, select, and organize arguments and counterarguments, and to choose the most relevant facts; writing fact-based analysis effectively; and editing to strengthen the analysis, add or revise factual descriptions, and look for errors.

The moderators are Professor William H. Byrnes (Texas A&M University School of Law) and John B. Thornton (Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law). The speakers are Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher (Barwrite and Barwrite Press), and Professors Robin M. Nilon (Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law), Michael D. Murray (University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth), and Hether C. Macfarlane, (University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law).

At the same time in a different room, there's a panel sponsored by the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, Co-Sponsored by the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, on the topic of "Tips from the Trenches: Teaching Students to Help Social Justice Practitioners From First Year to Graduation." Here's the description of that panel:

This panel brings together legal writing faculty and clinicians who collaborate to make social justice issues central to legal education. One panelist uses "canned" legal writing problems that raise social justice issues and introduce students to the work of lawyers who have accomplished social change. A legal writing professor and a clinical professor from a second school collaborate on simulation exercises that bring social justice issues into the legal writing classroom, assisting students in professional identity development and exposing them to family and juvenile law issues. The legal writing director and clinical director from a third school describe how their collaborations that bring issues from the law clinic or legal nonprofits into the 1L legal writing classes led to collaborative efforts to improve students' ability to transfer their learning from the first-year through clinical and externship experiences and beyond. A legal writing professor from a fourth school will describe upper-level writing projects that engage 2L and 3L students in providing assistance to social justice partners. This panel describes the widely differing ways we bring social justice into our classrooms, offers key "lessons learned" over years of doing this work, and engages the audience about how they might apply these lessons.

The moderator is Professor Shailini J. George (Suffolk University Law School). The speakers are Professors Mary Bowman and Lisa E. Brodoff, (Seattle University School of Law), Kimberly P. Jordan and Katrina June Lee, (The Ohio State University, Michael E. Moritz College of Law), Sarah E. Ricks (Rutgers Law School), and Amy Vorenberg (University of New Hampshire School of Law).

Other legal writing events being held this week include the luncheon award ceremony for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research at which Dean Darby Dickerson (the original author of the ALWD Citation Manual) will receive a lifetime achievement award. There will also be a reception on Friday evening co-sponsored by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute Reception. 

If you're attending the AALS conference this week, we invite guest blog posts on panels and events that you attend.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

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