Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Call for Nominations: The Penny Pether Law and Language Scholarship Award

A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether (1957-2013) was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation.

Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law & Language Scholarship has been given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year (September 1 to September 1) that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy.

The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:

  • 1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”
  • 2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law."
  • 3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”
  • 4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”

More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010).

Nominations should be sent by November 30, 2016 to J. Amy Dillard at You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written. Please provide a citation for each work you nominate.

The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Bruce Hay, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, and Terry Pollman. Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award.

Hat tip to Jeremy Mullem.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hiring at the University of Colorado Law School

The University of Colorado Law School seeks two legal writing faculty members to start in the fall of 2017. Review of applications will begin on November 4, 2016, so don't delay. The school seeks applications from candidates with excellent academic records and demonstrated teaching ability for appointment to a three-year contract.

The position may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings, except for personnel matters. The anticipated salary range is $60,000 to $89,999. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught will be 35 or fewer.

Both positions call for teaching six or seven credits of legal writing courses each year (this is generally accomplished by teaching Legal Writing I in the fall, Legal Writing II in the spring, and a two- or three-credit upper-level writing elective in either semester.) Legal writing courses are taught in small sections (of about 30 students for Legal Writing I and II, and of about 15 for upper-level electives), so in a semester where a professor is teaching both the first-year course and an elective the total number of students enrolled would be approximately 45; in a semester with only the first-year course the total number would be close to 30.

Click here for the link to apply for this job.

Hat tip to Amy Griffin, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Director of Academic and Legal Writing Support at the University of Colorado Law School.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)


Congratulations to Jo Ann Ragazzo, Rebecca Rich, Frances Mock, Diane Reeves, Sarah Walker Baker, and Sarah Powell have all been promoted to Clinical Professors of Law at Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina.

Hat tip to Jeremy Mullem, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing at Duke University Law School.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Former Scribes President Darby Dickerson Selected as Next Dean of The John Marshall Law School

Darby DickersonDarby Dickerson of the Texas Tech University School of Law will be the new dean of The John Marshall Law School, effective January 1, 2017.

Darby has been Dean at the Texas Tech University School of Law since 2011, where she also holds the W. Frank Newton Endowed Professorship. From 2003 until 2011, she served as the Interim Dean and Dean of Stetson University College of Law in Florida.

Darby received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of William & Mary and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University, where she was also Senior Managing Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. Following law school, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and then practiced commercial litigation with Locke Lord in Dallas. In 1995 she was named both Outstanding Young Lawyer in Dallas and Outstanding Director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

She has taught legal research and writing, moot court, and other subjects. When she was a professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, she received Stetson University’s Teaching Excellence Award and Stetson University’s Homer and Dolly Hand Award for Excellence in Faculty Scholarship.

Darby is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. She is a member of the Legal Writing Institute and was a Managing Editor of the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. She is the Immediate Past President of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers and was a Managing Editor of the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing. She was the 2005 recipient of the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. She is the original author of the ALWD Citation Manual. In January 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the Darby Dickerson Award for Revolutionary Change in Legal Writing, named by the Association of Legal Writing Directors to honor her contributions to legal writing.

She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and is also a Past Chair of several AALS sections, including the Section for the Law School Dean and the Section on Institutional Advancement. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and an inaugural member of The Texas Tech University School of Law American Inn of Court. She also serves on the Council of the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas.

“We greatly look forward to working with Dean Dickerson to produce practice-ready lawyers, as she takes the reins of our historic, mission-driven institution,” said Leonard F. Amari, President of the Board of Trustees of The John Marshall Law School.

“We are delighted that Dean Darby Dickerson will be leading The John Marshall Law School at this pivotal point in our history. Her dynamic style and deep knowledge of skills-based learning stood out to all who met her during the process,” said Paula Hudson Holderman, a member of the law school’s Board of Trustees and chair of the decanal search committee.

“I am incredibly honored to lead John Marshall, which has such an inclusive and engaged community. I am committed to continuing the school’s legacy of innovation, opportunity and excellence. I am also looking forward to working with the school’s students, faculty, staff and alumni and to working with members of the Chicago and Illinois bars to help advance legal education and the legal profession,” said Dickerson.

Dickerson succeeds John E. Corkery, who is retiring after serving as Dean of John Marshall for nearly a decade. “On behalf of The John Marshall Law School, I want to express our deep gratitude to Dean Corkery for his years of service to the law school,” said Amari. “He steered the law school through a difficult time in higher education and positioned it to meet the challenges of educating the next generation of lawyers.”


October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teresa Godwin Phelps Award(s) for Scholarship in Legal Communication

The Legal Writing Institute Board of Directors has announced the establishment of the Teresa Godwin Phelps Award(s) for Scholarship in Legal Communication.
The creation of the Phelps Awards supports LWI's discipline-building priority.  Starting in 2017, the annual awards will recognize outstanding scholarship that strengthens the discipline of legal communication.  One or more awards will be given each year for scholarly articles or essays; if warranted, additional awards may be presented for outstanding books within the discipline.
Naming these awards in honor of Terry Phelps recognizes her consistent support for and encouragement of others’ scholarly work and her own exemplary scholarship in narrative, international human rights, and legal rhetoric, including the foundational article that nourished and influenced all subsequent study of the field, The New Legal Rhetoric, 40 Sw. L.J. 1089 (1986).  This article was the essential introduction to the idea that legal writing was itself a field worthy of serious study.
For the purposes of the award, discipline-building scholarship will include:
  1. scholarship on the theories, principles, practices, and conventions of legal communication, and
  2. scholarship fostering the development of legal writing and research as an independent field of study.

Eligibility for the Phelps Awards will be defined by the content of the scholarship—the discipline of legal communication—and not by the author’s faculty status, level of experience, or area(s) of teaching.  The sole criterion for the award will be the quality of the individual work of scholarship.

An inaugural selection committee made up of established legal writing scholars will establish the award selection process and recommend recipients to the LWI Board.  In subsequent years, past recipients of the Phelps Awards will join the selection committee.
LWI thanks these members of the inaugural selection committee for agreeing to serve:
Lisa Eichhorn, Director of Legal Writing & Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law
Elizabeth Fajans, Associate Professor of Legal Writing, Brooklyn Law School
Ian Gallacher, Professor of Law & Director of Legal Communication & Research, Syracuse University School of Law
Teri McMurtry-Chubb, Associate Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law
Kate O'Neill, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law
The Phelps Awards are an initiative of LWI’s Discipline-Building Working Group, which is chaired by Ellie Margolis and includes Linda Berger, Sherri Keene, Anne Ralph, Ruth Anne Robbins, and Nantiya Ruan.  The DBWG was formed during the summer of 2015 to work toward LWI's priority goal of building the discipline and focuses on activities in four primary areas:
  1. building understanding of what discipline building might include;
  2. persuading target audiences about its value;
  3. supporting the authors of discipline-building scholarship; and
  4. strengthening its impact and influence.
Hat tip to LWI President Kim D. Chanbonpin, Director of Lawyering Skills at The John Marshall Law School-Chicago.


October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Congratulations to Kathy Stanchi

Kathryn StanchiProfessor Kathyrn Stanchi of the Temple University Beasley School of Law has become the first legal writing professor in the history of Temple to receive an endowed chair. At Temple, endowed chairs are awarded based on recognition of scholarly achievement. Kathy was awarded the Jack E. Feinberg Chair in Litigation, which she will hold for five years.

Professor Stanchi has dedicated her academic career to teaching students how to be good lawyers. She teaches exclusively writing courses, including legal research and writing, law and feminism, appellate advocacy and a course of her own creation, advanced persuasive strategies. Her scholarship focuses on writing, litigation, persuasion and gender. She is a principal organizer of the United States Feminist Judgments Project, which has received national attention in the media.

Professor Stanchi is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and served many years on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Legal Writing, a peer edited law journal. She was also the associate editor of Pennsylvania’s Rules of Evidence. In 2014, she was a Fulbright Specialist at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

Before joining academia, Professor Stanchi was an associate in the litigation department of Debevoise & Plimpton, where she worked on a variety of commercial matters including patent, securities, and breach of contract cases, as well as a number of pro bono cases involving civil rights. She also clerked for Justice Stewart G. Pollock of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Congratulations to Kathy on this important recognition.
Hat tip to Kristen E. Murray

October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

legal writing position at Denver

Denver is looking for one full-time professor to join its top-ten LRW program as soon as this January.  The position is 405(c), with faculty governance on all matters other than tenure-line appointments.  Contract length varies depending on rank.  Full professors receive seven-year, presumptively renewable contracts.  The program is directorless, with a rotating administrative chair. 

For details, or to apply, click here:  Lawyering Process Professor job

  1. The position advertised:

__ a. is a tenure-track appointment. (status provides job security equivalent to or exceeding the standards of ABA Standard 405(c))

_x_ b. may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.

___c. may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.

__ d. has an upper-limit on the number of years a teacher may be appointed.

__ e. is part of a fellowship program for one or two years.

__ f. is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment.

  1. The professor hired:

_x_  a. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

__ b. will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

  1. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below.  (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; a base salary does not include conference travel or other professional development funds.)

___ over $120,000

___ $110,000 - $119,999

___ $100,000 - $109,999

_x__ $90,000 - $99,999

_x__ $80,000 - $89,999

_x__ $70,000 - $79,999

_x__ $60,000 - $69,999

___ $50,000 - $59,999

___ less than $50,000

___ this is a part-time appointment paying less than $30,000

___this is an adjunct appointment paying less than $10,000

  1. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be:

__ a. 30 or fewer

__ b. 31 - 35

_x__  c. 36 - 40

__ d. 41 - 45

__ e. 46 - 50

__ f. 51 - 55

__ g. 56 - 60

__ h. more than 60

October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Presenters at the 12th Global Legal Skills Conference, in March 2017, in Monterrey Mexico

GLS-11 Closing PhotoThe XII Global Legal Skills Conference will be held March 15-17, 2017 in Monterrey, Mexico, hosted by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey, in cooperation with The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico ITAM Law Department.

The first round of presentation proposals will be accepted through November 17, 2016. If you submit by that date, you will be notified by December 7, 2016 if your proposal has been accepted. Proposals submitted after November 17 may also be accepted on a space-available basis. You will find the Conference Proposal Form at

Please submit a proposal on any aspect of Global Legal Skills, including experiential learning, distance education, comparative law, international law, course design and materials, teaching methods, and opportunities for teaching abroad and in the United States. However, because the conference focuses on legal skills for a global audience, please tailor your proposal accordingly.

Proposals should be for a 25-minute presentation (for one or two people) or an interactive group panel presentation (no more than four panelists) of 75-minutes (including audience participation).

You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking you will only be allowed to speak on one panel. If more than one proposal is selected, the program committee will contact you on how to proceed.

Most panel presentations will be in English. Spanish language presentations are welcome, encouraged and actively solicited. Where one of the panels is in Spanish, there will be at least one concurrent panel in English. A wide variety of proposals are invited.

As a special feature of the March 2017 conference, we're also planning a workshop on contract negotiation and drafting for law students. In this workshop, English and Spanish speaking law students will act in teams to negotiate and draft a simple business contract – for example, a franchise agreement for a hotel or restaurant. Negotiations will take place in English and Spanish, and the resulting document will be drafted in both languages.

The Global Legal Skills Conference focuses on international legal education and essential skills, including legal writing, legal research, legal reasoning, legal English, translations and advocacy skills. Additional topics include creating appropriate materials and assignments, cross-cultural and intercultural issues, classroom teaching, clinical legal education, academic support, international legal exchanges and related fields.

The conference audience will include legal writing professionals, international and comparative law professors, clinical professors and others involved in skills education, law school administrators, law librarians, and ESL/EFL professors. Also attending will be faculty members teaching general law subjects with a transnational or international component. Attendees have also included judges, lawyers, court translators, and others involved in international and transnational law. Attendees come from around the world, and as many as 35 countries have been represented in past conferences.

This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the Conference registration fee:

  • October 10, 2016-January 27, 2017: US$250
  • January 28-March 10, 2017: US$295
  • March 15, 2017 (subject to availability): US$350

The fee includes lunch on March 15, 16 and 17, as well as Mexican Fiesta on the evening of March 16. Additional tickets for the Mexican Fiesta are US50

The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School and has traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy, and Washington, D.C.

We invite participation from academics and practitioners from all disciplines and all continents to explore ways that law schools around the world can adjust their curricula to prepare students to engage in the global legal marketplace.


October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

conference on formative assessment

While legal writing profs are quite familiar with formative assessment, they might consider attending this workshop of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning:


 Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law

Spring Conference 2017

 “Compliance with ABA Standard 314: Formative Assessment in Large Classes” is a one-day conference for law teachers and administrators who want to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate formative assessment plans.  The conference will be interactive workshops during which attendees will learn about formative assessment techniques from games to crafting multiple choice questions to team-based learning.  Participants will also learn ways to coordinate assessment across the curriculum.   The conference workshop sessions will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Emory University School of Law.

Conference Content:  Sessions will address the following topics:

Why Assess: Empirical Data on How it Helps Students Learn

Games as Formative Assessments in the Classroom

Formative Assessment with Team-Based Learning

Creating Multiple Choice Questions and Ways to Using Them as Formative Assessment

Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga) and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga)

 Who Should Attend:  This conference is for all law faculty and administrators.  By the end of the conference, attendees will have concrete and practical knowledge about formative assessment and complying with Standard 314 to take back to their colleagues and institutions. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law. 

Registration Information:  The registration fee is $225 for the first registrant from each law school.  We are offering a discounted fee of $200 for each subsequent registrant from the same school, so that schools may be able to send multiple attendees. 

Accommodations:  A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees has been reserved at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for $159/night; at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown, Decatur for $99/night; and at the Decatur Holiday Inn for $159/night.  Reservation phone numbers are : Emory Conference Center Hotel: 1-800-933-6679; Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Decatur: or 1-404-371-0204; Holiday Inn Hotel Decatur 1-888-HOLIDAY.


October 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2016

New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers (NECLWT) Conference on October 21st in Boston

Here's a reminder that the annual New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers (NECLWT) will be held next week at Boston University School of Law on Friday, October 21, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Click here for more information about the conference, hotels, and information on how to register for the conference.


October 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Visitor Opening at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Position Opening for Visitor in Legal Analysis and Writing for 2017-18 Academic Year

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a Visiting Professor of Legal Analysis and Writing for the 2017-2018 Academic year. This is position is for a one-year term. The School of Law may conduct a search for a full-time permanent Legal Analysis and Writing faculty position to begin in the 2018-2019 academic year. The Visiting Professor will be welcome to apply for that position, but must compete with other candidates in a national search.

The Visiting Professor will teach two small sections of Legal Analysis and Writing in both the fall and spring. Each small section is 2 credits (for a total of 4 credits each semester). The Visiting Professor should be willing to collaborate closely with our other Legal Writing faculty and be eager to engage with students in and out of the classroom.

The successful applicant for the Visiting Professor position must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent writing skills, an outstanding academic record, and experience teaching Legal Analysis and Writing. Law practice experience or a judicial clerkship is also preferred.

The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, veteran status, disability, national origin, creed, marital status, age, gender identity or sexual orientation in its hiring. In furtherance of our strong institutional commitment to a diverse faculty, we particularly welcome applications from minorities, women, and others who would add diversity to our faculty. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost.

To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume, writing sample, and a list of three references to: Anthony C. Infanti, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 3900 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Email: Email submissions are preferred. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2016.

October 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

appealing with fewer words

Lawyers will have to cut 1,000 words from their arguments in federal appeals briefs

According to How Appealing and David Sellers, a public affairs officer for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts,
the word count for appellate briefs is being decreased from 14,000 to 13,000.
A proposed 1500-word decrease was opposed by many appellate attorneys, who perhaps didn't stop to calculate that a
appeals judge might read filings for 1200 cases per year.  Multiply it out:  the opening brief, opposition brief,
and reply brief could contain up to 35,000 words, meaning that the average judge would read about 42 million words
a year. (See the DealBook blog at the NYTimes website.)



October 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Teaching for Our Times: 31st Annual Midwest Regional Clinical Legal Education Conference

The University of Tulsa College of Law is this week welcoming clinical legal faculty and staff to the 31st Annual Midwest Regional Clinical Legal Education Conference to share ideas to engage and inspire today’s law students and tomorrow’s lawyers. The conference is being held from October 6-8, 2016. We congratulate the organizers and wish each of the participants a successful conference.

October 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hiring at St. Mary's University School of Law

St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, invites applications to become its next Director of Legal Research and Writing.  Candidates should have outstanding academic credentials, experience teaching Legal Research and Writing, and strong leadership, administrative, and interpersonal skills.  Preference will be given to candidates with a demonstrated interest in pedagogy but with a developed scholarly commitment in a substantive field of law. 

The Director will be responsible for developing the first-year legal writing curriculum and supervising a group of instructors that is in transition from an adjunct model to a full-time instruction model of professional staffing.  The Director will coordinate curriculum and instruction with both the full-time scholarly faculty and with St. Mary's Law Success Program instructors, who teach legal skills and methods.  The Director will also teach in the legal writing program.

Depending on the applicant’s experience and interests, the position will be either tenure-track or a tenure-equivalent, long-term contract with participation in faculty governance.   

The school is committed to diversity and strongly encourage women and persons of color to apply.  Please submit materials to Prof. Mark Cochran at

 The position advertised is a tenure-track appointment or may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings (on matters except those pertaining to hiring, tenure, and promotion). The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary of $90,000 to $109,999. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research and writing professor will be 30 or fewer.


October 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers (NECLWT) Conference on October 21st in Boston

The annual New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers (NECLWT) will be held at Boston University School of Law on Friday, October 21, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Click here for more information about the conference, hotels, and information on how to register for the conference.



October 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hiring at Georgetown

Georgetown Law, and the Law Center's Language Center, are hiring another fellow. More information about that position and other legal writing jobs is available by clicking here.
Hat tip to Almas Khan.

September 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mel Weresh Named as the 2017 Recipient of the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing

Mel WereshThe Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce that Professor Mel Weresh of Drake University Law School is the winner of the 2017 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing.

This Blackwell Award is one of the most prestigious awards in legal writing. The Boards of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) jointly created this distinguished award to honor the life of Thomas Blackwell, a professor at Appalachian Law School who was one of three people murdered at the law school in 2002 by a deranged student. To honor Tom's memory and his commitment to legal writing education, the award is presented annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of legal writing by demonstrating:

  •  an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence;
  • a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs; and
  • an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.

IMG_8513Mel Weresh is a professor of law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at Drake University Law School.  She has always been known by readers of this blog as a "Legal Writing Superstar."  She is a past president of the Legal Writing Institute and a Past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Teaching Methods.

She is also the 2009 winner of the Warren E. Burger Prize of the  American Inns of Court, a writing competition designed to promote scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence.

Iowa Legal Research 2d ed Legal Writing WereshHer publications include Iowa Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press, 2d ed. 2016) and Legal Writing: Ethical and Professional Considerations (also published now by Carolina Academic Press).

The Blackwell Award Reception will be held during the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law School, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, from 8 to 10 p.m.

The previous winners of the Blackwell award are:

  • 2016 - Coleen Miller Barger, University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
  • 2015 - Helene Shapo, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • 2014 - Jan Levine, Duquesne University School of Law
  • 2013 - Judy Stinson, Arizona State University
  • 2012 - Suzanne Rowe, University of Oregon 
  • 2011 - Carol McCrehan Parker, University of Tennessee
  • 2010 - Steve Johansen, Lewis & Clark
  • 2009 - Linda Edwards, Mercer Law
  • 2008 - Diana Pratt, Wayne State
  • 2007 - Louis Sirico, Villanova Law School
  • 2006 - Mary Beth Beazley, Ohio State
  • 2005 - Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent
  • 2004 - Pam Lysaght, Detroit Mercy
  • 2003 - Richard K. Neumann, Hofstra University

LightbulbThomas Blackwell was particularly fond of lightbulb jokes. For example:

"How many legal writing professors does it take to change a lightbulb?" Answer: "We wish that we had the resources to change the lightbulb."

Hat tips to ALWD President Wanda M. Temm (University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law) and LWI Presdient Kim D. Chanbonpin (The John Marshall Law School). And congratulations to Professor Weresh!



September 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SALT Teaching Conference at The John Marshall Law School Features Many Legal Writing Professors and Panels

The Society of American Law Schools 2016 Teaching Conference officially starts tomorrow at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, bringing hundreds of educators from around the country. The program includes a tremendous number of legal writing programs and professors, including panels on "Legal Writing, Clinical Teaching, and Social Justice" and "Social Justice and the Legal Writing Classroom."

IF YOU'RE ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE please write up a short description of the legal writing panels you attend. We'll be happy to post it here to share with the broader legal writing community.

IF YOU'RE NOT ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE, well, why aren't you? :)


September 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Writing Professors at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago

JMLS LS Faculty 2016Here's a photo of the full-time Lawyering Skills Faculty at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, including Legal Writing Institute President Kim Chanbonpin, Scribes Vice President Mark E. Wojcik, and other members of the legal writing faculty.

Front row (from left to right): Professors Hugh Mundy, Lurene Contento (Director of the Writing Resource Center and a past winner of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Writing Award), Kim Chanbonpin (Directer of the Lawyering Skills Program), Joanne Simboli Hodge (Associate Director of the Moot Court Honors Program) and David Sorkin (Director of the Hybrid JD and Distance Education Program and Faculty Advisor to the Journal of Information Technology and Privacy Law).

Back row (from left to right): Professors Mary Nagel (who also serves as Director of Externships at The John Marshall Law School), Maureen B. Collins (Editor-in-Chief of The Scrivener and Faculty Advisor to the Review of Intellectual Property Law), Mark E. Wojcik (Vice President of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers, a Board Member of the Legal Writing Institute, an editor of the Legal Writing Prof Blog, a Past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, founder of the Global Legal Skills Conference Series, and member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress), Cynthia Bond, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Anthony Niedwiecki (former Director of the Lawyering Skills Program and Past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors), Steven D. Schwinn (an editor of the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Director of the Community Legal Clinics, and Co-Director of the International Human Rights Clinic), Maureen Kordesh (another Past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and also a former Director of the Lawyering Skills Program), and Ardath Hamann (Director of the Moot Court Honors Program).


September 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shall Means "Must." Unless it Means "Should."

Legal writers would do well to abandon the use of the ambiguous word "shall" that we find so often in statutes, regulations, contracts, and other documents. It should be removed and replaced by other words such as "must" or "will" or "should" or other words that would more readily communicate whether a provision was mandatory or merely a suggestion or a directive. Professor Joe Kimble of the Thomas Cooley Law School did this with the Federal Rules, taking out every instance of the word shall (except for one that got put back in because the drafters could not decide whether it was mandatory or merely a suggestion).

One recent example comes now from the Illinois Supreme Court decision People v. Geiler, 2016 IL 119095, 405 Ill. Dec. 123 (Ill. July 8, 2016) where the court rule directing transmission of traffic citations to the circuit court clerk within 48 hours of being issued was found to be directory, rather than mandatory.

If we ever counted how many hours and how much money has been spent litigating over the meaning of the word "shall," we would quickly abandon further use of that word in our legal writing. We shall see.


September 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)