September 24, 2012
Happy National Punctuation Day!
Today is National Punctuation Day--read more about it here. I wish the site's discussion of the colon explained that an introductory passage ending with one must be grammatically complete. (See Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates, Just Writing 234 (Wolters Kluwer 2009)). But I quibble. It's still an interesting site.
hat tip: Chris Wren
February 09, 2012
Celebrating a New Legal Dictionary
"The world of law is a world of words." So says Stephen Michael Shepard, a professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, who served as the general editor of a new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary, recently published by Wolters Kluwer.
The new work brings back to life the American law dictionary first published in 1839 by John Bouvier. I'm not a Bouvier scholar by any means, but I can at least let you read part of the wikipedia entry about John Bouvier so that you can appreciate the importance of this law dictionary:
John Bouvier (1787–1851) was born in Codogno, France, but came to the United States at an early age. He became a U.S. citizen in 1812, was admitted to the bar in 1818, and began practicing law in Philadelphia. During his years of practice and study, he noticed the lack of a solid American law dictionary. He decided to fill this need, and worked on a new law dictionary incessantly for 10 years. One of his main goals was to distinguish American law from its Englishantecedent. He finally presented it for publication in 1839. Like many of his generation, Bouvier used his preface to justify his work, stating the irrelevance of English legal dictionaries to the American legal system of the United States. He wanted to create a totally new law dictionary that would address the American legal system, so he derived his definitions almost wholly from customs, court decisions, and statutes of the United States.
So that's the book that Professor Sheppard has now updated. The Bouvier Law Dictionary was the one used by Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall, Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, and all of the other great early American jurists and lawyers.
This new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary was well received at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, where Professor Sheppard kindly signed a copy for me. Actually the new dictionary is being published in three versions, a desk edition, the compact paperback version, and an electronic version.
John Bouvier drew on material for his first dictionary from all of the sources that influenced American law. This new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary "is an entirely new book, with new definitions for every term, based on quotations and entries from tens of thousands of new cases, books, and statutes, as well as on Bouvier's final text and other classic materials." (Preface, at page ix). I had to laugh at Professor Sheppard's acknowledgment page, where he thanked his student research assistants by saying that his "sincere thanks go to each of you, and I remind all of you who haven't returned some of my books that is never too late to do so."
The dictionary entries are easy to read and often provide a little more information about particular legal terms than you might find in other dictionaries. We will still use our other law dictionaries, but we now have a second source that we'll also consult.
The ISBN Number for the Compact Paperback Edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary is 978-0-7355-6852-5.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
August 30, 2011
Point Made -- How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates
Ross Guberman picked a list of the 50 most influential lawyers in the United States. He took samples of their writing and placed them into 50 different categories. And he published it all in a new book that analyzes their writing and gives tips about what makes that writing work. He called the book Point Made, and it's now available from Oxford University Press, which sent me a review copy.
Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro, a company that conducts legal writing workshops for large law firms, corporations, government agencies, and bar associations. I haven't been to any of his seminars so I cannot tell you how they are, but if you've attended one of them please use our comment box to tell us how it was. But it's obvious that he takes his work seriously.
So who made his list of the 50 most influential lawyers? I won't put the whole list here (because then you would have no reason to look up his book), but they include these lawyers, judges, and professors:
- David Boies
- Alan Dershowitz
- Frank Easterbrook
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Justice Elena Kagan
- Barack Obama
- Ted Olson
- Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
- Paul Smith
- Kathleen Sullivan
- Larry Tribe
Mr. Guberman takes excerpts from their writings (and of the others in the book), introduces them in 50 different categories, and then shows us examples of their writing and why he likes what they did. It's fascinating to see the examples he has chosen and to see how patent lawyers, ACLU lawyers, Kenneth Starr and others use the same writing techniques to produce powerful advocacy. It's a nicely done book that took quite a bit of work to assemble.
The paperback edition of this book costs only about twenty dollars. You can click here to order a copy from Oxford University Press if your law library doesn't already have a copy waiting for you. The ISBN number for the paperback edition is 978-0-19-539487-0.
April 05, 2011
legal writing profs garner awards
Now that the end of the spring semester is in sight at U.S. law schools, we're heading into award season. And legal writing professors are receiving their fair share:
At the University of Tennessee School of Law's honors banquet, Michael J. Higdon was presented with the W. Allen Separk Award. This award recognizes "outstanding legal scholarship by a member of the law faculty published the previous year". The award went to Michael for his article on school bullying, which will be published by the Indiana Law Journal and is already available here.
The students at the Southern University Law Center, in Baton Rouge, voted to give Linda Fowler their award for Evening Division Professor of the Year. Linda previously taught legal writing at LSU (Louisiana State U.), but was lured away to Baton Rouge seven years ago to help Southern establish its evening division.
At the Rocky Mountain Region Legal Writing Conference last month, Suzanne Rabe, who teaches at the University of Arizona, received the Rocky Mountain Award. She was honored for her many contributions to the field of legal writing, including establishing the Rocky Mountain conference as a way to get legal writing professionals together without frills or pretentions.
Congratulations to our accomplished colleagues!
hat tips: Ruth Anne Robbins, Gail Stephenson, Terry Pollman
March 30, 2011
New Book on "Classical English Rhetoric"
We note the publication of a new book that may be of interest to readers of this blog. It is Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric, authored by Ward Farnsworth, Professor at Boston University School of Law. Now, I haven't yet seen the book (only a promotional piece about it), but I wanted to share this discovery -- the website promoting the book includes GAMES related to the book. As if we needed another distraction from grading! Have fun! Get more infomation by clicking here.
November 19, 2010
Typography for Lawyers
Matthew Butterick has written a new book, Typography for Lawyers. If you are a lawyer who writes anything that ends up as typed text, you need to read this book. If you are a legal writing professor who teaches law students or paralegal students, you need to read this book. You will learn a lot--unless, like Butterick, you happen to have previously studied typography and worked as a professional typographer before going to law school.
The book is also beautiful, an aesthetically pleasing experience as you read. How many law practice related books can you say that about? Butterick practices what he preaches, so beyond the numerous helpful examples, studying the presentation of the book itself provides further instruction.
And even if you don't care a whit about typography (although the book explains why you should), the discussion on pages 22 to 24 about readers' attention is worth sharing with every legal writing student and junior attorney.
UPDATE: For writing this book, Matthew Butterick received the Golden Pen Award in 2012 from the Legal Writing Institute.
June 06, 2010
Congratulations to Nancy Schultz and Lou Sirico
Nancy L. Schultz (Chapman University School of Law) and Louis J. Sirico Jr. (Villanova Law School) have published the fifth edition of their book, Legal Writing and Other Lawyering Skills. Perhaps Aspen sent you a review copy? If not, contact them and ask for one. Or just go out and buy a copy -- I'm sure that Nancy and Lou (and Aspen) wouldn't mind that one bit.
Congratulations to you both on the new edition of your classic work.
June 19, 2009
Introduction to Legal English -- A New Edition of the Book for Lawyers and Law Students Who Speak English as a Second Language
The International Law Institute of Washington D.C. has just published the third edition of Introduction to Legal English. This book was the first in the United States to focus specifically on the needs of lawyers and law students who speak English as a second language. The book was originally designed to be used during a two week intensive English language course that prepared students for law school lectures, legal writing assignments, and participation in professional conferences such as bar association meetings. It has also been used in other types of course settings and for individual study. Click here for more information. Copies of the book can be ordered directly from the International Law Institute. It also makes for a good book to have on reserve in your law school library as a resource for your international students.