Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meet the LWI Professional Status Committee: David Austin

David Austin LWI LogoThe Legal Writing Institute, the world's largest membership organization for persons concerned with legal writing and its teaching, has established a new Professional Status Committee to examine the national employment situation for professors who teach legal writing.  Read more about the committee by clicking here.  The new committee will serve as a resource for LWI members who are facing specific employment or professional development issues. The committee will also gather information about professional status issues and challenges that will help the LWI Board respond appropriately to various challenges and situations.
The seven members of the new Professional Status Committee are:
  • David W. Austin (California Western School of Law, San Diego)
  • Mary Bowman, Co-Chair (Seattle University School of Law)
  • Olympia Duhart (Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida) 
  • Lucy Jewel (University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville)
  • Kristen Tiscione, Co-Chair (Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.)
  • Melissa Weresh (Drake University Law School, Des Moines, Iowa)
  • Cliff Zimmerman (Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois)

Each day this week we are profiling one of the seven members of the committee.

David W. Austin  is a Legal Writing Professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego, California.  He received his B.A. from the European Division of the University of Maryland and his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago where he also later taught legal writing as an adjunct professor.  In addition to large firm private practice in Chicago, he served as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawai'i.
Before his career in the law, Mr. Austin worked for the Italian Ministry of Health and with non-governmental organization in Italy and other European countries. He was elected to the board of the European Council of AIDS Service Organizations and served as a representative for Southern Europe from 1991 to 1994. In 1996, he was a visiting Research Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.
David is married to a legal writing professor at another law school.
Here is the statement that David shared with the Legal Writing Listserve to introduce himself as a member of the new Professional Status Committee: 
I love teaching Legal Skills for many of the same reasons that made me love it as a student.  I love the smaller class size because it gives us an opportunity to know our students in ways that would be difficult in a large lecture class.  I love the satisfaction that comes from teaching students practical skills that they will remember and apply for the remainder of their professional careers, independent of the actual area of legal practice they enter.  I love that we are in the front lines of the debate regarding the direction legal education should be taking. 
What I don’t love is the fact that we remain exceedingly vulnerable in light of decreases in student applications, shrinking revenue, and the tenuous protections afforded under a system that, for most of us, is separate and unequal. I know that Legal Writing professors work very hard and that the current market will require us to work even harder:  more of our students are entering law school less prepared for the challenges that they will encounter there.  Many administrators and doctrinal colleagues will assume that the burden is on us, Legal Writing professors, to bring these students up to speed.  The additional burdens we will be asked to carry will not often be accompanied by offers of additional assistance or compensation.  We will be asked to do more for less. 
For those of us who lack the kind of job security that tenure provides, speaking out in favor of our students and for ourselves may often come at a cost.  At California Western School of Law, the Legal Writing professors start with a two-year contract that can be renewed for another two years.  We are then eligible for consideration for five-year, presumptively renewable contracts like the one that currently governs my employment.  We cannot vote on faculty hires, nor can we vote on the dean.  That means that, at the moment, we cannot directly influence outcomes that might lead to improved status within the institution.  These issues are currently being debated, but the outcomes remain uncertain. 
I’m glad that LWI is taking the initiative to create a new Committee that will focus on Professional Status.  With so much at stake, and with so few protections, we can all benefit from a platform that will help add volume to our many voices.

March 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Legal Writing Institute Launches a Professional Status Committee

LWI LogoThe Legal Writing Institute, the world's largest membership organization devoted to legal writing and its teaching, has launched an LWI Professional Status Committee.
The professors serving on this new committee have a broad range of experience and represent the full range of legal writing programs across the country.
In announcing the committee, LWI President Linda Berger stated that the Committee will serve as a coordinating mechanism and a clearinghouse, with its primary first goals being (1) to serve as a resource for members who are facing specific employment or professional development issues and (2) to gather information about status issues and challenges that will help the LWI Board respond appropriately to various challenges and situations.
The seven members of the new Professional Status Committee are
  • David W. Austin (California Western School of Law, San Diego)
  • Mary Bowman, Co-Chair (Seattle University School of Law)
  • Olympia Duhart (Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida) 
  • Lucy Jewel (University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville)
  • Kristen Tiscione, Co-Chair (Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.)
  • Melissa Weresh (Drake University Law School, Des Moines, Iowa)
  • Cliff Zimmerman (Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois) 

You can meet each member of the Professional Status Committee in individual profiles that we will post daily over the coming week.



March 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A potpourri of tips about legal writing

For a potpourri of tips about legal writing, see Dear Scrivener by Scott Moise in the March 2015 South Carolina Lawyer. There, Moise responds to questions the column has received. Two of them concern pet peeves of mine:

--Is the colon in this sentence correct—“Enclosed are: a special warranty deed, a signed contract, ad an affidavit”? Moise’s answer is a resounding “No” (as is mine). A colon must follow language that could stand alone as a complete sentence.

--Should numbers be both spelled and expressed as numerals, as in “thirty (30)”?  Again the answer is “No.” That formulation is wordy and smacks of outdated legalese.

For more tips, see the rest of the column.


March 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALWD and the Bluebook

Well you just can't say enough about ALWD and the Bluebook it seems, particularly now that citations made from each are indistinguishable.  Your legal readers won't know which citation manual you used to get those oh-so-perfect citations.

Not everyone is happy about that development. Professor Peter W. Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Cornell, shared this short review that laments the capitulation of ALWD to the Bluebook. 


March 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Ideas: AALS Section on Teaching Methods

Here's the call for ideas, for the Section's 2015 newsletter:

The AALS Section on Teaching Methods is building its 2015 newsletter around your creativity and innovation for introducing practical skills and knowledge into first-year law school classrooms around the country. 
Our Goal Our hope is to create a forum that inspires each of us to share our ideas, borrow those of others, and ultimately reinvigorate and improve our teaching and our students' learning.
Our Ask - Using the form available at, please submit by April 15 a very brief summary (no more than 280 characters--or two tweets!) of an idea you have executed (or are thinking about executing) for teaching practical skills or knowledge in a first-year law school course (e.g., contracts, torts, property, criminal law, procedure, writing). 
By submitting an idea, you give the Section on Teaching Methods permission to reprint your submission, along with your submitted name and affiliation, in our 2015 newsletter.
Our Followup - The Section may reach out to the authors of a handful of submissions to write a brief article that provides more detail regarding the teaching idea submitted.
We look forward to sharing your creativity and energy!

March 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Student Essay Competition on Public Interest Law

The University of Pennsylvania Law Review announced a competition for student-authored submissions for its first annual public-interest essay competition.  The author of the first-prize paper will receive $3,000, and the winning article will be published in volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Here's what you need to know about it.


Submissions must focus on a specific legal issue within the public interest. This encompasses any issues relating to social justice or advancing the general welfare and good of the public. Topic selection will be one of the criteria judged.

Essays must be submitted in PDF format and include footnote citations. Submissions must be no longer than 9,000 words, including all footnotes, and be named "PIEC.pdf". All submissions will be considered anonymously. Students must ensure that their essays do not contain any identifying information. Any essays that include identifying information, such as name, class year, or institutional affiliation, will be disqualified.

The competition is open to all current law students (Classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017) from any ABA accredited American law school. Submissions are limited to one per person and must be an original, unpublished academic essay.


The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is accepting submissions for its first annual Public Interest Essay Competition. The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 22, 2015, at 5pm EDT, via the online submission portal.

All submissions will be considered anonymously by a selection committee from Volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. The best submissions will demonstrate originality and superior literary effort that advances and serves the interests and understanding of a specific topic within the broad arena of public interest and the law. The winning essay will be announced in the fall of 2015, receive $3,000, and be published in print in Volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

These guidelines and the link to the online submission portal are accessible through the Public Interest tab on the website of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Hat tip to Eleanor Barrett, Associate Dean for Legal Practice Skills, University of Pennsylvania Law School


March 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Justice Blackmun's blood oath

BlackmunUtah State political science professor Greg Goelzhauser recently reported in the Green Bag about a"blood oath" by Justice Harry Blackmun (pictured at left), who was known as a wordsmith and a grammarian. It seems that Blackman and Reporter of Decisions Henry Putzel agreed to root out the terms parameter and viable from Supreme Court opinions. Blackmun's objection to the first was that it is a mathematical term and not a synonym for boundary, and he saw viable as a medical term meaning "capable of living."  Thus he disliked the phrase "viable alternative."

In addition to its being incorrect in many contexts, I object to parameter as just plain stuffy. But I think viable can work metaphorically, as in "She has a viable claim."

If I took a blood oath it would be against the rampant incorrect use of "as such" and "begs the question." The first phrase includes a pronoun--such--that must have an antecedent, but there isn't one when the phrase is used to mean therefore. And begs the question refers to a specific logical fallacy, a kind of circular reasoning. It does not mean "raises the question."


March 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop in July

Washburn University School of Law is proud to announce the second annual Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, to be held on July 24-25, 2015.  This workshop will provide a unique collaborative environment in which to receive feedback from other legal writing professors on your scholarly projects. Participants will work in small groups to give suggestions, ask questions, and offer input on the papers presented.

The workshop organizers, Professors Emily Grant and Joseph Mastrosimone, strongly encourage scholarship submissions that are in any stage – idea outline, work-in-progress, or nearly complete and ready to submit.  The call is open to all junior legal writing professors (defined as anyone without tenure) whether they are full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty and those who are seeking employment as a legal writing professor.

There is no registration fee for the workshop.  In addition, Washburn University School of Law will provide all meals during the workshop and hotel lodging for Friday night, July 24.  Such a deal!  The workshop will run from mid-afternoon Friday to mid-day Saturday to give participants sufficient time to travel Friday morning and Saturday evening, which should hopefully allow participants to attend the workshop without needing a second night’s hotel stay.

If you are interested in participating in the Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, please let them know by April 17, 2015, by emailing Joseph Mastrosimone at Washburn.  In your email, please describe your scholarly work and estimate what form it will take by the end of July (outline, early stage work-in-progress, nearly complete draft, second edition?).  A maximum of eight papers will be selected to guarantee a workshop atmosphere. Those selected will be notified by May 15, and workshop submissions must be completed by July 13, 2015.

More information about the 2015 workshop and last year’s successful workshop can be found by clicking here.

Hat tip to Joseph Mastrosimone


March 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Legal Research is Like Looking for a Needle in a Needle Stack

Needle StackThe best place to hide something is sometimes in plain sight.  And while looking for a needle in a haystack may be difficult, it might be harder than finding the right needle in a stack of needles.  The phrase has been used in some popular culture (television shows) but I had not heard the phrase applied to legal research until I heard it from Ryan Allein, a first-year student at California Western School of Law.  Lamenting that electronic research had made it too easy to find cases, he said that legal research was like looking for a needle in a needle stack.

What's the remedy?  For many researchers, spending a few minutes with a secondary source that explains the area of law being researched will save hours of needless (and needle-less) research.  You'll have a better sense of what it is you're looking for and better know when you have found it.  And taking a second look at that secondary source after finding your killer case isn't a bad idea either. You may see additional issues or better understand the nuances of an argument you're going to make.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

March 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Reminder About the Dangers of Plagiarism

In 2014, the U.S. Army War College revoked the master's degree previously given to U.S. Senator John E. Walsh after investigating allegations that large amounts of his 14-page thesis had been plagiarized.  After the allegations of plagiarism became public last year, Senator Walsh of Montana dropped his campaign for election to the Senate. (He had been appointed to fill out the remainder of an unfinished term.)  See Jonathan Martin, Plagiarism Costs Degree for Senator John Walsh, N.Y. Times, Oct. 10, 2014; Academic Integrity: U.S. Army War College Revokes Senator's Degree Over Plagiarism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 24, 2014, at A18. And yes, we put citations in this post because we didn't want to be accused of plagiarism!


March 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Scrivener is now available electronically

The Scrivener, the newsletter of Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, has gone electronic. That means it will be more readily available to readers of this blog.

The winter 2014 issue has lots of interesting information, including an article by Anthony Niedwiecki of The John Marshall Law School on the extensive changes to the latest (fifth) edition of the ALWD Citation Guide, and how it now produces the same citations as The Bluebook: "[The new edition of the ALWD Citation Guide] eliminates all style differences with The Bluebook, so The ALWD Guide to Legal Citation will be the only book on citation that law students and lawyers will ever have to buy."

This latest issue of The Scrivener also contains moving tributes to a long-time Scribes member, the late Beverly Burlingame, and the outgoing executive director of Scribes, Norm Plate.  In another article based on a presentation at the 2014 Annual Scribes Membership Meeting, Talmage Boston analyzes Abraham Lincoln as a communicator. And a photo shows my fellow blog editor Mark Wojcik receiving the Section Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research (well deserved, Mark!) for his service to legal writing.

This issue of The Scrivener also contains a fitting tribute to Jane Siegel of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, who diligently served for many years as the previous editor-in-chief of The Scrivener.  The article about her by Julie Spanbauer highlights the many contributions that Jane made over her years of service to Scribes and The Scrivener.

The new editorial team for The Scrivener is being led by Professor Maureen Collins of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  She welcomes contributions of articles and news items for the next issue of The Scrivener.

Click here for more information about Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers.


March 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Warren Burger's thoughts about preparing legal advocates

Some thoughts by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger about preparing legal advocates were Burgerrecently republished in the Fordham Law Review.  The piece originally appeared in 1973 and was based on a speech Burger gave at Fordham. After lamenting the quality of advocacy in U.S courts, the Burger praised the work of English advocates, who go through a selection process. Burger then criticized law schools for not providing “adequate and systematic programs” to teach advocacy. That, of course, has changed since 1973, as professors of legal writing and advocacy have become increasingly professionalized.  Still, Burger’s proposals might pique some interest today. He argued that our profession should “face up to and reject” the idea that every law graduate is qualified to argue before the Courts. Instead, we should evaluate lawyers’ competence and require certification of courtroom advocates. The article is titled The Special Skills of Advocacy: Are Specialized Training and Certification of Advocates Essential to Our System of Justice?


March 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Trouble with Categories

Those of you who have read Linda Edwards' new article, "The Trouble with Categories: What Theory Can Teach Us about the Doctrine-Skills Divide," may also want to check out these posts at PrawfsBlawg, in which Eric Carpenter discusses her proposed alternative categories.


March 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The most sarcastic Justice

As U.C. Irvine’s Professor Richard Hasen demonstrates in a recent Green Bag piece, Justice Scalia Antonin Scalia is by far the most sarcastic U.S. Supreme Court justice.  Between 1986 and 2013, commentators have referred to his opinions as “sarcastic” or “caustic” seventy-five times. The nearest contender was Justice Stevens, who was so labeled a mere nine times. Even when years on the court are corrected for, Scalia stand out as the most sarcastic. Hasen notes that most of the sarcasm is directed against colleagues on the court and appears in dissenting opinions.

What does Hasen make of this?  Justice Scalia has said he writes his dissents for law students, and Hasen says his students do indeed prefer Scalia’s breezy style. But Hasen also notes Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s concern that Scalia's sarcasm may be teaching law students to “act uncivilly in formal legal settings.”


March 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Call for Presenters: Global Legal Skills Conference

The Global Legal Skills conference, in its 10th year, will be held in Chicago, the city of its origin. The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where it was held three times. It has also traveled to Mexico (twice), to Costa Rica (twice), to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and most recently to the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy.

This year’s conference (GLS 10) will be held at The John Marshall Law School for the first two days and will be hosted at Northwestern University School of Law for its final day. The two schools are within walking distance and are also served by subway line

The first call for proposals for presentations has already closed and acceptance messages are going out to those who submitted.  This is the second call for presenters. 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).

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 and scholars. 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.

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.

The schedule for GLS 10 will allow for professional networking opportunities and development and also a chance to take in the many sites (and excellent restaurants!) Chicago has to offer. Chicago is served by two airports, O’Hare and Midway, making travel to the city easy. The timing of the conference (the week before Memorial Day weekend) is intended to allow you to spend extra time exploring Chicago and its environs at a time when the temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.

This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the registration fee of $225.00. A small number of need-based scholarships will also be available, especially for participants from outside the United States. Additional tickets for family members and friends will also be available for the walking tour, law school reception, and Union League Club Gala Dinner. Chicago in the springtime is a great travel destination for families where they can enjoy Millennium Park, two world class zoos, and the amazing Museum Campus.

You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking slots you will only be allowed to speak on one panel.

Please send program proposals to You can also send a copy to Lurene Contento (Program Chair of GLS 10). Her email is

Please include “GLS 10 Proposal” in the subject line. Then, list the names and institutional affiliations of presenters, the title of your presentation, a brief summary of your presentation, the format you would prefer (25 minutes or 75 minutes), and the target audience.

You will find travel information and more conference information on the GLS website, Additional proposals will be accepted through April 15 if additional speaking slots are available.

Spanish Language CLE Proposals

You may also submit proposals for CLE presentations in Spanish. A Spanish-language CLE track will include sessions for attorneys, law students, and court translators. Persons submitting proposals for presentations in Spanish may also submit a proposal in English as an exception to the single presentation rule. Proposals are sought on topics such as “Introduction to Mexican Law,” “Understanding the Amparo,” and “Latin American Corporation Law.”

Scholars’ Forum (Tues. May 19, 2015)

A one-day scholars’ forum is also planned for May 19th, the day before the GLS conference begins. Participation in this forum will be limited to 16 persons and will include special sessions on international legal research as well as the presentation of papers and works-in-progress. For more information about the Scholars’ Forum, send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at with the title of your proposed work. Registration for the scholars’ forum is at this link:

We hope to see you in Chicago this May for the 10th anniversary of the Global Legal Skills Conference!

Thank you,

Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, Global Legal Skills Conference
Prof. Lurene Contento, Chair GLS 10 Program Committee, The John Marshall Law School

March 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reminder of Call for Nominees for the Burton Award in Legal Writing Education

The Burton Awards are seeking nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. Nominations are due on March 20, 2015.

The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement promote and publicize the importance of writing in the legal profession. The Awards, which recognize lawyers and law students whose work exemplifies the goals of our field, were founded in 1999 by William Burton, author of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus and recipient of LWI’s 2010 Golden Pen Award.  The Burton Awards are held at the Library of Congress and it is, without a doubt, the most glamorous night anywhere to celebrate legal writing.

For more than a decade, the Burton Awards have included a category that emphasizes the vital role that educators play in improving legal writing throughout our nation’s legal system: the award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually during the oh-so-fabulous black-tie gala at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the education of lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking, or writing. The contributions considered may be significant single achievements or the accumulated achievements of a career.

Previous recipients of this prestigious award have been:

  • Dean Kent Syverud of Vanderbilt,
  • Dean Darby Dickerson of Stetson,
  • Professor Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent,
  • Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle University,
  • Professor Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State,
  • Professor Richard Neumann of Hofstra,
  • Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern,
  • Professor Marjorie Rombauer of the University of Washington,
  • Professor Tina Stark of Boston University,
  • Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law, and
  • Professor Anne Enquist of Seattle University.

The Burton Awards are an excellent forum to publicize the achievements of those who teach in the field of legal writing. The committee for this award asks that you nominate deserving individuals or groups for the Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award. Nominations should describe concisely the contributions of the nominee and should be sent to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:

  • Noah Messing (noah.messing [at]  
  • Grace Tonner (gtonner [at], or
  • Nancy Schultz ( 

Nominations are due by March 20, 2015. 

Hat Tip to Noah Messing


March 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The ALWD Guide and the Bluebook

The Legal Writing listserv recently had a discussion about the differences between the ALWD ALWD-BB Guide to Legal Citation and the Bluebook. I've used the ALWD Guide (previously the ALWD Manual) since it was first published about fifteen years ago, and in my final class every year I've spent a little time discussing the differences between the two guides. But I won't need to do that this year. As author Coleen Barger pointed out on the listserv, the fifth edition of the ALWD Guide was revised to comport with the Bluebook rules. So citations written under the fifth edition will look the same as those written under the Bluebook's nineteenth edition. The ALWD website contains helpful charts comparing the latest ALWD Guide and Bluebook editions.

Buffalo's Stephen Paskey posted the following praise of the ALWD Guide:

For anyone who’s interested, a lengthy dispatch from the front lines of the citation manual wars, where all is not yet quiet on the western (New York) front.

Students who compete for membership on the Buffalo Law Review must take a citation test, and they’re allowed to bring nothing other than a Bluebook into the room. I met with the law review’s editor-in-chief to discuss whether my students could bring an ALWD Guide instead. He was sympathetic, and he readily acknowledged that the Bluebook is “crappy” and “awful.” However, he would not agree to let students use the ALWD Guide.

His justification? The test and answers were developed using the Bluebook. He wouldn’t feel “right” about letting students use the ALWD Guide unless he was sure it produced the same answers. It would take his staff hours of work to go through the test with an ALWD Guide in hand, and he’s not willing to do that.

My students who plan to compete for law review have begun buying Bluebooks and learning their way around them. To my surprise, even those students are thanking me for assigning the ALWD Guide instead.  

Students who’ve used both have told me that the Bluebook is a mess, the type is too small, and it’s hard to read and harder still to find things. One student said the appendices in ALWD are clearer and better organized than the Bluebook’s tables. Another said he likes the way the ALWD Guide is focused on practitioners, with a clear explanation of the differences for academic work at the end of every rule. Yet another likes how the ALWD Guide explains key points that are left unexplained in the Bluebook.


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes All You Need to Brighten Your Day is a Little Bit of Linda Edwards

Linda EdwardsIf you don't know Linda Edwards, you should.

Take the opportunity to meet her in an interview that Melissa Greipp did for the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog by clicking here.

Here's an excerpt:

How did you first get interested in teaching legal writing?

Even as a child, I was curious about how people try to persuade others. As early as age ten, I remember watching TV commercials and speculating about what strategy the advertisers were using. When I went to law school, courses in legal writing were in their infancy and mine was not all that effective, but the practice of law made legal writing’s importance crystal clear. After ten years of practice, I had a chance to join the NYU Lawyering faculty, and it all came together for me there. I felt like I had found my professional passion. That was 27 years ago, and that passion is still as fresh for me today as it was so long ago.

Hat tip to Melissa Greipp and the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New BarBri Survey Highlights the Importance of Legal Writing for New Law Grads

Yet another study recently highlighted the importance of legal writing. BARBRI's State of the Legal Field Survey, published in 2015, reported that both responding attorneys and law professors rated legal writing as the most important skill for recent law graduates. Interestingly, the study also found that while 82% of third-year law students believed they were effective legal writers, only 57% of lawyers who hire new graduates saw them as effective writers.

The BarBri survey is new, and let's just say here from the Legal Writing Prof Blog that we are happy that the company has launched this new annual survey and that it intends to continue this survey in future years.  This survey gets answers not only from law students but also from law school faculty and members of the practicing bar.

Previous research has shown that students sometimes have inflated views of their writing abilities.  See, for example, Felsenburg and Graham's Beginning Legal Writers in Their Own Words.

hat tip: Gabriel Teninbaum

(jdf and mew)

March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New issue of the Legal Writing journal

Leg W JThe latest issue of Legal Writing: Journal of the Legal Writing Institute arrived in my mailbox today with these intriguing titles on its cover:

Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Of Old Dogs and New Tricks--Can Law Schools ReallyFix Students' Mixed Mindsets?

Melissa H. Waresh, Uncommon Results: The Power of Team-Based Learning in the legal Writing Classroom

David J. Herring & Collin Lynch, Law Student Learning Gains Produced by a Writing Assignment and Instructor Feedback

Toree Randall, Meet Me in the Cloud: A Legal Research Strategy That Transcends Media

Lindsey P. Gustafson, Texting and the Friction of Writing

Jeffrey D. Jackson & David Cleveland, Legal Writing: A History from the Colonial Era to the End of the Civil War

My interest was especially piqued by Jackson and Clevelend's history of teaching legal writing before the end of the civil war--it contains interesting history that I didn't know about.

The journal's website says the next volume will be an all-electronic one. So this final print volume may become a collector's item!


March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)