Sunday, June 7, 2015

Remembering William Zinsser

Zinsser PhotoWilliam Zinsser, the author of On Writing Well, Writing Places, and other books on writing, died on May 12 in New York at the age of 92. According to an obituary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Zinsser went to be a writing instructor at Yale University in the 1970s after a long career as a journalist.  He was going to teach a Nonfiction Workshop Course for 15 students but received more than 170 applications from students wanting to take the course. According to the Chronicle, Zinsser attributed the strong interest in his course the need of students for "basic writing tools." He believed that the rules of writing "only get learned when a student's failure to observer them is pointed out in his or her writing." Anais Strickland, Obituary [William Zinsser]: Influential Writing Coach, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 29, 2015, at A18.

His book On Writing Well grew out of that course at Yale and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. There's probably a copy of it on your bookshelf right now. Go ahead, pull it out, and spend a few minutes remembering William Zinsser and his contributions to writing.

Click here for William Zinsser's webpage.

Click here for a post on the Legal Writing Prof Blog from 2013 about a new book by William Zinsser.

(mew)

June 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Burton Award for Contribution to Legal Writing Education

Marilyn WalterProfessor Marilyn Walter of Brooklyn Law School was announced as the 2015 recipient of the Burton Award for Contribution to Legal Writing Education. She will receive her award at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on June 15, 2015.

Professor Walter joined the LRW community in 1976 when she taught legal writing at New York University. In 1980, she became the director of Brooklyn Law School’s program. She has been a leader in the field of legal writing for nearly four decades.

Her book (coauthored with Professors Helene Shapo and Elizabeth Fajans), Writing and Analysis in the Law, is a widely used first-year legal writing text. She is also the co-author of the first edition of the Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs.  She recived the 2005 Association of American Law School Legal Writing Award in recognition of her “pioneering leadership, extraordinary vision, and outstanding service.” She has been a member of the Board of the Legal Writing Institute, a members of the ABA’s Committee on Communication Skills, an Editorial Committee member of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. In spring 2008, she was a Visiting Professor at the University of Delhi Law School.

Many congratulations to Professor Walter on this prestigious award.

Hat tip to Noah A. Messing

(mew)

 

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New study highlights importance of writing and research skills

Computer-research vendor Lexis-Nexis recently conducted a study of 300 hiring partners and supervising attorneys to determine what they seek in newly-hired lawyers. Among the study’s findings are that 66% of the respondents want new lawyers to have good writing skills--especially the ability to draft motions, briefs, and pleadings. The study also found that newer attorneys spend 40% – 60% of their time conducting legal research. These findings, along with the study’s other conclusions, highlight the importance of topics covered in legal research and writing courses.

(jdf)

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scholars' Forum at The John Marshall Law School

Wilson AbramsonThe GLS-10 Scholars' Forum is continuing with presentations on secrets of foreign and international law research. Presenters pictured here are Clare Gaynor WIllis (Chicago-Kent College of Law) and Anne Abramson (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago).  The program includes useful international and foreign law legal research resources, including many legal research secrets.

The Scholars' Forum is being held in advance of the 10th Global Legal Skills Conference, being held in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School and Northwestern University School of Law. The Facultad Libre del Derecho de Monterrey is an additional co-sponsor of the GLS conference. The Scholars' Forum being held in advance of the GLS Conference is sponsored by the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

(mew)

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

GLS Scholars' Forum Underway at The John Marshall Law School

Wilson BelfastPaulina E. Wilson of Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland is among the presenters speaking today at the GLS-10 Scholars Forum, in advance of the Global Legal Skills Conference.  Her presentation is on the subject of “Comparative Legal Skills in the Context of Criminal Justice: A Call for Interdisciplinarity." Her presentation explores differences in how criminal statutes are construed in different countries, including close readings of statutory examples from the Criminal Codes of Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

The Scholarship Forum is sponsored by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and is being held at The John Marshall Law School in advance of the 10th Global Legal Skills Conference being held this week at John Marshall and Northwestern University.

(mew)

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

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.

COMPETITION DETAILS

TOPIC
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.

FORMAT
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.

ELIGIBILITY
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.

 

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION
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.

JUDGING PROCESS AND WINNER NOTIFICATION
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

(mew)

May 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Job Posting: Associate Director for Distance Education Programs at Texas A&M University School of Law

Texas A&M University School of Law is seeking to employ an Associate Director for Distance Education Programs. Seven years of progressively responsible management experience, including three years with Course Management Systems (e.g. Blackboard/Webcourses), webinar systems (e.g. FUZE, WebX, GoToMeeting) and multi-media production (e.g. Echo 360) in an online teaching environment.

Preferred post-graduate degree in law, such as J.D., L.L.M. or equivalent Masters degree in subject matter, such as risk management or wealth management.  Licensed attorney.

Here's the link to the job description.

Hat tip to William Byrnes

(mew)

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two Spaces After a Period?

Grammar Girl takes on this issue. It took me a while to get used to using only one space, but I got there.

(kem)

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

Monday, May 11, 2015

Better than Books?

As someone who has publicly stated it is time to "Say Goodbye to the Books," I was pleased to see Lawyerist's suggestions for "Better Things than Law Books to Take Your Picture in Front Of."

(kem)

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

Legal writing professor's students write about homelessness

A project overseen by Seattle legal writing professor Sara Rankin has been causing a lot of Rankinsbuzz in Seattle. The Human Rights Advocacy Project revealed that "It’s often difficult or impossible for homeless people not to break . . .  laws" against activities like sleeping in public. Rankin's students became engaged with the topic by writing about it.

(jdf)

May 8, 2015 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recent scholarship about the Supreme Court

A recent article in the New York Times notes an increase in quantitative analysis of U.S. Supreme RobertsCourt opinions. It cites forthcoming scholarship by Daniel Rockmore, Keith Carlson, and  Michael Livermore as showing that the Court's current opinions are “sprawling, accessible and testy.” Illustrating the latter two traits, the article quotes a pointed response by Chief Justice John Roberts  in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, a recent judicial ethics opinion. Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the judicial canon against judges’ campaigning has “nothing to do with the appearances created by judges’ asking for money.” Writing for the majority, Roberts’ rejoinder was one word: “Nothing?”

Hat tip: Terrill Pollman

 (jdf)

May 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Creating credibility by writing well

"[G]ood briefs demand little physical or mental effort from the reader."  So writes Bryan Garner in his latest ABA Journal column. Garner also cites Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman about the "halo effect"--the idea that a good first impression creates credibility, while even small errors can make a reader think poorly of the writer. And Garner reminds brief writers that "less is more," a point supported by Kahneman's science.

(jdf)

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

ALWD Summer Conference Schedule

The Association of Legal Writing Directors Conference Program Committee has released the full program for the 2015 Biennial Conference in Memphis, from June 3-5, 2015.  Click here to have a look.  The program includes information about the conference presentations, travel information, and a baseball game. There, you want to go look at that program now, don't you?
 
Hat tips to the ALWD Program Sub-Committee and its members Megan McAlpin, Brooke Bowman, Kirsten Dauphanias, Erin Donelan, Jason Palmer, and Nancy Soonpa.
 
(mew)

May 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Registration Still Open for the Carolinas Legal Research and Writing Colloquium

Registration remains open for the 2015 Carolinas Legal Research and Writing Colloquium, which will take place on May 15, 2015, in Durham, North Carolina, at Duke. Click here to learn more about the Colloquium and to register. The website includes an agenda, information about parking, and information on local hotels.  The Colloquium is free to attend but you must register by May 8th to allow the organizers to plan for food and other refreshments.

Hat tip to Jeremy Mullem

(mew)

May 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anne Enquist Stepping Down as Director at Seattle

Anne M. Enquist of Seattle University School of Law announced that she will be stepping down as Director of Seattle’s Legal Writing Program at the end of this school year. She wants us to know that she's not retiring, but just stepping down as Program Director. Mary Bowman (who has been the Associate Director at Seattle for the past three years) will move into the Director position. 

(mew)

May 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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.

COMPETITION DETAILS

TOPIC
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.

FORMAT
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.

ELIGIBILITY
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.

 

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION
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.

JUDGING PROCESS AND WINNER NOTIFICATION
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

(mew)

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A verse in praise of plain English

For a light-hearted promotion of plain English, see The Pleading in the March Michigan Bar PoeJournal. The author, Cooley’s Mark Cooney, echoes Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to describe a judge poring vainly over a complaint with its “pond’rous style and more in store,/ Stilted prose and hardly more.” The judge finally tells the complaint's author,

Discard this toilsome legalese, and lift away this needless chore!

Take your vexing cloud of prose, and take your leave, be out my door;

Haunt my chambers nevermore!

 

(jdf)

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Do You Have an Announcement for the Newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research?

You can send news of upcoming events, promotions, and conferences to the newsletter for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.  Click here. 

And hey, send us a copy.  We can post news here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog for you too!

(mew)

April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

LWI to Formalize the Pink Ink Caucus

Pink InkJust a few days in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in the same-sex marriage cases, the Legal Writing Institute announced the formal establishment of the Pink Ink Caucus. The charge of the Caucus is to support LGBTQ faculty and to strengthen the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the legal writing classroom. Membership is open to all, no matter what your sexual orientation is.

The Pink Ink Caucus was never before established as a formal group -- it was an ad hoc response to some job postings on the Legal Writing Listserve that blatantly discriminated against LGBT persons.  The reactions to that posting sparked numerous passionate debates within the Legal Writing Institute about whether job postings from discriminatory organizations could be allowed, and, indeed, whether LWI membership could be open to persons who taught at discriminatory institutions.  The job posting also sparked the ad hoc Pink Ink Caucus which I organized. The Pink Ink caucus usually met informally, but we also met a couple of times in a more organized fashion during LWI conferences. I chose the name Pink Ink from a presentation I had made earlier at the LWI Conference held at Chicago-Kent College of Law, which discussed integrating LGBT characters and legal issues in legal writing problems. It was often the case that in some problems there might be a different answer to the legal question posed if the character in the problem was gay or lesbian.

Membership in the informal Pink Ink Caucus was always open to everyone and matters of discussion included the status of LGBT professors as well as appropriate ways to integrate LGBT legal issues into legal writing problems for research memoranda and appellate briefs.  For example, the LWI Conference in 2008 scheduled a Pink Ink Caucus where we announced on this Legal Writing Prof Blog that the discussion would include these topics:

  • Using issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in memoranda and advocacy assignments, particularly in light of California now allowing same-sex weddings (and that California does not require persons getting married there to be from California);
  • Latest research resources for LGBT scholarship;
  • Mentoring and support for LGBT professors and students;
  • Hiring practices of law schools;
  • Attending the AALS Hiring Conference as an openly LGBT candidate (or recruiter); and
  • A preview of an all-day program at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego on Sexual Orientation Issues Across the Curriculum.

In 2008, the Legal Writing Institute was one of the first organizations to join the national boycott of the Manchester Hyatt Hotel in San Diego (where the AALS Meeting was going to be held) because the owner at the time, Doug Manchester, was the financial sponsor of the California Ballot Measure Proposition 8 that amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.  Click here to read more about that.  LWI organized its Golden Pen Reception that year outside the hotel as a sign of protest against the anti-gay ballot measure.  That move was also not without controversy, but it showed a commitment of LWI to the respectful, equal treatment of all its members.

Along the way the LWI Bad-Ass Legal Writing Store also came up with some wonderful (ok, let's just say rather fabulous) Pink Ink merchandise that was sold at LWI conferences -- such a supportive and much-appreciated gesture. And you know what? You can still buy this Pink Ink Merchandise from the LWI store -- click here to visit the Pink Ink Page at the LWI Bad-Ass Legal Writing Store.  Go ahead, you know you want to buy something.

So if you are interested in joining the new Pink Ink Caucus, please send an email expressing your interest to Sue Painter-Thorne at this email: painter-thorne_sd[at]law.mercer.edu.  (And of course change that [at] to an @ symbol).  You do not have to be gay or lesbian or bi or trans or questioning and you do not even have to own an album by Madonna, Lady Gaga, Judy Garland, or Barbra Streisand.

Thank you, LWI, for formally establishing the Pink Ink Caucus.

Hat tip to Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Scholarship Grant Recipients Announced

The Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors have announced the winners of the 2015 LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Scholarship Grants.  The following four winners will each receive grants of $5000.

  • Deborah Borman, De-grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis
  • Jennifer Cooper, Making It Stick for Law Students: The Science of Successful Learning In Law School
  • Mark Osbeck, Research Memoranda, Data Analytics, and the Future of Case Forecasting
  • Linda Shashoua, In Defense of DeferenceAppellate Review in the Modern Video Age

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to the members of the LWI/ALWD Joint Scholarship Grants Committee:  Mary Adkins, Kirsten Davis, Liz Frost, Ann Killenbeck, Hether Macfarlane, Deb McGregor, Christine Venter, and Amy Vorenberg, and to the committee chairs Ellie Margolis and Greg Johnson. Thanks also to LWI, ALWD, and LexisNexis for funding these awards.

Hat tips to Ellie Margolis (LWI) and Greg Johnson (ALWD)

(mew)

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