Friday, August 3, 2018

Do You Have Access to Free Legal Research on Casemaker or Fastcase?

Many state and local bar associations offer free legal research tools as a benefit of bar association membership. The two main companies offering their services through state and local bar associations are Fastcase and Casemaker.

Here's the list of jurisdictions of state and local bar associations that offer access to Casemaker:

  1. Alabama State Bar
  2. Alaska Bar Association
  3. Colorado Bar Association
  4. Connecticut Bar Association
  5. Idaho State Bar
  6. Hampden County Bar (MA)
  7. Indiana State Bar Association
  8. Kansas Bar Association
  9. Kentucky Bar Association
  10. Maine State Bar Association
  11. State Bar of Michigan
  12. Nebraska State Bar Association
  13. New Hampshire Bar Assocation
  14. New York City Bar Association
  15. Bar Association of Erie County (NY)
  16. Monroe County Bar Association (NY)
  17. Oneida County Bar Association (NY)
  18. State Bar Association of North Dakota
  19. Ohio State Bar Association
  20. Pennsylvania Bar Association
  21. Rhode Island Bar Association
  22. Santa Clara County Bar Association (CA)
  23. Schenectady County Bar (NY)
  24. State Bar of Texas
  25. Utah State Bar
  26. Vermont Bar Association
  27. Washington State Bar Association
  28. Wyoming State Bar

Here's the list of state, local, and specialty bar associations that offer access to Fastcase:

  1. Akron Bar Association
  2. Alameda County Bar Association
  3. Allegheny County Law Library
  4. American Immigration Lawyers Association
  5. State Bar of Arizona
  6. Arkansas Bar Association
  7. Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  8. Columbus Bar Association
  9. Dayton Bar Association
  10. D.C. Bar
  11. Delaware State Bar Association
  12. Federal Circuit Bar Association
  13. The Florida Bar
  14. State Bar of Georgia
  15. Hamilton County Law Libary
  16. Hawaii State Bar Association
  17. Illinois State Bar Association
  18. Iowa State Bar Association
  19. Jenkins Law Library (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  20. Los Angeles County Law Library
  21. Louisiana State Bar Association
  22. Massachusetts Bar Association
  23. Maryland State Bar Association
  24. Minnesota State Bar Association
  25. The Mississippi Bar
  26. The Missouri Bar
  27. State Bar of Montana
  28. National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  29. National Creditors Bar Association
  30. State Bar of Nevada
  31. New Jersey State Bar Association
  32. New York State Bar Association
  33. State Bar of New Mexico
  34. North Carolina Bar Association
  35. Oklahoma Bar Association
  36. Oregon State Bar
  37. Toledo Bar Association
  38. South Carolina Bar
  39. San Fernando Valley Bar Association
  40. State Bar of South Dakota
  41. Tennessee Bar Association
  42. State Bar of Texas
  43. Virginia State Bar
  44. Virgin Islands Bar Association
  45. West Virginia State Bar

If you're a member of one of the bar associations listed above, be sure to learn about the research resources available through Casemaker or Fastcase.



August 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free Legal-Research Tools through the Law Library of Congress and Other Sources

ABA Standing Committee LLOC LogoThe American Bar Association Annual Meeting continues in Chicago with hundreds of meetings and programs. One of those programs is "How to LLOC Logo (Tree)Conduct FREE Legal Research Online," presented by Barbara Bavis, the Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian at the Law Library of Congress. The program was sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress. Here's some of the information that was shared during the two-hour program:

The Law Library of Congress is the world's largest law library. It was established by law in 1832 as a separate department of the Library of Congress to serve the legal research needs of all three branches of government. It is the largest law library in the world with more than 2.9 million volumes of federal, state, and foreign materials, including codes, constitutions, official gazettes, law journals, secondary sources, and other legal materials from 267 nations and jurisdictions. It includes research materials from countries that no longer exist as separate countries (such as Sikkim).

Barbara BavisThe Guide to Law Online is a legal portal with more than 9,000 links to annotated compilations of Internet links. It is organized by jurisdiction and topic and includes international, U.S., and state materials. It provides links to the full text of laws, regulations, and court decisions. There's also a link to the Indigenous Law Portal, which includes links to American Indian constitutions and legal materials.

Current Legal Topics is a resource with current international issues, in-depth legal commentary and comparisons of international and foreign laws, and extensive bibliographic resources.

The Global Legal Monitor provides worldwide legal news and is frequently updated. It may be searched by topic, country, keywords, author, date, and other terms.

In Custodia Legis is the blog for the Law Library of Congress. It publishes new posts on research guides, current legal trends, information about changes and additions to, significant international law developments, legal history, and "arcana" (inspired by rare items in the collection of the Law Library of Congress.

The program on cost-effective legal research also included information on free legislative and regulatory research, judicial opinions and citators, judicial records and briefs, and presidential documents. 

Photo: Barbara Bavis (Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian at the Law Library of Congress) and Professor Mark E. Wojcik (Incoming Chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress).


August 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Power of Personal Narrative: The Role of Compelling Storytelling in Criminal and Civil Cases

Scribes-ABA CLE 2018The Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association includes several panels on legal research and writing. One such panel is “The Power of Personal Narrative: The Role of Compelling Storytelling in Criminal and Civil Cases.” The program was co-sponsored by The John Marshall Law School and Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers.

Crafting a compelling narrative is a skill all attorneys should master. This panel featured English Professor Jill Patterson, a former Soros Justice Fellow who serves as the Case Storyteller for the Texas Regional Public Defenders Office for Capital Cases. Professor Patterson regularly works as a litigation team member, interviewing capital clients and helping the attorneys develop the client’s narrative and the themes for trial. She described techniques for developing powerful personal narratives for clients.

Her presentation was followed by attorney-filmmaker Doug Passon, who has pioneered the field of producing videos for sentencing hearings.

Pictured here (from left to right) are: Moderator Darby Dickerson, Dean and Professor at The John Marshall Law School and Past President if Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers, Chicago, Illinois; Professor Jill Patterson, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; Doug Passon, President and Creative Director, Doug Passon Law, Scottsdale, Arizona; Natalie Chan, Sidley Austin LLP, Chicago, Illinois; and Anthony Franze, Author and Counsel at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Washington, D.C.


August 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Art and Craft of Legal Writing: Advice from Master Writers

Scribes-ABA-CLE 2018 Panel 1The 2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago includes several programs on legal writing and research. One such program is "The Art and Craft of Legal Writing: Advice from Master Writers," held on Thursday, August 2, 2018 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago as part of the ABA's "CLE in the City." The program was co-sponsored by The John Marshall Law School and Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers.

Pictured here (from left to right) are: Professor Mark E. Wojcik (President of Scribes–The American Society of Legal Writers and Professor, The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois); Linda Coberly, (Managing Partner, Winston Strawn, Chicago, Illinois); Anthony Franze (Acclaimed Author and Counsel, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Washington, D.C.); and panel moderator Paula Hudson Holderman (President of The John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees, Chicago, Illinois).

August 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Style Manual for the Supreme and Appellate Courts of Illinois

The Style Manual for the Supreme and Appellate Courts of Illinois (5th ed. 2017) is available by clicking here. It's well worth a look for any Illinois practitioner.



August 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Writing Programs at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago

The American Bar Association Young Lawyers' Division will present a one-hour program called “So You Think You’re Done With Legal Writing? Think Again!” on Friday, August 3, 2018 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The presenter will be Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Professor Wojcik is the President of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers; the incoming Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress; and the 2018 recipient of the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The moderator will be John Rice of Elmore, Stone & Caffey PLLC.

The program will be held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, 5th Floor,.

This is only one of the legal research and writing programs being held during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

August 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago: Session on How to Conduct Free Legal Research Online

ABA Standing Committee LLOC LogoThe American Bar Association opens its annual meeting this week in Chicago with hundreds -- make that thousands -- of meetings, seminars, and programs for the various ABA sections, fora, divisions, standing committees, and other bar association entities. One of the programs being offered this week is a program on "How to Conduct Free Legal Research Online," sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.

The research program will be held on Friday, August 3, 2018, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, East Tower, Lobby Level, Plaza Ballroom A. The program will explain research services available through the Law Library of Congress (the largest law library in the world) and other free, online collections.

The program will be given by Barbara Bavis of the Law Library of Congress. At past ABA Annual Meetings this has sometimes been a standing-room only event, so plan to arrive a few minutes early. You'll be glad you did.




July 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Last Call! Nominations for the Blackwell Award

August 1st is the deadline for nominations for the Blackwell Award. Click here to read more.


July 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Deadline Extended to Submit Winning Briefs to the Scribes Brief-Writing-Award Competition

Scribes LogoScribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, has extended the deadline to submit winning moot court briefs for the national Brief-Writing Award.

The new deadline is Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

Scribes began this competition in 1996 to help identify and celebrate excellent student-written briefs. The Scribes Brief-Writing-Award Competition solicits winning briefs from national moot-court competitions and selects the finest of those winning briefs — the best of the best. Last year, the winners were three law students from the Wake Forest University School of Law: Matthew Cloutier, Mia Falzarano, and Blake E. Stafford. Additional winners and winners from previous years are posted on the Scribes website.

This 2019 winning authors will be recognized at the 2019 Scribes Annual CLE. Plaques will be awarded to the authors and their school. Normally, the school pays the authors’ expenses to attend the awards ceremony. The competition covers the current school year — September 2017 to May 2018. If one of your moot-court teams wrote the best brief in a national moot-court competition, or wrote the best brief in any preliminary regional competition held before a national competition, please enter the brief into the Scribes 2019 Brief-Award Competition.

To submit an entry, please contact Philip Johnson, the Executive Director of Scribes, at


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July 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Susan Brody Teaches Her Last Class at The John Marshall Law School

We continue to celebrate legal writing colleagues who are retiring after years of service to the legal academy.

Susan BrodyProfessor Susan Brody taught her "last-class-ever" last night at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, ending an illustrious career in legal writing and legal education.

After her own graduation from law school, she clerked for the Illinois Appellate Court and then entered private practice, concentrating in family law and appellate practice. Professor Brody joined the John Marshall faculty in 1982, and from 1985-95, she served as director of the school's Lawyering Skills Program. She was associate dean for academic affairs from 1995-1998 and associate dean for institutional affairs during 1998-99.

She was active with the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, serving as chair or member of numerous site inspection teams as part of the ABA accreditation process. She has also helped prepare site team chairs, law school representatives, and new site evaluators for future site inspections by presenting at ABA-sponsored workshops.

She also participated in countless conferences concerning feminist legal theory and storytelling, especially their intersection with teaching law, becoming a skilled lawyer, and understanding issues of diversity.

Brody Drafting BookShe was one of the founders of the Legal Writing Institute and fought many battles over the years to improve and protect the status of legal writing professors.

Her publications include a leading text on legal drafting.

In 2012, Susan won the prestigious Section Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research for her lifetime contributions to legal writing education. Here is a link to a video (thanks Karin Mika!) of the award presentation at the Law Library of Congress.

We congratulate Susan Brody on her retirement from teaching and thank her for her many efforts over the years on behalf of legal writing professors across the country.


July 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ruth Hargrove at California Western School of Law

Ruth HargroveWe'd like to take the opportunity to celebrate legal writing colleagues who are retiring after years of service to the academy.

Ruth M. Hargrove, a Legal Writing Professor at California Western School of Law, retired after many years of teaching Introduction to Legal Skills, Legal Skills I and II, and Legal Research & Writing: Trial Motions.

Before joining the faculty at California Western School of Law in 1999, Ruth was a trial attorney and spent seven years as a prosecutor in Los Angeles and then in San Diego. While in Los Angeles, she was instrumental in starting the Domestic Violence Unit, which became a model for other prosecution agencies in California. In San Diego, she successfully prosecuted murder, robbery, child-molesting, and other felony cases. She spent the next ten years as trial counsel for several San Diego municipalities, specializing in employment and tort law.

Throughout her career as a trial lawyer, she taught as an Adjunct Professor at several San Diego area law schools, served as a Judge pro tempore in San Diego, and provided legal commentary for Public Radio and commercial television. She kept an active pro bono practice representing students in disciplinary matters and was the substitute counsel for the San Diego County Civil Service Commission. 

In addition to her regular teaching, she taught in summer law programs in Malta, England, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. She also presented at regional and international conferences such as the Global Legal Skills Conference.

The Calfornia Western Student Body Association selected her as the Outstanding Faculty Mentor in 2011, a role she cherished throughout her legal career.

Congratulations to Professor Ruth Hargrove on her retirement from the California Western School of Law.


July 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA House of Delegates to Consider Major Changes for Legal Education

The American Bar Association House of Delegates ("HOD"), the body that determines association-wide policy, will review proposals at the upcoming ABA Annual Meeting to change rules and procedures affecting how the ABA accredits the nation’s 204 law schools. The HOD will also consider updates to the model rules governing lawyer-client communications.

The HOD made up of 601 delegates from state, local, and other bar associations and legal groups from across the country. It will meet at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Aug. 6-7, 2018, at the close of the Annual Meeting, which begins August 2. Altogether, about 50 proposals are on the House’s agenda. The HOD debates are open to observers and may also be available by webcast.

Proposed Changes to the ABA Standards and Procedures to Approve Law Schools

The proposed revisions to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools  follows a lengthy review and comment process. The changes will modify not only rules and standards, but the way the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar – the association’s independent arm which serves as the national accreditor of law schools -- operates. Altogether, there are five legal education resolutions (111A-111E) before the House.

For law schools, the most significant proposed change affects the standard requiring a “valid and reliable test” for prospective law students. While a test, such as the LSAT, would no longer be required, language would establish that a school whose admissions policy and practices are called into question is presumptively out of compliance with the standards if it does not require a valid and reliable admissions test as part of its admission policy. In recent years, close to two dozen schools have announced they will accept the GRE in addition to the LSAT.

The Council, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the sole national accrediting agency for law school education, is also seeking to eliminate both its Accreditation and Standards Review committees and fold their work into the Council itself to accelerate its review of schools. Under ABA rules, the House can either concur with the recommended changes or send them back to the Council with or without a recommendation. The Council must then resend any changes back to the House for re-consideration, but the final decision rests with the Council. 

Proposed Changes to the ABA Rules of Professional Responsibility

The lawyer communications proposal culminates several years of work by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and affiliated groups, which have shepherded the process for review of model rules related to advertising and lawyer communications with clients.

The standing committee is asking the House to approve amendments to the following ABA Model Rules: 7.1: Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services, 7.2: Advertising, 7.3: Solicitation of Clients, 7.4: Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization, and 7.5: Firm Names and Letterheads.  Proponents contend the current web of complex, contradictory and detailed advertising rules impedes lawyers’ efforts to expand their practices and thwart clients’ interests in securing the services they need.

The key changes focus on model rule provisions related to false and misleading “communications” and solicitations by lawyers. The changes in the ABA Model Rules, which serve as recommended guidelines to state regulators, would streamline and simplify the rules and still adhere to constitutional limitations on restricting commercial speech; protect the public; and permit lawyers to use technologies to inform consumers accurately and efficiently about the availability of legal services. For instance, “office address” would be changed to “contact information” (to accommodate technological advances), and the changes add new language to the general provision against paying for recommendations to permit nominal “thank-you” gifts.

Other Proposed Changes Before the HOD

The House is also being asked to approve a major change in how the ABA collects dues from its members. Under the proposed new membership model, the current 157 price points would be streamlined into five, ranging from $75 to $425 depending on years of bar admittance. Under the plan, the change would take place in the association’s 2020 fiscal year, which begins September 1, 2019.

Other proposals before the House include:

  • Resolution 103, which adopts the ABA Model Impairment Policy for Legal Employers, dated August 2018, to provide a mechanism within law firms to identify impairment and craft proper intervention, and to prevent professional standards and the quality of work for clients from being compromised by any legal employer personnel’s impairment. The resolution also urges legal employers to adopt the new model policy.
  • Resolution 106A, which reaffirms the ABA’s commitment to advance the rule of law and condemns the harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, arbitrary disbarment, denial of due process, other ill-treatment and killings of judges, lawyers, other members of the legal profession and their extended families throughout the world for serving in their designated capacities.
  • Resolution 114, which adopts the black letter and commentary to the ABA Ten Guidelines on Court Fines and Fees, dated August 2018, and urges governmental agencies to promulgate law and policy consistent with the guidelines, which are intended to minimize excessive penalties if an individual cannot afford to pay them.
  • Resolution 118, which urges the federal government to recognize that service by persons who otherwise meet the standards for accession or retention, as applicable, in the U.S. Armed Forces should not be restricted, and transgender persons should not be discriminated against, based solely on gender identity.
  • Resolution 10A, which asks states to adopt General Provisions for Regulation of Online Providers of Legal Documents to establish reasonable standards of product reliability and efficacy for online legal providers.
  • Resolution 100B, which urges Louisiana and Oregon to require unanimous juries to determine guilt in felony criminal cases and reject the use of non-unanimous juries where currently allowed in felony cases.

All proposed and filed resolutions and reports can be found here. Only proposals adopted by the House constitute association policy.

(Adapted from an ABA Press Release)


July 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2018

UNLV is Hiring!

UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law is seeking applications for tenure-track Associate Professors or tenured full Professors of Law.  The faculty invites applications from rising and accomplished scholars in all areas, but are particularly interested in identifying faculty who have a teaching interest in legal research and writing and who would like to teach in UNLV’s top-ranked Lawyering Process program. The typical teaching load is three courses per academic year; with two courses in the Lawyering Process curriculum, and the third course determined in consultation with the Associate Dean. UNLV has a unified tenure track; accordingly, professors who teach legal writing are hired on the traditional tenure track and have all of the privileges and scholarly expectations associated with tenure.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest along with a detailed resume, at least three professional references, and cites or links to published works to Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and appointments would likely begin with the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Boyd School of Law is a leading public law school with a reputation for a strong commitment to scholarship and teaching. UNLV is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity educator and employer committed to excellence through diversity.

Hat tip, Mary Beth Beazley


July 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The John Marshall Law School will Merge with the University of Illinois at Chicago, Creating the First Public Law School in the City of Chicago

UIC and John Marshall Join Forces to Create Chicago's Only Public Law School

The board of trustees of both the University of Illinois at Chicago and The John Marshall Law School have voted to create UIC John Marshall Law School—Chicago’s first and only public law school.

"The decision to create a public law school marks a historic day for higher education in Chicago," said Michael Amiridis, UIC Chancellor. "It is also a historic day for UIC, which will fill a 50-year gap in its academic offerings as a comprehensive research university. Through our research and scholarship, we have celebrated and contributed to the rule of law for decades, and now we open the doors of our academic community to those who teach the law and those who study the law. We look forward to welcoming the John Marshall family into UIC."

UIC initiated informal discussions with The John Marshall Law School leadership in 2016. Subsequently, the parties determined that this transaction would be financially feasible without requiring any new state funds. At the closing, significant John Marshall assets will transfer to UIC and the University of Illinois Foundation. The law school's real estate in the Loop will initially be leased and then transferred within five years. UIC will bear no financial obligation for the acquisition and will fully integrate the law school into UIC after the closing.

In addition to providing current and prospective students with a more affordable legal education, UIC's acquisition of John Marshall will create opportunities for interdisciplinary courses and new joint and dual-degree programs aligned with UIC strengths in disciplines such as the health sciences, engineering and technology, urban planning and public administration, the social sciences and business. John Marshall joining UIC will also open up new possibilities for research collaborations between UIC and John Marshall faculty.

"When you combine the strengths of the John Marshall Law School and UIC, one plus one is much greater than two," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "The merger of these two bright lights on Chicago's scholastic landscape will strengthen education and career opportunities for generations of Chicago students, and strengthen our city's reputation for world-class academic excellence."

The UIC John Marshall Law School will require accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association's Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, and approval for a change of control from the U.S. Department of Education. A law school at UIC is also subject to review and approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. If the necessary approvals are obtained within the anticipated timeframe, the first entering class of the UIC John Marshall Law School is expected to matriculate in fall 2019.

"Chicago is the largest city in the U.S. without a public law school. The UIC John Marshall Law School will fill that gap while also enhancing legal services available to the people of Chicago. We are already putting plans in place to enhance the program of legal education, build innovative programs within a strong public university, and continue the law school's long-standing efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession," said John Marshall's Dean Darby Dickerson, who will stay on as dean of the UIC John Marshall Law School.

Both institutions have track records of excellence in research and scholarship, access for underserved students, and service to Chicago and its people. "Our shared commitment in these areas guarantees that the doors of UIC John Marshall Law School will continue to remain open to all aspiring law students regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds," said Paula Holderman, President of the Board of Trustees of The John Marshall Law School.

"John Marshall has a broad curriculum, an excellent faculty, and a long history of giving back to the community by providing pro bono legal services in the areas of veterans’ affairs, international human rights, fair housing, family law, landlord-tenant issues and more," said Susan Poser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UIC. "There are UIC faculty who study these same issues from the perspective of social science, public administration, and health care. We plan to harness these areas of expertise to graduate lawyers who are grounded in and understand the context in which they will practice."

Approximately 900 Juris Doctor (JD) students and 117 Master of Laws (LLM) and Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) students are currently enrolled at John Marshall. The school expects to add a fall 2018 entering JD class of approximately 280.

When the transaction closes, John Marshall students will become UIC students and will have enhanced student services, including access to health care services, recreational facilities, residence halls, and college athletics. UIC students will benefit from access to law courses and opportunities to take classes jointly taught by John Marshall and UIC faculty.

The new UIC John Marshall Law School will continue to operate at its downtown Loop location at the corners of State Street, Jackson Boulevard and S. Plymouth Court and will become the sixteenth college at UIC. The dean will report to the UIC Provost, and John Marshall staff will become UIC employees. UIC also welcomes John Marshall alumni to the UIC community.

Press release from The John Marshall Law School


July 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nominations for the Blackwell Award

August 1, 2018 is the deadline for nominations for the Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Legal Writing. The award is given annually by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and is usually presented at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. The LWI and ALWD jointly created this distinguished award to honor the life of Thomas Blackwell, a professor at Appalachian Law School who was murdered by a deranged student. The award commemorating Thomas Blackwell 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.

The previous winners of the Blackwell award are:

2018  - Ian Gallagher, Syracuse University School of Law

2017 - Melissa H. Weresh, Drake University

2016 - Coleen Miller Barger, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law

2015  - Helene Shapo, Northwestern

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 (now at UNLV)

2008 - Diana Pratt, Wayne State

2007 - Louis Sirico, Villanova Law School

2006 - Mary Beth Beazley, Ohio State University (now at UNLV)

2005 - Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent College of Law

2004 - Pam Lysaght, Detroit Mercy

2003 - Richard K. Neumann, Hofstra University

Nominations for the 2019 Award should be sent to Mel Weresh at Drake University. Please include "Blackwell Nomination" in the subject line.


July 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

LWI Plenary Session: Understanding Generation Z Students

Corey SeemillerThe opening plenary session speaker of the 18th Biennial Legal Writing Institute Conference is Dr. Corey Seemiller of Wright State University, an expert on the learning styles and needs of Generation Z. The generation includes persons born between 1995-2002 (Big Z's), followed by persons born 2003-2010 (Little z's). 

Dr. Corey Seemiller received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Arizona State University, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Arizona. She has worked as a leadership educator in higher education, K-12, non-profits, military, and in the community for more than 20 years.

20180712_091601Before becoming an Assistant Professor in Organizational Leadership at Wright State University, Dr. Seemiller served as the Director of Leadership, Learning, and Assessment at OrgSync, Inc., a campus management technology platform for more than 450 colleges internationally. She oversaw all thought leadership initiatives and leadership research. She also served as the Director of Leadership Programs at the University of Arizona from 2006-2014 overseeing more than 3,000 participants in 10 leadership programs.

Legal writing professors must know about their students and their learning styles. Dr. Seemiller's research on college students in General Z disclosed that many things that are common knowledge for legal writing professors will be unknown to our students, such as an atlas (yes, the book of maps). She noted that 50 percent of teens believe that they are addicted to their smartphones, with instant and continuous access to information and distractions. The face an uncertain job market directly affected by the great recession, something that affected nearly three-quarters of Americans. And they live in an economy where more than 57 million people in the United States create career opportunities by freelancing: they make and sell things online, they start businesses on their own, and they are intensely creative. Her research also disclosed that Generation Z is severely affected by gun violence, including violence in schools. Generation Z students care about the environment and human rights.

Generation Z is also connected to social causes, including religious freedom and LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, reproductive rights, kneeling during the national anthem, DACA, the transgender military ban, the Trump Travel Ban, and separating children from their parents who come to the United States to seek asylum. They are the most ethnically-diverse generation to date, and more comfortable with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.. They distrust news media and only 25 percent of them trust information they receive from news organizations. Parents are the primary role models for 69 percent of Generation Z students (compared to 54% of Millennials and 29% of Gen Zers). And parents today are not helicopter pilots, but rather co-pilots who play a strong role in decisions that their children make.

Dr. Seemiller also discussed learning environments, information overload in a "fast-paced and flattened world," and that students are going for a quick answer rather than a correct answer. Research for Generation Z students is less about acquiring new knowledge and more about getting a quick answer to a particular question. They may rely on social media posts as fact, and frequently go to YouTube to learn how to do things. Dr. Seemiller reminded the conference attendees that legal writing professors do not only have a duty to teach, but now must help students unlearn misinformation that they may bring into the classroom. 

Dr. Seemiller's opening presentation helped the LWI conference attendees better understand the various influences facing their Generation Z students.


July 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Writing Institute Leadership: Congratulations to Professors Kim Chanbonpin, Kris Tiscione, and Kim Holst

The 18th Biennial Legal Writing Institute Conference is underway in Milwaukee at Marquette University School of Law and the Hilton Milwaukee.

Congratulations to Professor Kim D. Chanbonpin of The John Marshall Law School, who this week finishes her two-year term as President of the Legal Writing Institute. She is the Director of the Lawyering Skills Program at John Marshall, where she teaches Lawyering Skills, Criminal Law, Torts, Gender Race and Class, and National Security Law. She has also taught Introduction to the U.S. Legal System to LL.M. students in China's State Intellectual Property Office and at Masaryk University Faculty of Law in the Czech Republic. In 2014, she was a Visiting Professor at Seattle University School of Law. Her scholarly writing considers redress and reparations law, policy, and social movements in the United States. She is a contributor to the SALT Law blog, and her work has appeared in the U.C. Irvine Law Review, the Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy, and the Mercer Law Review, among other publications.

Professor Kristin Konrad Tiscione of Georgetown University Law Center is the new LWI President. She will serve as President until the summer of 2020 when the LWI will hold its next Biennial Conference at Georgetown. After graduating from the Law Center, Professor Tiscione (then Robbins) joined the firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C. While at Kirkland & Ellis, she specialized in commercial litigation, including products liability and copyright infringement. Professor Tiscione taught Legal Research and Writing while still in practice at the George Washington University National Law Center and then came to Georgetown to teach full-time in 1994. Her scholarly interests include classical and contemporary rhetoric, as well as empirical research in the current practice of law and its implications for legal pedagogy.

The new President-Elect of the Legal Writing Institute is Professor Kim Holst of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Her two-year term as President will begin in 2020. Her scholarship focuses on the interdisciplinary use of methods from various areas of educational pedagogy and their application to teaching the law. Her work is also applied to the development of law school pedagogy in the global context. She has presented to various international audiences about techniques for more effective law school pedagogy. Additionally, she has written in the areas of intellectual property law and criminal procedure. Before joining ASU in 2010, she taught Legal Research and Writing at Hamline University School of Law and at the University of Minnesota Law School. While at Hamline, Professor Holst created a pipeline for diversity pilot program aimed at helping middle school-aged children think about and aspire to a career in the law. She also developed a self-assessment tool to aid first-year law students in reflecting about their skills and knowledge as they relate to achieving the school’s learning outcomes. Professor Holst will also be a Co-Chair of the 2019 Global Legal Skills Conference.


July 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LWI Presidential Security

LWI Presidential SecuritySecurity levels are high at the LWI Biennial Conference in Milwaukee, where LWI President Kim Chanbonpin (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) is finishing her term and LWI President-Elect Kris Tiscione (Georgetown University Law Center) is about to take office. They are pictured here with LWI Board Members Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), Jason Palmer (Stetson University), and Bob Brain (Loyola Los Angeles). The LWI Conference opens tonight at Marquette University.


July 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

LWI Conference Starts Today

The largest, most important legal writing conference opens today at Marquette University School of Law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More than 400 (and probably more than 500) legal writing professors from around the country have gathered here to exchange tips and insights on the most effective ways to teach legal writing, drafting, and communication, as well as the latest in teaching legal research.

We invite LWI attendees to send us guest blog posts about the various sessions you attend this week. 

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

July 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sheila Slocum Hollis Finishes Three Years as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress

20180702_010644Sheila Slocum Hollis has finished a three-year term as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress. She's pictured here with incoming Standing Committee Chair, Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, at the 2018 Burton Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Legal Writing.

Sheila Slocum Hollis is chair of the Washington, D.C. office of Duane Morris LLP, and was the office’s founding managing partner, as well as the founding practice group leader for the firm’s Energy, Environment and Resources Practice Group. She served on the firm’s Executive Committee for more than a decade and the Partners Board for 20 years. Ms. Hollis practices in the areas of energy transactional and regulatory law and international and administrative law before government agencies, Congress, state and Federal courts, and other entities. She focuses on domestic and international energy, water and environmental matters, representing governmental bodies, the power and natural gas industries, and other entities.

Established in 1932 as the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Facilities of the Law Library of Congress, with a name change in 1993 to the Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, the committee serves as the voice of the legal profession concerning the Law Library of Congress (LLC). Over the years, working with Members of Congress and their staffs, the committee has obtained higher levels of funding for the LLC. In addition, collaborating with other nationally recognized professional societies, the committee facilitates efforts to increase Law Library visibility and supports the digitization of legal materials and other efforts that improve access to legal literature and resources. The committee has continued to work toward the development of the LLC as a national resource serving not only Congress but also the legal profession, universities, law schools, and the public.

Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago will become the new Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago this August. He has been a member of the Standing Committee and also previously served on the Advisory Commission to the Standing Committee.


July 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)