Monday, February 10, 2014

Reminder: Nominations for the Burton Awards

Nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education are now open.  Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

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 2010 Golden Pen Award from the Legal Writing Institute.

The Award Ceremony is held at the Library of Congress and it's undoubtedly the most glorious evening that celebrates legal writing.  My favorite moment?  Well, Bernadette Peters was the entertainment that evening, and I convinced one of the waiters that Professor Ralph Brill (who looks great in a tuxedo) was the actor Walter Matthau.

But back to the serious stuff.  For the last 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 black-tie gala 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 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, and
  • Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law.

To nominate an individual or group for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award, you are asked to describe concisely (of course concisely, it's a legal writing award) the contributions of the nominee.  Send your nomination to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:

  • Noah Messing [noah.messing [at] yale.edu]  
  • Grace Tonner [gtonner [at] law.uci.edu]  or
  • Nancy Schultz [nschultz [at] chapman.edu]

Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

Hat tip to Noah Messing

(mew)

February 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 7, 2014

The fall 2013 Perspectives issue has arrived!

The fall 2013 issue of Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing has arrived. In   Perspectives-fall 13
addition to its usual helpful articles, this issue has a complete index to all volumes of Perspectives, going back to the first issue in 1992.

 The current issue contains the following articles:

Judith Lihosit & Jane Larrington, Flipping the Legal Research Classroom

 Laurel E. Davis, Mary Ann Neary, & Susan E. Vaughn, Teaching Advanced egal Research in a Flipped Classroom

 Jessica L. Clark, Peer Review: Using Time, Place, and Manner Constraints to Maximize Learning

 Elizabeth Frost, Cross-Section Peer Review in First-Year Legal Research and Writing

 Sarah E. Ryan, Data, Statistics, or Secondary Statistical Analysis: Helping Students Articulate and Acquire the Numbers They're (Really) Seeking

 Adam G. Todd, Teaching "Scholarly Writing" in the First–Year LWR Class: Bridging the Divide between Scholarly and Practical Writing

 Jennifer Murphy Romig, Social Gaming Apps: Teaching Law Students What Communication with an Audience Is—and Isn't

 John D. Schunk, Simultaneous Catches and Infield Flies: Legal Writing Techniques in Sportswriting

 Patrick J. Charles, Reading and Understanding a Source Credit in the United States Code

 Sue Liemer, Starting Strong in Legal Writing: Summer Prep

(jdf)

 

February 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Garner argues for footnotes in judicial opinions

In his February ABA Journal column, Bryan Garner continues his long-running campaign for footnotes in judicial opinions. He argues that citations in the text make legal writing cumbersome. And he points out that while they might have been practical in the days of the typewriter, now “we can easily sweep those interruptions out of the way.”

Garner admits that not everyone agrees with him; so far, only a minority of judges has adopted his proposal. A year or so ago I was on a panel with judges and appellate lawyers, and when someone asked about footnotes in opinions, we unanimously disapproved of them. While readers of other kinds of writing may not care so much about sources, legal readers continually want to know cited cases’ names and their deciding courts and dates. It’s distracting to have to keep looking at the bottom of the page for that information. 

(jdf)

February 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse

2014 Year of the HorseTo help celebrate Chinese New Year, the Law Library of Congress--which as readers of this Blog know is the largest law library in the world--posted a helpful guide to law-making in China.

Click here to have a look. Happy 4713 everyone!

(mew)

 

February 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference

So you missed the first deadline to submit a proposal for the Global Legal Skills Confernce in Verona, Italy?

Don't worry.  Proposals are still being accepted.  Apply by February 14, 2014 to get an answer by February 28, 2014.

Visit the GLS conference website for more information about the conference and about how to submit a proposal.

(mew)

February 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 31, 2014

A law clerk's perspective on legal writing

Professor Brock Collins of Charleston School of Law recently offered a former judicial clerk's perspective on lawyers' Collins writing. As a clerk, he saw documents whose quality varied widely, and he concluded that "The quality of an attorney's credibility and reputation is based in large part on the quality and thoroughness of her legal writing." Among his suggestions for lawyers:  "Use IRAC. Seriously," and "Take care in citing authority." For other suggestions, see Brock's column at page 28 of the January 2014 Kentucky Bench and Bar Magazine.

(jdf)

January 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Leave out the part that readers skip

"Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip," advised writer Elmore Leonard in his "Rules for DickersonWriters."  Dean Darby Dickerson quotes that rule among other "Lessons from Fiction" in the Fall 2013 issue of The Scrivener, a publication of Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers.  The issue is not available on line yet, but check a hard copy for other useful guidelines, including Kurt Vonnegut's advice to give readers information early--"To heck with suspense." That guideline is especially appropriate for legal writers, whose busy readers often won't take the time guess at a writer's meaning.

(jdf)

January 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reminder: Nominations for the Burton Awards

Nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education are now open.  Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

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 2010 Golden Pen Award from the Legal Writing Institute.

The Award Ceremony is held at the Library of Congress and it's undoubtedly the most glorious evening that celebrates legal writing.  My favorite moment?  Well, Bernadette Peters was the entertainment that evening, and I convinced one of the waiters that Professor Ralph Brill (who looks great in a tuxedo) was the actor Walter Matthau.

But back to the serious stuff.  For the last 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 black-tie gala 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 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, and
  • Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law.

To nominate an individual or group for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award, you are asked to describe concisely (of course concisely, it's a legal writing award) the contributions of the nominee.  Send your nomination to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:

  • Noah Messing [noah.messing [at] yale.edu]  
  • Grace Tonner [gtonner [at] law.uci.edu]  or
  • Nancy Schultz [nschultz [at] chapman.edu]

Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

Hat tip to Noah Messing

(mew)

January 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Efficient Legal Research is More than an Academic Exercise

Inefficient research can do more than hurt you in a legal research and writing class. Check out this recent order from a New York City Civil Court. The judge scrutinizes a claim for attorney’s fees and ultimately rejects it because the bill included unnecessary and duplicative legal research. This should serve as an effective cautionary tale for law students and new associates alike.  The court opined that "[w]hile legal research may be billed for under appropriate circumstances, merely reading a court rule is not research."  Other examples included repetitive research-and-writing tasks and billing to research what should be within the common knowledge of any lawyer.

(dbb)

January 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Writing contest on women’s issues

The National Association of Women Lawyers has announced its annual student writing competition, which rewards original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. Named for California lawyer Selma Moidel Smith, who was admitted to the bar in 1943, the competition invites submissions on issues “concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law.” The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, and the winning paper will be published in the fall 2014 issue of NAWL's Women Lawyers Journal.  Entries are due by May 1, 2014. Read more about the contest here.

(jdf)

January 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 20, 2014

What's New in the New Version of the ALWD Citation Guide?

ALWD Manual AuthorThe new version of the ALWD Citation Guide turns what you know about citation manuals on its side.  You'll no longer see differences between citations made with the Bluebook and citations made with the ALWD Manual.  The only difference is that you'll be able to understand and use the ALWD Manual!  Thank you, Coleen Barger, for your work on the forthcoming new edition!  And thanks to ALWD for pushing for this new, now-there's-no-longer-an-excuse-why-you're-not-teaching-from-the-ALWD-manual edition.

(mew)

January 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Global Legal Skills Conference

So you missed the first deadline to submit a proposal for the Global Legal Skills Confernce in Verona, Italy?

Don't worry.  Proposals are still being accepted.  Apply by February 14, 2014 to get an answer by February 28, 2014.

Visit the conference website for more information about the conference and about how to submit a proposal.

(mew)

January 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nominations for the Burton Awards

Nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education are now open.  Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

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 2010 Golden Pen Award from the Legal Writing Institute.

The Award Ceremony is held at the Library of Congress and it's undoubtedly the most glorious evening that celebrates legal writing.  My favorite moment?  Well, Bernadette Peters was the entertainment that evening, and I convinced one of the waiters that Professor Ralph Brill (who looks great in a tuxedo) was the actor Walter Matthau.

But back to the serious stuff.  For the last 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 black-tie gala 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 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, and
  • Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law.

To nominate an individual or gropu for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award, you are asked to describe concisely (of course concisely, it's a legal writing award) the contributions of the nominee.  Send your nomination to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:

  • Noah Messing [noah.messing [at] yale.edu]  
  • Grace Tonner [gtonner [at] law.uci.edu]  or
  • Nancy Schultz [nschultz [at] chapman.edu]

Nominations are due by February 18, 2014.

Hat tip to Noah Messing

(mew)

January 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The latest Second Draft is here!

The latest issue of the official magazine of the Legal Writing Institute, The Second Draft, is here! Check it for interesting articles about teaching legal research and writing, as well as lots of news about colleagues around the country.

(jdf)

                                Second Draft

January 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Best Legal Movies of All Time

The Oklahoma Legal Group's blog has posted a new list of the best legal movies of all time. Number 1 on the list: To Kill a Mockingbird. The post includes key information about each movie and an explanation of how the list was chosen. Attorney Adam Banner, who compiled the list, also posted a graphic that includes interesting trivia about the top films and lists other notable legal films.  According to the graphic, the top-grossing legal film is The Firm, at more than 270 million dollars.

hat tip: David Wise

(jdf)

January 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Students' preparation for law school

                Have you been thinking that students are less prepared for law school than in the past? A recent item on the Washington Post blog helps to explain why. In it, a middle school teacher explains why she is leaving the profession. Here are some of her thoughts:

                "I realized that I am not permitted to really teach students anything. When I was in middle school, I studied Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Twain, O. Henry, the founding fathers, if you will, of modern literary culture. Now, I was called to drag them through shallow activities that measured meaningless but 'measurable' objectives.

                "Forced to abandon my hopes of imparting the same wisdom I had gained through my experiences and education, I resigned myself to the superficial curriculum that encouraged mindless conformity. I decided that if I was going to teach this nonsense, I was at least going to teach it well. I set my expectations high, I kept my classroom structured, I tutored students, I provided extra practice, and I tried to make class fun. . . .

                [Her grades followed a bell-shaped curve, including some Ds and Fs for students who had simply not turned in work. She was called into the principal’s office where she was told,] "'They are not allowed to fail. If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.'"

                "What am I not doing for them? I suppose I was not giving them the answers, I was not physically picking up their hands to write for them.

                "I was called down to the principal’s office many more times before I was broken, before I ended up assigning stupid assignments for large amounts of credit, ones I knew I could get students to do. Even then, I still had students failing, purely through their own refusal to put any sort of effort into anything. . . . [But] everyone received at least a C that year—not earned, received—and I was commended for my efforts."

hat tip: Julie Clement

(jdf)

January 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jan Levine Receives Awards During AALS Annual Meeting

Jan Levine AALSAALS Section Award

Jan M. Levine, Associate Professor and Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program at Duquesne University School of Law, received the prestigious Section Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.  The award was presented on Friday, January 3, 2014, during the annual luncheon held by the AALS-LWRR Section.  Presenting the award was the 2013-14 Section Chair Judith A. Rosenbaum (Northwestern University School of Law).

New AALS Section Officers Elected

Kimberly Holst (Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law), who had served for the past year as Chair-Elect of the AALS-LWRR Section, became Chair of the Section during the business meeting held at the AALS Annual Meeting in New York.  Jennifer Murphy Romig (Emory Univeristy School of Law), who had served as Secretary, became the new Section Chair-Elect.  Robert Brain (Loyola Law School of Los Angeles), who had been a member of the section's executive committee, became the new section Secretary (a position that includes producing the section's newsletter).

Blackwell Award Reception  

Niedwiecki ALWDJan Levine received a second award later that evening at a reception hosted jointly by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute (LWI).  The sister organizations jointly present the 12th Annual Thomas F. Blackwell Award to Jan Levine.

The Thomas F. Blackwell Award is named for a legal writing professor at Appalachian School of Law.  It recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improving the field of legal writing by demonstrating the ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence; a willingness to help other legal writing educators to improve their teaching skills and legal writing Jan Levine LWIprograms; and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.  The first Blackwell award was conferred in 2003 at the AALS meeting in Washington D.C., where it was presented by Tom's widow, Lisa Blackwell, and his three children, Zebadiah, Jillian, and Ezekiel. 

Jan Levine joins the following previous recipients of the Blackwell Award:

  • 2013    Judy Stinson, Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
  • 2012    Suzanne E. Rowe, University of Oregon School of Law
  • 2011    Carol McCrehan Parker, University of Tennessee College of Law
  • 2010    Steve Johansen, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • 2009    Linda H. Edwards, University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law
  • 2008     Diana V. Pratt, Wayne State University School of Law
  • 2007     Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Villanova University School of Law
  • 2006    Mary Beth Beazley, The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law
  • 2005    Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • 2004    Pamela V. Lysaught, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
  • 2003    Richard K. Neumann Jr., Hofstra University School of Law

Jan is the first person to receive the highest awards in the field of legal writing in the same year.

(mew)

January 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Leftovers from typewriter days

In his January ABA Journal column, Bryan Garner examines some leftovers from the typewriter age. Typography Double spacing after a period was the accepted format then, but the practice is now outdated, Garner explains. He also points out that while a few court rules still require an old typewriter font, Courier, those “backward anachronisms will surely disappear as more typographically enlightened rule-makers come to populate the relevant committees.”  Garner recommends Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers for those who want a good reference on document design.

(jdf)

January 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ken Adams to Receive the LWI Golden Pen Award

The Legal Writing Institute (LWI) has announced that Ken Adams is the recipient of the 2014 Golden Pen Award. The author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, published by the American Bar Association, Mr. Adams is an internationally known expert in legal drafting. The award will be presented during the 2014 Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, June 29-July 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. 

The LWI Awards Committee recommended Mr. Adams for the 2014 Golden Pen to recognize his exemplary work in contract drafting at a time when transactional law is increasingly important in the overall legal writing curriculum. The LWI Board unanimously approved the Awards Committee's recommendation.

The Golden Pen Award honors those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing.  These contributions may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents, improving the quality of legal writing instruction, advocating for better writing within the legal community, outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing or legal topics, or exceptional writing in law practice.  The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of LWI, but active members may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

According to The Lawyers Weekly, “in the world of contract drafting, Ken Adams is the guru.” The nomination submitted to the LWI Awards Committee echoed this assessment, stating that “Ken is the author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, simply the best guide to contract language—ever.” It went on to say that “[he] focuses on the language of contracts—not what you express in a given contract provision, but how to express it in modern and effective contract language. On that subject, he is without peer; no one else comes close.”

Mr. Adams’s blog is consistently listed in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (designated as the top 100 law-related blogs).  He also has been recognized by the ABA Journal as one of the leading innovators in the legal profession. As another blog put it, 

Mr. Adams has been recognized as a “Legal Rebel,” a lawyer dedicated to remaking the profession. Ken’s mission is to reform the way lawyers draft contracts. He’d like to see useless words, phrases, and clauses eliminated, and the remaining provisions translated into readable English. If your practice involves drafting contracts, then you should own a well-worn copy of Ken’s book, A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and you should read his blog regularly.

Mr. Adams practiced transactional law for more than 15 years and was a lecturer in law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 2006 to 2012, where he taught the school’s first course on contract drafting. He currently provides seminars throughout the U.S., Canada, and internationally (see http://www.adamsdrafting.com).

Previous recipients of the Golden Pen award are
  • Arthur Levitt, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Don LeDuc, Dean of the Thomas Cooley Law School;
  • Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times;
  • the late Honorable Robert E. Keeton of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts;
  • Richard Wydick, Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Law;
  • the Honorable Ronald M. George, the Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, and the Honorable James D. Ward, Justices of the Supreme Court of California and the California Court of Appeal;
  • the Honorable Ruggero J. Aldisert of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit;
  • the National Association of Attorneys General; William C. Burton, Esq.;
  • George Gopen, Professor of the Practice of Rhetoric in the English Department at Duke University; and Jeffrey Rosen, Professor of Law at The George Washington University and President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center.
The Legal Writing Institute Awards Committee is co-chaired by Hether Macfarlane (Pacific McGeorge) and Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago). Other members of the awards committee are Jill Barton, Kirsten Dauphinais, Jennifer Lear, and Lou Sirico. 
Hat tips to LWI President Melissa H. Weresh and LWI President-Elect Linda L. Berger
(mew)

January 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Proposals for the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference Due Friday

Proposals for the 14th Annual (hey, how did that happen?) Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference are due on Friday, January 10, 2013.  The conference will be held on March 28 & 29, 2014 at the UNLV Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Nevada, which does a nice job of putting on a conference.  Presentations are invited on any subject of interest to those teaching legal writing and research.  Most of the available slots will be for 25-minute presentations, but a few slots wiill be available for 50-minute presentations. Participants should limit submissions to one proposal so that we may provide as many people as possible with opportunities to present.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, January 10th. To submit a proposal, please send the following information to Sara Gordon at [email protected] and Susie Salmon at [email protected]:

1. Contact information for all presenters and co-presenters
2. Title of presentation
3. Brief (one-paragraph) description of the presentation
4. Time needed for presentation (25 minutes or 50 minutes)
5. Technology needs for the presentation

The Program Committee will make decisions no later than Friday, January 17th to provide enough time for presenters to make travel plans.  Registration is free.
 
Hat tips to Sara Gordon and Susie Salmon at UNLV.
 
(mew)

January 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)