Thursday, August 28, 2014

Supreme Court Review and Preview

The John Marshall Law School will hold a U.S. Supreme Court Review and Preview Program from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19, 2014. The law school is located at 315 S. Plymouth Court in Chicago.


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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Coleen Barger named distinguished professor

ALWD 5th EditionColeen Barger has been named Ben J. Altheimer Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of BargerArkansas at Little Rock.  Among her many contributions to the legal writing field, she is a co-author of the ALWD Citation Guide and is a founder of the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process.  She's also an editor emeritus of the Legal Writing Prof Blog.

Congratulations, Coleen!

(jdf and mew)

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The fall issue of JALWD has arrived

JALWD 8-14The fall issue of Legal Communication and Rhetoric: JALWD arrived in my mailbox today with lots of interesting articles. One that caught my eye is Hawking Hyphens in Compound Modifiers. Its author, Joan Magat, urges readers to hyphenate phrasal adjectives, asserting that the practice is “never incorrect.” To show how hyphens clarify compound adjectives, she provides as examples the phrases common-law rule and legal-writing curriculum, which would be ambiguous without the hyphens. The issue also contains an article by Heidi Brown titled Converting Benchslaps to Backslaps, in which Prof. Brown explains the origin of the term benchslap (the subject of yesterday's post).


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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bench Slap of the Day: Don't Plead the Kitchen Sink

From a federal district court decision authored by Judge Harry D. Leinenweber:  

The Court would like to make an observation. The parties should consider long and hard before requesting leave to amend any of the dismissed counts other than Counterclaim V. To say that the parties, particularly the Plaintiff, have attempted to plead the kitchen sink with respect to what appears to be a relatively simple employment case, is to understate the obvious. The Court would suggest to the parties, particularly the Plaintiff, to consider the problems associated with instructing a jury with such a mishmash of legal theories. To expect a jury to wade though the necessary issue instructions, together with the explanatory and definitional instructions would be monumental. Enough said!

Simmons v. Ditto Trade, Inc., 2014 WL 3889022 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 8, 2014).


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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New book on persuasion

Linda Edwards of UNLV has published a new book titled Readings in Persuasion: Briefs That Changed the Edwards book World. As Lucille Jewell’s review of the book explains, it presents briefs from real cases, including Loving v. Virginia and Lawrence v. Texas, infused with context. Jewell writes that “Students who use this book will form independent conclusions of advocacy approaches employed by the brief authors.”


August 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Interview with Judge Richard Posner

The July ABA Journal contains an informative interview with Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Posner, Richard 08-10 Circuit. Legal advocates will be interested in Judge Posner’s comment that judges “are not good at . . . preventing personal experiences of various sorts—emotions, deeply held beliefs, etc.—from influencing decisions.”  He also said that when judges lack sufficient information about a case, they “necessarily fall back on how [they] ‘feel’ about a case.” Posner also observed that he has changed his views over the years: "I'm much less reactionary than I used to be." That's appropriate, he says--judges should be willing to change their minds.


August 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Visit the New Website for Federal Legislation:

The Law Library of Congress has a new website, The new website makes it easier to search for information about federal legislation. It's pretty easy to use. Go on, have a look at It's pretty cool. And you're going to have to tell your students about it anyway.


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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grammar and Polish in the Wide World of Sports

Screenshot 2014-07-28 10.50.43Two sports stories caught my attention this weekend: the Colorado Rockies gave out 15000 jerseys Saturday night despite the misspelled name on the back, and the plaque for new Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux contains a grammatical error.

The plaque will probably stay as is, but the jerseys are going to be remade later this year. 


July 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Are You Going to the AALS Meeting in DC this January? Take an Extra Day to See the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta!

Lincoln CathedralIf you're going to Washington D.C. this January for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, plan an extra day to stop by the Library of Congress which will have a special exhibit on the Magna Carta.

The year 2015 will mark the 800th anniversary of the 1215 Magna Carta, the first document to limit the power of the King and to uphold the rights of the individual.

An exhibit called "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor" will open at the Library of Congress on November 6, 2014 and continue to January 19, 2015. It features the "Lincoln Cathedral" copy of the Magna Carta, which is being loaned by Lincoln Cathedral in England (pictured here).


July 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Law Library of Congress recently debuted a new website,

The new website makes it easier to search for information about federal legislation.   Go on, have a look at It's pretty cool.


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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Plagiarism Story: New York Times, Front Page, Above the Fold

Sen John WalshLegal writing professors often use prominent examples of plagiarism to warn their students about its dangers and how to avoid plagiarism. (Quick answer: cite whenever you use the words or ideas of others, keep good notes so you can do this, and if you plagiarize your intent doesn't matter.)

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of examples of prominent plagiarism to share with students.

Today's example lands on the FRONT PAGE of the NEW YORK TIMES.  Ouch.  And ABOVE THE FOLD.  Double ouch.

If you can buy a print copy of the New York Times, grab a copy and save it for your classes this fall.  You'll be amazed at how much space the newspaper devotes to the story, particularly the almost full page following on page A18.

If you access the electronic copy, you can play the interactive plagiairsm game and see how much of Senator Walsh's paper was plagiarized. 

Here's the link: If that doesn't work, go to the New York Times website and find the story on your own. Jonathan Martin, Senator's Thesis Turns Out to Be Remix of Others' Works, Uncited, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2014, at A1.

Senator Walsh is now 53 years old. According to the New York Times, he wrote the paper when he was a candidate for a Master's Degree from the U.S. Army War College, which he received in 2007 at the age of 46. The newspaper reports that the Army War College is conducting a review to determine if its former student committed plagiarism.

The story is a painful but important lesson for our students. Many of them go on to be elected in political and judicial offices. Something they do in law school can come back years later in their professional careers.


BONUS -- The best anti-plagiarism video ever made is from the University of Bergen in Norway. Click here to read more about that. 

July 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New ALWD-LWI survey results are available

RosenthalThe results of the 2014 ALWD-LWI survey are now available!  The report can  Mader-a be found on both the LWI and ALWD websites. By providing information about the field of legal writing at the country's various law schools, previous surveys have been influential in helping to upgrade the status of the field. The survey typically receives a very high response rate.

LWI president Linda Berger and ALWD president Kathleen Vinson congratulate survey co-chairs Marci Rosenthal and George Mader (pictured here) and their committee members for diligently completing a very time-consuming task.


July 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Professor Dan Markel, Florida State University, Dies After Being Shot

Dan Markel FSUProfessor Dan Markel, the D'Alemberte Professor at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee, focused his scholarship on topics such as the proper scope of mercy, the death penalty, punitive damages, shaming punishments, and transitional justice in states recovering from mass atrocities. He was raised in Toronto and studied politics and philosophy as an undergraduate at Harvard. He did graduate work in political philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge, before returning to Harvard for his law degree, where he was an Olin Fellow and on law review. Upon graduation from law school, Professor Markel was a research fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, a clerk for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and an associate at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., where he practiced white-collar criminal defense and civil litigation in trial and appellate courts. At Florida State University, he primarily taught in the area of criminal law.

He was shot at his home on Friday morning, around 11:00 a.m. and died of his wounds early this morning. Here is a link to a news report about the shooting.

A memorial service is planned for noon Sunday at Congregation Shomrei Torah, located at 4858 Kerry Forest Parkway, Tallahassee, Florida. His funeral will be held in Toronto.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends, students, and colleagues.


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

Legal Writing Photo of the Week

Here's a photo that I took in Honolulu many years ago -- the correction is mine. 

And Or (Honolulu)

(mew) Mark E. Wojcik






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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Western Regional Legal Writing Conference

Registration is now open for the Western Regional Legal Writing Conference, to be held on September 19 and 20th at Stanford Law School.  The theme of the conference is Beyond Carrots and Sticks: Motivating Students to Do Their Best Work. Register by clicking here:

The conference features a keynote address by Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: A New Psychology of Success, as well as presentations by legal writing professors from across the country. Registration is free, but the organizers ask attendees to register by the beginning of September.
Hat tip to Jeanne Merino

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Critique of "Word Crimes"

Yesterday, Mark shared the video for Weird Al's "Word Crimes." Today, my colleague Ellie Margolis passed along this critique from Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty).

(Hint: she finds it somewhat...Tacky.)


July 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RSVP for the 2014 Scribes Annual Membership Luncheon in Boston


Scribes LogoThe 2014 Scribes Annual Membership Luncheon will be held during the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Boston on Friday, August 8, 2014 from Noon to 2:00 p.m. The luncheon will be held in the Colonnade Boston Hotel, Braemore/Kenmore Rooms, 120 Huntington Avenue, Boston. The Scribes Brief-Writing and Book Awards will be given during the luncheon. Get more information and confirm your attendance by e-mailing or call 517.371.5140, ext. 4402. RSVP's are kindly asked by July 31, 2014.

For more information about Scribes, including membership information, click here.


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

Word Crimes: The Music Video

Our favorite video of the week . . . WORD CRIMES


Hat tip to Jan Levine


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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Current information about submitting law review articles

LevitUMKC professors Nancy Levit and Allen Rostron (pictured here) recently posted Rostron current information for scholars seeking to publish in law reviews. Among other helpful points, their post identifies the eight schools that now accept submissions only through Scholastica.


July 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pronunciation of “Certiorari”

I always thought Katharine Hepburn mispronounced the word certiorari in the movie Adam’s Duane Rib. As I recall, she hesitated a faction of a second and pronounced it “ser-shuh-RARE-ee” (rhyming with dairy). I thought the Anglicized “rare” was wrong for a Latin word, and that the actress was simply unaware of the legal term.

Well, the pronunciation of certiorari is a lot more complicated than I thought. In an entertaining piece in the latest Green Bag, Regent University’s James Duane (pictured at right) delved into the topic and found no set pronunciation of the term. The 2004 edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, for which Duane was an editor, presented three pronunciations without specifying a preference. So Duane decided to see how Supreme Court Justices pronounce the term. He found five pronunciations: retired Justice Stevens and Justices Thomas and Alito say “ser-shee-or-RAHR-ee” ( rhyming with Ferrari); Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Breyer say “ser-shee-or-RARE-eye” (rhyming with fair guy);  former Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices O’Connor and Souter said “ser-shee-or-RARE-ee”(rhyming with dairy); Justice Kennedy says “ser-shee-or-ARR-eye,” rhyming with far cry; and Justice Sotomayor says “ser-shee-ARR-ee.” In light of this disagreement among the justices, Duane finds the most pragmatic to be Justice Ginsburg, who seems to have concluded that “certiorari simply should not be spoken aloud in polite society.” While she often writes the word, she avoids it when speaking from the bench, using the shorter “cert” or simply referring to the Court granting “review.” Justice Kagan takes the same approach.

I’ve always said “ser-shuh-RAHR-ee,” on the theory that tio is a single syllable as in nation and the final vowels should have Latin pronunciations. But now I think I’ll just say “cert.”


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