Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Mel Weresh Named as the 2017 Recipient of the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing
The Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute are proud to announce that Professor Mel Weresh of Drake University Law School is the winner of the 2017 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing.
This Blackwell Award is one of the most prestigious awards in legal writing. The Boards of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) jointly created this distinguished award to honor the life of Thomas Blackwell, a professor at Appalachian Law School who was one of three people murdered at the law school in 2002 by a deranged student. To honor Tom's memory and his commitment to legal writing education, the award 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.
Mel Weresh is a professor of law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at Drake University Law School. She has always been known by readers of this blog as a "Legal Writing Superstar." She is a past president of the Legal Writing Institute and a Past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Teaching Methods.
She is also the 2009 winner of the Warren E. Burger Prize of the American Inns of Court, a writing competition designed to promote scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence.
Her publications include Iowa Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press, 2d ed. 2016) and Legal Writing: Ethical and Professional Considerations (also published now by Carolina Academic Press).
The Blackwell Award Reception will be held during the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law School, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, from 8 to 10 p.m.
The previous winners of the Blackwell award are:
- 2016 - Coleen Miller Barger, University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
- 2015 - Helene Shapo, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
- 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
- 2008 - Diana Pratt, Wayne State
- 2007 - Louis Sirico, Villanova Law School
- 2006 - Mary Beth Beazley, Ohio State
- 2005 - Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent
- 2004 - Pam Lysaght, Detroit Mercy
- 2003 - Richard K. Neumann, Hofstra University
"How many legal writing professors does it take to change a lightbulb?" Answer: "We wish that we had the resources to change the lightbulb."
Hat tips to ALWD President Wanda M. Temm (University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law) and LWI Presdient Kim D. Chanbonpin (The John Marshall Law School). And congratulations to Professor Weresh!
SALT Teaching Conference at The John Marshall Law School Features Many Legal Writing Professors and Panels
The Society of American Law Schools 2016 Teaching Conference officially starts tomorrow at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, bringing hundreds of educators from around the country. The program includes a tremendous number of legal writing programs and professors, including panels on "Legal Writing, Clinical Teaching, and Social Justice" and "Social Justice and the Legal Writing Classroom."
IF YOU'RE ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE please write up a short description of the legal writing panels you attend. We'll be happy to post it here to share with the broader legal writing community.
IF YOU'RE NOT ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE, well, why aren't you? :)
Here's a photo of the full-time Lawyering Skills Faculty at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, including Legal Writing Institute President Kim Chanbonpin, Scribes Vice President Mark E. Wojcik, and other members of the legal writing faculty.
Front row (from left to right): Professors Hugh Mundy, Lurene Contento (Director of the Writing Resource Center and a past winner of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Writing Award), Kim Chanbonpin (Directer of the Lawyering Skills Program), Joanne Simboli Hodge (Associate Director of the Moot Court Honors Program) and David Sorkin (Director of the Hybrid JD and Distance Education Program and Faculty Advisor to the Journal of Information Technology and Privacy Law).
Back row (from left to right): Professors Mary Nagel (who also serves as Director of Externships at The John Marshall Law School), Maureen B. Collins (Editor-in-Chief of The Scrivener and Faculty Advisor to the Review of Intellectual Property Law), Mark E. Wojcik (Vice President of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers, a Board Member of the Legal Writing Institute, an editor of the Legal Writing Prof Blog, a Past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, founder of the Global Legal Skills Conference Series, and member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress), Cynthia Bond, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Anthony Niedwiecki (former Director of the Lawyering Skills Program and Past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors), Steven D. Schwinn (an editor of the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Director of the Community Legal Clinics, and Co-Director of the International Human Rights Clinic), Maureen Kordesh (another Past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and also a former Director of the Lawyering Skills Program), and Ardath Hamann (Director of the Moot Court Honors Program).
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Legal writers would do well to abandon the use of the ambiguous word "shall" that we find so often in statutes, regulations, contracts, and other documents. It should be removed and replaced by other words such as "must" or "will" or "should" or other words that would more readily communicate whether a provision was mandatory or merely a suggestion or a directive. Professor Joe Kimble of the Thomas Cooley Law School did this with the Federal Rules, taking out every instance of the word shall (except for one that got put back in because the drafters could not decide whether it was mandatory or merely a suggestion).
One recent example comes now from the Illinois Supreme Court decision People v. Geiler, 2016 IL 119095, 405 Ill. Dec. 123 (Ill. July 8, 2016) where the court rule directing transmission of traffic citations to the circuit court clerk within 48 hours of being issued was found to be directory, rather than mandatory.
If we ever counted how many hours and how much money has been spent litigating over the meaning of the word "shall," we would quickly abandon further use of that word in our legal writing. We shall see.
In past editions of the Bluebook, the Illinois Appellate Court was abbreviated as "Ill. App." In recent editions, it's abbreviated now as "Ill. App. Ct."
In past editions of the Bluebook, the Indiana Court of Appeals was abbreviated as "Ind. App." And yes, we knew it was a court without having "Ct." as part of that abbreviation. The abbreviation now for the Indiana Court of Appeals is now "Ind. Ct. App."
So we have "Ill. App. Ct." and "Ind. Ct. App." today where we would have previously just had "Ill. App." and "Ind. App."
Do the Bluebook editors think that we don't know that the Illinois Appellate Court is a court? Why do we need "Ct." as part of the abbreviation? It adds nothing substantively to the citation. It wastes time of countless lawyers and law students who have to look up each state individually to see if "Ct." goes before or after "App." It's another stupid Bluebook Rule.
P.S. Guest rants against the Bluebook are welcome. Send us your favorite stupid Bluebook Rule.
Monday, September 26, 2016
As most people in the profession know, our profession is a rather new one in terms of the history of legal education and was established initially by virtue of a handful of people fighting tirelessly for respect and credibility.Marjorie Rombauer was one of these individuals, if not THE first person who dedicated her career to the profession. Marjorie began teaching at the University of Washington in 1960, and by the time the first wave of "newbies" began the true development of Legal Writing in 1980, Marjorie was the matriarch to whom most people entering the field turned for advice and support. She was omnipresent in every Legal Writing organization, and often provided the foundation on which so many conference panels were based.She was the first person to self-publish a book explaining how to teach Legal Analysis -- a book that West Publishing would not publish because they did not believe there was much demand for it. [West later changed its mind about the importance of textbooks for legal writing.]She was also the person who helped convince the Association of American Law Schools that our Section name should contain the description of "Reasoning" so that others did not think we taught skills that should be separated out from legal thought or analysis.. . .
Marjorie was about as down to earth and humble as a person could possibly be. She never felt that anything she did was much of a big deal, and was thrilled at the successes of those who followed in her footsteps. She was a lover of cats, and someone who, at the age of 75, could be found fixing the roof on her house. She was extremely dedicated to family, and especially cherished the memory of her husband Edgar Rombauer, a notable attorney in his own right and who, interestingly enough, was the son of Irma Rombauer, author of the Joy of Cooking. Marjorie told me the story about how Edgar disappointed his mother by deciding to be a photographer in the west rather than initially going into the legal profession in St. Louis. Fate brought Edgar into Marjorie's life as she was attempting to golf her way across the country starting from her home in North Dakota. She said she stayed in Seattle because she "ran out of money." Aside from law and golf and fixing things, Marjorie was an accomplished accordion player and spoke fluent Japanese.
For those who wish to know Marjorie a bit better, here is a link to an article written by Professor Mary Lawrence.
Here is also a video of Marjorie's remarks in 2011 upon accepting the 2011 Burton Award for Excellence in Legal Writing Education.
As Karin Mika wrote, "Marjorie Rombauer, legend and friend, will be greatly missed." We extend our sympathy to her colleagues, family, friends, and former students who were lucky enough to have her as a teacher.
Hat tip to Karin Mika
Here are some additional stories about Marjorie Rombauer:
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Since Texas A&M University School of Law acquired the law school from Texas Wesleyan University in August of 2013, the law school has embarked on a program of investment that increased its entering class credentials and financial aid budgets, while shrinking the class size; hired nineteen new faculty members, including thirteen prominent lateral hires; improved its physical facility; and substantially increased its career services, admissions, and student services staff.
The school is again hiring additional faculty. Texas A&M University School of Law now seeks to expand its academic program and its strong commitment to scholarship by hiring multiple exceptional faculty candidates for contract, tenure-track, or tenured positions, with rank dependent on qualifications and experience. Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent. Preference will be given to those with demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and strong classroom teaching skills. Successful candidates will be expected to teach and engage in research and service. Although the law school welcomes applications in all subject areas, it particularly invites applications from:
1) Candidates who are interested in expanding and building on our innovative Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic (with concentrations in both trademarks and patents), or in one of our other acclaimed clinical areas, including Family Law and Benefits Clinic, Employment Mediation Clinic, Wills & Estates Clinic, Innocence Clinic, and Immigration Law Clinic; and
2) Candidates with an oil and gas law and/or energy law background, either domestic U.S. or international, who are interested in interdisciplinary research, teaching, and programmatic activities.
3) Candidates with strong classroom skills and scholarly achievement interested in teaching in its Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Program.
Although the law school is primarily interested in entry-level candidates for the above positions, more experienced candidates may be considered to the extent that their qualifications respond to the law school’s needs and interests.
In addition, the law school welcomes lateral and highly experienced professionals for the following positions:
1) Candidates with experience in IP licensing and technology transfers, with relevant academic and/or professional science background, and who are interested in working and building synergies with the Texas A&M University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
2) Candidates in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution with a national or international reputation and stellar credentials in scholarship, teaching, and service, and with an interest in building our nationally ranked dispute resolution program;
3) Candidates in any field with a national or international reputation and stellar credentials in scholarship, teaching, and service;
Texas A&M University is a tier one research institution and American Association of Universities member. The university consists of 16 colleges and schools that collectively rank among the top 20 higher education institutions nationwide in terms of research and development expenditures.
Texas A&M School of Law is located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the country. The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of six million people, offers a low cost of living, a strong economy, and access to world-class museums, restaurants, entertainment, and outdoor activities.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the university’s academic community. Applicants should email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor Eckstein at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.
Nominations for 2017 AALS Section Award to Honor a Significant Lifetime Contribution to the Field of Legal Writing and Research
The Awards Committee for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is pleased to solicit nominations for the 2017 Section Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the field of legal writing and research. The award was formally created at the AALS Section Business Meeting in January 1995 and conferred for the first time in January 1996 at the AALS Annual Meeting. The award has sometimes been described as a Lifetime Achievement Award in Legal Writing Education.
The 2017 AALS Section award will be presented at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, January 5, 2017, during the section luncheon.
Past winners of the AALS Section Award include:
- 2016 - Suzanne Rowe (Oregon)
- 2015 - Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago)
- 2014 - Jan Levine (Duquesne)
- 2013 - Terrill Pollman (UNLV) and Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii) [two winners that year]
- 2012 - Susan Brody (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) and Mary Barnard Ray (Wisconsin) [two winners that year]
- 2011 - Elizabeth Fajans (Brooklyn)
- 2010 - Joe Kimble (Thomas Cooley)
- 2009 - Richard K. Neumann, Jr. (Hofstra)
- 2008 - Eric Easton (Baltimore)
- 2007 - Anne Enquist (Seattle)
- 2006 - Terri LeClerq (Texas)
- 2005 - Marilyn Walter (Brooklyn)
- 2003 - Laurel Currie Oates (Seattle)
- 2002 - Helene Shapo (Northwestern)
- 1997 - Ralph Brill (Chicago-Kent)
- 1996 - Mary Lawrence (Oregon)
(We know that some years are missing from this list -- please contact us if you are able to fill in the names of winners for the missing years.)
Please submit nominations before October 15, 2016. There is no particular form required to nominate someone. A simple letter or email message naming the person and describing some of his or her work should be enough. (If it isn't, we'll contact you for more information.) You can also submit additional letters of support, but the nomination form by itself is enough.
Send nominations to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, email@example.com. Please also copy the Award Committee Co-Chair, Professor Rosario Schrier, at firstname.lastname@example.org Please put "AALS Section Award Nomination" in the re line.
Friday, September 23, 2016
The 20th edition of the Bluebook requires a citation to a Restatement to include "American Law Institute" in the parenthetical with the year of publication. For example:
- Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition § 3 (Am. Law Inst. 1995).
(If you're citing this in a law review footnote, the "Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition" and "Am. Law Inst." would be in large and small caps).
In previous editions, lawyers and other legal researchers somehow magically knew that the Restatements were published by the American Law Institute. It wasn't necessary to include "Am. Law Inst." The year was enough. And under that same rule, if you're citing the Uniform Commercial Code, you have to put "Am. Law Inst. & Unif. Law Comm'n" in the parenthetical. All of this can be found in Rule 12.9.4 of the 20th edition of the Bluebook. And that's what happens when law students write the citation rules instead of professors, practitioners, or judges.
We're happy to publish your rants about other "Stupid Bluebook Rules." Please send them to us, and we'll post them. And who knows, maybe some future Bluebook editors will read it and adopt instead a more sensible rule. The "Uniform System of Citation" shouldn't be an "Uninformed System of Citation."
Thursday, September 22, 2016
- Early Registration: September 19, 2016 through November 1, 2016
- 1 Team: $450
- 2 Teams: $800
- Late Registration: November 2, 2016 through December 5, 2016
- 1 Team: $500
- 2 Teams: $1,000
- Problem Released: January 9, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time
- Brief Submission Due On: February 20, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time
- Competition Dates: March 31, 2017 through April 2, 2017
Friday, September 16, 2016
Elon University School of Law seeks applicants for the tenure-track or contract position of Director of the law school’s First-Year Legal Method & Communication Program. The ideal applicant will be an excellent teacher and scholar who is prepared to lead through collaboration with a faculty and staff committed to curricular innovation. Experience directing a legal writing program is preferred.
During the past two years Elon Law has launched an innovative 2.5-year curriculum that is consistent with its mission to be the preeminent law school for engaged and experiential education in law. Central to that mission is an expanded role for communications across the curriculum: in addition to the required 1L Legal Method & Communication sequence, all Elon Law students must also take a communication course in every upper level term, including a full-time residency-in-practice during their 2L year. As the current director shifts her attention to development of the upper-level curriculum, we seek an innovative teacher who will further integrate the law school’s 1L writing curriculum with other first-year courses to create a unified first-year experience for students and who will work with the current director to build a comprehensive communications curriculum that extends from matriculation to graduation.
The law school’s first-year LMC program is taught in six sections of approximately 22-23 students. In addition to working with other faculty to integrate the first-year curriculum, the director of the first-year program will work closely with Elon’s research librarians, who teach a one-credit legal research course to first-year students, and with Elon’s Writing Specialist. The program is housed in the newly-opened Center for Excellence in Legal Analysis and Communication, with classroom, faculty offices, and common spaces designed to facilitate collaboration among faculty and provide a supportive environment for student learning.
Applicants for the position must hold a J.D. or equivalent degree. An equitable, inclusive and diverse campus and curriculum are critical to our educational mission. Therefore Elon Law is committed to enhancing equity, inclusion and diversity, including our capacity for teaching students from all backgrounds. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost. Please send your application or any inquiries regarding this position to Professor Andrew Haile, Chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee, at email@example.com.
Legal Research & Writing Faculty Teaching Position Job Posting Disclosure Form
- The position advertised: is a tenure-track appointment. OR may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
The position will be a contract OR a tenure-track appointment.
- The professor hired: will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
A professor hired on a contract may not vote on the promotion and tenure of tenure-track professors.
- The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below. (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; a base salary does not include conference travel or other professional development funds.)
X over $120,000
X $110,000 - $119,999
X $100,000 - $109,999
X $90,000 - $99,999
Salary depends on qualifications and experience. Professor is also eligible for professional development funds and summer research grants.
- The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be:
X a. 30 or fewer in a legal writing class
Professors teach four classes per year. The three-trimester Legal Method & Communication class averages 20-24 students per section. LMC professors may also teach an additional class during one trimester, with enrollments ranging from approximately 12-24 students in a writing course or small seminar, to approximately 30-50 in a traditional upper level course. Course relief in recognition of administrative responsibilities may be subject to negotiation.
The Fifth Colonial Frontier Legal Writing Conference
Saturday, December 3, 2016
“Drafting Statutes and Rules: Pedagogy, Practice, and Politics”
Hosted by the Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, PA
Sponsored by LexisNexis with additional support from Wolters Kluwer Legal Education
Practicing attorneys frequently engage in statutory, regulation, and rule drafting whether it be drafting corporate governance documents, crafting legislative initiatives for non-profit clients, or engaging with highly regulated industries. Despite increasing need for such skills in law practice, the drafting of statutes, ordinances, regulations, and rules (for public laws or governance of non-governmental entities) remains one of the least common law school subjects. Commonly, instruction focuses on the repercussions of poorly written statutes or rules, on the courts’ efforts at application and interpretation of statutory language, and on scholarly criticism of statutes. Instead, law schools should teach students and practitioners how to better draft statutes and similar documents to avoid confusion, ambiguities, disagreements, and litigation.
Duquesne University School of Law's 2016 legal writing conference offers attendees an opportunity to hear from academicians who teach how to write statutory materials, practitioners who craft statutes and similar rules, and other scholars who study all forms of legislation. Lawyers representing corporate and non-profit clients, as well as those practicing in highly regulated areas of law, will find this program helpful in developing both skills in the art of statutory and rule drafting, and in learning about resources available to clients in need of such drafting.
Here is the list of presentations:
- Prof. Richard Neumann, Hofstra, & Prof. J. Lyn Entrikin, Arkansas Little-Rock – Teaching the Art and Craft of Drafting Public Law: Statutes, Rules, and More
- Prof. Lisa Rich, Texas A&M – One-Pagers, Testimony, and Rulemaking Comments, Oh My! Teaching Public Policy Drafting Techniques in a Law School Setting
- Prof. Olivia Farrar, Howard – From Self-Determination To Self-Regulation: Teaching Legal Drafting Through Negotiating And Writing Class Rules
- Profs. Dakota S. Rudesill & Terri Enns, Ohio State, Legislative Drafting Exercises: Design Decisions and Experiential Experiments
- Governor Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania) & Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (Pennsylvania), with Prof. John Rago, Duquesne (Moderator) – From Chaos to Creation: A Look Behind the Curtain on the Flow of Policy-Making Powers Between Pennsylvania's Executive and Legislative Leaders
- Prof. Jamie Abrams, Louisville – Teaching Legislation in the Era of Trump
- Prof. Charles Trost, Belmont – The Government Relations Clinic
- Prof. Rex Frazier, McGeorge – The Capital Lawyering Concentration & Courses
- Prof. Heidi Brown, Brooklyn – Misprision of a Felony? Using State and Federal “Failure to Report a Felony” Statutes to Illustrate Language Choices in Legislation
- Prof. Ann Schiavone, Duquesne – Writing the Law:Promoting Community Engagment and Social Justice Through Statutory And Rule Drafting
Attendance at the one-day conference, on Saturday, December 3, 2016, will be free for presenters, Duquesne faculty, and $50 for non-presenters with an academic or government affiliation; other attendees will be charged $125 for the full-day conference or $50 for those attending only the afternoon sessions. We anticipate offering continuing legal education credit of four hours for attorneys attending the entire conference; attendees may also register for the afternoon sessions for two hours of credit. Duquesne will provide free on-site parking to conference attendees.
Pittsburgh is an easy drive or short flight from many cities. To accommodate persons wishing to stay over in Pittsburgh on Friday or Saturday evenings, Duquesne is arranging for a block of discounted rooms ($144 per night) at the Marriott City Center hotel adjacent to campus, within walking distance of the law school and downtown Pittsburgh. We will also provide attendees with information about the Pittsburgh area’s attractions, including our architectural treasures, museums, shopping, and sporting events. To register for the conference and review the conference agenda, information about hotel accommodations and other materials, please visit the conference webpage at http://law.duq.edu/events/drafting-statutes-and-rules-pedagogy-practice-and-politics.
Jan M. Levine
Professor & Director, Legal Research & Writing Program
Duquesne University School of Law
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Guest Blog Post: Building the Legal Writing Discipline -- A Good Reason to Attend the Rhetoric Society of America Conference
In case you missed her earlier guest blog post this year, we're happy to share again this article from Professor Kirsten Davis of Stetson University, who strongly recommends attending conferences and institutes of the Rhetoric Society of America. Here's her report on the 2016 Conference:
The 17th Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Conference was held earlier this year in Atlanta: 1600 participants, 500 sessions, a countless number of intriguing ideas about words, symbols, and meaning. And I'm awash in thoughts about the future of legal writing teaching and scholarship.
In the community of law school faculty with research interests in legal writing, we are in the middle period, I believe, of developing the field of legal writing as an academic discipline. We are creating a canon of legal writing, theorizing our practices and pedagogy, testing our assumptions, engaging in scholarly debates, and turning a critical eye upon the acts and artifacts of legal writing. It's an exciting time. Being at the RSA Conference reminded me that faculty whose academic homes are in composition, technical writing, English, and human communication can offer much in the continued discipline-building process. Their work, sophisticated and rich, can prompt us to expand and explode our boundaries, learn new methods, and ask both the big and small questions of legal writing.
In her conference talk entitled The Fifth Persona, Katie Langford of Texas Tech explored how Justice Kennedy in his Obergefell opinion used his insider status to assume the role of an outsider and give voice to same-sex couples when the political attempts to gain voice had failed. This made me think about patterns of legal writing: How do we identify when other judges and lawyers are writing from this insider/outsider position? Does this style of legal writing suggest a sub-genre? What other sub-genres might we identify?
In a session entitled run_progynasmata: The Training of a Rhetorical Device, William Hart-Davidson of Michigan State, James Brown of Rutgers-Camden, Kevin Brock of the University of South Carolina, and Ryan Omizo, of the University of Rhode Island blew my mind with their work at the intersection of rhetoric, writing, and machine learning. Their computer application, Hedge-O-Matic, uses machine learning to identify hedging language in documents. As an aid the rhetoric researcher, the machine analyzes written texts on a scale and at a speed that humans cannot accomplish. And it does this by being shown examples of hedges and then applying its own reasoning to find instances of hedges in new documents.
I think this project is of double importance to the legal writing community. First, it provokes new questions about the future of legal writing and what it might hold. We've been interested in reading on the screen, mobile technologies, and visual images as part of legal writing's future. But what about machine learning in legal writing? If machines can take over part of the legal writing process, should they? Which aspects of writing are suitable for machines? And, should we be teaching legal writers how to train their machine writing partners? What will we lose or gain if machines reason through parts of the legal writing process for lawyers?
Second, legal writing researchers can ask how machine learning can help us study legal writing and legal texts. What components of legal writing could we train machines to recognize? What would we learn from that process? For example, if we used Hedge-O-Matic to identify instances of hedging in judicial opinions, briefs, or, perhaps, even contracts, what would we learn and what could we theorize?
On a panel that addressed Rhetorical Education as Legal Education, Elizabeth Britt of Northeastern University presented her research on rhetorical listening in clinical legal education. Britt's ethnographic study observed law students interviewing—but not giving legal advice to—victims of domestic violence. The results showed how rhetorical listening, the act of listening to learn the other's point of view, is an essential precursor to the "legal" listening that lawyers do. Dr. Britt's study made me wonder whether rhetorical listening should be part of legal writing education. How would we teach it? How does rhetorical listening relate to legal writing? In what other contexts would we observe rhetorical listening in the law and study it?
Finally, Brian Larson of Georgia Tech in his talk, LeMeme Chose: Lawyers Use of Exemplary Reasoning in Legal Writing, used argumentation theory and technical writing research methods to examine case-based legal argument in court briefs and opinions. Dr. Larson applied exemplary-argument schema by coding briefs and opinions for different kinds of case references. His pilot study showed that none of the texts used a case reference to expressly claim the relevance of precedent cases to the client facts. Hmmm. So, what's going on here? If this step of argument is missing from briefs and opinions, is legal writing as a course failing to teach it? How might we know? If Dr. Larson's full study yields the results of the pilot, should we rethink best practices in legal writing? How else might we test the structure of lawyers' arguments, and what would we learn?
I am thoroughly energized from my time at the RSA Conference. My mind was opened to new ideas and new directions for legal writing research. And I found a welcoming community of colleagues and collaborators. The next RSA Institute will be in 2017: Hope to see you there!
Kirsten K. Davis, Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Legal Communication, Stetson University College of Law
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
SAMFORD UNIVERSITY’S CUMBERLAND SCHOOL OF LAW is seeking applicants to fill the position of Director of Lawyering and Legal Reasoning beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year. The Lawyering and Legal Reasoning program is a first-year required course offering designed to ensure students possess outstanding legal reasoning, research and writing skills. The program forms the cornerstone of the first-year curriculum.
In addition to teaching core aspects of the legal writing curriculum, the Director of the Lawyering and Legal Reasoning program is responsible for the training and supervision of legal writing instructors and student teaching fellows. The position requires strong leadership and collaborative skills as well as the ability to adapt the legal writing curriculum to meet the changing needs of the legal profession. This is a tenure-track position and applicants should have superior academic credentials and a demonstrated record of, or the potential for, of excellence in teaching, legal scholarship and service. Prior teaching experience is advantageous but not required. The committee is particularly interested in candidates with relevant experience in private practice, government or public service. Salary and rank are commensurate with the candidate’s experience and skills.
Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, or age in its hiring. In furtherance of our strong institutional commitment to a diverse faculty, we particularly welcome applications from minorities, women, and others who enrich and diversify our faculty. Please forward a letter of interest, a resume or Curriculum Vitae, and a list of three references to: Professor Jill E. Evans, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham AL 35229 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, September 9, 2016
The Southeast Regional Legal Writing Conference will be held April 21-22, 2017 at Stetson University’s Institute for the Advancement of Legal Communication. There will also be a one-day Law and Rhetoric Colloquium that same weekend. For more information about these events, contact Professor Kirsten K. Davis at Stetson University College of Law.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Here are links to 20 job postings for legal writing professors and other law faculty positions in the United States and Canada. The list is alphabetical by state (followed by the listing in Canada). Cut and paste the links.
- Phoenix, Arizona: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/arizona.html
- Little Rock, Arkansas (1): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-arkansas.html
- Little Rock, Arkansas (2): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/arkansas.html
- Little Rock, Arkansas (3): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/business-innovations-law-clinic-director-job.html
- Colorado Springs, Colorado [U.S. Air Force Academy]: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/air-force.html
- Miami, Florida: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-miami.html
- Boston, Massachusetts [Suffolk]: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/suffolk.html
- Boston, Massachusetts [Boston University]: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/boston.html
- Newton, Massachusetts: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-near-boston.html
- Lincoln, Nebraska: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/nebraska.html
- Las Vegas, Nevada: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-las-vegas.html
- Ithaca, New York (1): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/legal-writing-job-at-cornell-university.html
- Ithaca, New York (2): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/professors-at-cornell.html
- Ithaca, New York (3): http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-at-cornell.html
- New York, New York: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-at-cornell-tech-in-new-york-city.html
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-north-carolina-at-wake-forest.html
- Akron, Ohio: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-ohio.html
- Memphis, Tennessee: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-tennessee.html
- Fort Worth, Texas: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/job-opening-in-texas.html
- British Columbia, Canada: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2016/09/law-professor-job-in-british-columbia-canada.html
If your school has an opening not listed here, please send it to us and we'll be happy to put it on the Legal Writing Prof Blog for you. We're also happy to post news of new hires and promotions, upcoming conferences, calls for papers and proposals, new scholarship, and other events of interest to the legal writing community. (And thank you for more than 1.6 million views of the Legal Writing Blog over the years!)
Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, Editor, The Legal Writing Prof Blog
BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW is seeking exceptionally qualified and experienced candidates for full-time positions as Lecturers in our Lawyering Program with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2017. The Lawyering Program is a new two-semester course replacing our current First Year Legal Writing Program. Lecturers will be responsible for teaching the required first year Lawyering course that will cover legal reasoning, legal writing, oral advocacy, and lawyering skills. Lecturers will also teach in our one-week Lawyering Lab during January intercession.
It is anticipated that each Lecturer will teach thirty-five to forty students a semester in the Lawyering Program, divided into two sections. Each section of the course will be assigned two upper-class Writing Fellows, who will work with the students as they draft their assignments. In addition to teaching, Lecturer responsibilities include helping to develop persuasive and objective writing assignments and simulations, conducting individual student conferences, training and judging students in oral advocacy, coaching moot court teams, and providing individual feedback on students’ written work.
These Lecturer positions are non-tenure track appointments to a one- or two-year initial contract, with the possibility of successive appointments. Candidates must have a degree from an accredited law school, excellent writing and analytical skills, and a strong academic record. Legal writing teaching, and legal practice or clerkship experiences are preferred.
Boston University School of Law is committed to faculty diversity and welcomes expressions of interest from diverse applicants.
Applicants should send a letter of interest, resume, and a list of three references to Professor Robert Volk, Boston University School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215. Email applications are encouraged and should be sent to email@example.com. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
To learn more about the law school, click here.
Hat tip to Robert Volk.
Monday, September 5, 2016
Call for Presenters: New Scholars' Showcase Program at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco -- Apply by September 9th
The Association of American Law Schools' Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research (LWRR) is seeking participants in a “New Scholars Showcase” session that will be held on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, from 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. during the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.
During this session, three newer scholars who teach legal writing and who have been selected through a competitive process described below will present their works-in-progress or recently completed article. Each scholar will have approximately 10-12 minutes to present, and the remainder of the session will be spent on questions and comments from the audience. The LWRR Section is seeking participation from both newer scholars and more experienced legal writing faculty.
Newer Scholar Participants
Anyone who teaches legal writing and has been in the legal academy for seven years or fewer (or if teaching longer than seven years has recently moved into or has their position converted to one that requires scholarship) and who has a work-in-progress or an article that has been published since January 1, 2016, can apply to present that work at the New Scholars Showcase. That scholarship can be on any topic, using any method, at any level of controversy, and suitable for publication in any scholarly journal.
Applications from newer scholars will be due on Friday, September 9, 2016. Please email your application to Lisa Mazzie, Program Committee Co-Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “New Scholars Showcase” in your subject line. Each application should include:
- the author’s name, school affiliation, and years teaching in the legal academy;
- an abstract of the article;
- the current draft of the article; and
- an indication of your interest in being matched up with a scholarly mentor.
The LWRR Program Committee will remove identifying information from each application, review the applications, and select three applicants to present at the New Scholars Showcase session at AALS. All applicants who indicate an interest will be paired with a mentor, and we anticipate publicizing the other applicants’ scholarship through the session to help provide additional opportunities for mentorship and feedback.
More Experienced Legal Writing Faculty Participants
The section is also seeking experienced legal writing faculty to serve as mentors for the applicants. If you are interested in serving as a mentor, please email Lisa Mazzie, Program Committee Co-Chair, at email@example.com, to indicate your interest by Friday, September 9, 2016. Please indicate “New Scholars Showcase Mentor” in your subject line.
Mary Bowman (Seattle) Co-Chair, Lisa Mazzie (Marquette) Co-Chair, Joan Blum (Boston College), Selina Brandt (Pepperdine), Scott Fraley (Baylor), Elizabeth Inglehart (Northwestern), Susan McMahon (Georgetown), and Wayne Schiess (Texas).
Hat tip to Lisa A. Mazzie