Thursday, March 12, 2015
Here's an excerpt:
How did you first get interested in teaching legal writing?
Even as a child, I was curious about how people try to persuade others. As early as age ten, I remember watching TV commercials and speculating about what strategy the advertisers were using. When I went to law school, courses in legal writing were in their infancy and mine was not all that effective, but the practice of law made legal writing’s importance crystal clear. After ten years of practice, I had a chance to join the NYU Lawyering faculty, and it all came together for me there. I felt like I had found my professional passion. That was 27 years ago, and that passion is still as fresh for me today as it was so long ago.
Hat tip to Melissa Greipp and the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Yet another study recently highlighted the importance of legal writing. BARBRI's State of the Legal Field Survey, published in 2015, reported that both responding attorneys and law professors rated legal writing as the most important skill for recent law graduates. Interestingly, the study also found that while 82% of third-year law students believed they were effective legal writers, only 57% of lawyers who hire new graduates saw them as effective writers.
The BarBri survey is new, and let's just say here from the Legal Writing Prof Blog that we are happy that the company has launched this new annual survey and that it intends to continue this survey in future years. This survey gets answers not only from law students but also from law school faculty and members of the practicing bar.
Previous research has shown that students sometimes have inflated views of their writing abilities. See, for example, Felsenburg and Graham's Beginning Legal Writers in Their Own Words.
hat tip: Gabriel Teninbaum
(jdf and mew)
Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Of Old Dogs and New Tricks--Can Law Schools ReallyFix Students' Mixed Mindsets?
Melissa H. Waresh, Uncommon Results: The Power of Team-Based Learning in the legal Writing Classroom
David J. Herring & Collin Lynch, Law Student Learning Gains Produced by a Writing Assignment and Instructor Feedback
Toree Randall, Meet Me in the Cloud: A Legal Research Strategy That Transcends Media
Lindsey P. Gustafson, Texting and the Friction of Writing
Jeffrey D. Jackson & David Cleveland, Legal Writing: A History from the Colonial Era to the End of the Civil War
My interest was especially piqued by Jackson and Clevelend's history of teaching legal writing before the end of the civil war--it contains interesting history that I didn't know about.
The journal's website says the next volume will be an all-electronic one. So this final print volume may become a collector's item!
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School invites applications for a teaching position in its Legal Skills and Professional Program to teach Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis I and II.
Responsibilities & Qualifications
This is a full-time, non-tenure track position that begins on August 1, 2015. Responsibilities of the position include teaching a full load of Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis courses for first year students in the day and evening divisions. Applicants must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent academic credentials, a strong writing background, and legal practice or clerkship experience. Preference will be given to applicants who have at least two years of recent legal practice or clerkship experience or experience teaching legal research and writing.
Initial review of applications will begin no later than March 20, 2015. While this position will remain open until filled, applications received by that date will be assured of full consideration. Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and list of three (3) professional references to:
- Dean Malcolm L. Morris, c/o Farrah Fisher
- Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
- 1422 West Peachtree Street NW
- Atlanta, Georgia 30309
or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. This is a one-year teaching appointment with a potential opportunity at the end of the appointment to lead to a tenure-track position in the Legal Skills and Professionalism Program. The position would involve full voting rights if it resulted in the applicant securing a tenure-track position at the end of the one-year appointment.
Anticipated salary is between $50,000 to $79,000, and you would be teaching between 36 to 50 students. The applicant would teach two sections of legal writing, research and analysis per semester. Although the primary teaching responsibility for this position will be teaching legal writing, research and analysis, depending on teaching needs, the applicant could also have an opportunity to teach an elective experiential or writing course.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Reforming the first-year curriculum is a perennial project in law schools. But an article in the February Journal of Legal Education proposes a different approach. Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down, 64 J. Legal Educ. 428 (2015), by Boston College’s R. Michael Cassidy, notes that law schools have been slow to change in response current criticisms, partly because of professors’ resistance to change. Therefore, “Deans need to commandeer the ship of curriculum reform in a way that responds to the urgency in the crisis of legal education, while appropriately respecting faculty governance.” And instead of tinkering with the first-year curriculum, which Cassidy believes is working fairly well, deans should focus on upper-level courses. Among his recommendations are team-taught subject-specific capstone courses, which he calls “Advanced Legal Problem Solving” workshops.
Monday, March 9, 2015
The rankings we love to hate, from the U.S. News and World Report magazine.
5. The John Marshall Law School - Chicago
8. Arizona State
14. Ohio State
14. UNC Chapel Hill
18. Lewis & Clark
19. Arkansas-Little Rock
22. Texas Tech
In a guest post on our sister blog, the Legislation Law Prof Blog, Professor Kevin Hull explains how to teach Legislative Drafting. Kevin teaches Legislative Drafting at the The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He worked for the 91st Illinois General Assembly, serving as Assistant Counsel to the House Speaker, handling issues including Redistricting, Governor Ryan’s Death Penalty Commission Report, and the state’s response to the September 11th attacks. He currently advocates for American veterans and military families through his position as Executive Director of the Westside Institute for Science and Education at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in downtown Chicago. Click here to read the post on teaching legislative drafting.
The Library of Congress is seeking applicants to the position of Law Librarian of Congress.
The Law Librarian of Congress manages the Law Library of Congress, which houses the largest collection of United States and foreign legal literature in the world. The legal collections represent all known legal systems, including common law, civil law, and religious and customary law jurisdictions. The Law Library of Congress, its staff, and collections support the legal reference and research needs of the United States Congress. The Law Librarian of Congress exercises final responsibility for the Law Library budget, management of staff, policy administration and development, and overall operational effectiveness. The Law Librarian serves as a member of the Library of Congress Executive Committee (EC) and participates in the overall management of the Library of Congress.
REQUIREMENTS: Applicants MUST be a graduate from a full course of study in a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association and be a member in good standing of the bar of a state, District of Columbia, territory of the United States, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or an attorney with demonstrable expertise in foreign and comparative law and the law and legal system of a foreign jurisdiction outside of the United States.
To view the complete vacancy announcement and to apply for the position, visit: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/396502500. Questions should be addressed to the Library of Congress Employment Office at (202) 707-5627.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
We hear from Kim Holst that the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference was a great success Congratulations to Steven Homer and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico School of Law, and congratulations to Tamara Herrera, Coordinator of the Legal Writing Curriculum at Arizona State University, who received the Rocky Mountain Award in recognition of her hard work, endless support for her colleagues, and dedication to the field.
Hat tip to Kim Holst
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Thursday, March 5, 2015
In conjunction with the June 2015 ALWD conference in Memphis, ALWD's Innovative Teaching Workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 3. Participants will present a creative teaching idea/technique for feedback.
If you're interested, please fill out and submit the attached form: Download ALWD Innovative Teaching Workshop Participant Form 2015.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Registration is now open for the Third Annual National Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators. The conference will be May 26-28, 2015 (just after the Global Legal Skills Conference) at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. Click here for more information.
Washburn University School of Law is proud to announce the second annual Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, to be held on July 24-25, 2015. This workshop will provide a unique collaborative environment in which to receive feedback from other legal writing professors on your scholarly projects. Participants will work in small groups to give suggestions, ask questions, and offer input on the papers presented.
The workshop organizers, Professors Emily Grant and Joseph Mastrosimone, strongly encourage scholarship submissions that are in any stage – idea outline, work-in-progress, or nearly complete and ready to submit. The call is open to all junior legal writing professors (defined as anyone without tenure) whether they are full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty and those who are seeking employment as a legal writing professor.
There is no registration fee for the workshop. In addition, Washburn University School of Law will provide all meals during the workshop and hotel lodging for Friday night, July 24. Such a deal! The workshop will run from mid-afternoon Friday to mid-day Saturday to give participants sufficient time to travel Friday morning and Saturday evening, which should hopefully allow participants to attend the workshop without needing a second night’s hotel stay.
If you are interested in participating in the Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, please let them know by April 17, 2015, by emailing Joseph Mastrosimone at Washburn. In your email, please describe your scholarly work and estimate what form it will take by the end of July (outline, early stage work-in-progress, nearly complete draft, second edition?). A maximum of eight papers will be selected to guarantee a workshop atmosphere. Those selected will be notified by May 15, and workshop submissions must be completed by July 13, 2015.
Hat tip to Joseph Mastrosimone
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Edward J Harri of Willamette University College of Law is a Professor of Legal Writing and the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. He began teaching Legal Research and Writing in 1986 and he has served as associate dean from 1994 to 1996. He has been active in several professional organizations as well as Oregon State Bar committees and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. He has written in various fields and edited the Oregon State Bar’s Appeal and Review Handbook.
In December he received the Oregon State Bar Award, and Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon was kind enough to send us this picture of that happy event. He was quoted as telling students to devote "every fiber of your intellect to your client." Good advice indeed.
Hat tip to Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon.
The Global Legal Skills conference, in its 10th year, will be held in Chicago, the city of its origin. The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where it was held three times. It has also traveled to Mexico (twice), to Costa Rica (twice), to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and most recently to the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy.
This year’s conference (GLS 10) will be held at The John Marshall Law School for the first two days and will be hosted at Northwestern University School of Law for its final day. The two schools are within walking distance and are also served by subway line
The first call for proposals for presentations has already closed and acceptance messages are going out to those who submitted. This is the second call for presenters. Proposals should be for a 25-minute presentation (for one or two people) or an interactive group panel presentation (no more than four panelists) of 75-minutes (including audience participation).
The conference audience will include legal writing professionals, international and comparative law professors, clinical professors and others involved in skills education, law school administrators, law librarians, and ESL/EFL professors and scholars. Also attending will be faculty members teaching general law subjects with a transnational or international component. Attendees have also included judges, lawyers, court translators, and others involved in international and transnational law. Attendees come from around the world, and as many as 35 countries have been represented in past conferences.
Please submit a proposal on any aspect of Global Legal Skills, including experiential learning, distance education, comparative law, international law, course design and materials, teaching methods, and opportunities for teaching abroad and in the United States. However, because the conference focuses on legal skills for a global audience, please tailor your proposal accordingly.
The schedule for GLS 10 will allow for professional networking opportunities and development and also a chance to take in the many sites (and excellent restaurants!) Chicago has to offer. Chicago is served by two airports, O’Hare and Midway, making travel to the city easy. The timing of the conference (the week before Memorial Day weekend) is intended to allow you to spend extra time exploring Chicago and its environs at a time when the temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.
This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the registration fee of $225.00. A small number of need-based scholarships will also be available, especially for participants from outside the United States. Additional tickets for family members and friends will also be available for the walking tour, law school reception, and Union League Club Gala Dinner. Chicago in the springtime is a great travel destination for families where they can enjoy Millennium Park, two world class zoos, and the amazing Museum Campus.
You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking slots you will only be allowed to speak on one panel.
Please send program proposals to GLS10Chicago@gmail.com. You can also send a copy to Lurene Contento (Program Chair of GLS 10). Her email is 9Content@jmls.edu.
Please include “GLS 10 Proposal” in the subject line. Then, list the names and institutional affiliations of presenters, the title of your presentation, a brief summary of your presentation, the format you would prefer (25 minutes or 75 minutes), and the target audience.
You will find travel information and more conference information on the GLS website, glsc.jmls.edu/2015. Additional proposals will be accepted through April 15 if additional speaking slots are available.
Spanish Language CLE Proposals
You may also submit proposals for CLE presentations in Spanish. A Spanish-language CLE track will include sessions for attorneys, law students, and court translators. Persons submitting proposals for presentations in Spanish may also submit a proposal in English as an exception to the single presentation rule. Proposals are sought on topics such as “Introduction to Mexican Law,” “Understanding the Amparo,” and “Latin American Corporation Law.”
Scholars’ Forum (Tues. May 19, 2015)
A one-day scholars’ forum is also planned for May 19th, the day before the GLS conference begins. Participation in this forum will be limited to 16 persons and will include special sessions on international legal research as well as the presentation of papers and works-in-progress. For more information about the Scholars’ Forum, send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at email@example.com with the title of your proposed work. Registration for the scholars’ forum is at this link: http://events.jmls.edu/registration/node/677
We hope to see you in Chicago this May for the 10th anniversary of the Global Legal Skills Conference!
Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, Global Legal Skills Conference
Prof. Lurene Contento, Chair GLS 10 Program Committee, The John Marshall Law School
The Burton Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing is the most glamorous evening for legal writing. That's been true for years, and the 2015 award ceremony promises to continue that trend. The 2015 Awards will be held at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2015 in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Awards will be given for public interest, public service, "Legends in Law," distinguished legal writing awards, outstanding journalist in law, and an award for "Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education." Entertainment will be provided that evening by Kristin Chenoweth, the Emmy and Tony Award winning superstar. It's a black tie event and tickets can be pricey, but the value of the evening makes it all worthwhile.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Professor Faisal Kutty of Valparaiso University School of Law is featured in a new story by Reporter Jack Silverstein. The article, Writing Persuasively: Valparaiso Law Professor Teaches Students How to Use News Media to Bolster Their Practices, appeared in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and describes the "Legal Journalism" course he is teaching at Valparaiso. According to the story, the course syllabus states that the purpose of the course is to give students "the skills required to prepare accurate and accessible legal information and analysis for general interest and legal trade media."
Jack Silverstein's article mentions that the idea for the course originated with law students at Valparaiso who had started their own legal blog. You can click here to visit the Valpolawblog. As Silverstein writes, the students had launched the blog to write about court decisions and decided that they would benefit from a skills course. The course designed by Professor Kutty has students writing not only blog posts but op-ed articles and other work for various publications. Professor Kutty told Silverstein that it was a great feeling to see that students were passionate about their new writing course.
Hat tip to Mo Ahmed.
Friday, February 27, 2015
A recent Journal of Legal Education article points again to the importance of legal writing courses. What Courses Should Law Students Take? Lessons from Harvard’s BigLaw Survey reports the results of a survey that focused primarily on business-methods courses. Thus the data presented by the authors, John C. Coates IV (pictured at left), Jesse Fried, and Kathryn E. Spier, relates mainly to business courses. But an open-ended request for comments drew responses about legal writing and oral persuasion: “[L]itigators tended to single out ‘writing’ or ‘persuasive writing’ as a key skill that can be lacking in new associates. Other respondents indicated that students should work on communication skills (public speaking and presentation).”
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The latest issue of the Journal of Legal Education contains a provocative article about plagiarism. Law Student Plagiarism: Contemporary challenges and Responses, 64 J. Legal Educ. 416 (Feb. 2015). Professor Robin Hansen (pictured at right) and recent graduate Alexandra Anderson of the University of Saskatchewan explain that many undergraduate students admit to plagiarizing—the number was 37% in one study—but few are subject to penalties for doing so. The authors believe law school numbers would be similar. They tie plagiarism partly to the Internet availability of voluminous information and even written-to-order papers.
A motivation for plagiarism, Hansen and Alexander argue, is that some students see themselves as consumers and adopt a cynical view of education not as “a principled process of learning” but rather as “a process of buying a branded degree in order to access the job market.” With that viewpoint, such students see benefit in having someone else do their academic work, while they engage in activities like networking. High tuition and student debt feed the problem.
Professional responsibility, the authors argue, is a strong reason to curb plagiarism. To do so, schools should address underlying student desperation, opportunism, and sense of entitlement. And schools should keep records of informally resolved incidents so students cannot repeat them with impunity.
I was disturbed not only by the authors' recognition of widespread plagiarism, but also by one of the causes they identified: some students’ view of themselves as consumers rather than learners. This is troubling in itself and warrants our consideration as we plan our courses.
The National Board of Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers – is holding its annual board meeting this weekend at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas.
Scribes publishes an amazing journal (past issues have featured interviews with U.S. Supreme Court Justices and Chief Judges of the various federal circuit courts on their views on legal writing and effective appellate advocacy). It is about to publish a new edition of its newsletter, The Scrivener, which has a new editorial home and a fresh new look with the next edition. It holds annual member meetings in connection with the American Bar Association annual meeting (the next meeting is planned for August 1, 2015 in Chicago, with an extremely special presentation of a lifetime achievement award). It bestows awards on new law books and student moot court briefs and law review articles to recognize particular merit in legal writing. It shares useful tips on writing and research. And for institutional members, it offers the chance to provide all of these benefits and also to designate up to five students for special recognition by Scribes.
Scribes is all of that. It creates a special place where law schools and law firms and courts have a chance to discuss and celebrate great legal writing. And individual membership in Scribes is a mark of special achievement in the field of legal writing.
For more information on Scribes, visit its website by clicking here. And if you're not yet a member, take the opportunity to join!
Mark E. Wojcik, Treasurer, Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers