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)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Something Special for Moot Court Coaches

Jessup 2014Do you coach the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition or another international law moot court competition? If so you'll want to learn about how to get the DVD of the final rounds of rhe 2014 Jessup Competition in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.



July 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Call for Articles: Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD

Working on a new article this summer? Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD is seeking submissions for its 12th volume (Fall 2015). From the Call for Articles:

Volume 12 will include articles on the full range of topics that fall within the mission of LC&R: JALWD: to be a forum for discussion about legal writing and lawyering between academe and the practicing bar.

LC&R's mission is to advance the study of professional legal writing, broadly defined, and to become an active resource and a forum for conversation between the legal practitioner and the legal writing scholar. Traditionally, LC&R does not publish articles that are of interest to a purely academic or teaching audience. LC&R is dedicated to encouraging and publishing scholarship (1) focusing on the substance of legal writing; (2) grounded in legal doctrine, empirical research, or interdisciplinary theory; and (3) accessible and helpful to all "do-ers" of legal writing: attorneys, judges, law students, and legal academicians.

Submissions are due September 1. Check out the submission guidelines for more information!


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

A reminder to write with care

Bryan Garner's June ABA Journal column reminds lawyers to write with care. Two of his suggestions are to avoid long words like subsequently in favor of shorter ones like later and to conform punctuation to The Chicago Manual of Style. Such careful writing, Garner says, can  lead to a win in the courtroom. For a brush-up on style, he recommends reading Theodore Bernstein's The Careful Writer and articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic.


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

Friday, July 4, 2014

The inside scoop about the new ALWD citation guide

At the LWI conference, members got inside information about ALWD's new citation guide. It's no longer called a manual--the title of the fifth edition is the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. Chief editor Coleen Barger and contributor Brooke Bowman explained that the new guide has eliminated the differences between it and the Bluebook. That means, among other things, that large-and-small caps are now prescribed for certain law review citations and abbreviations and citations have been standardized to comport with traditional formats.  But the new guide will be easier to use than the Bluebook. Plentiful symbols clarify when spaces are needed, and law review formats are integrated into the subject matter sections but clearly labeled by a title, an identifying marginal line, and a warning symbol.

A companion site includes exercises that students who purchase the book can access. An on-line teacher's manual will be available soon and will include comparison charts between the fourth and fifth editions and between the fifth edition and the Bluebook.

Proceeds from the guide help to fund ALWD undertakings like awards and scholarships to conferences.

Pictured below are Brook Bowman and Coleen Barger presenting the new guide.



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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

LWI Conference Guest Blog Post: Dan Real Tells Us About Jean Sbarge's Great Presentation on "The Read Shoes"

Dan RealWe're happy to share a guest blog post from Daniel Real of Creighton University. We also welcome your guest blog posts on other conference sessions that were particularly useful.  

I also had a chance to attend the presentation by Jean Sbarge and thought it was just great, including how she filmed a law partner reading and commenting on a memorandum.


Here's the post from Daniel Real:

Yesterday was the final day of substantive presentations at the Legal Writing Institute 2014 Conference in Philadelphia (#LWI2014).  The week was filled with wonderful presentations on a variety of topics and presented attendees with many instances of having to make difficult decisions about which presentation to attend.  Fortunately, materials associated with many of the presentations have already been added to the Legal Writing Institute Website (, and more are sure to be added in the coming days.

One of the unfortunate aspects of any conference is that busy schedules and travel necessities often prevent many attendees from being able to see some of the final presentations.  This year I was fortunate enough to be able to stay through the end of the conference and attend presentations on the final afternoon.  Although all of the presentations I attended this week were great and reflected a lot of effort on the part of presenters, and although attendance at the final couple of afternoon sessions was good, I thought it worthwhile to jot down a few thoughts about one of these final afternoon sessions that some may not have been able to stay to see. 

Professor Jean K. Sbarge of Widener University School of Law gave a presentation titled, "The Read Shoes:  Stepping Into the Reader's Shoes Through Video, Case Illustration, Drawing, and a Model."  I found it to be a wonderfully useful presentation with some very concrete methods for assisting students with the all-important task of putting themselves into the shoes of the legal readers they are hoping to reach and using that to help craft and improve their work product. 

We all tell our students -- on multiple occasions -- how important it is to "put yourself in the position of your reader and ask yourself whether this accomplishes your purposes and is effective."  That's really important.  But it's also a difficult skill for students to master.  I've tried a variety of different exercises in the past to assist students in this regard, including some peer review work; some interactive discussions in class of a poorly crafted analysis and discussions about how the students, as first-time readers, struggle to follow it and how to improve it; etc.

I think the notion of writers putting themselves in the place of their readers is such an important concept, and I always welcome any new ideas on how to do it.  Professor Sbarge had some great ones in this presentation.  She presented four concrete exercises that can be used to help students to better understand how to put themselves in that position and use what they learn to improve their writing.  I will highlight just two of them here.

The first exercise that Professor Sbarge demonstrated is an exercise that may be familiar to students of other disciplines:  the "back-to-back drawing" exercise.  This is a simple and fun exercise that would be a great icebreaker at the beginning of a semester and would provide a basis for returning and reinforcing periodically throughout the semester.  The exercise is simple, and involves students pairing up for an exercise in thinking very carefully about how to communicate detailed directions to a listener/drawer.  The two students sit with their backs to one another, and the "instructor" student is provided with a drawing that incorporates a variety of geometric shapes.  The "instructor" student then must provide directions to the "listener" student about how to draw a replica of the provided drawing.  The "instructor" student may not look at the drawing in progress, and the "listener" student may not ask questions or seek clarification.  The exercise forces the "instructor" student to make decisions about how to organize the instructions, how to be clear and explicit, and how to lead the "listener" student to reproducing a drawing that the "listener" student has never seen -- all highly similar to a legal writer leading a legal reader through an analysis.

A second exercise that Professor Sbarge demonstrated involved asking students early in the semester to sit down and think of a "legal reader role model" that the student can envision as a specific audience for his/her work.  The role model can be a real person (one student chose Johnny Cochran) or a fictitious person (one student chose Jack McCoy from Law and Order).  The idea is for the student to really think about this "role model" and have a reason for selecting this person as the model reader.  Then, throughout the semester, the student is encouraged to consider that role model when working on legal writing assignments.  What would Johnny Cochran think of the way you have developed the theme for your client here?  Would Jack McCoy be satisfied with that level of review and editing?  Would your reader accept jumping to that conclusion without explanation of how you got there?  At the end of the semester, Professor Sbarge then asked for volunteers to reflect on the semester and how their use of the legal reader role model impacted their work. Students who volunteered answers included thoughts about being motivated to review or edit one additional time or to think in a different way about effectiveness.  Sure, the legal writing professor is always a great "role model" legal reader.  But if students take the time to think about another concrete and tangible reader, reflect on why that reader is being chosen, and use those thoughts throughout the process, there is an added dimension of understanding about the legal reader's needs.

I know I intend to find ways to implement some of these ideas, as I will with many ideas from many presentations.  It was another great week of discussions on pedagogy and scholarship, fellowship with colleagues from all over, and recharging motivational batteries.  In short, another highly successful conference -- kudos to all involved in planning, execution, and presenting this week!

Daniel L. Real
Assistant Professor of Law
Creighton University School of Law

July 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Fourth of July from the cradle of the Constitution!

As LWI members left the gala reception on Tuesday, fireworks over Philadelphia's historic section lit up the night.


July 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gala reception recognizes LWI pioneers

A show on the Constitution and exhibits on constitutional law and slavery greeted LWI members as they enjoyed a lavish dinner on Tuesday at the National Constitution Center. To celebrate LWI's thirty-year anniversary, a continuous slide show highlighted LWI members who have been in the field for thirty years or are retiring. (See the list below.) One of the slides pictured venerable professor Joe Kimble with Justice Antonin Scalia.




July 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference's coffee sessions promote small group discussions

This year's legal writing conference included morning coffee sessions where members discussed topics in informal groups. Pictured below are Eun Hee Han and Cassandra Hill discussing how to get a book published.



July 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge and renowned appellate advocates speak at the LWI Conference

At the LWI Conference, an engaging panel on appellate advocacy included Judge Patricia Millett of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and appellate advocates Gregory Garre of Latham and Watkins and Nicole Saharsky of the Solicitor General’s office. Judge Millett said the best way for students to learn brief writing is to read good briefs and opinions, mentioning the Solicitor General's briefs and Justice Scalia'a dissents. Another suggestion from the panel was for brief writers to avoid long block quotations and lengthy repetitions of precedent cases’ facts. Pictured below (l.-r.) are Gregory Garre, Patricia Millett, Nicole Saharsky, and panel moderator Kristen Tiscione.




July 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writing Specialists Explain Special Learning Needs of International Students

Writing SpecialistsOne of the best-attended panels of this year's Legal Writing Institute Conference in Philadelphia was one on the special learning needs of international students.

Panelists of the session on "Writing Across Cultures and Languages" included Elizabeth Fajans (Brooklyn), Anne Enquist (Seattle), Lurene Contento (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), Alissa Hartig (Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University), and Catherine Schenker (American University Washington College of Law). 


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

Thomas Jefferson at the Legal Writing Conference

Jefferson at LWIAt Sunday's opening reception for the Legal Writing Conference, Thomas Jefferson put in  an appearance. He's pictured at left with two of this blog's editors, Judy Fischer and Sue Leimer.


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

Ken Adams receives Golden Pen Award

At the Legal Writing Institute Conference on Tuesday, Ken Adams received the Golden Pen Award
for  legal writing. Adams is an internationally known expert on contract drafting who wrote A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. In his remarks, Adams noted that drafting for litigation is not the same as contract drafting, but that clarity is important for both types of writing.



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