Tuesday, November 25, 2014

LWI One-Day Workshop in San Diego

Ocean at Sunset CliffsThe Legal Writing Institute's One Day Workshops offer a fantastic national opportunity for legal writing professors to gather and exchange information not only on the day-to-day topics that confront us in the classroom but also on the larger issues for all legal writing professionals.

San Diego, California, is one of the host cities this year, where an LWI one-day workshop will be hosted by California Western School of Law on Friday, December 5, 2014. 

Speakers there will include:

  • Dean Niels Schaumann (California Western School of Law)
  • David Austin (California Western School of Law)
  • Elizabeth Carroll (USC Gould School of Law)
  • Maureen Johnson (Loyola Los Angeles)
  • Joanne Merino (Stanford Law School)
  • Lisa Black (California Western School of Law)
  • Charles Calleros (Arizona State University)
  • Joe Kimble (Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School) [Winner of the 2010 Lifetime Contribution Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing Reasoning and Research]
  • Julie Ryan (USC Gould School of Law)
  • Fiona McKenna (Golden Gate University)
  • Tim Casey (California Western School of Law)
  • Lance Long (Stetson University College of Law)
  • Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) [Winner of the 2015 Lifetime Contribution Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research]

Registration for the One-Day Workshop is an extremely reasonable $45.00 (with discounts for speakers and host school attendees).  Click here for more information and for the registration link.

Hotel information:

The Sheraton Four Points, 1617 First Ave., San Diego, CA   619-239-9600 · 866-716-8133, is located one block from California Western School of Law.  Discounted rooms are available for this conference, please reference California Western when making your reservation. The room rate is $99 per night (plus 12.5% tax and fees) Thurs., Dec. 4th & 5th.  A free airport shuttle to and from  the hotel is available daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 p.m., and the hotel is then only a three-minute walk from the school.

The Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Ave., San Diego, CA   619-238-1818· 800-221-3802, is located in the heart of downtown San Diego near the Gaslamp nightlife area, approximately four blocks from the Law School.  Discounted rooms are available by using the reference California Western and the number 308649 when making your reservation. The room rate is $149 per night (plus 12.5% tax and resort fees) (10 minute walk from the school).

Other hotels are of course available, including one on Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach (not far from where the picture above was taken).

Hat tips to the Legal Writing Department at California Western School of Law


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

One Day Workshops: How About This International Workshop in Detroit?

One-Day Workshop at the University of Detroit Mercy, co-hosted by the University of Windsor, on Friday, December 5, 2014. 

Theme:  Reaching, Teaching, and Employing Today’s Evolving Law Student

The Premise:  Students in the “Millennial” and “Next Gen” generations approach the world,  collaboration and social interaction, and the use of technology differently than previous generations.  On the one hand, these characteristics may have a positive influence on their capacity to learn and on the practice of law.  On the other hand, some behavior is equally likely to create challenges for these students.  Either way, this generational shift invites us to explore how we might adjust our teaching approaches for Millennial and Next Gen  students.

Special Conference Opportunities:  In addition to a series of thoughtful presentations from our colleagues, you can

1.  Consider the topic from several unique perspectives:

  • *Undergraduate writing professors who can foreshadow what is to come
  • *Judges and employers with insight into the impact Millennials are having on the practice of law and the challenges they may face
  • *International speakers from Canada and Qatar;

2.  Participate in an interactive roundtable discussion where participants  explore how they might adjust their teaching approaches  in light of the day’s presentations;

3.  Celebrate Detroit, at the beautiful and historic conference setting, UDM’s Dowling Hall, which was built in1890 and restored just in time for UDM Law’s 100th anniversary in 2012, and enjoy a special outing to the Detroit Institute of Arts and its “Friday Night Live”; and

4.  If this wasn’t sufficient reason to share the day in Detroit,  please bid a fond farewell to Pamela Lysaght, who is retiring from UDM next spring.   She will be honored (including a Skype appearance by LWI President Linda Berger) during the conference luncheon for her many contributions, including her leadership as a former President of ALWD, her work with the LWI and LWI  Journal of Legal Writing, and her active role with the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and membership on its powerful Accreditation Committee.  In addition to all of this, however, Pam may be most respected by her UDM colleagues as the Program Director who led the charge on security of position.   As a result of Pam’s efforts over the course of more than ten years, UDM Law shifted  from an adjunct program, to a program with one-year renewable contracts, then to clinical tenure, and, finally, in 2007, to a tenure and tenure-track program.

For all of these reasons and more, the workshop organizers hope you will join them on December 5.   Please visit our conference page for registration and other logistical information:



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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mark Wojcik is selected for AALS section award

Wojcik 2John Marshall's Mark Wojcik has been selected by the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research as the Section Award Winner for 2015.  The Section Award is given to an individual who has made "a significant lifetime contribution to the field of legal writing, reasoning, and research."

Mark is known for his many contributions to the field, including spearheading international conferences, working with the Library of Congress, and contributing as an editor of this blog.

Section chair Kim Holst announced that the award will be presented on Saturday, January 3, 2015, at the section luncheon at the Association of American Law School's Annual Meeting in Washington.

Congratulations, Mark!  He joins this list of past winners of this award:

  • 1993:  Marjorie Rombauer
  • 1994:  Ralph Brill
  • 1996:  Mary Lawrence
  • 2002:  Helene Shapo
  • 2003:  Laurel Oates
  • 2005:  Marilyn Walter
  • 2006:  Terri LeClercq
  • 2007:  Anne Enquist
  • 2008:  Eric Easton
  • 2009:  Richard Neumann
  • 2010:  Joe Kimble
  • 2011:  Betsy Fajans
  • 2012:  Susan Brody/Mary Barnard Ray
  • 2013:  Terrill Pollman/Jill Ramsfield
  • 2014:  Jan Levine
  • 2015:  Mark E. Wojcik



November 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Applied Legal Storytelling Conference

The Applied Legal Storytelling Conference will be held July 21-23, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The 2015 Conference is co-sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, the Clinical Legal Education Association, and Seattle University School of Law). The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2014.


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

Librarians of the Law Library of Congress

LLOCOne of the most overlooked resources in a library is the professional library staff.  The Law Library of Congress--the largest law library in the world--is no exception. Pictured here with me (I'm the guy on the left) are some of the professionals who make the magic happen at the Law Library of Congress.

From left to right (after me) are Robert R. Newlen (Assistant Law Librarian for Legislative and External Relations), David Mao (the Law Librarian of Congress), and Nathan Dorn (Rare Book Curator and Curator of the Magna Carta Exhibit).  They were among the attendees at a recent meeting of the American Bar Association's Advisory Commission to the Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.  I was recently appointed to that Commission along with Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court.  (Just more proof that it pays to get involved with bar associations!)

Mark E. Wojcik, Professor, The John Marshall Law School


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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Magna Carta Exhibit in Washington, D.C.

The Law Library of Congress has organized a magnificent exhibit of the Magna Carta for the 800th Anniversary of that document.  If you're going to the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, plan to get over to the Jefferson Building to see that exhibit. Connected to the exhibit are many side events at the Law Library of Congress, including this conversation with David Mao (the Law Librarian of Congress), Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the recently-retired Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, The Right Honourable The Lord Judge.  

Hat tip to the Law Library of Congress


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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Citing Legally

Peter W. Martin, the Jane M. Foster Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Cornell, has a website called "Citing Legally: Occasional Observations Concerning the Citation of Legal Authorities by Lawyers and Judges." That blog, we're told, is a byproduct of the annual revision of "Introduction to Basic Legal Citation," an online resource that looks to be not only pretty darn good but also one that invites serious discussion of legal citation.

The Citing Legally Blog contains a detailed and analytical response to a post we had earlier noting that the Westlaw "Copy with Reference" feature for ALWD copies to the fourth, rather than the fifth, edition of the ALWD Manual.  His practical and useful suggestion to fix that was to simply delete the ALWD option because, as he correctly notes, the citations in the new edition of the ALWD manual produce exactly the same citations as the Bluebook.  (I think I'm going to start calling the new edition of ALWD "the fantastic fifth edition.")

Please visit that website and have a look at the other treasures it offers.  Congratulations Professor Martin on the serious study of citation you share with us all.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

LWI Golden Pen Award Goes to Judge Michael Ponsor of Massachusetts

Ponsor Hanging JudgeThe Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Michael A. Ponsor, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is the recipient of the 2015 Golden Pen Award.
The 2015 Golden Pen will be presented  on January 2, 2015, during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  The event will be held from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Capitol Ballroom, Lobby Level, of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. 
During that event, the Thomas Blackwell Award will also be presented to Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern Unviersity School of Law.
Judge Ponsor is being recognized with the Golden Pen Award for his contributions to the cause of excellent legal writing, both in his opinion writing and in his teaching as an adjunct at Western New England University School of Law and at Yale, his alma mater. Demonstrating his commitment to teaching future lawyers, Judge Ponsor has for the last 20 years taught persuasive writing and advocacy skills in an upper-level simulation course. 
Judge Ponsor presided over the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in 50 years, and he recently wrote a well-received novel, The Hanging Judge, about the legal and moral issues involved. The nomination of Judge Ponsor recognized him as 
[a] respected and compassionate jurist as well as an exceptional writer, teacher, and mentor. . . . He has engaged the judiciary, current and future lawyers, and the public in a much-needed dialogue about two major challenges facing the criminal justice system: the death penalty and the extremely high rates of incarceration in the United States. 
PonsorThe Legal Writing Institute's Golden Pen Award honors those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing. These contributions may take any form, such as promoting the use of clear language in public documents, improving the quality of legal writing instruction, advocating for better writing within the legal community, outstanding scholarship or journalism about legal writing or legal topics, or exceptional writing in law practice. The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of LWI, but active members are considered in exceptional circumstance
The 2015 Golden Pen will be presented during the Blackwell Award Reception, which honors the recipient of the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing and is scheduled from 8-10 p.m. Friday, January 2, 2015, in the Capitol Ballroom, Lobby Level, Omni Shoreham Hotel.
The LWI Awards Committee recommended Judge Ponsor for the 2015 Golden Pen, and the LWI Board unanimously approved this recommendation. The LWI Board is grateful for the work of the LWI Awards Committee in identifying nominees and making recommendations to the Board. The Committee includes Co-Chairs Lurene Contento and Susan Bay and members Anne Enquist, Myra Orlen, and Kathy Vinson.
Hat tips to Linda Berger, Lurene Contento, and Susan Bay

November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A new way to categorize law school courses

The November issue of the Journal of Legal Education contains a thought-provoking piece by EdwardsUNLV's Linda Edwards titled The Trouble with Categories: What Theory Can Teach Us about the Doctrine-Skills Divide. Edwards identifies flaws with the usual classification of law school courses into skills courses on the one hand and doctrinal, podium, or casebook courses on the other. As she explains, that division can send inaccurate messages, because the difference between the categories is not so clean; for example, both kinds of courses cover doctrine. In order to meet the challenges currently facing legal education, Edwards proposes that law schools use the new categories of “foundation,” “bridge,” and “capstone” courses. The full article is available at 64 Journal of Legal Education 181.


November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers

Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, is a national organization of legal writers promoting a clear, succinct, and forceful style in legal writing. Founded in 1953 by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt, Scribes creates an interest in legal writing by awarding annual writing awards, conducting writing seminars, and publishing a quarterly newsletter and the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing.

The Michigan Bar Journal has an article from a copule of years ago that introduces Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers.  Click here to read it. 

Click here for more information about Scribes.


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mark Wojcik appointed to ABA Advisory Commission on the Law Library of Congress

My fellow blog editor, Mark Wojcik of Chicago's John Marshall Law School, has been appointed to Wojcik-mark the prestigious ABA Advisory Commission to the Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.  There he joins some very influential people, including Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court. Congratulations, Mark!

hat tip: Anthony Niedwiecki


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LWI One Day Workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte School of Law is hosting an LWI One-Day Workshop on December 5.  The theme at that location will be “Preparing Practice-Ready Students: What Every Legal Writer Needs to Know Before Putting Pen to Paper,” and the day will include the following LWI apeakers:

  • Laura Graham (Wake Forest University School of Law), First Things First: How to Build Foundational Pre-Writing Lessons Into Your Legal Writing Class
  • Lucy Jewel (University of Tennessee College of Law) and Alexa Chew (University of North Carolina School of Law), Categories and Conventions: Teaching Students to Critically Assess Boundaries
  • Anne Burr (University of Michigan Law School), Cultural Exchange: Teaching Pre-Writing Skills to International Law Students
  • Suzanne Rabe (The University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law), Use of Oral Presentations and Client Interviews to Help Reach a Variety of Learners in a Legal Writing Class
  • O.J. Salinas (University of North Carolina School of Law), Think, Talk, Listen, Learn: Using Oral Exercises to Teach Case Analysis and Writing Fundamentals

Breakfast and lunch are being provided  by BNA and Lexis.

Click here for more information.  Or click here for the LWI registration link.

Hat tips to Mandana Vidwan and Heather Davis.


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LWI's One Day Workshops Coming Up

The Legal Writing Institute's One-Day Workshops are coming up in December.  These events, spread across the country, create a great gathering space for legal writing professors, law librarians, writing specialists, and others interested in teaching legal writing.

UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law is one of the places hosting a One Day Workshop on Friday December 5, 2014.  Our Workshop will explore the theme of "Developing and Implementing Upper-Level Legal Writing Courses," and will feature some wonderful speakers, including several current LWI Board Members.  At UNLV they are planning several interactive features, including "Lunch with Practitioners" and a "Speed Mentoring" session.  More information on the program and how to register for it is available by clicking here.

I will be one of the speakers at the San Diego One Day Workshop being held at California Western School of Law.  Hope to see some of you there!
Feel free to send us news of other LWI workshops, we're happy to post them here.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pink Ink

Should the Legal Writing Institute formalize what was known as the Pink Ink Caucus?  That was the group of LGBT legal writing professors and allies.  It met a couple of times (but not recently).  Should LWI bring it back and foramlize it into an LWI committee?


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Working with academically underprepared students

“Legal educators don’t need empirical research to tell them what they already know—students coming Cooper to law school are ill prepared for the academic rigors of law study.” So begins an article recently posted by Jennifer Cooper of Seattle University. Cooper writes that in addressing this problem, law professors can benefit from undergraduate research showing that “retrieval [encoding and retrieving information from memory], self-testing, and periodic review are highly correlated with academic success.” To apply these concepts in law schools, Cooper recommends that professors calendar specific study steps, model case reading and synthesis in class, use practice questions and quizzes, and modeling effective use of course outlines.


November 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Glitch in Westlaw's Copy With Reference

This is a temporary glitch that I suppose will eventually work itself out, but in the meantime it is best to be aware of a small issue with the feature called "Westlaw Copy With Reference."  In case you don't know it, that feature allows you to copy a block of text from a case with the reference.  You can put the reference in Bluebook format or in ALWD format.  And hey, since my students figured out how to do that I can spend a little less time teaching citation format.  It works quite well and is just one of those amazing things I wish we had back when I was in law school.  Perfect citation format every time.

But here's the issue.  The current Westlaw Copy with Reference (ALWD) seems to still be set for the Fourth edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation rather than the current, can't-tell-it-apart-from-the-Bluebook-anymore Fifth edition.  This means that a citation to an Illinois Appellate Court case will come out like this:

Doe v. Dilling, 861 N.E.2d 1052, 1066 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2006) aff'd, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008).

Rather than this:

Doe v. Dilling, 861 N.E.2d 1052, 1066 (Ill. App. Ct. 2006) aff'd, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008).

Of course it was more useful to practitioners and scholars to know the district, but that's not the format now for either Bluebook or ALWD.  And yes, I remember to good ole days when all you needed was "Ill. App." rather than "Ill. App. Ct." (because back then everyone realized it was a court.

Is this a big deal?  Obviously not.
Am I trying to avoid grading papers?  Obviously yes.
But in the meantime, Westlaw powers that be should be alerted to the discrepancy in the new edition of ALWD and it's rather fabulous copy with ALWD reference function.

Click here for an UPDATE to this post. 


November 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Magna Carta Exhibit Opens Tomorrow at the Library of Congress

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).


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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Law Library of Congress

Many readers of this blog have visited the Law Library of Congress (or at least its rather fabulous website).

While we've all been somewhat distracted with upcoming gala celebrations of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, the Law Library of Congress has been undergoing a facelift of sorts with new construction in the Reading Room.  You can click here to visit the Law Library of Congress Blog to have a look at the "before" pictures of the Law Library Reading Room.  This is a major overhaul and we look forward to seeing the final results!  And yes, we're still super-excited about the Magna Carta events at the Law Library of Congress while all of this construction goes on.


October 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

What legal employers expect in new law graduates

Susan Wawrose of Dayton recently published a paper about what legal employers want in new Wawrose_susan law graduates. She conducted focus groups of selected Dayton-area lawyers and found that they expect new graduates to exemplify professionalism, have strong research skills, and be effective legal writers. As writers, the new lawyers should consider their audience, write succinctly, and organize effectively, using IRAC. As a result of her research, Wawrose has added more varied assignments—including oral and email responses—to her legal writing course.


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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Job Opening: Florida International University

Florida International University College of Law, a public law school located in Miami, Florida, seeks applicants for entry-level or lateral appointments for the position of Lecturer in Legal Skills and Values. The start date for the position is August 2015.

The College of Law’s Legal Skills and Values program consists of two required courses in the first year of law school, and an additional required course by the end of a student’s fourth semester. We are seeking dedicated legal writing and skills teachers to teach legal research, analysis, and written and oral communication skills, all with a heavy emphasis on professionalism, to students in the first-year courses. 

Lateral candidates should show a demonstrated record of teaching excellence. Entry-level candidates should show commitment to excellence in teaching and significant potential as law teachers. Relevant experience from legal practice is an asset.

This is a full-time faculty appointment, with an initial one-year term, with the possibility of a three-year term and then successive five-year terms.  Anticipated salary is between $60,000 and $80,000, depending upon experience. 

Qualified candidates should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and three references. The Appointments Committee may request additional material such as teaching evaluations and letters of recommendation.  Review will begin immediately and continue until the position or positions are filled.

Please submit applications electronically to Professor Noah Weisbord - Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee at: Facultycareers.fiu.edu.  When applying please reference Job Opening ID 508683.

Hat tip to Marci Rosenthal


October 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)