Tuesday, October 31, 2006

follow those appellate rules!

"Because Cook's brief violates the rules of appellate procedure and does not identify any legal issues, we affirm the judgment."  With language like that, how can one doubt that this Wisconsin case is a potential teaching tool?  Granted, it's a pro se appellant, but still a good lesson:  Courts care about rules and expect them to be followed.

hat tip:  Christopher Wren


October 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

using metaphor

Yesterday I received an announcement of a symposium that will take place soon at a law school.  I get many such announcements every week.  After glancing at the title or topic, if I'm reading the announcement on my computer, I usually hit "delete."  If I'm reading the announcement in print by the faculty mailboxes, I usually just throw it in the recycling bin, before leaving the mailroom.  But the announcement I received yesterday I saved.  For two reasons:

First, it's a symposium about legal writing that I had not heard about on the legal writing professors' listserve, so I wanted to be sure to give readers of this blog a heads up:

The symposium is about Using Metaphor in Legal Analysis and Communication.  It takes place Friday, November 10, 2006, 9:40 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., at the Mercer University School of Law.  It's free to attend.  Mercer is in Macon, Georgia, an easy highway drive an hour south of Atlanta.  (Macon makes a nice weekend getaway, with historic ante-bellum buildings, interesting restaurants, a national historic park, etc.) 

The speakers for the symposium include:

  • Mark Johnson, Knight Professor of Philosophy, University of Oregon
  • Steven Winter, Walter S. Gibb Professor of Constitutional Law, Wayne State University School of Law
  • Michael Smith, Professor of Law, University of Wyoming
  • Linda Berger, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
  • Dr. Michael Goldberg, Vitas Hospice
  • David Ritchie, Associate Professor of Law, Walter F. George School of Law (Mercer)

And that list leads me to the second reason I saved the postcard:  I know that Michael Smith, Linda Berger, and David Ritchie are legal writing professors, but nothing in their titles above would indicate that.  And that's excellent!  Just like professors of Contracts or Torts or Environmental Law, we finally have legal writing professors who are Professors of Law (or Associate or Assissant Professors of Law).  This might seem like a small thing to non-academics.  As someone who spent five years teaching in a law school full-time as a Visiting Assistant Professor and another five years at another school as an Acting Assistant Professor, I can attest that having legal writing professors who are regular Assistant, Associate, and full Professors of Law is a huge step forward for the field of legal writing.  And of course, professionalizing the teaching of legal writing works directly to enhance the legal writing education that students receive as they prepare to be lawyers.

Now if only I could get to Macon on November 10th, for some of that genuine Southern hospitality that Mercer rolls out for visitors.  I guess I'll have to settle for reading the symposium issue of the Mercer Law Review, which is slated for future publication.


October 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

reporting, not "ratting"

Rat It was recently suggested to me that a significant number of law students would refuse to support the school's honor code, due to a pervasive sense that it would be worse to "rat each other out." This is disturbing news, if it is accurate, for the future of a self-policing profession.

That's why I was so favorably impressed by the orientation materials used at Georgia State University College of Law to teach professionalism to its entering students. Not only do the hypotheticals ask students to identify possible ethical violations, they pose questions about reporting violations.


October 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are you a post-modern legal writer?

Professor Adam Todd, at Northern Kentucky University, has written an interesting article on post-modernism's effect on legal writing, borrowing concepts from literary criticism to apply to legal writing.  You can access the full text of the article free via SSRN, at:



October 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 27, 2006

collaborative legal writing learning via Wiki

Professor Peter Friedman, at Case Western Reserve University, makes some very interesting observations in his recent blog post at:


Although he focuses on using Wikipedia for a collaborative learning assignment for legal writing students, his musings at the end of his post are perhaps even more interesting.


October 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

job opening in Florida

As a driving rain cancels World Series games here in the heartland, Professor David Walter sends word of an employment opportunity in sunny Florida:

"The Florida International University College of Law seeks applications and nominations for the position of Director of its Legal Skills & Values Program. This may be a tenured, tenure-track, or long-term contract position, depending upon the applicant's qualifications.

"The Legal Skills & Values Program combines demanding traditional legal analysis, research, writing, and advocacy instruction with an introduction to other lawyering skills and professionalism. It is a required three-semester program for entering students, with third semester enrollment options provided in either the students' fall or spring semester of their second year. Finalist candidates for this position will be asked to present a curricular plan for the three-semester sequence. A highly qualified instructional staff is already in place.

"Applicants should be experienced law teachers with a strong background in legal research and writing instruction and some experience in other skills taught in the program. Those applying for a tenured or tenure-track position should also have a demonstrated commitment to and a talent for legal scholarship. Previous management or administrative responsibility in legal education would also be helpful, but is not required.

"Nominations and applications should be directed to:
Associate Dean Ediberto Roman
Professor Matthew Mirow
Appointments Committee Co-Chairs
Florida International University College of Law
University Park, Rafael Diaz Balart Hall
Miami, Florida 33199

"Review of applications will begin November 20, 2006

"1. The position advertised:
_x_ a. is a tenure-track appointment.
_x_ b. may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
__ c. may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
__ d. has an upper-limit on the number of years a teacher may be appointed.
__ e. is part of a fellowship program for one or two years.
__ f. is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment.

"2. The professor hired:
_x_ a. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings
___ b. will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

"3. 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; nor does a base salary include conference travel or other professional development funds.)
_x_ a. $90,000 or more
__ b. $80,000 to $89,999
__ c. $70,000 to $79,999
__ d. $60,000 to $69,999
__ e. $50,000 to $59,999
__ f. $40,000 to $49,999
__ g. $30,000 to $39,999
__ h. this is a part-time appointment paying less than $30,000
__ I. this is an adjunct appointment paying less than $10,000

"4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research and writing professor will be:
_x_ a. 30 or fewer
_x_ b. 31 - 35
_x_ c. 36 - 40
__ d. 41 - 45
__ e. 46 - 50
__ f. 51 - 55
__ g. 56 - 60
__ h. more than 60"


October 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dr. Seuss's teaching methods?

If you take a non-traditional approach to teaching law and would like some validation, click on:  http://outofthejungle.blogspot.com/2006/09/teaching-legal-research-on-beyond-bi.html and the links therein.

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University



October 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS section award

November 1 -- Deadline for nominations for Section Award.  The award is made periodically to an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the field of legal writing and research. 

Please send a short summary of the nominee's contributions to Suzanne Rowe, Section Chair, at [email protected].

hat tip:

Suzanne E. Rowe
Associate Professor
Director of Legal Research and Writing
University of Oregon School of Law
1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR  97403-1221
(541) 346-0507
fax: (541) 346-1564
[email protected]


October 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

call for proposals

The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research has issued a call for proposals for the Section's program at the 2008 AALS annual meeting.  Samples of past successful proposals are available at the Section's website.  The deadline for submitting proposals is November 30, 2006.

A hard copy of each proposal needs to be sent to the Program Committee Chair, Professor Philip Meyer, Vermont Law School, Chelsea Street, South Royalton, VT 05068.  In addition, proposals need to be submitted to the Program Committee members via e-mail:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

hat tip:  Professor Suzanne Rowe, University of Oregon


October 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ALWD conference dates set

Lawschoolmainpage The Association of Legal Writing Directors ("ALWD") has set the dates for its bi-ennial conference, June 14 - 16, 2007.  The conference will take place at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where K.K. DuVivier is the legal writing director.


October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 23, 2006

teaching citators?

SaluteFor those who are about to teach citators (Shepard's, KeyCite), we salute you! You may be interested in Groklaw's post of DePaul law librarian Mark Giangrande's Brief Description of Citators for Those Without a Legal Background (people a lot like your students right now). You may find some good ideas there.


October 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

fact pattern possibilities

At a pig roast, a beer keg tossed into a fire explodes, causing injuries to party-goers.  While tragic, it also sounds like the start of a good fact pattern.


October 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

rebooting LRW

Cteitchersmall Professor Carrie Teitcher, at Brooklyn Law School has written an article on Rebooting Our Approach to Teaching Research: One Writing Program's Leap into the Computer Age.  It's available electronically via SSRN at:  http://ssrn.com/abstract=934688.  And here's the abstract:

"In the fall of 2005, Brooklyn Law School's Writing
Program significantly changed its approach to legal research
instruction and entered a new era. In order to make our research
lessons more effective and relevant to our students, we opted for
a fully integrated approach in which we emphasized the importance
of combining books, fee based legal research sources, and free
Internet sources into a comprehensive research strategy. These
changes acknowledge the realities of the computer age, the work
place, and our students' own research experiences which are
steeped in the Internet and computers. Eventually, we hope to
make our students more discerning consumers of legal research
and, ultimately, better analytical thinkers. With this new
approach we expect that students will fully embrace all available
tools while taking maximum advantage of all that today's computer
technology has to offer legal research instruction.

"In this article, I first describe the growth of computer research
technology at Brooklyn, some of the efforts we took to try to
engage the students in traditional book research, and why we
needed to make this latest change to the way we teach legal
research. I then describe the changes we made to our legal
research curriculum. My conclusion is that integrated legal
instruction which acknowledges the realities of today's
technology and computer culture engages our students, enhances
our credibility as teachers, and, most importantly, produces
willing and capable researchers who will consider all available
resources ranging from books, to fee based computer research
tools, to the Internet and its vast collection of free resources.
Ultimately, we will then be able to focus on what is most
important - synthesis and critical analysis of the law - so that
students will become better analytical thinkers."


October 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Complete Lawyer

"The Complete Lawyer," an online periodical that "focuses solely on the personal and professional development of lawyers," has an article in the current edition about effective communication and being a powerful presenter.  It contains ideas that are transferable to the classroom, such as having a clear purpose, not cramming too much information into one presentation, and meeting the needs of your audience.


October 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

on critiquing

Barnettda Professor Dan Barnett is known for the excellent workshops he has organized on critiquing law students' paper, at the Legal Writing Institute's bi-ennial conferences.  He has recently completed a related article, Triage in the Trenches in the Legal Writing Course:  The Theory and Methodology of Analytical Critique, based on his workshop materials.   The article will be published by the University of Toledo Law Review in December 2006 (Volume 38).  The manuscript is currently available electronically:


hat tip:  Professor Dan Barnett


October 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

dates set for 7th annual Rocky Mountain conference

UnlvMark your calendars for March 9-10, 2007, and plan to attend the 7th annual Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and hosted by UNLV.

Conference organizers are working on obtaining a conference rate for hotels, but advise that you may wish to shop the 'Net for better rates. While you may wish to rent a car, UNLV Prof. Terry Pollman says that cab rides from the Strip to the law school typically cost around $10. Watch for the Call for Proposals to be posted soon.


October 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Ig Nobel" prize (say it fast)

Princeton psychology professor Danny Oppenheimer's empirical study, ominously titled "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly," receives the Ig Nobel prize--and other accolades--for demonstrating that readers react badly to writing that uses too many big words.

Hat tip to Ruth Anne Robbins, who posted a link to the story on the LRWPROF listserv.


October 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

one law school's advice to grads interested in law school teaching

The D.C. meat market looms on the horizon. Students at prestigious Columbia University have a web page devoted to legal careers in academe. One of the FAQs on that page asks,

Do legal research and writing positions provide a useful entry to teaching?

Columbia's answer:
Well, it all depends.  Teaching legal writing and research, in and of itself, has little to commend it as an entre [sic] to law school teaching unless that is the subject you wish to teach (and a number of schools do have permanent legal writing and research faculty, some tenure-track). 

If this means that Columbia (and by extension, other feeder schools) wouldn't recommend going into LRW teaching unless the applicant really wants to teach LRW, then hurrah! The parenthetical comment persuades me that this is exactly the message they're sending.


October 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

possessives and the Supreme Court

For an analysis of the Supreme Court justices' usage of a lone apostrophe or an apostrophe-plus-s to indicate the possessive case when a singular word ends in "s,", see http://www.law.com/jsp/dc/PubArticleDC.jsp?id=1159866327040&hub=Commentary.


October 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

the future of legal research

Here's an announcement from Professor Mary Rose Strubbe:

Chicago-Kent College of Law is pleased to again welcome legal skills faculty and law librarians to a conference on May 18 & 19, 2007, to continue the discussion that we began at “The Future of Legal Research” conference in May, 2005.

Among the topics that we will consider are:

Results of the follow-up surveys on practitioners’ research habits;

Research teaching techniques in our electronic age;

Law students’ research abilities and how they differ from those of their employers in practice and their law school professors;

Internet access to abundant free material and how it will change the legal research landscape;

Teaching students to think critically about the material that they gather from free sites;

Citing sensibly to electronic sources that will change over time;

Exploring the burgeoning availability of international law sources and understanding why these sources will take on increasing importance to lawyers and students;

Teaching students to evaluate the content of their research rather than the medium in which it is found.

Proposals are now being accepted for presenters and panelists for the above topics and other topics that address both how legal research will be accomplished in the future, and how we should prepare our students for these changes. Proposals are due by January 15, 2006, and should be addressed to either:

Mary Rose Strubbe, Director of Legal Writing [email protected]
Keith Ann Stiverson, Director of the Library [email protected]

Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 West Adams Street
Chicago, Illinois 60661

Material may be submitted electronically or in hard copy. The material from the conference will be posted on a website after the conference ends.

The conference will be held in the beautiful City of Chicago, which comes to life in the spring. For those who haven’t been to the Windy City in a few years, the newly opened Millennium Park, designed by the world renowned architect, Frank Gehry, is alone worth the trip. There is no fee to attend the conference, but attendees are responsible for their own housing and transportation. Information about hotels and a detailed schedule should be available by late January. Come join the discussion about how legal research is changing, and what our response to those changes should be!

- Professor Mary Rose Strubbe, Chicago-Kent College of Law


October 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)