Monday, April 30, 2007

the art of persuasion

"Thank You for Arguing," by Jay Heinrichs, is a funny, broad-ranging, inventive take on explaining the art of persuasion.  The book covers topics ranging from using emotion to controlling and defining words to using the right medium to convey the message.  And it's ripe with references ranging from Spock to Janet Jackson to Aristotle and Cicero.


April 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

legal counsel's nod to haiku

Professor Gregg Miller, at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, offers the following 3 lines, as instructions before you read the rest of his stanzas below:   

The seventh stanza
Is meant as a placeholder.
Change it as needed.

May it please the Court.
All my oral argument
Shall be in haiku.

I wish to reserve
Two minutes of my time here
For a rebuttal.

Appellant maintains
The trial court erred when it
Granted the demurrer.

An order granting
Demurrer is subject to
De novo review.

Any fact, as well as
Reasonable inference
May be examined.

Respondent alleged
Appellant did not plead breach
The trial court agreed.

Quite simply stated
Respondent’s trial counsel
Was a poopie-head.

I thank you for your time
And will now answer questions
You may have for me.


April 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

new newsletter

The latest issue of the newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Research and Reasoning is now available.  It contains news on what the Section has been up to, what it is planning, and what members of the section have been doing, too.  If you missed the AALS annual meeting in January '07, this issue of the newsletter contains the scoop on the Section's presentations, awards, and receptions, as well as remarks from officers.

Please note that the Section has a new web address, at  Thanks to LSU for taking on this hosting function.  And thanks to Pace for hosting for many years previously.


April 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

case won because of legal research?

Researching This week's ABA Journal eReport asks readers to send in their answers to the question, "What is the best example of how legal research contributed to a positive outcome of a case or legal matter you were involved with?" We'll share the top answers when they're released next week.


April 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 27, 2007

2007 Burton Award goes to Laurel Oates

Laurel_oates The Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education is presented to one who has made outstanding contributions to educating new lawyers in legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking or writing.

This year's distinguished award winner is Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle University School of Law. Laurel is the Director of Seattle University's Legal Writing Program, co-founder of the Legal Writing Institute, and co-author of five books, including The Legal Writing Handbook, now in its fourth edition, and its spin-offs, Just Research, Just Memos, Just Briefs, and Just Writing.

Laurel is presently working in India and Africa, training magistrates, hosting a conference for law school professors and providing workshops for attorneys, and providing training for judges. Three cheers for Laurel!


April 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Writers Cafe

The Benchmark Institute, a training and performance development organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of legal services to low-income communities, offers writing tips in its Writers Cafe.  You can also find competencies lists, inventories, and exercises.


April 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the poetic Utah bar

The Utah State Bar Appellate Practice Section has announced its first appellate haiku and limerick contest.  It seems entrants need to be members of the Utah bar, but perhaps other state bar associations will take note and dream up their own competitions.

If you're interested in entering the Utah contest, your entry should relate to appellate law in some way and be submitted to or by snail mail to Tawni Anderson Sherman, Dewsnup, King and Olsen, 36 S. State St. #2400, Salt Lake City UT 84111.

The announcement included some fine print:

"Entries must be received by June 1, 2007.  By submitting an entry, participants certify that the submitted work is original and further grant the Section a non-exclusive license to the use and publication of their poems at the state bar's annual convention, on the Section's website, in Section promotional materials, in the Utah Bar Journal, and in any documentary film based on the contest (even if made by Michael Moore).  Only entrants who are members of the Appellate Practice Section or who are Utah court judges are eligible to win.  (Not a member?  No problem!  You can join for a mere $10. Judges need not be members.)  Officers and executive committee members of the Section are not eligible to win but may submit entries for publication and glory.  The Section is not responsible for entries lost in cyberspace.  Judges have absolute discretion to determine the winning entries and their decisions, incongruously enough, are not reviewable in any way, shape, or form.  Winning entries will be posted on the Section's website and/or published in the Utah Bar Journal sometime after the state bar's annual convention, further ensuring the  perpetual fame of the winners and selected other honorees."

hat tip:  Prof. Kristen Gerdy, Brigham Young University


April 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Seventh Circuit gets literary

In today's Chicago Sun-Times, reporter Abdon Pallasch writes about a recent opinion from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

In a more-literary-than-usual opinion, federal appellate judges opened with Robert Burns and closed with Cinderella’s stepsister in upholding a witness-tampering decision.

The case involves the “incredibly bizarre” tale of Joseph Kalady, the 450-pound document forger who tried to fake his death by having his friend James Rand get a body-double who would be killed and left at Kalady’s house for authorities to presume to be Kalady.

“As Robert Burns observed, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” Judge Terence Evans wrote, explaining authorities realized the 185-pound man wasn’t Kalady. Kalady, his brother and Rand were all charged.

But Judge Ilana Rovner dissented, agreeing with Rand's attorneys that the case had nothing to do with witness-tampering.

“Rand’s actions simply do not fit within the plain language of this statute even with a shoehorn,” Rovner said. “As Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters taught us, no good can come of stuffing a foot into an ill-fitting shoe.”

The slip opinion is available at

hat tip: Ralph Brill


April 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 23, 2007

reminder of May research conference

"Back to the Future of Legal Research" will be held at Chicago Kent on Friday, May 18.  Find more information at


April 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)



"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

hat tip: Prof. Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


April 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

thinking like a lawyer -- in the 21st century

Most law professors who teach first-year students will acknowledge that we try to hone certain specific cognitive skills in our students.  Now definitely going on my "to-read" list is PCs and CALR: Changing the Way Lawyers Think, by Elizabeth McKenzie and Susan Vaughn at Sufflok University. Their draft is available on SSRN, and here's their abstract:

"Computers are changing the way lawyers and judges think. The authors measured differences in analogical reasoning in briefs and decisions written before computers were used in law, and now. They argue that the changes found mandate changes in legal education, that students need more emphasis on careful reading and analysis."


April 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 20, 2007


Every now and then a law student will use the blended conjunction "and/or." My usual comment on their paper is that this construction is too vague for legal writing; it's just not precise enough. Now I think I'll also refer them to to illustrate that "and" and "or" can lead to problems.

hat tip:  Prof. Andrew Solomon, South Texas College of Law


April 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

brief haiku

Trivial points urged.
Polysyllabics rampant.
Crummy brief, counsel.

- by Attorney Chris Wren


April 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UT legal research conference

Roy Mersky spoke at Tech on Wednesday, and he reminded us of the upcoming legal research conference at UT.  "Teaching the Teachers:  Effective Instruction in Legal Research" will be held October 18-20, 2007, at UT (in Austin, TX). 

Conference registration is $250 before August 1 and $275 thereafter.  You can find more information at


April 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

in this corner, ...

Awhile back (in blogger time anyway) on idealawg, Professors George Gopen and Wayne Schiess exchanged some ideas on a few legal writing issues:

If you're new(er) to legal writing, you might particularly enjoy Professor Gopen's perspective of many years.

hat tip: Professor Andrew Solomon, South Texas College of Law


April 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

grammar and its revenge

If you are looking for entertaining examples of what happens when writers ignore the rules of grammar, try:
Anguished English, by Richard Lederer


The Revenge of Anguished English:  More Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language, also by Richard Lederer.

hat tip:  Professor Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent


April 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

set in style

Whether you're a regular reader or first time visitor to this blog, you might also find posts of interest on a new blog about legal publishing, called Set in Style.  Legal writing professors will frequently find examples of judicial and lawyerly writing posted there that may prove useful in the classroom.


April 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 16, 2007


"A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who instead of aiming a single stone at an object takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit."

- Samuel Johnson

hat tip:  Prof. Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


April 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

article on arguments

Lwcfac_fruewald Professor Scott Fruehwald at Hofstra University has written an article explaining how legal writing courses cover more of the basic types of legal argumentation than the average casebook law school course.  You can download Legal Argument and Small-Scale Organization free-of-charge via SSRN.  As Professor Fruehwald writes in his abstract:

"Legal argument and legal writing are inseparable. This paper first discusses the four types of legal argument -- 1) rule-based reasoning, 2) reasoning by analogy, 3) distinguishing precedent, and 4) policy-based reasoning, and it shows how reasoning by analogy has been overemphasized in first-year doctrinal courses. It then demonstrates how legal writing courses usually include all four types of legal reasoning. Finally, the paper presents a small-scale organizational paradigm that incorporates all four types of reasoning."


April 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lone Star regional LRW conference

The Lone Star Legal Research & Writing Conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law on May 31-June 1, 2007. Legal research & writing professionals, including law librarians, from any region of the country are invited to attend. There is a registration fee of $35.00.

The schedule and related links are available at


April 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)