Thursday, April 12, 2007

call for proposals: Southeast Legal Writing Conference

Proposals are being accepted for the Southeast Legal Writing Conference to be held at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Friday and Saturday, September 7 & 8, 2007.  The topic is "Teaching the Basics:  Practical Ideas for the Legal Research and Writing Classroom."  Conference organizers are seeking presentations that are 20, 30, or 50 minutes long.

Please submit a paragraph summarizing your presentation along with your request for the amount of time (20, 30, or 50 minutes) and whether you are flexible about the time. 

Organizers expect the majority of presentations to take place on Saturday, with a plenary, related table discussions, and a reception on Friday. 

Please send your proposals to Anthony Niedwiecki or Cindy Bulan, the chair of the conference. Please submit your proposal by June 1, 2007.

Anthony Niedwiecki:

Cindy Bulan:


April 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

job opening at U of Colorado

The University of Colorado Law School is hiring for a non-tenure track faculty position reporting to the Director of the Legal Writing Program, beginning in August 2007. Send a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and the names,addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references to:

Lorenzo A. Trujillo
Assistant Dean for Students and Professional Programs
University of Colorado School of Law
401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0401


April 11, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

thin slice student evalutions

Merritt_deborah If you do not know what "thin slice judgment" means and you are a teacher whose retention, promotion, or tenure depends in part on student evaluations, you owe it to yourself to read Deborah Merritt's article on Bias, the Brain, and Student Evaluations of Teaching, Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 87 (January 2007).  You can download or print it free of charge via SSRN.

Among the studies Professor Merritt reports on are those that show evaluations made by students in the first five minutes of a course accurately predict student teaching evaluations at the end of the entire course.  She explains how the studies indicate a few non-verbal communication factors account for most of the results in student evaluations.  And she suggests better ways for law schools to get more meaningful input from students about their courses.



April 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Kudos Prof. Murrill!

Legwrit_murrille Elizabeth Murrill, an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at LSU Law School in Baton Rouge, LA, has been selected as a 2007-08 Supreme Court Judicial Fellow.  She will work in Washington, D.C., at the Federal Judicial Center, the federal judiciary’s agency for research and education. The Center also provides orientation and continuing education for all federal judges, as well as management and supervisory education for the courts’ staff.

hat tip:  Prof. Todd Bruno


April 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

bonfire of the bluebooks

Bonfire Eight first-year law students at Harvard have been arrested for burning their Bluebooks and throwing rocks in protest outside the Harvard Law Review office, according to this story datelined April 5, 2007, in The Record, which styles itself "The Independent Newspaper at Harvard Law School." Is it true, or just a delayed April Fool's story? We'll let you decide (check out the other stories in this edition of the paper).


April 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

workshop for new LRW profs

Newly-hired legal writing professors can learn how to do their new jobs at the Workshop for Beginning Legal Writing Teachers, presented by AALS in Washington, D.C., on June 30th to July 1st.  The topics that will be covered include:

Nuts & Bolts
Designing Assignments
Teaching Legal Research

The confirmed speakers are:

Lorraine Bannai (Seattle)
Patricia Broussard (Florida A&M)
Linda Edwards (Mercer)
Suzanne Rabe (Arizona)
Amy Sloan (Baltimore)
Craig Smith (Vanderbilt)

This workshop is indispenable for brand new legal writing professors and also very helpful for anyone finishing their first year on the job.


April 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

LRW leading AALS Sections

Skimming the February 2007 AALS newsletter revealed that no less that six members of the legal writing community are chairing AALS Sections this year.  The sections, chairs, and their schools are:

Academic Support
Nancy Soonpaa, Texas Tech

Education Law
Dan Weddle, UMKC

International Human Rights Law
Mark Wojcik, John Marshall

Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research
Susan Kosse, Louisville

Part Time Division Programs
Darby Dickerson, Stetson

Teaching Methods
Jim Levy, Southeastern

Legal writing people are everywhere!


April 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 6, 2007

memorable grading tips

Michael_higdon Professor Michael Higdon, at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, has written a very useful article that will help legal writing professors understand and remember the most important techniques for effectively critiquing students' papers:  From Simon Cowell to Tim Gunn:  What Reality Television Can Teach Us about How to Critique Our Students' Work Effectively.  The beauty of Higdon's article is that he provides vivid examples from this popular TV genre for each critiquing technique.  Even if you try not to, you will invariably find yourself mentally visualizing each example, and these images will be easy to recall as you work through that last big end-of-the-semester stack of papers.  You can download the article free of charge at SSRN.


April 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ABA accreditation authority renewed for only 18 months, not 5 years

The ABA's authority as the accrediting body for law schools has been renewed, but not via the standard five-year extension. The Department of Education has given it 18 months. For the full report, go to


April 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

job openings at Dayton, Illinois

The University of Dayton School of Law is seeking applicants for a full-time (non-tenure-track) Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills. Send resume, writing sample and list of three references to: Dru Bruns, University of Dayton School of Law, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio 45469-2772.

The University of Illinois College of Law has openings for one or more full-time (non-tenure-track, capped) Visiting Assistant Professors to teach legal writing. Send resume, law school transcript, writing sample, and a list of three references to Shannon Moritz, Director of Legal Writing, University of Illinois College of Law, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue, Champaign, IL 61820.


April 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

our approach to job announcements

Legal writing jobs are routinely posted on the two listservs (DIRCON, LRWPROF) that active legal writing profs subscribe to. We know, however, that some of our blog readers are not subscribers to those listservs, but recognize that you still may be interested in learning about those opportunities.

Therefore, we’re going to try to do a better job of passing on the word about job openings, but have decided not to paste into the blog the full ALWD/LWI-compliant announcements, given the length of the required disclosure form. If a job has been listed on the LWI Job Board (and we recommend that schools seeking applicants list ads there), we will put in a link to that board. Otherwise, we’ll just clip and paste in the contact info accompanying the announcement.


April 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

congratulations grantees!

The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) have announced their summer 2007 research grant recipients.  The two organizations will be investing $27,000 this year to support scholarship projects by legal writing professors.  (It's hard not to wonder why these professors' law schools don't fund this scholarship, the way they fund their other professors' scholarship, but that's a topic for another post.)

Congratulations to:

recipients of ALWD grants:

Brady Coleman, South Texas College of Law
project:  A Computational Linguistic Analysis of US Supreme Court Briefs

Anna Hemingway, Widener University School of Law
project:  The Ethical Obligations of Lawyers, Law Students and Law Professors Telling Stories on Web Logs

Lance N. Long, Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School
project:  Clearly, Intensifiers Make a Difference -- Or Do They?

Carol Wallinger, Rutgers School of Law - Camden
project:  Moving From First to Final Draft: An Empirical Study on Motivating LRW Students to Flow Throught the Writing Process 

recipients of LWI grants:

Katerina Lewinbuk, South Texas College of Law
project:  Can Successful Lawyers Think in Different Languages?  Understanding Critical Strategies that Support Teaching and Learning Appropriate Lawyering Skills that are Detrimental to the Practice of Law in a Global Multinational Environment

Julie A. Oseid & Leah M. Christensen, University of St. Thomas School of Law
project:  Sex, Lies, and Law Reviews:  Uncovering the Mysteries of Those Who Hold All the Power - The Student Editors

Sheila Rodriguez, Rutgers School of Law - Camden
project:  Taming Hubris: Using Conferences and Guided Self Assessment to Ease the Triumphant Undergraduate Writer's Transition to Novice Legal Writer

hat tips:
Craig Smith, Vanderbilt University
Susan Kosse, University of Louisville


April 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

blogging on legal writing topics

Eugene Volokh blogged yesterday (April 5) about two legal writing topics: the sometimes acceptable use of passive voice and "needless abstractions." Nothing earth-shattering in his observations on either topic, but the posts already have 33 and 30 comments, respectively. Do this many people care about writing, do they just want to complain about being edited or graded (a lot of student comments about their legal writing profs), or do they just like to comment on Volokh's blog?


April 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ALWD election results

Congratulations to the newly elected officers and directors of the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

President-Elect: Judy Stinson (Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law)

Treasurer: Grace Wigal (West Virginia University College of Law)

Board of Directors: Mary Garvey Algero (Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law)

Board of Directors: J. Lyn Entrikin Goering (Washburn University School of Law)

Board of Directors: Suzanne M. Rabe (University of Arizona, James E. Rogers School of Law)


April 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

strange judicial opinions (and more)

J0178595 For those looking for something interesting to liven up the last few weeks of class, visit the "Strange Judicial Opinions" page at (a website collecting all kinds of legal humor, by U. of Memphis Prof. Andrew McClurg).

For example, consider the case of the "Dentist in Denial":

In a 1963 divorce case, the wife accused the husband, a dentist, of adultery with several of his patients. The husband vigorously contested the allegations. Fifteen hundred pages of testimony later, the case made it on appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court, which had to decide whether the evidence proved adultery.

The husband had creative explanations for every bit of damning evidence. For example, when the wife produced a film she found of the husband inserting a speculum into a nude patient in his office, he said he was conducting medical research. Remember, he's a dentist.

On another charge, the wife claimed she came into the husband’s office one day to find him having sex on his dental couch with a nude patient identified in the case as “Mrs. G.” The husband denied having sex with Mrs. G. He said he was merely carrying her to the couch because of her sudden loss of consciousness while he was removing a denture. (No explanation as to why she was nude.) He maintained his denial even in the face of a diary entry he made on the same date with reference to Mrs. G that said "[C]aught!” He explained that this was actually a medical entry meaning that the denture “caught” in Mrs. G’s mouth tissue while he was removing it.

Case citations to this and many other weird opinions are available.


April 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

go, SEC, go!

The SEC continues to put teeth behind its plain English requirements.

hat tip:  Prof. Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent University


April 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 2, 2007

punctuation matters . . .

Here's a fun website that includes the popular punctuation teaching tool--the love letter that has two very different messages depending on its punctuation.


April 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)