Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arkansas considers treatment of all unpublished opinions as precedent, mandate Bluebook

The Arkansas Supreme Court is considering a proposal from its Civil Practice Committee to amend the court rule governing citation of judicial opinions. Under current rules, citation to unpublished opinions is prohibited. The new rule will treat all opinions by the Arkansas Supreme Court or the Arkansas Court of Appeals as precedential, regardless whether they are published. The proposal also would mandate citation according to the latest edition of the Bluebook. Comments regarding the proposal are invited no later than August 1, 2007; they should be addressed to Mr. Leslie W. Steen, Clerk, Supreme Court of Arkansas, Attn: Civil Procedure Rules, Justice Building, 625 Marshall
Street, Little Rock, AR 72201.

Hat tip: Jessie Wallace Burchfield


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

speakers needed for legislative drafting program

The National Conference of State Legislatures is seeking speakers--preferably law professors who teach legislative drafting or legislative research--for a professional development program for legislative staff, some of whom are lawyers. Contact Pamela Ray, by telephone: (505) 986-4637; or e-mail:


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

Sunday, May 27, 2007

for Memorial Day

When it comes to the written word, In Flanders Fields is one of the pieces most associated with Memorial Day.  Clicking on the title of the poem in the previous sentence will bring you the full text and an interesting explanation of how it came to be written.


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

Thursday, May 24, 2007

black holes and legal writing

While doing some research for an article I'm working on, I came across the following footnote today:

"Stephen Hawkings is correct in his assertion that black holes exist.  They are called legal writing positions.  Once you enter a legal writing position, it is almost impossible to escape the legal writing field.  So, despite the gravity of the problem with current legal writing, one really has to be warped to take such a job.  If writing is the process of generating and committing one's analysis to paper, then legal writing is the process of generating and committing one's legal analysis to paper.  What does that make legal writing?  Only the single most important course in the curriuclum, since the one thing you can be sure you will do in practice is engage in a lifetime of legal writing.  Thus, many law professors naturally acccord legal writing an amount of respect that is in inverse measure to its actual importance."

Kevin H. Smith, How to Become a Law Professor Without Really Trying:  A Critical, Heuristic, Deconstructionist, and Hermeneutical Exploration of Avoiding the Drudgery Associated with Actually Working as an Attorney, 47 U. Kan. L. Rev. 139, ___ n. 17 (1998).


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

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

materials from back-to-the-future

Handouts and podcasts from last Friday’s Back to the Future of Legal Research symposium are now available online at

Photos of the conference are posted online at

hat tip:  Candle Wester-Mittan, Southern Illinois University


May 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

junior scholars conference in Texas

Inaugural Texas Junior Legal Scholars Conference,
Texas Wesleyan School of Law
August 10-11th, 2007

Sponsored by:
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law

And in cooperation with:
Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law
South Texas College of Law
St. Mary's University of San Antonio School of Law
Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Texas Tech University School of Law
University of Houston Law Center

Seven of the nine Texas Law Schools have come together to create a forum for untenured scholars in Texas and throughout the United States to present papers and works in progress in an informal atmosphere while getting feedback from other untenured legal scholars.  They are encouraging submissions on a wide range of topics and from many perspectives -- legal, economic, critical, historic, comparative, literary, political, sociological, philosophical, practical, and interdisciplinary -- so presumably legal writing scholarship is fair game.

deadline for submissions: June 1, 2007
notification of accepted papers: June 18, 2007

Submissions received after June 1 may be accepted on a space-available basis.  Proposals must contain: (1) your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address; (2) the title of your presentation, and (3) a brief description of your presentation idea. Completed papers are not required, although they are welcome. For full panel proposals, you need to submit the above information for each participant.

E-mail submissions are preferred; all submissions should be sent to:

Professor Meredith Conway
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law
1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102


hat tip:  Professor Susan Ayres, Texas Wesleyan University


May 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, May 21, 2007

logic for lawyers

In response to an inquiry on the legal writing professors' listserve, subscribers offered the following suggestions for books that may help lawyers understand the types of logic they need to be able to use in their writing:

Michael Adams, The Writer's Mind (University Press of America 1993).

Ruggero J. Aldisert, Logic for Lawyers: A Guide to Clear Legal Thinking (3d ed., National Institute for Trial Advocacy 1997).

Colin Bruce, Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Maths and Probability (Vintage 2001).

Charles R. Calleros, Legal Method and Writing (5th ed., Aspen 2006).

Irene L. Clark, The Genre of Argument (Thomson/Heinle 1998).

Irving M. Copi, Carl Cohen, Daniel E. Flage, Essentials of Logic (2d ed., Pearson/Prentice Hall 2007).

S. Morris Engel, With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies (6th ed., Bedford/St. Martin's 2000).

Elizabeth Fajans, Mary R. Falk, Helen S. Shapo, Writing for Law Practice (Foundation Press 2004).

David Perkins, The Eureka Effect (WW. Norton & Company, Inc. 2000).

Christopher W. Tinsdale, Fallacies and Argument Appraisal: Critical Reasoning and Argumentation (Cambridge University Press 2000).

hat tip: Professor Libby A. White, Villanova University School of Law


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

Saturday, May 19, 2007

recommended reading

The sorry state of U.S. law reviews has long been lamented by U.S. legal academics.  Most U.S. law professors have had the experience of having their prose butchered by overly zealous 3L editors who know little about editing and even less about the subject matter of the articles they edit.  This type of editing can be particularly upsetting for legal writing professors who spend their days trying to teach law students to write at a professional level and then end up teaching their editors similar lessons.

Buckleyr_2 Over the years, there have been articles in U.S. law reviews about the problems with U.S. law reviews.  And yet somehow, when someone outside this overturned system describes it, the sheer stupidity of it seems all the more obvious.  Enter Ross Buckley, writing from the University of New South Wales, Australia, that It's Time to Stop the Blind Leading the Sighted:  A Proposal to Improve the Editing of US Law Reviews, UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2007-27.  You can access the full text at of his article at


May 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

storytelling conference

Registration is now open for the Storytelling conference, "Once Upon a Legal Time: Developing the Skills of Storytelling in Law," that is being hosted by both LWI and the City University of London. Here is the website url for the conference:

hat tip:  Ruth Anne Robbins


May 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 18, 2007

nominations sought for 2007 Blackwell Award

Nominations are open for the 2007 Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award. Past winners are Richard K. Neumann of Hofstra University; Pam Lysaght of Detroit Mercy; Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent; Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State; and Lou Sirico of Villanova. Members of the LWI and ALWD governing boards and Award Committee members are not eligible for this year’s award.

The criteria for the award are set out below:

Honoring the life of Thomas F. Blackwell for his personal and professional qualities as a Legal Writing educator, the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors give this award to recognize a person who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the field of Legal Writing by demonstrating:

  • An ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence;
  • A willingness to help other Legal Writing educators improve their teaching skills or their Legal Writing Programs;
  • An ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating Legal Writing educators and students.

E-mail nominations to Ruth Vance by June 6, 2007.


May 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

state trial court decisions on Westlaw

As if your 1L's weren't confused enough, Westlaw is starting to make state trial court decisions available.  It's already covering some 25 states.  Law librarian blogger Joe Hodniecki does a valiant job of explaining the potential benefits for practitioners.  Those of us who teach LRW to 1L's should expect to see more trial court decisions cited in our students memos and briefs, and yet another teachable moment afoot.

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


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

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Simon named interim dean at Pace

Michelle_simonpace Congratulations to Michelle Simon, newly appointed as interim dean of Pace University School of Law. Beginning her career at Pace as a legal writing instructor, she later became the Director of Legal Writing, piloted an integrated Criminal Law-Legal Writing Course, and served as Associate Dean. Another of her accomplishments was persuading the Pace faculty to approve moving all legal writing instructors to the tenure track.

hat tip: Tom McDonnell


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

how to keep it short

Attorney Evan Schaeffer makes some very helpful points about concise brief writing on The Illinois Trial Practice Blog.  He lists some of the reasons many attorneys feel compelled to file long briefs with the court.  And he does a particularly good job of articulating some ways to overcome these compulsions, approaching the problem from a broader view than a typical writing teacher's suggestions for cutting out unnecessary language.

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, Southern Illinois University


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

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It's common for older professors to assume their younger students are more tech savvy than the professors.  Every once in awhile though I'm reminded that many of our law students learned to use their computers the same way we did, on a need-to-know basis.  For example, I discovered this year that a few of my students did not know about the "find and replace" function in their wordprocessing, or how to use it for quick, consistent edits.  Doubtless many of them would benefit from the type of training in document formatting reported in this recent article.

hat tip:  alert law student Steve Krake


May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

high school writing education

What a surprise . . high-school students, even those who take college prep courses, enter college ill-prepared to tackle the coursework.


May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2007

call for articles

The Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (J. ALWD) invites submission of articles for its Fall 2008 issue, Legal Writing Beyond Memos & Briefs.  In this issue, the Journal will publish articles about the "best practices" of legal writing in contexts other than the traditional litigation setting.  Although much valuable legal writing scholarship has focused on the memoranda and briefs that are produced in connection with lawsuits, many lawyers are engaged in other kinds of writing: they draft transactional documents, legislation, rules, and regulations; they write formal and informal opinions and correspondence; they produce essays and articles for legal scholars and practicing lawyers. 

The Journal encourages submissions from law professors, practicing lawyers, and judges as well as from academics, researchers, and specialists in other disciplines.  In addition to full-length articles, the Journal welcomes essays and practice notes.  The final deadline for submission of articles is September 15, 2007.  Article selection will be completed by November 1, 2007. 

For more information, go to Download call_for_articles.doc.

hat tip:  Linda Berger


May 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

upcoming conferences

Having just compiled the list below for another purpose, I thought I might as well post it here too:

Lone Star Legal Writing Conference
May 31 - June 1, 2007
Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX

ALWD bi-ennial conference
June 14 - 16, 2007
University of Denver, Denver, CO

AALS Workshop for Beginning Legal Writing Teachers
June 30 - July 1, 2007
Washington, D.C.

Applied Storytelling Conference
July 18-20, 2007
City University, London, UK

Southeast Legal Writing Conference
September 7 & 8, 2007
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL
inquiries: Cindy Bulan,

Central Region LRW / Lawyering Skills Conference
October 5 & 6, 2007
University of Missouri - Kansas City

AALS annual meeting
January 2-6, 2008
New York, NY

Legal Writing Institute bi-ennial conference
July 14-17, 2008
University of Indianapolis, School of Law
Indianapolis, IN


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

Sunday, May 13, 2007

kudos, Mark Wojcik!

Wojcik Mark Wojcik, long-time professor of legal writing (inter alia), at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, has been elected to the Board of Governors for the Illinois State Bar Association.  Kudos, Mark!


May 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2007

shifting the focus of LRW instruction

Emory University School of Law recently announced that Tina Stark will be joining its faculty this fall, as Executive Director of their new Transactional Law Center, with the title “Professor in the Practice of Law.”

The legal academy's emphasis on teaching students to "think like lawyers" has mostly meant teaching them to "think like litigators."  Emory's goal is to teach students to think like transactional lawyers, like deal lawyers.  Professor Stark will teach contract drafting and also train a group of adjunct faculty to teach contract drafting and other transactional skills courses.  The Transactional Law Center also will be holding conferences and sponsoring research on the teaching of transactional law and skills.

hat tip:  Prof. Anne M. Rector, Emory University


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

quote for the day

"Does anybody learn writing, or do they just touch someone who lets them see the power of the deleted word?"

- Richard Bach, "Running from Safety" (1994)

(found at


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