Friday, June 29, 2007


"Writing is one of the easiest things; erasing is one of the hardest."

- Rabbi Israel Salanter

hat tip:  Professor Diane Murley, from a helpful reminder on the Manage Your Writing blog


June 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

education in this millennium

This week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Morse v. Frederick, No. 06-278 (U.S. June 25, 2007).  You may recall it better as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.  In his concurrence, Justice Thomas wrote:

"In short, in the earliest public schools, teachers taught, and students listened. Teachers commanded, and students obeyed. Teachers did not rely solely on the power of ideas to persuade; they relied on discipline to maintain order."

Of course, in the years that have passed since the 18th Century, educators have realized that experiential learning is a far more effective learning tool -- for adults, as well as children.  Wonder what Justice Thomas would think of the controlled chaos of an interactive exercise during legal writing class?

hat tip:  Prof. Peter Friedman, Case Western University



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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

thesis paragraphs

Kosse_2 Professor Susan Kosse, at the University of Louisville, has written a helpful article on the effective use of thesis paragraphs.  As she so aptly puts it, "[r]eaders of legal analysis want to be prepared for the scope and direction of the analysis from the beginning and do not want suspense or mystery."  This article is short enough to use as a hand out in legal writing class.


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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

job opening for this fall

Professor Gail Stephenson sends the following announcement from sunny Baton Rouge:

"The Southern University Law Center invites applications for two legal writing faculty positions beginning in the 2007-2008 academic year. Please send a cover letter listing references, a resume, and any articles completed within the last 5 years or drafts of current works in progress. Please send applications to The Faculty Appointments Subcommittee, c/o Prof. John Pierre, Southern University Law Center, P. O. Box 9294, Baton Rouge, LA 70813. Application deadline is July 6, 2007.

"One or both of the positions may be visiting professorships; the visitors will be considered for a permanent position to open for the 2008-2009 academic year. Salary is $55,000 to $65,000, depending on experience. The legal writing faculty are eligible for 405c presumptively renewable 5-year contracts after 6 years of successful teaching and are allowed to vote on all matters except hiring, promotion and tenure. Responsibilities include teaching two sections of Legal Analysis & Writing with a total student load of 40-45 students.

"Established in 1947 and ABA-acredited, Southern University is a historically black university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the state capital. The law center has a diverse student body (approx. 60% black, 40% white) and a diverse faculty. The city located is on the Mississippi River and is an hour northwest of New Orleans. Direct questions about the legal writing program to Gail Stephenson, Director, at"


June 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

Monday, June 25, 2007

recommended reading -- other ways to train professionals

Ftfac_neumann Osler, Langdell, and the Atelier is the intriguing title of a new article by Professor Richard Neumann at Hofstra University. Professor Neumann explains that Osler was to medical education and the atelier was to architecture education what Langdell was to legal education. Well, sort of, because they take very different approaches with very different results, which is also Neumann's point. Here's his abstract:

"Langdell, together with Ames, is associated with the key elements of traditional legal education: the case method, the law school version of the Socratic dialog, the casebook, the three-year law degree, the prerequisite of a bachelor's degree, the student-edited law review, the library's role as the center of the law school, and a classroom faculty with relatively little practice experience or interest in practice. In medical education, William Osler played a similar role, although with an entirely different emphasis. Osler is associated with the creation of the modern teaching hospital, the most valuable forms of teaching that can occur there, and the structure of and sequence of study in the typical four-year medical degree program. American architectural education was created not by individuals like Osler and Langdell, but instead developed from a kind of place ? the French atelier, from which the modern architectural design studio is descended. An architecture school is built around a design studio, and architectural education's values and practices are studio values and practices.

"This article compares the influence of Langdell, Osler, and the atelier in their respective fields and considers what they can reveal about legal education today. Among other things, that comparison reveals that although very little skills learning is required in law schools, skills learning is at the core of both medical and architectural education. For that reason, the Oslerian and atelier traditions have substantially raised the standard of practice in medicine and architecture, although that is probably much less true for the Langdellian tradition in law. Although most courses taken by a medical student or an architecture student are required, most courses taken by a law student are electives. Law school curricula are only lightly regulated by accreditation, but curricula differ little from one law school to another. The reverse is true in medicine. Architectural accreditation evaluates in detail what students are learning. Architecture and medicine, in fact, have developed inventories of what a capable practitioner should know and have incorporated those inventories into relatively demanding accreditation standards. Law developed a similarly thoughtful inventory of competencies in the MacCrate Report but has not converted it into its accreditation standards as a body of competencies that every school must teach and every student must learn. In comparison with medical and architecture schools, law schools can in some ways resemble graduate liberal arts departments. In reflectiveness, intensity, and continuity, the quality of law school skills teaching compares favorably with skills teaching in medical and architecture schools, although there is much less of it in law than in the other two professions. Traditional thinking about legal education has obscured the fact that law schools probably already have or can develop the resources needed to teach skills to all students. Even though law faculties often consider skills teaching to be expensive, the cost is tiny compared to the expense in medical schools, which must own or affiliate with teaching hospitals and must support the extraordinarily expensive equipment, layers of bureaucracy, and support staff normally found in a hospital."

You can access the complete text at


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

learned a new word lately?

When I receive the New York State Bar Journal via snail mail, I always turn first to Professor Emerita Gertrude Block's column of Language Tips.  Professor Block fields questions from attorneys about correct language usage, and often the topics include changes in language.  This month Professor Block points out words that have newly entered the Shorter OED.  The one I had never heard before was "gomer."  I said it out loud, immediately thought of Gomer Pyle, and was not far off in my sense of its meaning.  Professor Block gently suggests that some readers may have a colleague who is a gomer. 


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

Friday, June 22, 2007

a Posner commentary on a complaint

From a June 22 opinion written by Judge Richard A. Posner:

"The complaint is a hideous sprawling mess, 40 pages in length with 221
paragraphs of allegations.  We have found it difficult and in many instances
impossible to ascertain the nature of the charges.  It would have been better
had the defendants deferred their motion, and the district judge his ruling,
until either the defendants served contention interrogatories designed to
smoke out what exactly the plaintiffs are charging, or better, because
quicker and cheaper, the judge told the plaintiffs to specify the acts of the
defendants that they are complaining about so that he could decide how much
of the complaint was preempted.  Still, the defendants can hardly be blamed
for wanting to strangle the monster in its crib."

In re: Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 06-3132 (7th Cir.), .

hat tip:  Chris Wren, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Appeals Unit, Wisconsin Department of Justice


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


"A good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years."

- Wendell L. Willkie


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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

the negative effects of law school

The online Wall Street Journal lawblog recently reported on the Sheldon/Krieger piece on the negative effects of law school at  The comments about the law school experience are pretty revealing.

hat tip:  Sharon Blackburn, librarian extraordinaire, Texas Tech University School of Law


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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

the most praised generation of students ever

"The Most Praised Generation Goes to Work: Uber-stroked kids are reaching adulthood -- and now their bosses (and spouses) have to deal with them."

That's the title of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 20, 2007.  You can access it at:

If you wade through it, you will eventually come to some comments by attorneys.  The article doesn't say what happens when this generation, over-praised throughout life and now apparently at some law firms, meets the reality of our adversarial judicial system.  In court, usually someone loses and someone wins.  Clients and judges don't give A's for effort.

hat tip:  Professor Linda Ryan


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

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

blog editors at conference

New_cameraboston_and_denver_038 Here are your blog editors at the Denver Zoo after a successful and engaging 2 1/2 days at the ALWD conference.  That's Sue on the left, then Coleen, then Nancy.


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

recommended reading

Click here to link to the recent article by Ken Sheldon and Larry Krieger, reporting on their study of two law schools and how a focus on the overall well-being of law students seems to lead to better learning results, including better bar passage rates.  Although they'd be the first to agree there's need for further study, there's much food for thought here.  And there are many places where legal writing professors will shake their heads in agreement.

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

RFP, Global Legal Skills III

Prof. Mark Wojcik, at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, sends the following announcement:

Fldmfrente The third Global Legal Skills Conference will be held February 29 and March 1, 2008, in Monterrey Mexico, hosted by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey. Proposals for possible presentations at the conference will be accepted until October 10, 2007.

The Global Legal Skills Conference - held the first two times at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago - focuses on international legal education and specifically the needs of lawyers and law students who speak English as a second language. Additional topics covered at the conference include advocacy skills, legal research, creating appropriate materials and assignments, cross-cultural and intercultural issues, classroom teaching, clinical legal education, academic support, international legal exchanges, and alternative dispute resolution. The 2007 Chicago conference included a special session for court translators, sessions on Legal Spanish and Legal French, and roundtable discussions on teaching in China, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America. The 2007 conference in Chicago drew attendees and presenters from all across the United States and from countries as widespread as Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and Spain.

In addition to attendees expected from the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe, the 2008 Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico is expected to include many attendees from law schools in Mexico and Central America. The conference presents excellent networking opportunities for those who are interested in teaching abroad, for those who are interested in international legal education, and for those who want to learn how international and foreign teaching methods can improve teaching in the domestic classroom. Proposals on comparative and international law topics are also invited. The conference is expected to be well attended and a wide variety of proposals are invited.

Proposals for possible panel or individual presentations may be submitted until October 10, 2007. There is no particular format required for proposals. Send proposals to the conference co-chair, Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School, 315 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604 USA, or by email to


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

Monday, June 18, 2007

LWI Writers' Workshop

Writers_workshop This photo was taken Tuesday, June 12th, at the 2007 LWI Writers’ Workshop, at the Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado.

Click on the photo to enlarge it, and you will see (left to right): Debby McGregor (IU-Indy), Steve Johansen (Lewis & Clark), Joan Magat (Duke), Sheila Rodriguez (Camden-Rutgers), K.K. Duvivier (Denver), Dorothy Bisbee (Suffolk), Ursula Weigold (Cornell), David Thompson (Denver), Chris Rideout (Seattle), Linda Edwards (Mercer), Atiba Ellis (Howard), Jill Ramsfield (Hawaii), and Ken Chestek (IU-Indy). Not pictured  workshop participants were Kristin Gerdy (BYU), Jason Cohen (Camden-Rutgers), and Michael Higdon (UNLV).

The workshop lasted three days, and gave 12 writers the opportunity to work on their scholarship with 4 facilitators in small groups. The event is sponsored annually by the Legal Writing Institute.

hat tip:  Prof. Ken Chestek, Indiana University School of Law--Indianapolis


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

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ALWD conference

The ALWD conference ended last night with fajitas and elephant-viewing at the Denver Zoo.  Prior to that event, we focused our attention on serious discussions about legal writing, program administration, and legal educaton.

Saturday's schedule featured plenary sessions with Judith Wegner speaking on "On Educating Lawyers:  Preparation for the Profession of Law."  Her talk at the ALWD conference was her first formal presentation relating to the publication of the Carnegie Foundation's new book, "Educating Lawyers:  Preparation for the Profession of Law."

At lunch, Peter Joy spoke on "Best Practices for Educating Lawyers," and Pauline Schneider spoke on "Current and Future Issues Important to Legal Education."

All three speakers invited discussion and questions about their talks, and those questions demonstrated the conference participants' passion for teaching and concern about traditional legal education--concern not always similarly reflected across and within their faculties. 

More on the conference to come . ..


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

Thursday, June 14, 2007

creative teaching ideas

If you're interested in creative teaching ideas, here's a website that includes teaching using Star Trek and Star Wars and examples of humorously stated grammar rules.


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

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

new website for LWI journal

The Legal Writing Institute announces creation of a new website for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, temporarily located at until a permanent domain is established.

The current issue is up on the site. All coming articles will be published both online at the website and in print. Past articles will also be available on the site, searchable by key word.

Site developers Jim Levy, Kristin Gerdy, and Brooke Bowman invite your comments and suggestions for the website.

Hat tip: Jim Levy


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

Phoenix provisionally approved

News from the Southwest: Phoenix School of Law received provisional approval from the ABA effective June 8, 2007.

Hat tip: Penny Willrich


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

new courage award

The Legal Writing Institute's Awards Committee has announced a call for nominations for a brand new award established by Professor Terri LeClercq, the LeClercq Courage Award, which will be presented during the Biennial Legal Writing Institute Conference in July, 2008.  Any member of the Legal Writing Institute may nominate someone for the award. Submit your nominations directly to Julie Spanbauer at on or before July 1, 2007. 

Images Professor LeClercq retired in 2006 from her position as a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Texas at Austin after a distinguished career in language and the law.  She holds a Ph.D. in English and taught students at the University and at the Law School for nearly two decades.  Terri is the author of Guide to Legal Writing Style and Expert Legal Writing, two of the first reference books specifically for legal writing. Her expertise in language and the law has made her a sought-after expert witness in language interpretation for statutes and contracts.  But it is Terri's daring spirit that led her to create LWI's Courage Award. Whether deciding to leave the English Department 23 years ago and teach in a law faculty, or standing up for colleagues fighting battles against their school's hierarchies, or being arrested for peacefully protesting foreign military officer education at Ft. Benning's School of the Americas, Terri's words and deeds embody the courage that this award seeks to foster.

Nominees must be members of the Legal Writing Institute who have demonstrated an act of courage by doing something, despite fear, that most people could not or would not do. Ordinarily, one person will be selected for this award per year except in situations in which several people are responsible for a specific act of courage.

Courage for the purposes of this award might be demonstrated in the following ways:

Personal Courage: The recipient might have done something extraordinary that reflects a commitment to the profession. A professor who overcame great adversity to teach legal writing or who overcame such adversity while continuing to teach legal writing would exemplify personal courage.

Moral Courage: The recipient might have stood up to authority for a principled reason and despite personal or professional risk of ostracism or other negative consequences. Another example of moral courage might include a professor who stood up to a major publisher in order to get a new type of text published.

Civil Courage: The recipient might have done something for the world at large despite personal adversity or other circumstances that required courage as defined above. For example, a recipient may have worked in a developing or emerging nation.

These examples are not intended to be exhaustive; the LWI Awards Committee welcomes diverse examples and definitions of courage.

hat tip:  Prof. Julie M. Spanbauer


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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

reminder re deadline for proposals for 2008 LWI conference

Still thinking about submitting a proposal?  The deadline is June 15--that's this Friday!!  For more information, please go to either the LWI website or the Indianapolis law schoolwebsite. Those are or .


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