Monday, June 30, 2008

another quote

1r9cai53xjpcadrz754caq9jvzvcaeot5og Today a federal court quoted Lewis Carroll, apparently with more accuracy.

hat tip: Professor Ralph Brill


June 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

major misquote

RobertsIImagest's not every day that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court quotes Bob Dylan in a decision.  So people are likely to notice.  Too bad the quote was not accurate.  Too bad the Chief Justice's law clerks did not do a careful cite check on this one.

hat tip:  Professor Mary Ray  


June 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 29, 2008


When the American Bar Association holds its annual meeting in New York City in early August, the programming will include a special Day of Equality.  The ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession will end that day with an Equalitea, marking the Commission's 20 years of work towards equality for women in the legal profession and calling for future action.  Since about 75% of the lawyers who teach legal writing in the United States are women and legal writing professors disproportionately hold the lowest levels of academic appointments in United States law schools, that future action must not overlook the legal academy.  To ensure legal writing and other women law professors are on the Commission's future agenda, legal writing professors who plan to attend the ABA annual meeting might want to put the Equalitea on their calendars now.


June 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 27, 2008

U.S. News and World Report Law School Rankings

Should U.S. News law school rankings include the LSAT scores of part-time students? Some law schools force students with weak LSAT scores into part-time programs so that they will not have to report those LSAT scores to U.S. News and World Report. I think the rankings should include the scores of part-time students as well as the LSAT scores of transfer students.

And how should bar passage rates be reported for various jurisdictions? Should it be based only on the scores of those who graduate from law schools that are accredited (or, perhaps, also provisionally accredited), because the magazine is ranking only accredited law schools?

If you have thoughts on either question, you have an opportunity to comment by clicking here.

Hat tip to Tracy McGaugh


June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

the power of fonts

Images One of my college friends landed her first job after graduation, working for an academic press, because in the interview she mentioned that she could identify a dozen common fonts. She'd gained this knowledge setting type for ads in the daily college newspaper. Fast forward to the current millennium, and today the New York Times reports on the widespread knowledge and use of fonts, of all kinds.

hat tip: Professor Richard Neumann


June 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

occupational hazard of LRW profs: conjobulation

Here's a fun posting proposing a new word:  conjobulation.  Have so much to do that you can't keep track of it all?  Pick up the phone to make a call, but can't remember whom are you calling?  You're conjobulated!!

hat tip:  Chris Wren


June 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

conference on integrating the law school curriculum

The University of Washington School of Law is hosting a working conference, Legal Education at the Crossroads — Ideas to Accomplishments: Sharing New Ideas for an Integrated Curriculum, September 5-7, 2008. The conference is intended to respond to suggestions from the Carnegie Foundation's report, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law.

Almost 90 deans and professors from around the U.S. will present at the conference. There will be three types of presentations:

1) On Saturday, September 6, Showcase Stations organized around six themes will demonstrate what, why and how schools or individual faculty have accomplished curriculum innovations and provide materials to help other schools build on these efforts.

2) These Showcase Stations will be followed by Workshops organized around the same themes to discuss proposals for innovation and provide assistance in developing those ideas.

3) On Sunday morning, plenary sessions and small group discussions will address How to Make it Happen.

Registration is required and closes August 22, 2008.  Apparently hotel rooms are going fast for that weekend in Seattle, due to the UW vs. BYU football game.

hat tip:  Professor Debbie Maranville


June 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Many legal writing professors are familiar with the Idea Bank operated by the Legal Writing Institute.  Basically, you contribute a legal writing assignment, you get a password, and then you can use what others have contributed.

This week for the first time everyone attending the New Law Professors Workshop, presented by the Association of American Law Schools, will learn about another, brand-new  database that also makes teaching materials from experienced professors available to other law professors.  The Teaching Materials Network includes contact information for law professors who are willing to share their teaching notes, PowerPoints, handouts, etc., with other law professors.  Many areas of law teaching are represented, including legal writing.  And if you're an experienced professor, it's not took late to add yourself to the resource list.

hat tip:  Professor Susan Rozelle, Capital University Law School


June 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

it isn't Styrofoam®

Foamcup A column in today's Baltimore Sun explains that the crisp white stuff that hot-drink cups are made of and that seems to never disintegrate is not "Styrofoam®," but rather is some funny substance called polystyrene. Who knew? It's like Xerox®  and Kleenex® all over again. What's next? Bluebooking?


June 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Call for Papers - Annals of Health Law

Legal writing professors have many scholarly areas of interest.  Here's a message to those of you whose interests touch upon the broad field of health law.

The Annals of Health Law Editorial Board is seeking submissions for the Winter 2009 issue.  Annals of Health Law is the Health Policy and Law Review of Loyola University Chicago School of Law.  The editors are seeking articles relating to health law topics of interest.  Past articles have focused on corporate, regulatory, bioethical, and pharmaceutical issues, as well as patient rights and advocacy.  To submit an article to Annals, please email the article and a curriculum vitae to by August 15, 2008.

The Editorial Board is also seeking submissions for the Summer 2009 Colloquium issue.  The theme of the Colloquium will be:  "Do patents inhibit or promote health care access and innovation?”  The Colloquium will identify and explore the key issues connecting patents, innovation, and health care access in both domestic and global arenas.  Please submit any articles on this topic to

For further information on article submission, contact Ann Weilbaecher, Editor-in-Chief, at 312.915.6304 or


June 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Plain Language in Government Communications

The Law Librarian Blog included a posting on a number of new articles on LLRX.  One that caught my eye was on pending federal legislation that would require the use of plain language in government documents.  Click here to read that blog entry.

The proposed legislation is the Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2008 (H.R. 3548, S. 2291).

What struck me most about this effort to mandate the use of plain language in government documents is that seemed so familiar--from ten years ago. 

On June 1, 1998, President William Clinton sent a memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies requiring the use of plain language in government writing.  This memorandum was published at 63 Fed. Reg. 31,885 (1998). 

I liked the order so much that I included a copy of it in my own book (Introduction to Legal English, published by the International Law Institute).  [I happen to have a copy of that here with me in Mexico right now, where I am teaching an introductory course on U.S. law at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.]

The battle for plain language in government documents obviously continues.

Here are the other new articles from LLRX, as listed by our helpful friends at the Law Librarian Blog.  (Really, what WOULD we do without librarians!)

  • The Art of Written Persuasion: The Rise of Written Persuasion, by Troy Simpson
  • The Government Domain: Plain Language in Government Communications, by Peggy Garvin
  • Keeping Up with Class Actions: Reports, Legal Sites and Blogs of Note, by Scott Russell
  • A Little Grafting of Second Life into a Legal Research Class, by Rob Hudson
  • CongressLine: Running for Congress, by Paul Jenks
  • LLRX Book Review by Heather A. Phillips - A Guide to HIPAA Security and the Law, by Heather A. Phillips
  • Conrad Jacoby's E-Discovery Update: Attorneys, Experts, and E-Discovery Competence, by Conrad J. Jacoby
  • FOIA Facts - My Proposal: FOIA Litigation Reporting Requirements, by Scott A. Hodes
  • Burney's Legal Tech Reviews - Gadgets for Legal Pros: Ergotech "Convertible" Monitor Arm and Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter, by Brett Burney
  • Commentary: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007

Click here for a link to the Law Librarian Blog, which will take you to links to each of the articles listed above.

Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.


June 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 23, 2008


Every once in awhile, I come across a quote that is particularly relevant to legal prose.  I can think of a few 1L papers I'd like to write this on:

"Flaubert said, 'Prose is architecture,' and this isn't the baroque era."

- Raymond Carver


June 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

fond of the semicolon? read this article!

Slate has a fun and informative article on the semicolon.

hat tip:  Eileen Kavanagh, Professor, Thomas M. Cooley Law School


June 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clarity - An International Association Promoting Plain Legal Language

Clarity_3 One of those legal writing organizations that you should really join but probably haven't yet joined is Clarity.

Clarity is an international organization promoting plain legal language.  There are 1,019 members in 52 countries and jurisdictions (depending on how you count the Isle of Man, but there is only one member there).

Kimble_joe Professor Joseph Kimble is the USA representative for Clarity.  Click here to send him a message.  Other country representatives are found in Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe.  If you live or work in one of those countries, send a note to Joe and he'll pass it along to your country representative.  You can also visit their website by clicking here.

You get a great magazine when you join -- I have been enjoying it for many years now.  Each issue expands my understanding of how we as teachers in the U.S. are connected to a global community of educators, practitioners, and jurists who are interested in the same goal of clear communication.  I'm just looking at issue number 58, which has articles such as "What Makes a Document Readable?"  I believe that the magazine started 1n 1983, so it should be celbrating its 25th anniversary right about now.

I urge you to join.  Really, I do.  It's $35 a year if you're living in the United States, which covers the cost of printing and mailing the magazine.  But join for more than a magazine.  There are 205 members of Clarity in the United States (more members than in Australia or South Africa, but fewer than in England).  That number should increase, and Clarity should hold more functions and meetings in the United States.  We'll all benefit.

Mexico As for upcoming events, Clarity will hold its third international conference in Mexico City from November 20-23, 2008.  It will be co-hosted by Clarity and the Mexican Government Underministry of Public Administration, which is responsible for Mexico's plain-language project.


June 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers - AALS Section on Education Law

AalslogoAnother call for papers for possible presentation in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools.  The AALS Education Law Section invites you to submit an abstract of your paper by September 1, 2008.  Send your abstract to Robert Garda at Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law.

Click here for the call for papers for the AALS Section on International Law.  The International Law Section will also be participating in the call for posters.

Click here for the section newsletter and call for papers for the AALS Section on International Human Rights Law.


June 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Call for Papers - AALS Section on International Human Rights

Aalslogo_2The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Human Rights has just published an impressive issue of its newsletter.  It includes a call for papers for possible presentation at the 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in San DiegoDownload ihrl_section_newsletter.pdf

Hat tip to Robert Blitt, Chair of the AALS Section on International Human Rights


June 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

labyrinthian prolixities

Labyrinth As we've noted earlier, West's Headnote of the Day provides subscribers with something to think about--or chuckle over. Today's headnote is attributed to Thomson v. Olson, 866 F. Supp. 1267 (D.N.D. 1994):

Dismissal is appropriate where complaint is labyrinthian prolixity of unrelated and vituperative charges that defies comprehension and amended complaint fails to cure prolixity and incomprehensibility.

The headnote is based on a quotation in the opinion, which itself comes from another case, Prezzi v. Schelter, 469 F.2d 691, 692 (2d Cir.1972) (per curiam). Too bad it's per curiam, as we consequently cannot pinpoint and laud the judicial author who penned that marvelous bit of sarcasm. (The culprit would have been one of the three judges serving on the panel, sadly all now deceased: the Honorables Walter Roe Mansfield, James L. Oakes, and William Homer Timbers. If anyone knows for sure who wrote it, let us know.)

To subscribe to Headnote of the Day (it's free), click here.


June 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

computers: distraction or teaching tool?

I'm  not sure how far one can extend the implications of this story, but this NYTimes article suggests that giving kids computers may be "more of a distraction than a learning opportunity."

hat tip:  Jim Levy, Nova Southeastern


June 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The moot court and trial advocacy boards at the Louisiana State University Law Center have compiled  a list of every moot court, trial advocacy, and ADR competition that an American law school can enter. They now have 85 separate competitions listed.  If you know about a competition that is not on this list, they will gladly update it with your information.

hat tip: Professor Todd Bruno, LSU


June 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

teaching legal writing in the law firm

If you are a practitioner who reads this blog and have been curious about a career as a legal writing professor, you might be interested in Ben Opipari's experiences, first in academia, and then teaching legal writing in a law firm.  Ben describes his experiences in an article in the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

June 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)