Thursday, July 31, 2008

LWI Submits Comments to ABA on "Security of Position"

Aba Lwi_logo The Legal Writing Institute has sent a letter to the American Bar Association with its comments on the Report of the Special Committee on Security of Position.  Click here to see the letter.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

gauging interest in moot court advisors listserv

Ulyssesargues At the recent LWI Conference in Indianapolis, one of the events was a lunchtime roundtable for moot court advisors, hosted by co-panelists Melissa Greipp (Marquette), Jim Dimitri (Indiana-Indianapolis), and me (Coleen Barger, Arkansas-Little Rock). Not surprisingly, we had more topics than time, and therefore Jim is collecting names of those who may be interested in the creation of a moot court advisors e-mail listserv. If you would like to participate, just e-mail Jim at We welcome the participation of any moot court advisors, even those of you who were not able to attend the roundtable at the LWI Conference.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


J0387780 If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.

-- Dennis Roth


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Law Firm to Law School: We're not hiring your grads until you improve your legal research (and legal writing) program

How can we make law schools improve the quality of their legal research (and legal writing) programs?  Here's a suggestion from our friends at the Law Librarian Blog -- have law firms tell law schools that they will no longer hire their graduates until the program is improved.  Click here to read Law Firm to Law School: We're not hiring your grads until you improve your legal research program.

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.


July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

job opening at Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, is seeking applicants for a tenure-track position teaching legal writing and other courses beginning in Fall 2009. Information about Thomas Jefferson's legal writing program and its faculty is available here.

The successful candidate will teach one or two sections of Legal Writing I (usually limited to 25 students) each semester and join with the tenured and tenure-track professors who teach Legal Writing I in sharing responsibility for the overall legal writing curriculum.  The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to teach one or two doctrinal or elective courses outside the legal writing curriculum each year. The position carries the same scholarship requirement as all tenure-track positions at the law school; the scholarship requirement may be satisfied by analytical writing in legal research and writing or in other fields.  All faculty members at the law school are expected to participate in faculty governance and other service activities. Base salary is in the $90,000 range.

Applicants should have a distinguished academic record, excellent legal writing skills, and a record of or potential for significant achievement as scholars and teachers.  While the law school is particularly interested in candidates who have experience teaching legal writing and/or practice experience, all candidates are encouraged to apply.  Members of minority groups and others whose backgrounds will contribute to the diversity of the faculty are especially encouraged to apply.

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Linda Keller, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 2121 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110 or by e-mail to with the subject line: FAC, followed by your name.  The deadline for applications is August 25, 2008.


July 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

APPEAL books on their way to Africa

Appeallogofull We've previously posted here and here about the drive to collect law books for APPEAL (Academics Promoting the Pedagogy of Effective Advocacy in Law). Laurel Oates (Seattle) reports that all of the donated books--weighing in at more than 4,000 pounds--for APPEAL's Books for Africa program were delivered to Boeing yesterday to be loaded on a plane headed for Kenya. No further bok donations can presently be accepted. Laurel notes, however, that if you were unable to get your books to APPEAL in time for that delivery, you might consider selling the books to a book buyer and then donating the proceeds to APPEAL. Membership forms and other information about APPEAL are available at this link.


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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The scholarship dude is on the job.

I would like to thank the Legal Writing Blog Masters for inviting me to join as a contributing editor.  As the blog's "scholarship dude," I plan to use this forum to publicize important, useful and informative scholarship relating to effective legal communication - both oral and written.  Legal writing professors, clinicians and some doctrinal faculty have written hundreds of articles exploring the theory and practice of effective legal communication, persuasion and advocacy.  An article published in 2005 by Professors Linda H. Edwards and Terrill Pollman, both of the William Boyd School of Law, in volume 11 of the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute contained a comprehensive bibliography of legal writing scholarship up to that point.

With this blog column, I will be making periodic contributions to help keep all of you aware of articles you should be adding to your reading list.  If you're aware of any new articles you think our readers would be interested in, please let me know.

Tomorrow I'm off to the legal writing conference in Istanbul, Turkey organized by Professor Tracy L. McGaugh of the Touro Law Center.   Assuming I have computer access, I will be blogging from there.

Until then, I am the "scholarship dude."



July 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Article in Sunday's NYT's about the new literacy

In case you missed it, the Sunday NYT's had a great front page article discussing the impact of computers on children's literacy.  Among other points, the article noted that the definition of literacy may need to be reworked in the years ahead as children forgo books in favor of gaining most of their knowledge from the Internet.    While the article laments declining national reading test scores, it also suggests that the ability to efficiently navigate and locate information on the web may become the kind of bona fide, valuable skill that that helps students succeed academically and in the job market.   

The article can be found here:


Directly related to this, the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute has just published an article by Professor Jason Eyster of the Ava Marie School of Law in which he argues that as we move towards a visual society, lawyers should and need to learn the communicative techniques employed by visual artists as a way to better advocate for their clients.   Professor Eyster's article is entitled "Lawyer as Artist:  Using Significant Moments and Obtuse Objects to Enhance Advocacy" and can be found here:

It's an important article that anyone with an interest in effective legal advocacy and persuasion theory should read.

I am - the "scholarship dude."


July 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

making a difference: Ryan's Law

Faculty_unumb Many of you are acquainted with Lorri Unumb, who has directed LRW programs at George Washington and at Charleston. When their son Ryan was diagnosed with autism five years ago, she and her husband Dan quickly learned that medical insurance does not cover most costs of treatment for autistic children, even though most policies do not contain a specific exclusion. This link to a story on CNN tells how Lorri "wrote a bill, recruited other parents to help her lobby state legislators, and two years later, got the bill passed." The bill was scheduled to go into effect as "Ryan's Law" in July. According to CNN, "Ryan's Law mandates that insurance companies provide up to $50,000 a year for behavioral therapy up to the age of 16. It also prohibits insurers from refusing other medical care to children because of their autism. It doesn't, however, apply to people or companies who are self-insured, such as the Unumbs."

Similar laws have already been passed in Texas and Indiana, and campaigns to do the same in other states have the support of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. Congratulations to Lorri for her leadership in getting the South Carolina legislature to act. This kind of advocacy makes a difference.


July 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (5)

Notice arrived today from the LSN division of SSRN about the following LRW-related articles, with their abstracts:

"Find it! Legal Research on the Web" Free Download
WILLIAM A. HILYERD, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Materials originally presented June 20, 2008 at the Kentucky Bar Association Conference. Section II contains information on locating Kentucky cases, statutes, regulations, and ordinances on the internet. Other useful Kentucky sites are also mentioned. Section III provides information on locating various types of federal law (statutes, regulations, & cases) using free sites on the internet. Section IV gives tips on using search engines, portals, and meta-sites to locate legal information. Finally, Section V discusses using free sites to locate secondary sources on the internet.

"Framing Gender: Federal Appellate Judges' Choices About Gender-Neutral Language" Free Download
JUDITH D. FISCHER, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Through empirical research, this article examines whether judges on the United States courts of appeals are framing their opinions in gender-neutral language. Drawing on multidisciplinary sources, including the work of language scholars, psychologists, framing theorists, and legal professionals, the article explains why gender-neutral language is important and discusses ways of constructing it. The article then presents the results of a study of recent court opinions, compares data from the years 1965 and 2006, and discusses implications of the data. It concludes that courts have made significant progress toward gender neutrality, but it also identifies a need for further improvement, which can be accomplished through shifting both mental and verbal frames toward greater inclusiveness.

"Effective Methods for Teaching Legal Writing Online" Free Download
DAVID THOMSON, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Online learning, once thought of as impossible or ineffective, is becoming increasingly common. Corporations have widely adopted it, and the academy is starting to accept it as well. There are numerous college-level courses, and even a few law school classes, that are taught fully online. One law professor and former Dean has recently suggested that teaching more courses online might be one way to reign in the soaring costs of a legal education.

Given this trend towards broader acceptance of online learning in the academy, it seems only a matter of time before some legal writing teachers will be asked to take on the task of teaching the course in a fully online environment. Although today most legal writing teachers actually offer many online components to their "ground" class, many of them might recoil at the thought of teaching fully online, believing that the special demands of a successful legal writing course would break down in a "distance learning" environment.

But it can be done. This article describes how to adjust generally accepted LRW pedagogy and deliver it in an online environment. The article also describes and explains the myriad technologies that are currently available to deliver online content. It also includes results of some empirical research into the effectiveness of these methods in reaching the goals of the course.


July 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In a 1L skills course, we expect to teach legal research, legal analysis, and legal writing.  Some of us also introduce our students to skills like client interviewing, negotiations, and oral argument.  But sometimes we need to back up and consider even more elemental skills.

If you were to survey any 1L class, you might be surprised to discover how many do not use any kind of calendar or scheduling device.  At my school it was 37% last year -- even though the students were told explicitly to calendar due dates, course schedule changes, other attendance-required law school events, etc., in both academic support study groups and lawyering skills class sessions.

I thought of this statistic last week, as a flurry of notices arrived about fall semester happenings, with dates, times, and locations that I needed to calendar.  This most basic time management skill seems to have skipped a generation or two.  Perhaps 1Ls today need even more explicit instructions about calendaring.



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

TOP SECRET Video of The Ha-Ha Sisterhood Performing "Summer Conference": LIVE, from LWI!

Sheila_simonBeazley_marybethTemple_hollee_sOne of the absolute highlights of this summer's LWI conference in Indianapolis was the plenary session on "Divine Secrets of the Ha-Ha Sisterhood," with Sheila Simon (Southern Illinois University), Mary Beth Beazley (The Ohio State University), and Hollee Temple (West Virginia University). 

We should have taped the whole thing, especially all of the useful teaching tips that they shared.  We don't have that though.  What do we have?  A video, taken by my partner David Austin, and the lyrics to the closing song of their absolutely fantastic presentation.

Appearing Nightly (oops: Biannually)...the Ha-Ha Sisterhood!

Starring Sheila Simon, Mary Beth Beasley, and Hollee Temple in their rousing rendition of "Summer Conference" as performed at the LWI 2008 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

CLICK BELOW HERE on "DOWNLOAD" to SEE THE VIDEO  (Depending on your computer and how many others are watching the video at the same time, it may take a few minutes to load.  If so, just give it a click and go get some coffee.)   Turn up the volume and follow along with the words.   (Sing along too, unless at the office.  Gosh, who are we to say?  Go ahead and sing along at the office too!)

Download DSCN6331.AVI

Lwi_logoSummer conference, had me a blast,
Summer conference, happened so fast,
Met a girl, crazy like me!
Met a boy who does, technology.
Summertime, so glad that I'm, a-at ah, L-W-I.

[well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you learn to critique?
Tell me more, tell me more, isn't power-point chic?

[ah-ha, ah-ha, ah-ha]

There were sessions, made just for me
Where I learned, pedagogy
I can make, my students smile
'cause I know, each learning style!
Summer fun, gets the job done, a-at ah, L-W-I

[well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!]

Tell me more, tell me more, will my dean throw a fit?
Tell me more, tell me more, can I really say "sh*t"?

[Down doobie do, doobie do, doobie, doobie, doobie, Down doobie do, doobie do, doobie, doobie, doobie]
[uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh]

Great assignments, we mapped the way
Learned to work with, the A.D.A.
Popcorn sessions, they really rock
We stayed out, 'til ten o'clock!
Summer nights, Indy in lights, a-at ah, L-W-I

[Whoa, whoa, whoa]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you get lots of swag?
Tell me more, tell me more, like to fill up a bag?

[Shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, shoo bop-bop, yeah]

We met up with, friends that we knew
And hung out with, new members too
Presentation, by Jan Levine
He was good, you know what we mean!
Summer heat, people you meet, a-at ah, L-W-I

[Whoa, whoa, whoa]

Tell me more, tell me more, did you spot a new trend?
Tell me more, tell me more, can I e-mail your friend?

[slower tempo]

Then comes Thursday, that's when it ends
I was huggin', all my new friends
Then we made, our farewell vow
Help each other, starting right now
Teaching seems, just like a dream, Thanks to you, L-W-I!

Tell me more, tell me more!

Congratulations again to the LWI Conference Planners for Picking the Ha-Ha Sisterhood as the Conference's Opening Act!  Hat tip to David Austin for the video, and even bigger hat tips to Sheila, Mary Beth, and Hollee for allowing us to post this here.


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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Arthur Miller's views on the teaching of legal research

The Law Librarian Blog has posted two videos of NYU Professor Arthur Miller's recent statements about the declining quality of legal research (and its teaching) that were shown during a "town hall" meeting in Portland sponsored by West. He describes the "disconnect" between practice and academics as greater than he has seen at any point in his life. He also complains about the general downsizing of Civil Procedure courses. He feels that many of the "basic" courses have been "crowded out" by new kinds of courses at the expense of needed "skill set development." Here's the link to the interviews:


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

Friday, July 25, 2008

LWI Joins Boycott of Manchester Grand Hyatt

AalslogoLegal_writing_institute_logo_2The Legal Writing Institute--one of the largest associations of legal academics with more than 2,100 members--has joined the boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.  Doug Manchester, owner of that hotel, had donated $125,000 to help put an anti-gay consitutional amendment on the November ballot to remove the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.  Manchester's donation helped put "Proposition 8" on the November 4 ballot. 

The Legal Writing Institute sent a letter on Friday to Carl Monk, Executive Director of the Association of American Law Schools, informing him that the Legal Writing Institute would not be holding the Golden Pen and Blackwell Awards at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. 

The Golden Pen Award is given by the Legal Writing Institute to recognize those who make significant contributions to advance the cause of better legal writing, such as by promoting the use of clear language in public documents.  The award is normally given to someone who is not an active member of the Writing Institute.  In 2007, the award winners of the Golden Pen included the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Ronald M. George, who was--coincidentally--the author of the California Supreme Court decision authorizing same-sex marriage.  Click here to see that decision from the California Supreme Court.  (That an earlier Golden Pen recipient was the author of the decision played no part in the LWI vote to boycott the Manchester Grand Hyatt -- indeed, one of the other winners of the Golden Pen Award in 2007 was a dissenting judge in that same same-sex marriage case.)  The program from the 2007 Golden Pen Award is available by clicking here

The Golden Pen Award has been given in conjunction with the Thomas Blackwell Award, which is jointly given by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors to honor the memory of Thomas Blackwell.

The LWI President wrote to the AALS Executive Director after the LWI Board voted unanimously to remove all LWI-sponsored events from the Manchester Grand Hyatt, one of the two hotels where the AALS had scheduled its conference for the annual meeting in January 2009. 

The LWI letter says that the LWI Board based its decision on LWI’s non-discrimination policy, which was adopted by the LWI Board of Directors in June 2006.  Here is the policy as adopted by LWI: "The Legal Writing Institute is committed to a policy against discrimination and in favor of equal opportunity for all of its members regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” 

The LWI adopted that nondiscrimination policy in 2006 after a religious law school posted a job announcement that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.  The job posting was deeply offensive and caused great controversy within the Legal Writing Institute.  The LWI Board at the time adopted a formal nondiscrimination policy for the organization as a response. Additionally, LGBT members and many of their supporters formed an informal "Pink Ink" Caucus, which recently met again during the LWI Conference in Indianapolis.

Click here to read the LWI Letter to the Executive Director of the AALS.  Download AALS_letter_from_LWI_July_25_2008.pdf

California is the second state (after Massachusetts) to allow same-sex marriage in the United States.  The state had previously had domestic partnerships that purported to offer the same benefits of marriage as those otherwise available under state law, but the California Supreme Court ruled that denying same-sex couples access to "marriage" violated their rights under the California State Constitution.

The AALS Executive Committee will meet next month to decide what response to take.  They are faced with a difficult task, given the large size of the AALS Annual Meeting.  Meetings of such sizes are normally planned out five, six, and seven years in advance.  There are two AALS meeting hotels in San Diego, and conflicting reports about whether Mr. Manchester has an ownership in both of them or whether he sold his interest in the other hotel earlier this year.  Your Google is as good as mine on whether there is a final word on that question.  The options available to the AALS would be to move the meeting (if possible) to another hotel or even another city, a daunting task at this late date.  At a minimum, it is expected that there will be a strong push to minimize any revenue going to the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

The AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity has planned a full-day program on sexual orientation and gender identity, including a break-out session on legal writing and appellate advocacy problems involving issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Initial responses of LWI members to the LWI letter have been quite positive, with some members expressing great pride that they are members of an organization that has taken such a strong position.  (Click on "Comments" below to see comments posted here on this blog.)  The LWI has already started searching out other locations for the Golden Pen and Blackwell Awards.  The San Diego AALS meeting will also mark the start of the LWI's 25th anniversary, which will begin in January 2009 and continue through the next LWI conference in 2010 at Marco Island, Florida.

There is no call to boycott the AALS meeting -- only the hotel owned by Manchester.  I have great confidence in the AALS, its professional staff, and its leadership.  I know that they are hard at work to deal with this unfortunate situation.  The LWI and others (including me) have offered their support to the AALS. 

The AALS meeting will be in January 2009, after the November 2008 election.  If the measure fails in November, Mr. Manchester will have wasted his money.  I certainly hope that is the case.

With more than 2,100 members in 38 countries, the Legal Writing Institute is the second largest organization of legal academics, second only to the Association of American Law Schools.  Click here for more information about the Legal Writing Institute.


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

Scribes Will Honor Scalia at the ABA Meeting in New York

The Scribes 2008 Annual Luncheon will honor U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a Lifetime-Achievement Award.  Scribes will also present its book award and brief-writing awards.  The event will be held during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York on Saturday, August 9, from noon to 2:00 p.m.  The deadline to RSVP was July 15 (sorry, I just found out about it or else I would have posted it earlier). To see if you can still squeeze in, send an email to


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

new titles for your late summer reading

J0439090Check out the following recently published articles -- probably one or more of interest to this blog's audience:

  • Gerald Lebovits, Alifya V. Curtin & Lisa Solomon, Ethical Judicial Opinion Writing, 21 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 237 (2008).
  • Richard J. Lazarus, Advocacy Matters before and within the Supreme Court: Transforming the Court by Transforming the Bar, 96 Geo. L.J. 1487 (2008). 
  • Todd C. Peppers, Micheal W. Giles, & Bridget Tainer-Parkins, Inside Judicial Chambers: How Federal District Court Judges Select and Use Their Law Clerks, 71 Alb. L. Rev. 623 (2008).
  • Jason P. Nance & Dylan J. Steinberg, The Law Review Article Selection Process: Results from a National Study, 71 Alb. L. Rev. 565 (2008).
  • Jonathan Uffelman, Student Author, Hamlet Was a Law Student: A "Dramatic" Look at Emotion's Effect on Analogical Reasoning, 96 Geo. L.J. 1725 (2008).


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


"It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word."

~ Andrew Jackson


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

Kordesh named interim director at John Marshall

Sonia20and20maureen_2 Maureen Straub Kordesh, who directed writing programs at The John Marshall Law School (Chicago) from 1996 to 2004 and Widener from 1991 to 1996, has been named as John Marshall's Interim Director of Lawyering Skills. Pictured here (in the photo on the left with John Marshall professor Sonia Green and Green's children), she succeeds Molly Lien, who is retiring. Congratulations, Maureen!

The John Marshall Law School will conduct a national search for a tenured or tenure-track faculty member to fill the position of Lawyering Skills Director beginning in the 2009-10 academic year.

hat tip: Mary Nagel



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

100 "awesome" library videos

J0309369_3Accredited Degrees (a distance-learning blog) has listed 100 links to YouTube videos and tutorials on  various library topics, from using online catalogs to RSS and blogging to discouraging children from bringing cookies into the library (the real, not the virtual, kind). Surely one or more of these will apply to law libraries and their clientele. And if you visit the blog, take a few minutes to check out its other posts concerning technology and education.

hat tip: Law Librarian Blog


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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

identifying the gap

  1. At the AALL conference in Portland, Oregon last week, Thomson West issued a white paper entitled Partnership and Solutions for Preparing Job-Ready Attorneys. This paper is based on a survey of 224 people who are law firm librarians, development directors, attorney supervisors, and newer attorneys. The respondents work at organizations ranging from solo practitioners' offices to large law firms. The paper focuses on what law librarians should be teaching students to prepare them for the practice of law and what law firm attorneys wished they had known before they graduated. There is a quick overview of the survey results at the beginning of the paper.

hat tip: Professor Candle Wester-Mittan, Southern Illinois University


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