Saturday, August 23, 2008

Twelve AALS Sections Are Seeking Poster Submissions

Aalslogo_5 Twelve AALS Sections are seeking proposals from individuals for poster presentations for the 2009 Annual Meeting in San Diego: 


· Clinical Legal Education
· Education Law
· Evidence
· Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research
· Insurance Law
· International Law
· International Human Rights
· Law & the Social Sciences
· Mass Communication Law
· Professional Responsibility
· Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues
· Teaching Methods


Click here for more information

Download aals_posters.pdf .



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

Brief-Writing Tips for the Illinois Appellate Court

The August 2008 issue of the Illinois Bar Journal contains a great article called "Brief-Writing Tips for the Illinois Appellate Court."  It is by Maria Pellegrino, a law clerk to a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District.  If you're teaching appellate advocacy in Illinois, you'll want to share this article with your students.  It appears in volume 96 of the Illinois Bar Journal, at pages 412 to 416 (in the August 2008 issue).  The article works well for other states too, but the citations to the rules are those of the great state of Illinois.


P.S. As a member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association, I would be remiss if I did not also encourage professors in Illinois (and other states, actually) to remind their students that student membership in the ISBA is completely free -- just go to to sign up for a membership and to join up to five sections for free as well.

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

job opening for director at North Carolina-Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law invites applications for a newly developed full-time Clinical Faculty appointment for a Director of Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy, beginning in Fall 2009. The Director of Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy will direct the first-year legal writing program, reporting to the Assistant Dean of Legal Writing and Academic Success, and will be responsible for administering an established mandatory first-year writing course that integrates academic support in an adjunct-based legal writing program.

The Director will teach one fall section and will make hiring recommendations for the program adjunct faculty; train and supervise program faculty and Teaching Assistants; supervise grading; direct the Writing Lab; advise the Assistant Dean on trends in legal research & writing; design first-year legal research & writing problems; advise on curriculum design; and serve on faculty committees as requested by the Dean.  Scholarship in areas related to legal education and/or research and writing pedagogy is strongly encouraged, as is leadership in state and national professional associations.  The
successful candidate will receive a twelve-month, non-tenure-track clinical appointment subject to long-term contract renewal and will have faculty voting rights for all but personnel matters.  Candidates should have outstanding academic records, as well as experience and demonstrated excellence in teaching, leadership, administrative skills, and legal research and writing.  Membership in the North Carolina State Bar, or the ability to attain membership by the Fall of 2009, is preferred.

Applications will be accepted until positions are filled. They must be made electronically, via the following link:  After accessing this link, read the information under "Jobs at Carolina," and then access "EPA Faculty Positions:  How to Apply and Open Positions." Follow all instructions on the website to ensure proper receipt of your application.  Be prepared to electronically submit your curriculum vitae, letter of application, and contact information for 4 references. Confidential inquiries are welcome and should be directed to the Faculty Appointment Committee Chair, Professor Mark Weisburd, by phone (919-962-8515) or by e-mail


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

Conference on Persuasion in Legal Writing and Lawyering

Barger_coleenBerger_lindaWeresh_mel Kenneth_d_chestek   Rutgers-Camden and the University of Wyoming College of Law will hold a one-day conference on Friday, September 19, 2008, on “Persuasion in Legal Writing and Lawyering.”


The conference is a series of interactive panels where the speakers and participants will discuss topics of Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.


Stanchi_kathryn_4 The Pathos part of the program is actually in two parts -- one session before lunch and one after. Not sure what to make of that, but it works for me.Jamar_steve_1


Johansen_steve Smith_michaelMargolis_ellie 

The conference organizers recognize that persuasion is increasingly being taught in detail in upper level writing and skills courses.

Speakers and moderators include Michael Smith, Linda Berger, Coleen Barger, Steve Jamar, Steve Johansen, Kathryn Stanchi, Ken Chestek, James Lupo, Ellie Margolis, Victoria Chase, Mel Weresh, and Scott Wood.

We extend our congratulations and best wishes for an innovative and successful conference. 

Hat tip to Carol Wallinger, Ruth Anne Robbins, Jason Cohen, Sarah Ricks, Alison Nisson, Sheila Rodriguez, and Meredith Schalick.


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

an act of public editing . . .

Ever been tempted to edit a public sign rife with grammatical and other error?  Doing so could result in criminal charges and probation  . . . but a resultant sense of self-righteous satisfaction, I'll bet.

hat tip:  Lee Tucker, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law


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

Friday, August 22, 2008

Poster Presentations at the AALS Meeting in San Diego

Aalslogo AALS has sent out the invitation for proposals for poster presentations for the 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.  One of the sections seeking posters is the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research.  (Another is the AALS Section on International Law, and the AALS Section on International Human Rights Law.)

The oh-so-strict guidelines for AALS posters are available by clicking here.  Last year many poster submissions were rejected because they failed to conform to the technical requirements. 

The deadline for submissions to AALS is September 30th. Once the posters have been approved by AALS, AALS sends them to the Poster Committee for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research, which then determines which posters to display.

They say that the limit on the number of posters is unknown right now.  (I say, the more the merrier. Accept them all! No one is forcing anyone to look at them!)

If you questions about posters for the legal writing section, please contact Samantha Moppett at Suffolk University Law School by clicking here.


August 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article

Here's a useful article for law students.  It's called "Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Legal Analysis: Putting Law School into Practice."  It was just posted on SSRN by Suzanne Rowe.  Click here to download a copy of it.


August 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

lawyers and creativity

Professor Peter Friedman, a visiting professor this year at Detroit Mercy, has started yet another blog, on a very interesting angle of lawyering.  It's called Ruling Imagination: Law and Creativity, and "it is intended to explore both the ways law governs creative endeavors and the ways creativity informs legal practice."


August 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Blogs We Like

This blog recently listed links to a bunch of blogs we like, but it was not an exclusive list. Here are some of my current personal favorites:J0438844_2


August 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the effect of self-handicapping on GPA

Our scholarship dude has just reported on Leah Christensen's study finding student performance in legal writing courses to be a strong predictor of success in law school. Can we add another factor into the mix?

Catherine_dunham_2 Catherine Ross Dunham (Elon) has published her findings on self-handicapping law school student behavior in Hidden Obstacles in the Mass Culture of American Legal Education: An Empirical Analysis, 32 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 237 (2007). Dunham's study suggests that "an individual student's self-attributed achiever type correlates to the student's year in law school and GPA. Most significantly, the results of the study suggest that a law student's GPA correlates with the student's self-handicapping score and, further, that GPA is predictive of his self-handicapping score."

So therefore, if a student self-handicaps in the legal writing course . . .?

hat tip for Dunham article: Law Librarian Blog


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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The forsaken pen gets a high-tech makeover - "Smartpen" debuts

SmartpenI ran across this at the local Target yesterday - a new high-tech pen being marketed specifically to students called the "Smartpen." The package includes the pen and some special note-taking paper students use to handwrite their class notes.  The pen records their writing which can be later uploaded to a computer (as the box says:  "The Smartpen lets you leave your bulky laptop at home"). 

And just in case students miss any of the professor's words, the "Smartpen" includes a micro recording device that allows students to make an audio record of the class for uploading to a computer or manual playback through a mini-speaker built into the pen itself. (Query whether the instructions warn students about possible copyright violations for recording their professor's lectures without permission).

Here's a link to the company website which includes a demonstration video.  And here's a link to a favorable product review by PC Magazine.

Target was selling these for $149.00 for the complete package which includes the pen, special note-taking paper, and software. 

(Please note -- neither the blog-masters nor the scholarship dude himself endorses the Smartpen or Target -- we just report the news).

I am the scholarship dude.


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

New study shows legal writing grade is best predictor of academic success.

Professor Leah Christensen, Associate Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson Law School, has just authored a new article describing a study she conducted demonstrating the critical importance of legal writing in the law school curriculum to students' success. 

Leahchristensenw The article is entitled, "The Power of Skills Training:  A Study of Lawyering Skills Grades as the Strongest Predictor of Law School Success (Or in Other Words, Its Time for Legal Education to Get Serious About Skills Training If We Care About How Our Students Learn)."

The study asked 157 law students to respond to a survey about their learning goals in law school.  Professor Christensen wanted to explore whether law students' motivations for learning (i.e., mastery- or performance orientations) impacted their law school success.  In addition, she explored whether learning goals correlated to different academic variables, including class rank, LSAT score, Undergraduate GPA (UGPA) and Lawyering Skills Grade.  The results were significant:  Lawyering Skills Grade was the strongest predictor of law student success.  In contrast, the LSAT was the weakest predictor of law school success.  The study also found that law students who did well in their Lawyering Skills classes tended to be mastery-oriented learners, and that law students who were mastery-oriented learners were more successful in law school overall.

A link to the abstract is available here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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

" and ' straight or curly?

"Does the legal writing community have a preference for straight or curly quotation marks? Is there a rule about it?" one of our readers asks. He wants to use one format; his firm prefers the other.

Of course, how quotation marks actually look in a document is also a question of font choice. The blog Frivolous Motion prefers smart quotes, as shown by this image that compares the looks of each in various fonts:





Wikipedia has a surprisingly lengthy entry on the topic in "Quotation Mark Glyphs," including this bit of historic trivia:

“Ambidextrous” quotation marks were introduced on typewriters to reduce the number of keys on the keyboard, and were inherited by computer keyboards and character sets. However, modern word processors have started to convert text to use curved quotes.

Monotype Imaging's webpage,, refers to the use of straight quotation marks as an "irritating typographic faux pas" and describes how to toggle on or off the "smart quotes" option on today's word processing software.

A British blog on typography and fonts, The Ministry of Type, analyzes the pros and cons of each style, concluding that

[i]f straight quotes, however much of a modern bastardisation of type they may seem, enhance the meaning of a piece (or if curved quotes would distract the reader), then you must use them. Otherwise, don’t.

I know of no consensus on the format of quotation marks and apostrophes in the legal writing community, but rather have always experienced the issue (and largely in my role as a journal editor) as a question of style and consistency, and perhaps, aesthetics. Ken Adams has written about the choice in his blog on drafting. More than anything, Adams counsels consistency in style; anything else looks messy.


August 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

to illustrate a lesson . . .

Want to introduce a discussion of annoying phrases that your students should edit from their writing?  This cartoon may help . . . it shows two squirrels, with one saying to the other, "Must you always begin every sentence with 'To put it in a nutshell'?!"

Have a great first day/week of classes.


August 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ideas for the first day of class

J0399885Everyone gets a little nervous when a new school year begins, no matter how many years of teaching experience he or she has accumulated. It helps to remember that the students are nervous, too.

Many of us are thinking about how to enrich the first day of class beyond the typical explanation of the syllabus and other housekeeping matters. Here are some tips for college teachers that may provide ideas for all of us:

I was inspired to try some new things by various presenters at the LWI conference in July. So on my first day of class, my students are going to be treated to a very short "movie" (a series of clips on a silent movie-type soundtrack) that emphasizes some of the tools for success in legal writing. (It may bomb, but I am willing to take the risk.)


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

picking or picking on the Court

Legal Times reporter Tony Mauro reports that presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have indicated that had the choice been theirs, they would not have appointed certain justices to the United States Supreme Court. McCain named Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, and Souter. Obama named Thomas.

Whom would legal writing profs have left off the Court? We'll make you president for a day. Take our poll.

Which Supreme Court justice would you have declined to appoint?
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
David Souter
John Paul Stevens
Clarence Thomas free polls


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

Monday, August 18, 2008

Does Doug Manchester Still Own the San Diego Marriott?

The AALS has decided to keep its annual meeting in San Diego, but it won't hold any events at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.  Instead, it will hold all AALS events at the San Diego Marriott.  Some people have noticed that Papa Doug Manchester was the developer of that property, and that his CV lists the San Diego Marriott as one of the properties on which he is a "developer or owner."

He did develop it.  But does he still own it? 

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on April 25, 2008 that he sold all of his remaining interest in the hotel, in a stock deal with Host Hotels & Resorts, which is now the 100 percent owner of the property.  Here's an excerpt from the story in San Diego Union-Tribune:

Host Hotels & Resorts, which now owns 100 percent of the 1,362-room
downtown hotel next to the Convention Center, issued 5.575 million
partnership units to Pacific Gateway -- a Manchester entity -- last
month. In return, Pacific Gateway gave up its roughly 10 percent
ownership in the hotel. It also forfeited the rights to 1.7 percent of
the hotel's revenue.
, , ,
In an interview this week, Manchester said he has been systematically
reducing his equity stake in the Marriott property for Host partnership
units. At one point he owned 25 percent of the project, he said.
. . .
According to SEC filings, Manchester and affiliates have retained
ownership of the bulk of the Host partnership units they've acquired
over the years. In total, they own units that can be converted to about
13 million shares, or about a 2 percent stake in Host Hotels. . . .

The title of the article is Manchester sells stake in Marriott; Downtown hotel now 100% owned by Host. 

So it seems that Doug Manchester sold his interest in the hotel, but he is still a shareholder in a company that owns units that might be converted into shares amounting to a 2 percent stake in Host Hotels.  For me, having part of a possible 2 percent ownership of company that owns the hotel as one of its properties is a somewhat remote connection to the cash donation.  It is certainly nothing when compared directly to the other property, which has his name on it (the Manchester Grand Hyatt).

I will obviously be thinking more about this, and I welcome your comments (as, I'm sure, do others).  Please post your comments below if you have any additional insights on the matter.  For me, the main message should be this:  AALS has taken a stand that it will not support organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation.  Discrimination is bad business.  Period.  Bravo, AALS.

Click here for our earlier post on all of this.

Click here for an article in the National Law Journal.

(Hat tips to the research skills of Ralph Brill and Miriam Ann Murphy)


August 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

AALS Section on International Human Rights Law

Aalslogo_3The AALS Section on International Human Rights Law will repeat its wildly popular program, “New Voices in Human Rights.”  The program is for faculty members and other scholars who have not previously had an opportunity to present a scholarly paper at an AALS annual meeting.   It will be held during a prime time slot at the AALS conference -- Wednesday January 7, 2009, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You do NOT have to submit a paper, only an abstract of no more than two pages.  Send the abstract by September 1, 2008 to Section Chair-Elect, Christiana Ochoa, at the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington.  Click here for her email address.  Abstracts will be reviewed and selections made during September 2008.

If you have questions about this program, you may contact the current section chair, Robert Blitt at the University of Tennessee.

Prof. Mark E. Wojcik
The John Marshall Law School - Chicago
Immediate Past Chair, AALS Section on International Human Rights Law

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

Director Position: The John Marshall Law School -Chicago

THE JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL, CHICAGO is currently accepting applications for the position of Director of the Lawyering Skills Program, a tenure-track or tenured position, beginning in the 2009-10 academic year. 

The Lawyering Skills Program is a nationally ranked legal research and writing program consisting of a four-semester, nine or ten credit-hour required sequence of courses, including: (1) Lawyering Skills I, a three-credit course in predictive analysis, writing, and research; (2) Lawyering Skills II, a three-credit course in oral and written advocacy and advanced research; (3) Lawyering Skills: Herzog Moot Court Competition, a one-credit intra-scholastic moot court competition; and (4) Lawyering Skills: Drafting, a two- or three- credit course in a variety of fields, ranging from  general practice to various specialties, including patent drafting, information technology, employee benefits, and real estate. 

In 1994, the Lawyering Skills Program was converted from a long-term contract program to a tenure-track program and is, therefore, a program of peers in which twelve full-time faculty partner with the Director to make programmatic decisions.  An Associate Director also assists the Director in selecting, training, and supervising a committed and experienced group of adjunct faculty to teach the advanced courses, to develop problems for some of the courses, and to administer all aspects of the courses.  In addition to administrative responsibilities, the Director will teach one section of approximately 15 Lawyering Skills students each semester.  The Director will also teach a doctrinal course each semester related to area of interest and curricular needs. 

The Director will be expected to produce scholarship and to serve on faculty committees.  In addition, the Director of the Lawyering Skills Program is expected to be visible and active in the national legal writing community.  The John Marshall Law School seeks candidates who share its commitment to the discipline of legal writing, to innovative teaching and skills training, and to scholarship.

Successful candidates will be hired at the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor depending upon prior experience and background.  Salary will also be commensurate with experience and background.  Applicants must have at least a J.D. or its equivalent, a distinguished academic record, and evidence of excellence as a legal writing teacher and as a scholar.  Applicants should send a letter of application and resume by October 10, 2008 to Professor Julie Spanbauer, Chair, Selection and Appointments Committee, The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604

The John Marshall Law School is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty, and we enthusiastically solicit applications from minorities, women, and other individuals from historically underrepresented groups.


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

the mindset of this year's 1-L's

While this isn't the up-to-date mindset list on this year's freshman (it hasn't been released yet; but here's the site), it IS the list for the students we probably have in our 1-L classes this fall.

Traditional college-to-law-school  1-L  students  . . . were born in 1986.

  1. Desi Arnaz, Orson Welles, Roy Orbison, Ted Bundy, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Cary Grant have always been dead.
  2. "Heeeere's Johnny!" is a scary greeting from Jack Nicholson, not a warm welcome from Ed McMahon.
  3. The Energizer bunny has always been going and going and going.
  4. Large fine-print ads for prescription drugs have always appeared in magazines.
  5. Photographs have always been processed in an hour or less.
  6. They never got a chance to drink 7-Up Gold, Crystal Pepsi, or Apple Slice.
  7. Baby Jessica could be a classmate.
  8. Parents may have been reading "The Bourne Supremacy" or "It" as they rocked them in their cradles.
  9. Alan Greenspan has always been setting the nation's financial direction.
  10. The U.S.has always been a Prozac nation.
  11. They have always enjoyed the comfort of pleather.
  12. Harry has always known Sally.
  13. They never saw Roseanne Roseannadanna live on "Saturday Night Live."
  14. There has always been a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  15. They never ate a McSub at McD's.
  16. There has always been a Comedy Channel.
  17. Bill and Ted have always been on an excellent adventure.
  18. They were never tempted by smokeless cigarettes.
  19. Robert Downey, Jr. has always been in trouble.
  20. Martha Stewart has always been cooking up something with someone.
  21. They have always been comfortable with gay characters on television.
  22. Mike Tyson has always been a contender.
  23. The government has always been proposing we go to Mars, and it has always been deemed too expensive.
  24. There have never been any Playboy Clubs.
  25. There have always been night games at Wrigley Field.
  26. Rogaine has always been available for the follicularly challenged.
  27. They never saw USA Today or the Christian Science Monitor as a TV news program.
  28. Computers have always suffered from viruses.
  29. We have always been mapping the human genome.
  30. Politicians have always used rock music for theme songs.
  31. Network television has always struggled to keep up with cable.
  32. O'Hare has always been the most delay-plagued airport in the U.S.
  33. Ivan Boesky has never sold stock.
  34. Toll-free 800 phone numbers have always spelled out catchy phrases.
  35. Bethlehem has never been a place of peace at Christmas. Episcopal women bishops have always threatened the foundation of the Anglican Church.

  36. Svelte Oprah has always dominated afternoon television; who was Phil Donahue anyway?

  37. They never flew on People Express.
  38. AZT has always been used to treat AIDS.
  39. The international community has always been installing or removing the leader of Haiti.
  40. Oliver North has always been a talk show host and news commentator.
  41. They have suffered through airport security systems since they were in strollers.
  42. They have done most of their search for the right college online.
  43. Aspirin has always been used to reduce the risk of a heart attack.
  44. They were spared the TV ads for Zamfir and his panpipes.
  45. Castro has always been an aging politician in a suit.
  46. There have always been non-stop flights around the world without refueling.
  47. Cher hasn't aged a day.

  48. M.A.S.H. was a game: Mansion, Apartment, Shelter, House.


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