Friday, October 31, 2008

appointment decisions shaped by teaching experience?

A story by Nina Totenberg on an October 30, 2008, broadcast on NPR examines the influence that Barack Obama's law-school teaching experience might have on his Supreme Court appointments, should he be elected. Totenberg finds a chapter in Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, to be particularly revealing in terms of his disagreement with the strict constructionist viewpoint espoused by some sitting members of the Court:

[M]uch of the Constitution speaks in generalities that cannot tell us what the Founding Fathers would have thought about modern dilemmas: whether, for example, the National Security Agency's data mining is constitutional, or what freedom of speech means in the context of the Internet.

"Anyone like Justice Scalia looking to resolve our modern constitutional dispute through strict construction has one big problem," Obama writes. "The founders themselves disagreed profoundly, vehemently, on the meaning of their masterpiece."

Totenberg also notes that most Court observers predict that the next appointee will be a woman, particularly if Obama wins the election. Prominent names include Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Harvard Dean Elena Kagan, Governor Jennifer Granholm (Michigan), and Senator Hillary Clinton (New York). Totenberg is unable, however, to come up with a list of female candidates should McCain win the election, predicting that he would be more likely to consider men such as former Solicitor General Paul Clement, Judge Jeffrey Sutton and Judge Michael McConnell.


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

interview with a curmudgeon

Markherrmann_2 You may be familiar with Jones Day attorney Mark Herrmann's book, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law, published by the ABA. If not, I recommend it; you will be entertained, and you'll gain a useful perspective on the needs of and challenges for today's practicing legal writers. (Click here for a .pdf with the book's Table of Contents.)

Herrmann was recently interviewed by Mister Thorne for his blog, Set in Style. Thorne asked Hermann a wide-ranging set of questions about writing, editing, and law practice. You may find this set of particular interest:

You have lots of experience working with newly-minted attorneys. Given your experience, if you could change one thing about the law school curriculum, what would that be?

At this point, I’m pretty far removed from the law school experience. I understand, however, that there are still a few schools that employ third year law students to teach legal writing to first year students. That’s a bad idea. Law schools should spend the money to hire actual legal writing professors. Writing is one of the key skills for successful lawyers, and law schools should devote serious effort and resources to teaching students that skill.


October 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

save the date for 2009 Rocky Mountain conference

Tempe_palms The popular Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference will be held on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14, 2009. Host for this year's event is the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Tempe, Arizona. Plenary speaker for the conference is Professor Linda H. Edwards (Mercer/UNLV). Linda was recently named as winner of the Thomas Blackwell Memorial Award

When the call for proposals and more conference details are available, we will post them here.

hat tip: Amy Langenfeld


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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

to boldly go?

Ljhca3fucpscaeq7lfqcahmnhwecapmc4sd If you were despairing of being the last person in the cosmos who knows what a split infinitive is, you may be interested in reading a recent N.Y. Times Blog post about split infinitives.  The comments, too, will reassure you that there are still plenty of grammarians left on the planet.

hat tip:  Professor Michael Higdon, UNLV


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

nobody knows the tribbles I've seen

Public radio has featured one of our own, Hether MacFarlane (Pacific McGeorge), who respondedMacfarlane_2007 to a story about the new Google G1 phone. To listen to the story, visit the "Letters" section for the American Public Media program Marketplace, broadcast October 28, 2008:

hat tip: Richard K. Neumann, Jr.


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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ALWD call for proposals

The upcoming biennial conference of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) will be held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 16-18, 2009.   The conference theme is "Professionalization of Legal Writing Programs," kicked off by a plenary session featuring directors who have had different lengths of experience and who have directed different types of legal writing programs, including Kirsten Davis, Lisa Eichhorn, Suzanne Rowe, and Marilyn Walter.

A survey following the last ALWD conference identified the following topics as those which most interest ALWD members:

  • Directing a program with contract professors or tenure-track professors
  • How to convert a program to 405(c) or tenure track
  • Academic freedom versus programmatic norms
  • Are directorless programs really a good thing?
  • Problems and issues with reviews and evaluation of LRW professors
  • Beyond technology and technique: what it takes to be a good teacher
  • Long-range and short-term planning
  • Advancing a program: which way is up?  What does improving or advancing mean?
  • Creative teaching techniques to enhance the classroom experience
  • Implementing ABA standards and handling site visits
  • Promoting consistent evaluation of student work product

ALWD members are invited to submit applications and proposals for participating in the conference in one of three ways: (1) as a leader of a breakout group following the plenary session; (2) as a leader of a roundtable discussion; or (3) as a presenter of a concurrent session.

  • Leaders of breakout groups will work with the Program Committee to choose a specific issue related to the plenary discussion and will facilitate a one-hour discussion of that issue following the panel. 
  • Leaders of roundtable discussions will lead one-hour discussions on topics of interest to ALWD members, perhaps as identified in the survey results, and will supply materials as appropriate.
  • Presenters of concurrent sessions will supply materials and present ideas on topics related to the theme of Professionalization of Legal Writing Programs, as well as on other topics that would be of special interest to ALWD members.  Proposals for concurrent sessions should include a bibliography of related sources. Concurrent sessions will last approximately forty-five minutes.

The Program Committee may ask applicants to combine their proposals with other similar proposals. To submit a proposal or apply to lead a breakout group or roundtable discussion, applicants are requested to read, download, and complete the form for the particular type of session; email the completed form as an attachment to Program Committee Chair Susan Thrower at no later than December 1, 2008. If you have questions, please email Susan, or call her at (312) 362-5347.

You may download the CFP by clicking here (Microsoft Word version) : Download ALWD_CFP_2009.doc
or here (WordPerfect version): Download ALWD_CFP_2009.wpd

Members of the Program Committee are Mary Garvey Algero (Loyola-New Orleans), Chris Coughlin (Wake Forest), Diane Dimond (Duke), Deborah Paruch (Detroit-Mercy), Judy Rosenbaum (Northwestern), Judy Stinson (Arizona State), and Susan Thrower (DePaul).


October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

AalslogoThe Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research has published its fall newsletter.  Click here, and then click on "current newsletter."  Hat tip and thanks to Joan Malmud of the University of Oregon School of Law, who serves as the AALS Section Secretary.

Not sure who handles the "Upcoming Conferences" section of that webpage, but it needs to be updated.  Among the upcoming conferences of interest is the Fourth Global Legal Studies Conference, which will be held in June 2009 at Georgetown University Law Center.


October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Codified Canons and the Common Law of Interpretation

Our friend Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog advises us about a new article on the canons of statutory construction.  He suggests that the article would make a good reading assignment for an advanced legal research class.  Here's an excerpt from his post, which includes an excerpt from the abstract of the article:

In Codified Canons and the Common Law of Interpretation (NELLCO), Jacob Scott (Yale Law School. Yale Law School Student Prize Paper Series) argues that the the legal community has missed the significance of understanding canons of interpretation as nothing more than interpretive common law. Many scholars and jurists use canons—interpretive “rules of thumb”—to draw meaning from statutes, but do not inquire whether those methods are consistent with how legislatures want their statutes to be interpreted. Scott's paper examines the interpretive preferences of each legislature in the United States and compares those preferences with the common law canons. From the abstract:

My theory of the common law of interpretation and the codified canons suggests that the prevailing interpretive toolbox should be revised and recalibrated. Some canons that are controversial in the judiciary and academy, such as recourse to legislative history, are not so controversial in the eyes of legislatures. I also suggest that other judicially well-settled canons, such as expressio unius, are in fact unsettled because legislatures reject them in their codes. Finally, I show that textualism has a discontented relationship with the positive law because textualism’s embargo on extratextual sources conflicts with widely codified legislative preferences.

An excellent article for an Advanced Legal Research course reading assignment.

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki and the Law Librarian Blog.


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

kudos due in Indy!

MartinadKchestekJddimitrLegal writing professors Allison Martin and Ken Chestek have been awarded long-term contracts at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. In addition, Jim Dimitri (who already had a long-term contract) and Ken Chestek were promoted by vote to full clinical professors. Congratulatons to Allison, Ken, and Jim! 

hat tip: Prof. Cynthia Matson Adams


October 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

proposed changes in ABA Standards

Last week in my law school snail mail box, I received the Syllabus, the newsletter of the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.  Tucked away on page 4, there's an article explaining a proposal to delete all the Interpretations to Standards 402-1 and 402-2.

I've been thinking about what deleting all these Interpretations might mean for legal writing professors.  Among the Interpretations that would be deleted are those that specify a desired faculty-student ratio for a law school and how to calculate it. On the plus side, no more would legal writing professors who are not in a tenure line or 405(c) positions have to count as 7/10ths of a faculty member, despite their very full-time faculty work. On the negative side, that counting system did cause some law schools to upgrade their legal writing professors' jobs, so the schools could count them each as one full faculty member when calcuating faculty-student ratios.  If all the Interpretations specifying faculty-student ratios are deleted, that would allow schools to pile on the students in a legal writing class, with no clear disincentive in the accreditation process not to do so.

Written comments about these proposed changes to the accreditation process have to be submitted to the Section's Standards Review Committee (SRC) by December 1st.  And, if you would like to address the SRC at its January meeting, in a hearing to be held in conjunction with the AALS annual meeting, you now also have to submit a request to speak by December 1st.  (You used to be able to just show up.) The contact person is Becky Stretch, the ABA's Assistant Consultant on Legal Education, at


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

Monday, October 27, 2008

congratulations to Mary Garvey Algero!

Terry Pollman of UNLV anounces the following news:

Mary_garvey_algeroloyolano I am delighted to share the good news that Loyola New Orleans has named Mary Algero the Warren E. Mouledoux Distinguished Professor of Law.

Congratulations, Mary, for this well deserved recognition--it's so good to know that your school values your contributions nearly as much as we do!

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

writers block

Spratt David Spratt has launched a new, regular column in the Virginia Bar Association News Journal, called the Writer's Block.  Most appropriately, his first column explores the problem of writer's block and offers several helpful suggestions for overcoming this maladie.  He describes one creative approach that I've never heard before:  assign each step of the writing process to a character in your mind, such as the architect who drafts a blueprint or the carpenter who builds the rough framing, and allow each character time to do the discrete task at hand.


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

director opening in Charleston, S.C.

This announcement comes from Professor Sheila Scheuerman:

Charleston School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track Director of Legal Research and Writing position, beginning in the 2009 academic year.

The Director is responsible for administering the first-year legal writing program, and reports to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  The Director teaches one section of Legal Research and Writing each semester, and makes hiring recommendations for the program’s adjunct and full-time faculty.  The Director is responsible for training and supervising the program faculty, and supervising grading.  The Director works with the Library Reference Staff to ensure the delivery of legal research training for students and legal writing faculty.  The Director will be expected to develop and conduct writing skills workshops; develop web-based resources for students; advise the faculty on trends in Legal Research and Writing; and advise on curriculum design.  Scholarship in areas related to legal education and/or research and writing pedagogy is strongly encouraged, as is leadership in state and professional associations.  The Director serves on faculty committees as requested by the Dean, and has full voting rights.  The Director will be expected to work closely with the Assistant Dean for Academic Support and the Director of Academic Support Programs on integrating academic support pedagogy in the legal writing program.

Candidates should have an outstanding academic record, as well as experience and demonstrated excellence in teaching, leadership, and administrative skills.  Candidates should also have at least five years experience teaching legal writing or as a writing specialist in a law firm.  Faculty rank of Assistant, Associate or Professor depends on qualifications and experience. 

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  Please submit a letter of application that addresses that qualifications identified above, and a current curriculum vitae with references to Professor Sheila B. Scheuerman, Chair, Legal Writing Director Search Committee, Charleston School of Law, P.O. Box 535, Charleston, SC 29402.

1.   The position advertised:
_X_     a. is a tenure-track appointment.

2.         The professor hired:
_X_     a. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

3.         The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below. 
_X_     a. $90,000 or more
_X_     b. $80,000 to $89,999
_X_     c. $70,000 to $79,999
(Salary commensurate with experience.) 

4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be:
_X_     a. 30 or fewer


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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

new LRW title with international focus

.Deborahmcgregorindyindianapolis_3 .Cynthiaadams_indy_4 Aspen Publishers has announced a new book by Professors Deborah B. McGregor and Cynthia M. Adams of the Indiana University School of Law-Indiananpolis: The International Lawyer's Guide to Legal Analysis and Communication in the United States. Mcgregor_intllawyersguide_cover_5 Designed for international students, the book introduces the U.S. legal system and processes and explains the operation of common-law precedent and statutory interpretation. It contains several features of particular interest to such students, including chapters on plagiarism, drafting (including client letters, demand letters, and contracts, with an emphasis on international transactions).


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

Kentucky's Barkley School of Law closing

After only a few months of operation, the for-profit Barkley School of Law in Paducah, KY is filing for bankruptcy and closing, reports the ABA Journal. According to the ABA, the school has only ten students. The ABA story also cites the school's dean, Larry Putt, as attributing the school's difficulties to the financial woes and bad publicity that BSL inherited from its predecessor, the American Justice School of Law.

A news release in April 2008 had announced the school's reorganization and plans for expansion. The Wikipedia entry for the school projected an enrollment of 500 students within five to six years. The main page to the law school's website has been deactivated.


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

preemption, pre-emption, or preëmption?

Plain, with a hyphen, or with a diaresis? A post last night on the Volokh Conspiracy got a surprisingly high number of responses. What is the right (or preferred) spelling, and why? Comments welcome.


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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Remembering Stephanie . . . .

As a contributing editor to this blog and a colleague of Stephanie, I want to share some personal thoughts and memories of a truly amazing person, legal writing professor, teacher and friend.  First, let me express my heartfelt thanks to my fellow blog editors - Mark, Coleen, Sue and Nancy for so graciously and thoughtfully keeping this blog silent today in honor of Stephanie's memory. 

Stephanie's passing came as a shock to everyone who worked with her at NSU Law School.  Stephanie had waged on ongoing battle with melanoma for several years.  When she was first diagnosed five years ago, the doctors operated and thought they got it all.  Unfortunately, it came back this past spring and the doctors operated once more.  Again, they thought they got it all.   Following the surgery, Stephanie stoically underwent an experimental treatment during late spring and into the summer which the doctors hoped would put the cancer into permament remission.  But after the start of the fall semester, doctors discovered that the melanoma had returned yet again.  Stephanie took a leave of absence from teaching several weeks ago to try another experimental treatment we all hoped would finally put the cancer into permament remission.  Last week she began a series of self-injections to prepare herself for this new regiment of treatment which began yesterday.  It was during her first hospital stay to begin the new treatment that she suddenly stopped breathing and passed away shortly thereafter.  She was only 36.

We are still in shock at this sudden loss of such a brave and loved colleague and friend.  Stephanie was a real pistol - a former prosecutor and a real tough cookie whose laugh carried down the hall and who loved her students more than anything.  During last year's graduation ceremony, more students asked to be hooded by Stephanie than any other member of the faculty, by far.  That tells you a lot right there.

Stephanie was one of the strongest, most determined people I've ever met.  She didn't take crap from anyone.  Yet she was sensitive in all the best ways - kind, thoughtful and considerate of others' feelings.  She was so positive and enthustiastic about life, teaching, her students and her school that it made the rest of us feel like Woody Allen in comparison.

She's a great person and no one can ever take her place.  If you'd like, please share your own thoughts and memories about Stephanie in the comments box below.

While I'm normally the scholarship dude, tonight I'm just very sad and empty.



October 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

in memoriam: Stephanie Feldman Aleong

Aleong1_2The Legal Writing Prof Blog offers its condolences to the friends, family, students, and colleagues of Professor Stephanie Feldman Aleong, who passed away on Tuesday, October 21, 2008.

Stephanie was an Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where she taught in the Lawyering Skills and Values program and directed the Masters in Health Law Program.

A member of the Florida Bar since 1996, Stephanie was a state prosecutor for six years.From November 2000 through July 2002, she served as an Assistant Statewide Prosecutor and the Health Care Fraud Priority Leader for Florida. She specialized in the prosecution and investigation of racketeering in pharmaceuticals. Her work as a prosecutor in the area of prescription drugs was detailed in a non-fiction novel and many periodicals.

From 1996 through 2000, Stephanie was an Assistant State Attorney for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, serving in many units including acting as the Assistant Chief of the DUI Division in County Court and serving in the Career Criminal Unit. During her tenure as a prosecutor, Stephanie taught Trial Advocacy for the U.S. Department of Justice in both Honduras and Venezuela.

Before joining the faculty at Nova, Stephanie was a member of the faculty of Emory Law School as an instructor in the Legal, Writing, Research and Advocacy Program from 2002-04. She also taught in the first-year Professionalism program at Emory and developed materials for the second-year Trial Techniques program. During the summer of 2003, Stephanie was a Visiting Professor at the University of Trier Law School in Trier Germany, where she taught Legal Writing in an international, bilingual program.

Stephanie's J.D. and B.A. degrees were from Vanderbilt University. She was the Moot Court Board's Associate Justice for the First Amendment Competition at the law school.

There will be a memorial service for Professor Stephanie Aleong on Friday, October 24 at 3:30 p.m. at place at Beth Israel Memorial Chapel, 11115 Jog Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33437.

You can read the wonderful tribute in the Broward Sun Sentinel here.

The family requests that donations be made to the Melanoma Research Foundation in the memory of
Stephanie Feldman Aleong.  Donations can be mailed to the Melanoma Research Foundation, 170 Township Line Road, Bldg B, Hillsborough, NJ, 08844, or submit one online at  If the foundation asks for an address to send a memorial card, give them the law center address (Nova
Southeastern Univ., Shepard Broad Law Center, 3305 College Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314).  The law school will forward those cards to her husband.

October 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

horrifying cases for All Hallow's Eve

J0409275_2 "The Court is faced with the issue of whether [the claims examiner's] October 31, 2003-letter was a Halloween trick to fraudulently induce plaintiff to sign the enclosed general release to settle all his claims against defendant, or a Halloween treat to settle only plaintiff's property damage claim. Since a trial is necessary to resolve the trick or treat question, this Court cannot grant summary judgment to defendant." Fox v. "John Doe", 12 Misc.3d 1168(A), 820 N.Y.S.2d 842 (Table), 2006 WL 1584212 (N.Y. Super. 2006).

"The scene of the killings was extremely bloody. Many people had tracked in and out of the house as the paramedics, firefighters, and police came and went. An expert on blood spatter interpretation testified that many of the bloodstains in the entryway and on a stool, jack o'lantern, the front door, and the ceiling, were velocity stains. The blood on the ceiling and upper walls probably flew off the weapon as it was raised after striking [the victim]. There were slash marks on the front door and in the eight-foot-high ceiling above the entryway. A wolf mask was in a corner of the front porch area." People v. Dennis, 950 P.2d 1035 (Cal. 1998).

"[The] defendant, a paranoid schizophrenic, believed one victim was the devil and the other a witch, and he heard auditory command hallucinations telling him one victim was going to kill him or have him killed." People v. Duckett, 209 Cal. Rptr. 96 (Cal. App. 1984).

"When police knocked and requested entry, appellant refused to open her door, telling the officers that they were vampires, that they were 'terrorist militia,' and that, 'on authority of President George Bush, she did not have to answer her door.'" State v. K.L., 188 P.3d 395 (Or. App. 2008).

I've saved the most horrifying for last . . .

“Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again . . . .” Lamb's Chapel v. Ctr. Moriches Union Free Sch. Dist., 508 U.S. 384, 398 (1993) (Scalia, J., concurring).


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

Do Bloggers Need Insurance?

We only say nice things about our colleagues, so WE don't need blogger insurance.  But other people might.  Click here to read more.

I'd tell you who shared this with me, but he might sue me.


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