Saturday, July 31, 2010

Legal Writing Professors at the SEALS Conference

SEALS Many legal writing professors are attending and presenting at the SEALS Conference happening right now in Palm Beach, Florida.  The Dickerson, Darby Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference continues until August 5, 2010.

On Saturday the programs included a session on moot court teams.  The moderator was Professor Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech University School of Law) and the speakers were Dean Darby Dickerson (Stetson University College of Law) (pictured at right), Professor Susan Kay (Vanderbilt University Law School), and Professor Gary Myers (University of Mississippi School of Law).

On Sunday the programs begin with New Scholar Workshops. One of the presenters will be Professor Katerina Lewinbuk (South Texas College of Law).

Niedwiecki, Anthony S An early afternoon program will be on "Incorporating Doctrinal Interests Into Legal Research and Writing Classes."  Speakers will include Professors David Ritchie (Mercer University School of Law), Jason Bohl (Stetson University College of Law), and Anthony Niedwiecki (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago) (pictured at right).  The moderator for the program is Catherine Cameron (Stetson University College of Law).

One session certain to be well-attended is "The Status of the Legal Writing Faculty in the Academy."  The panel will examine "issues relating to the changing status of legal writing faculty, the relative importance of skills to the practice of law versus the status of skills courses and legal writing in law schools, and the future of the distinction between those professors who teach skills and substance."  The panel moderator is Stephanie Vaughan (Stetson University College of Law) and the speakers are Professors Linda Barris (University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law); Richard Graves (Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law); Jane Cross (Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center), and Dean Richard Matasar (New York Law School). 

Bowman, Brooke There will be an informal gathering of legal writing faculty in the Tapestry Lounge (across from the registration desk).  We'll meet after the West Publishing reception on Sunday evening.  Look for me or for Catherine Wasson (Elon University School of Law) or just meet us in the Tapestry Lounge. 

Wojcik, Mark 2010 A session on Monday is called Research Assistance 2.0.  Legal writing professors on that panel include Professors Brooke Bowman (Stetson University College of Law) (pictured at left) and Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago) (pictured at right).


July 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New issue of JALWD

Cover The full text of Volume 7 of J. ALWD, the Metaphor & Narrative issue, is now available on the website for the Association of Legal Writing Directors.  There's lots of interesting reading and ideas there folks.  Congratulations to editors Joan Ames Magat (at Duke), Ruth Anne Robbins (at Rutgers), and managing editor Sue Painter-Thorne (at Mercer).

Hat tip:  Linda Berger


July 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, July 30, 2010


Bannerfist The Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor is holding its 9th bi-ennial conference in Quebec City from August 13 to 15, 2010.  The topics to be addressed include many familiar ones for the disproportionate number of legal writing professors who are (or have been) in non-tenure-line positions.


July 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the two stories in every case

New-drooz-once-upon-time   During Orientation, my Teaching Assistants help to teach the new first-year law students how to read and brief a case. I like to give the TA’s a short essay I wrote on how to keep straight the difference between the facts of a case and the procedural posture. It’s not exactly rocket science, but then, when you’re a 1L still trying to figure out who’s the plaintiff and who’s the defendant, you don’t really want to be learning rocket science. You can download Every Case Has Two Stories by clicking on the title.


July 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

how much is a good editor worth?

Most legal writers appreciate how valuable a second set of eyes can be for finetuning any document.  Now it turns out that, according to one study, a good editor may strengthen the impact of your writing by 30%.

hat tip:  Alice Noble-Allgire


July 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Weigold to Wisconsin

Weigold, Ursula The University of Wisconsin Law School has announced that Ursula Weigold is its new Director of Legal Research and Writing.  Ursula has been active in LWI and DIRCON for many years.  She directed and taught in the programs at South Texas College of Law and the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and most recently taught in the Lawyering Skills Program at Cornell Law School.  Congratulations, Ursula! 


hat tip:  Mary Ann Polewski


July 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ftfac_fruewald Scott Fruehwald, a legal writing professor at Hofstra, has written An Introduction to Behavioral Biology for Legal Scholars.  As he explains in his abstract:

"Over the last ten years, behavioral biology has become an important tool for legal scholars. In fact, an informal survey rated behavioral biology as the second most important development in the legal academy since 2000. This paper will present the basics of behavioral biology for legal scholars. After giving an introduction to brain science, it will discuss such topics as the selfish gene and reciprocal altruism, universals, sexual selection, morality, culture, and the social contract."


July 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


“Teaching legal writing is like dropping someone in the middle of China and telling them to learn Chinese, and, by the way, no one around you is speaking it correctly.”

- Terri Pollman

hat tip:  Cathren Koehlert





July 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Abolish Tenure?

The American Bar Association Section on Legal Education has a Standards Review Committee that proposed eliminating the word "tenure" from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom.

The Committee also wants to abolish the a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors 

In addition to other posts on this blog (and undoubtedly others), you can read more about faculty reaction to all of this in a new article from the National Law Journal.  Click here.



July 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A New Video Explains the New Website for the Federal Register

If you want your students to know about the Federal Register for researching proposed regulations and amendments to existing regulations, you may lament the lack of classroom time when there are so many other things to teach as well.  But we owe our students the chance to learn about how to use this important government resource -- and how to use it without having to pay expensive access fees through a commercial provider.

What to do?  One option would be to include in your syllabus a five-minute YouTube Video.  Students would likely welcome such a change from their reading assignment and a five-minute video is just about right for this.  You could of course show this in class, but you could just as easily ask students to watch it on their own.  

In your syllabus you can paste the link from the YouTube Video or, if you like, you could post a link to this very blog post:

Here is the video that explains the new website for the Federal Register (as well as its history, going back to President Roosevelt).

Click here for another post on the new website for the Federal Register.


July 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teaching How to Research Proposed Federal Regulations

Do you teach students how to research federal regulations?  Do you teach them how to find not only a current regulation but also how to see proposed changes to federal regulations that may affect their future clients?  Well have your students check this out -- the federal government is seeking public feedback on the 2.0 version of a Federal Register website

The new websitewas launched on July 26, 2010 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register Act.  Whoo-hoo!

The website will remain unofficial until the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register issues a regulation to make the website official.  The Law Librarian Blog tells us that may happen sometime next year, but you'll want to teach your students about this in advance.   

Click here to read more about all of this from our friends at the Law Librarian Blog.

Being able to access the Federal Register without having to pay for a commercial provider will be an important research skill for our students.  The website itself at seems quite friendly.  It's also easy to see how to submit your feedback too.

And click here for a related post about a new video about the Federal Register.  You may want to include a link to the video in your syllabus for the Fall. 

Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki.


July 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scribes Luncheon During the ABA Meeting in San Francisco

ABA Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers--will hold its annual luncheon during the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

This year's speaker will be Professor Pamela S. Karlan, founder of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University School of Law. 

Picture 169 Scribes will also recognize Professor Emeritus Richard C. Wydick, author of the million-copy best seller, Plain English for Lawyers (I'm guessing on that number of book sales but I don't think I'm far off!).  If I read the invitation correctly, he'll be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Scribes.  (When Justice Scalia received the same award from Scribes in New York, he urged Scribes to pick a new name for that award.)  (Here is a picture from that Scribes luncheon in New York.) 

Other presentations will include the Scribes Book Award and the Brief-Writing Award.  The event will be held on Saturday, August 7, 2010, from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco (at 222 Mason Street, in the Carmel II Room on the third floor).  Tickets are $50 per Scribes member or $90 for a Scribes member and guest.  Nonmembers pay $60.  And just why is it that you aren't a member? 

Click here for the event flyer, which includes contact information.  Download Scribes Luncheon 2010


July 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wojcik elected Secretary of Illinois State Bar Association

Wojcik Last Friday Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago -- and co-editor of this blog -- was elected as Secretary of the Illinois State Bar Association. With more than 35,000 members, the ISBA is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. His term as Secretary lasts for one year.  Mazel tov, Mark! 


July 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

proposed changes to ABA standards affecting LRW jobs

ABA This weekend, the Standards Review Committee (SRC) for the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education considered dramatic changes to law school accreditation standards that relate to tenure requriements: "security of position" for clinic professors, and "academic freedom" for legal writing professors.

Just about every full-time legal writing professor’s position falls somewhere under the standards that the SRC is considering eliminating. For links to the details – including relevant SRC materials and materials submitted to them by many in legal education -- click over to the Tax Prof Blog

That blog post also notes that the Clinical Legal Education Association accuses the SRC of sandbagging the standards review process by posting some material only three days before its meeting in Chicago.

hat tip:  Paul Caron 


July 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

LRW promotions at Cooley

Platebiopic The tenured faculty of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School voted to promote Asher Norm Plate to Full Professor with Tenure, and to promote Tammy Asher to Associate Professor.  


Once the Board of Directors formalizes these promotions, Cooley’s legal writing faculty will include four full professors with tenure, five associate professors, and one assistant professor, all in tenure-line positions.  Well done Norm and Tammy – and Cooley! 


hat tip:  Eileen Kavanagh



July 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 23, 2010

fix up your verbs

00961902000 Back in 2001, I wrote a little advice column for the Illinois Bar Journal, on how to clean up your legal writing by focusing on the verbs. This week I got a request from a professor at another school for a copy of it, to replace his now damaged copy. When I realized it’s not available elsewhere on-line, I added Verbs Are It to my SSRN page, where you can download it for free. A lawyer or law student who struggles with passive voice verbs or nominalizations – or is not quite sure what those are – might find the advice helpful.


July 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

faculty status for law school librarians

Parker Carol A. Parker (New Mexico) has written an article explaining "How Law Schools Benefit When Librarians Teach, Hold Faculty Status, and Contribute to the Development of Curricula of Legal Research Instruction".

As her abstracts describes it:

"This work in progress explores how law schools benefit when non-director academic law librarians teach legal research skills, hold faculty status and have opportunities to attain tenure or continuous appointments. Principles of shared governance entitle library faculty to contribute to the development and delivery of programs of legal research instruction. This does not mean librarians must be the exclusive teachers of legal research skills; rather that at minimum, law faculties should consult with librarians in the development of programs of legal research instruction. Librarians hold graduate degrees in research methodology and have expertise in both the development and delivery of a pedagogy of legal research instruction. Initiatives to reform legal education curricula, spurred on by the Carnegie Report, should lead to greater support among law teaching faculties for librarian involvement in the educational process. Recognizing law librarians as participants in the shared governance of law schools should also lead to opportunities for more librarians to hold faculty status and attain tenure and other forms of continuous appointment. The author welcomes comments while she continues to refine this work in progress."


July 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

writing to lose

Images As the librarian who forwarded this to me said, "Who can resist this title:"

Writing Bad Briefs: How to Lose a Case in 100 Pages or More" 
New York State Bar Association Journal, Vol. 82, No. 4, p. 64, May 2010

This is the latest entry in New York judge Gerald Lebovits's helpful column.

hat tip:  Nolan Wright


July 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

but, did you get it in writing?

We may be teaching legal writing, but apparently not enough people are following through, because Neil Joel Dillof at the University of Baltimore has written "Get it in Writing: A Litigator's Perspective" .

As Neil explains:

"A basic principle in both the business and legal worlds is violated on a daily basis by well-meaning people as well as those who are not so well-meaning. Notwithstanding the mantra of get it in writing, presumably sophisticated business people, executives, and the audience for this article - lawyers - still fail to confirm in writing important conversations, agreements, dates and events. The objective of this article is to encourage both attention to and compliance with this cardinal principle."


July 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

and the Silver Gavel goes too ...

Mcelroy Some of our readers may know legal writing professor Lisa McElroy (at Drexel) for her work on the Plain English feature over at Scotusblog.  That blog has just received a 2010 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association.  In conferring the award, the ABA specifically praised the Plain English components of the blog, which it said “vastly widen its appeal to general visitors interested in the nation’s highest court and its docket...(and) throw open the doors of the Supreme Court to teachers students, news media and the public at large. In so doing, the blog provides an important public service.”

Congratulations Lisa!  Congratulations scotusblog!

hat tip:  Chris Coughlin


July 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)