Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THIS FRIDAY!!! LWI One-Day Workshops for Legal Writing Faculty and Law Librarians

On Friday, legal writing professors and law librarians will be meeting at more than a dozen locations across the country to talk about teaching. 

If you are a legal writing professor (or would like to be one) here's a reminder about the Legal Writing Institute one-day workshops for legal writing faculty (including new faculty, adjuncts, experienced faculty, law librarians, and lawyers seeking to become adjunct or full-time professors). 

Most of the workshops are being held THIS FRIDAY on December 3.  One workshop is on December 4 and another will be held on December 10.  The cost of the workshops is $100, which goes directly to support the Legal Writing Institute.  The sessions are small and interactive so you are sure to benefit from attending.  Here's the updated speaker list (updated on Tuesday, November 30, 2010).  Download 2010 One Day Workshop Schedules (Draft 3.2)  You can also do walk-in registration, but the cost of that is $125. 

Here is the list of LWI 25workshops.  Where no date is indicated, the workshops are on Friday, December 3, 2010 (from 9:00 to 5:00 at each location).  There are 15 locations to choose from:

  1. American University School of Law, Washington D.C.
  2. California Western School of Law, San Diego, California
  3. Charleston School of Law, Charleston, South Carolina (Friday, Dec. 10, 2010)
  4. Emory Law School, Atlanta, Georgia
  5. Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, California
  6. Santa Clara University School of Law, Santa Clara, California
  7. St. John’s University School of Law, Manhattan Campus, New York City
  8. Stetson University College of Law, Tampa Campus, Tampa, Florida
  9. Suffolk Law School, Boston, Massachusetts
  10. The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois
  11. University of Dayton School of Law, Dayton, Ohio
  12. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee (Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010)
  13. University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  14. Wake Forest School of Law, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  15. Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, Delaware

Click here to register (at any of the locations) or visit www.lwionline.org/lwi_conferences.html

Click here for the updated speaker list Download 2010 One Day Workshop Schedules (Draft 3.2)

Mark E. Wojcik

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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Advice for Your Job Talk

It's hiring season at U.S. law schools.  Candidates are now visiting campuses to present job talks.  Many candidates would like some straightforward advice on how to give a job talk.  That advice is now available, thanks to an article by Anne Enquist, Paula Lustbader, and John Mitchell (all of the Seattle University School of Law).  The article is called From Both Sides Now: The Job Talk’s Role in Matching Candidates with Law Schools, and you can download a copy for free by clicking here.  Here's the abstract:

In the heavily competitive law school teaching job market, the so-called “job talk” has assumed increasing importance in the ultimate hiring decision. Nevertheless, there is little published information to assist a law school faculty in structuring or evaluating the job talk and a similar paucity of information for candidates to guide them in creating and preparing for the presentation of their talk. This article is intended to fill that void. The article guides the preparation of faculty and candidates for both the job talk itself and for the crucial Q&A period that follows the talk. The article represents the authors’ collective 87 years of experience seeing both successful and unsuccessful job talks, as well as the experience of 15 colleagues around the country who reviewed our initial draft and commented on it from the perspective of their various law schools.

The article has helped a good number of candidates already and will likely be a popular article for years to come. 


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

Proposals Due December 7 for Applied Legal Storytelling Conference

December 7 is the deadline for proposals to present at the Third Applied Legal Storytelling Conference, co-sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA). The conference will be hosted by Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver on July 8-10, 2011. Click here for the LWI Homepage, where you can find more information about the conference.

Hat tip to Ruth Anne Robbins


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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

promotion news

Srowe The law faculty at the University of Oregon has voted to promote Suzanne Rowe to the rank of full professor.  Suzanne has been a stalwart legal writing professor and director for many years and is a national leader in the legal writing field.  Congratulations, Suzanne!

hat tip:  Judy Stinson



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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

legal writing job in Portland, OR

The Lewis and Clark Law School, in Portland, Oregon,  anticipates a full-time Legal Analysis and Writing Professor to for the 2011-2012 academic year. 

Applicants must have a law degree; an interest in teaching; excellent legal research, analysis, reasoning, writing and communication skills; and the ability to work both independently and cooperatively. Prior teaching experience is preferred, and at least two years of legal practice experience is required.

To apply, send materials by January 15, 2011 to:

                Professor Steve Johansen
                Lewis and Clark Law School
                10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
                Portland, OR 97219
                503 768 6637

In your application, please include: a cover letter describing your teaching interests, your scholarship interests, and your ideal advanced legal writing course; a statement of teaching philosophy; a writing sample; and a curriculum vitae.

1. The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $80,000 - $109,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 50.

hat tip:  Steve Johansen




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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Applying Transfer Theory to Law School Pedagogy

Kowalski, Tonya Professor Tonya Kowalski has published a new article called True North: Navigating for the Transfer of Learning in Legal Education.  The article has a great discussion of applying transfer theory to law school pedagogy.  It also contains an appendix with some useful exercises that can be tailored to fit any law school classroom.  

Here's the abstract of her article:

As lifelong learners, we all know the feelings of discomfort and bewilderment that can come from being asked to apply existing skills in a completely new situation. As legal educators, we have also experienced the frustration that comes from watching our students struggle to identify and transfer skills from one learning environment to another. For example, a first-semester law student who learns to analogize case law to a fact pattern in a legal writing problem typically will not see the deeper applications for those skills in a law school essay exam several weeks later. Similarly, when law students learn how an equitable doctrine like unclean hands applies to a particular torts problem in one class, only the smallest percentage will then see the potential application for the doctrine in a contracts course with another professor. Fortunately, research in “transfer of learning” offers the legal academy tools to help students encode knowledge – whether doctrine or skills – in such a way that they know better when and how to retrieve it for later use.

This Article is the first to offer legal educators a comprehensive approach to the transfer of learning across the entire curriculum. It is also the first to propose that law schools should employ maps based on schema theory to help students encode knowledge for future transfer, as well as to conceptually integrate their courses. This approach uses meta-schema based on core lawyering skills—in both their abstract and applied forms—in order to help students attain a basic sense of orientation and to know how particular skills will manifest, depending on the contexts in which they are used. This “Core Skills Approach” then goes beyond the use of maps to encourage students to use maneuvers, including a wide array of transfer strategies, to cue previous knowledge across the conceptual bridges that span the distance between school and practice.


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

legal writing job on Long Island

HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW is accepting applications for a position as a professor of legal writing, a full-time faculty position with a renewable contract leading to eligibility for presumptively renewable five-year contracts. Applicants should have excellent legal research, writing and oral communication skills, as well as a JD degree. Hofstra is particularly interested in laterally hiring professors who already have significant experience teaching legal writing.

Send applications via e-mail to Betty J. Black at betty.j.black@hofstra.edu. You'll need to attach a cover letter, CV, and writing sample. In the subject line, include the words "Legal Writing."  For more information, you can contact Professor Andrew Schepard (Andrew.i.Schepard@hofstra.edu or 516-463-5890) or Richard Neumann (Richard.k.Neumann@hofstra.edu or 516-463-5881).

1. The position advertised may lead to successive five year contracts.  
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $70,000 - $89,999.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 41 – 45.

hat tip:  Richard Neumann


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

Editing Exercises on Wordiness

We'll keep this brief.  Scott Fruehwald (Hofstra) has uploaded some editing exercises on wordiness.  Click here.  Thanks Scott!


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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  It is a great time to reflect on the people and things that are important in our lives, and how precious we are to each other.

The editors 

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

advice from Justices Breyer and Scalia

Here at Texas Tech, we had an excellent third Sandra Day O'connor Lecture Series event last week with Justices Breyer and Scalia speaking to the community on Friday and then at the law school on Monday.

At the faculty lunch, I gleaned a couple of words of wisdom to share:  from Breyer, tell students to "just keep on writing" in order to strengthen their legal writing skills.  From Scalia, be thoughtful in choosing a law firm to start your career--choose one that gives balance and allows for family time and quality of life (he also made disparaging remarks about living by the billable hour).

The last time Scalia was here, I chatted with him about teaching legal writing, which he had done at the start of his academic career.  He said quite emphatically that teaching legal writing well was MUCH harder than teaching contracts well b'c of all the commenting and feedback and b'c one had to be able to identify what a student was doing wrong and then be able to explain it to the student in a way that could help the student to improve.  He, ah, sounded like one of us.  :)


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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Typography for Lawyers

Tfl-book-cover Matthew Butterick has written a new book, Typography for Lawyers.  If you are a lawyer who writes anything that ends up as typed text, you need to read this book.  If you are a legal writing professor who teaches law students or paralegal students, you need to read this book.  You will learn a lot--unless, like Butterick, you happen to have previously studied typography and worked as a professional typographer before going to law school. 

The book is also beautiful, an aesthetically pleasing experience as you read.  How many law practice related books can you say that about?  Butterick practices what he preaches, so beyond the numerous helpful examples, studying the presentation of the book itself provides further instruction.

And even if you don't care a whit about typography (although the book explains why you should), the discussion on pages 22 to 24 about readers' attention is worth sharing with every legal writing student and junior attorney.  


UPDATE:  For writing this book, Matthew Butterick received the Golden Pen Award in 2012 from the Legal Writing Institute.


November 19, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

job opening in North Carolina

Elon University School of Law is taking applications for a full-time instructor position, teaching two sections of Legal Method & Communication, a two-semester, five credit, first-year course, beginning in August 2011. The initial appointment will be for a three-year term, with the possibility of renewal in future years. 


Applicants must have a J.D. from an accredited law school, a strong academic record, excellent legal research and writing skills, and at least three years experience in a clerkship or law practice. Applicants must also possess a commitment to legal writing teaching, and an interest in working within a coordinated program to build an innovative and challenging curriculum. Two or more years of recent experience teaching legal writing is strongly preferred.        

To apply, send a cover letter, resume (including names and contact information of-three references) and a short writing sample or example of course materials that you have prepared to Professor Catherine J. Wasson, Elon University School of Law, 201 North Greene Street, Greensboro, N.C.  27401. Email applications are welcome. All applications received by February 1, 2011, will receive full consideration. 


1.  The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
2.  The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings, except on matters of hiring, promotion and tenure.
3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $60,000-$79,999.
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 31 - 40.


November 18, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

empathy -- a core legal skill

IanGallacher Perhaps you have to be a legal academic to become a fan of the law journal articles of particular authors.  Over time I've come to appreciate that no matter what I read by Ian Gallacher at Syracuse University, my time will be well spent.  Now Ian has written "Thinking Like Non-Lawyers: Why Empathy is a Core Lawyering Skill and Why Legal Education Should Change to Reflect its Importance", to be published soon in the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

Here's Ian's abstract:

"This article is an exploration of some of the issues raised by the recent Carnegie Report on Educating Lawyers, and contains a recommendation that law schools change the way they teach especially first year law students in order to make them more empathetically aware of the circumstances by which the court opinions they study arose and the effects those opinions will have on others. The article argues that such changes will not just make lawyers better people, they will also make them better lawyers. The article examines the dangers inherent in an overemphasis on the 'logical' form of analysis taught in law schools, and explores in depth two examples of logical thinking that failed to persuade non-lawyers, in the form of a jury. The article also looks at one strikingly successful example of empathetic lawyering – Max Steur’s cross-examination of a key witness during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire trial – to show how a lawyer who is empathetically attuned with a jury can be devastatingly effective. The article offers specific proposals to help law schools ameliorate the dangers of an over-emphasis on 'thinking like a lawyer' before, during, and after a student’s formal legal education."



November 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the non-tenured life

Most legal writing professors do not have tenure-line appointments.  What is it like to be surrounded by tenured faculty when you don't -- and won't ever -- have tenure?  Click here to see.

hat tip:  Melissa Marlow




November 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Preserving Our History: Past LWI Newsletters Now Online

Legal_writing_institute_logo LWI Karin Mika has kindly uploaded earlier editions of the LWI newsletter and The Second Draft.  Click here to see the list of newsletters now available.  If you would like to have a look at the very first LWI newsletter from 1985, click here.

Hat tips to Karin Mika for uploading the newsletters, to Yonna Shaw for scanning the newsletters, and to Jane Gionfriddo who preserved our history.  We've also learned that Chris Wren has made the .pdfs searchable as well.


November 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Plain Writing Act of 2010

President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 into law on October 13, 2010.  The new legislation will require federal government agencies to draw up a plain language action plan, and to train staff to write plain English, within the next 6-9 months.  Under the act, documents from agencies must be in plain English: clear, concise, well-organized, and appropriate to the subject and audience.

Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa, who sponsored the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (H.R. 946), has a press release that provides some background to the act.  The press release also includes these helpful examples about how government language would change (for the better!) by using plain language:

Examples of Plain Language in Use: Before and After

Here are three before-and-after examples of how plain language was applied to federal documents to make them easier to understand.  For more examples, see http://www.plainlanguage.gov.

Example #1: Medicare Fraud Letter (click link)


Example #2: FDA drug warning label (click link)


Example #3: IRS form (click links)

Before: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/before_after/CP2000_before.pdf

After: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/before_after/CP2000_after.pdf

Congratulations to Congressman Braley, Joe Kimble, Annetta Cheek, and the Center for Plain Language for their support of this helpful legislation.  Click here for more information from the Center for Plain Language.

Click here to read the text of the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Hat tip to Clarity.


The Legal Blog Watch has flagged this post and written more about the Plain Writing Act of 2010.  Click here for a look.

November 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Researching U.S. Supreme Court Materials and Oral Arguments

US Supreme Court The Oyez Project, a multimedia archive devoted to the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States, is moving its website to IIT Chicago Kent.  The site aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the U.S. Supreme Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955.

The site's archive of digitized arguments allows users to search for key terms relevant to their research. A search for a particular term, such as "strict scrutiny" or "substantive due process," yields a list of snippets from case transcripts that link to the corresponding audio recording.  The new version will have identification of the speakers as they speak.

"No other site boasts such functionality," said Chicago-Kent Dean Harold J. Krent. "With the Oyez Project, Chicago-Kent leverages the power of the Internet to deliver a unique legal resource to students, scholars, lawyers, jurists, legislators, teachers and countless others who are interested in the dynamics of the U.S. Supreme Court."

Founded and directed by political scientist Jerry Goldman, the Oyez website also provides written summaries of Supreme Court cases and holdings, links to the written opinions, detailed biographies and voting records of Supreme Court justices, and a virtual tour of the Supreme Court building.

The site will soon make its content widely accessible to mobile users via apps for iPads and other handheld devices. iPhone apps for selected content are already available.

Chicago-Kent plans to utilize the research of its students and faculty in further content development. "Bringing Oyez to Chicago-Kent allows us to expand our initiatives at the forefront of law and technology," said Dean Krent. "It also presents a valuable opportunity for our law school to reach out to a larger community and for our students to work on Supreme Court projects knowing that their work will be viewed far and wide."

(From a news release from IIT-Chicago Kent)
Hat tip to Ralph Brill

Click here to visit the Oyez Project.


November 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reducing Word Counts

One skill that we need to teach our students is how to reduce the number of words in their writing without sacrificing the underlying message.  Where courts limit words, we must teach our students to eliminate phrases such as these:
  • "It is important to note that . . . "
  • "It should be noted that . . . "
If it is important, or if it should be noted, it will be so even without saying that it is important or should be noted.  In addition to eliminating certain phrases, we should teach our students how to reduce wordy phrases and use plain language alternatives instead.  For example:
  • in addition to = and
  • as well as = and
  • is required to = must
  • has a duty to = must
  • will be permitted to = may
  • has the power to = can, may
  • will be able to = can, may
  • the totality of the facts = the facts
  • which is required to = required
  • asked the question of whether = asked
  • failed to report = omitted
  • despite the fact that = although
  • will serve as a warning to = warn
  • offered testimony in support of her case = testified
  • brought the concept to articulation = said
  • at that point in time = then
  • very unique = unique
  • on the grounds that = because
  • in the event that = if
  • does constitute = is
  • a number of = several
  • does not possess = lacks
  • in the absence of = without
  • period of time = time
  • rate of speed = speed
  • if for any reason whatsoever = if
  • makes provision for = provides
  • expressly provides = provides
  • the City of Chicago = Chicago
  • the State of Illinois = Illinois

November 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tim Blevins elected


Word has arrived that Tim Blevins, veteran legal writing professor at FAMU, has been elected the Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor, Group 2, i.e. for his area of Florida.  Congratulations Tim!

So why is it that experience as a legal writing professor correlates well with aptitude for public office?

hat tip:  Richard Neumann


November 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

writing negotiation demand letters

An aspect of legal writing often overlooked is how to truly successfully draft a negotiation demand letter.  Now Carrie Sperling has filled the gap with her article on "Priming Legal Negotiations Through Written Demands".  Here's her abstract:

"Lawyers frequently start negotiations with a written demand. But legal scholars have not, until now, considered the demand letter part of the negotiation process. Negotiation theory focuses almost exclusively on face-to-face negotiations and incorporates research from psychology, economics, and other social sciences to explain lawyers’ and clients’ emotions and decisions. By contrast, legal writing texts give lawyers guidance about how to effectively write a demand letter, but this advice lacks any connection to the multi-disciplinary empirical research seen as so important in the negotiation context. This disconnect may serve as an impediment to more favorable negotiations. In fact, this untested advice about how to write demand letters could actually have the unwanted effect of causing protracted litigation and less favorable settlements.

"This article draws upon research in social psychology to demonstrate that demand letters deserve more attention and study. The words lawyers use to convey their demands can have powerful, lasting effects on the course and nature of negotiations because they almost certainly frame the issues, anchor a recipient’s perceptions, and prime the recipient’s goals and behaviors. If we are to fully understand what causes protracted, hostile litigation as opposed to cooperative negotiations and lasting resolutions, we must start by applying sound negotiation theory to the written demand."


November 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)