Saturday, February 26, 2011

legal writing teaching opening in Chicago

Northwestern University School of Law is accepting applications for the position of Clinical Assistant Professor of Law to teach two courses: Communication and Legal Reasoning, the first-year LRW course for JD students, and Common Law Reasoning, a required LRW course for LLM students. 


Northwestern seeks candidates with excellent academic records, outstanding writing and editing skills, and experiences that demonstrate their potential for excellence in classroom teaching. A successful applicant must have a JD degree and strong post law school practical experience as an attorney or judicial clerk. At least three years’ legal practice experience and some teaching experience is preferred.

The initial appointment is for a one-year contract beginning in August 2011. Successful applicants may be invited to renew for successive one year contracts.  The search committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and will continue to consider applications through April 1, 2011 or until the position is filled. Applicants should direct a cover letter, resume, and five page legal writing sample to the attention of the search committee chair, Grace Dodier, and the interim director of the CLR Program, Margaret Curtiss Hannon.  

1. The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one year.
2. The professor hired will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $50,000 - $59,999.
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research and writing professor will be 30 - 35.










February 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 25, 2011

A possible career for legal writers

Those in the legal writing field may be interested to know that appellate litigation is a burgeoning specialty. A recent article by two practicing lawyers discusses this trend and predicts that it will continue, due to the increased sophistication of in-house counsel and law firms about the need for skilled appellate lawyers.  Thomas Hungar & Nikesh Jindal, Observations on the Rise of the Appellate Litigator, 29 Rev. Litig 511 (2010).  This growing field is an attractive career choice for accomplished legal writers. 


February 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference

Things are shaping up for the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference.  Click here for the draft schedule and registration information.  The conference will be held on March 25-26, 2011 at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Nevada.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

deadline tomorrow to apply for Gonzaga job

The deadline is tomorrow to apply for the visiting legal writing job next fall semester at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington.  The visitor will teach two sections of LR&W I with approximately 14 students in each section, and one section of LR&W III with approximately 18 students.  Gonzaga has a required four-semester LR&W Program.  Each semester is two credits. The LR&W I course introduces students to legal analysis, research, and writing through a series of closed- and open- universe syntheses and increasingly complex internal office memoranda.  The LR&W III class introduces students to persuasive writing through a series of litigation-based documents including a demand letter, simple motion for summary judgment and supporting documents, and appellate brief.

The law school is strongly committed to diversifying its faculty and furthering Gonzaga’s mission as a Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic institution.  To apply, you need to send a cover letter, CV, and three references to:  Professor Cheryl Ann Beckett,

1.  The position advertised is only for one semester, to cover a sabbatical.
2.  The professor hired will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings. 
3.  The school anticipates paying an annual base salary equivalent in the range of less than $50,000 to $69,999.  Since this is a one-semester visiting position, it will only be a half-year salary.
4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 46 - 50.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No more print journals?

Two years ago, a group of law library directors issued “The Durham Statement,” which recommended open access to legal scholarship and called for the end of printed law journals.  A January 2011 update on the statement’s effects, The Durham Statement Two Years Later, reports that although open accessBooks for blog2  to legal scholarship has increased, there has been “little movement toward all-electronic publication.” 

The article discusses some issues that must be resolved before all-electronic publication will become pervasive. Perhaps because current readers are accustomed to the visual cues of the printed page, many electronic articles are posted in PDF format, which mimics print.  But computers are capable of doing much more than that—for example, they can substitute hyperlinks for footnotes. Planners must determine what format to use in order to best utilize computer capabilities.

Another concern is document preservation.  Storage media and software undergo frequent changes, which means stored data may become inaccessible. This concern must be addressed in order to preserve electronic publications as reliably as we now preserve print publications.

Those of us who teach legal research, analysis, and writing have an interest these issues, which we will no doubt confront in the not-too-distant future.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

conference on teaching advanced legal writing

The Arc of Advanced Legal Writing: From Theory through Teaching to Practice is the theme of the Second Colonial Frontier Legal Writing Conference, being held on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, PA.  

The three lead presentations will be from nationally-renowned  scholars of advanced legal writing: Michael Smith (Wyoming), Elizabeth Fajans (Brooklyn), and Mary Ray (Wisconsin).  They will be followed by Sheila Miller (Dayton), Susan Wawrose (Dayton), Victoria VanZandt (Dayton), and Johanna Oreskovid (Buffalo), who will speak about their surveys of the bench and bar, reporting on the advanced writing skills that lawyers and judges believe new attorneys should have.  Then Julia Glencer (Duquesne), Erin Karsman (Duquesne), and Tara Willke (Duquesne) will speak about the team-taught advanced legal writing “law firm simulation” course they created, which was supported by an ALWD Research Grant.  The closing session will be a panel of law firm partners addressing how law firms can be agents of curricular change, encouraging law schools to implement advanced legal writing courses.

A continental breakfast, buffet lunch, and closing reception will be available to all attendees.  Attendance at the conference is free for attendees who are Duquesne employees, faculty at other law schools, working in fields related to legal education, or working for a sponsoring organization or law firm.  See the conference website to register for the conference, and for additional information about accommodations, Pittsburgh, travel, and other local attractions.

hat tip:  Jan Levine


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 21, 2011

next Monday application deadline for LRW opening at SIU

Southern Illinois University School of Law is currently accepting applications for the LRW teaching job that Sheila Simon vacated upon being elected the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.  The full official job announcement is available at here.  The job is a 405c appointment, teaching the required Lawyering Skills I and II courses.  The law school’s operating paper explaining the promotion path and criteria -- assistant, associate, & full clinical professor of lawyering skills -- is available on the LWI website here.  The deadline to apply is next Monday, February 28, 2011.  Please direct questions to Lawyering Skills Director Sue Liemer,

1.  The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.

The position complies with ABA Standard 405c.  The position is also in the bargaining unit of the university’s non-tenure-track faculty union and subject to its negotiated contract. 

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 $60,000 - $70,000.

The salary is for 9 months, and it can be paid over 12 months.  The position also includes a professional development account for academic travel, research assistance, etc., which in recent years has been $4,000 for each faculty member.

4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 41 - 50.

The law librarians team teach in the course and have primary classroom responsibility for the research skills lessons, which allows the LS professors to focus more on the written and oral communication skills lessons. 


February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tips for improving a brief

Cantero_Raul_c_silo_web Students writing briefs this spring will find some timely tips in a recent bar journal article titled “Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Briefs.”  Raoul G. Cantero, an appellate lawyer with White & Case and a previous Florida Supreme Court Justice, urges brief writers to shorten their briefs, include an introduction, and use subsections.  I particularly like this line:  “Yes, your advocacy will improve if you write less.”

 hat tip: Ellen Saideman


February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pointers about professionalism in brief writing

An appellate judge’s recent bar journal article, Ethics and Professionalism on Appeal, provides some Webster timely pointers for students working on appellate briefs.  Judge Peter D. Webster  of Florida’s Court of Appeal stresses lawyers’ duty to disclose controlling adverse authority.  He also reminds lawyers to treat others in the process with civility.  This includes the lower tribunal, whose ruling should be discussed with courtesy and respect.


February 18, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tips for a brief's table of contents: how to outline

In recent years, I’ve found that some students don’t understand how to outline.  For example, they may not realize that subsection “A” under “I” should develop the idea in “I.” Of course, this presents a problem when they start drafting their point headings and tables of contents for their briefs.  So, in addition to spending some class time on outlining, I refer students to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, which has a good explanation of outlining.


February 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

U.S. News Says it May Start Numbering Schools in its Third Tier

It is everyone's favorite subject to hate -- but why do U.S. law schools give so much power to A MAGAZINE???  As much as people complain about law school rankings, the only remedy for them is . . . more rankings.  Have other magazines (Time, Newsweek, etc.) come up with law school ranking systems and that will dilute the power of U.S. News and World Report.

But in the meantime, U.S. News announced that it is thinking of changing its "third tier" schools to a format that would number each of the schools in that list.  Click here to read more about that.


February 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Strange Five-Year Anniversary

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last asked a question during oral argument on February 22, 2006, during a death penalty case.  The Sunday New York Times for February 13, 2011 notes that, according to political science professor Timothy Johnson from the University of Minnesota, in the past 40 years no other justice has gone an entire term (and much less five terms) without speaking at least once during oral arguments.


February 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Suggestions for writing issue statements

Schiess_wayne_lg In a new article titled Issue Statements--different kinds for different documents,Einhorn_elana  Professors Wayne Schiess and Elana Einhorn of the University of Texas note that issue statements can take a variety of forms and conclude that no single form suits all kinds of legal writing. They offer specific suggestions for different types of documents and recommend that "lawyers should not hamstring themselves by trying to shoehorn an issue statement into a form that is not right for the document and its purpose.”


February 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lincoln Lawgs

Librarians from several Illinois law schools (Chicago-Kent, The John Marshall Law School, Loyola, and Northwestern) have created a new website for Illinois law students.  It's called Lincoln Lawgs and you can click here to have a look at it.

The website organizers say that the website is designed to answer common questions that law students will encounter in real life.  It also has meeting spaces (cabins) for students to use for chat rooms.  There are news feeds from various blogs of interest to Illinois law students as well.


February 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

another audience for legal writing

Every time my legal writing students start to work on a research and writing project, I insist they return to two basic concepts that they worked on as undergraduates in freshman comp (or, in 10th grade English, if they had a good teacher): audience and purpose.  After all, it's hard to know what to write about and how to write it if you don't know who you're writing to and why you're writing.  I often point out that one of the challenges of legal writing is the multiple audiences who will be reading their writing, and as a class we'll discuss the reading goals of each possible audience for a particular document.  But today as I was reading a post on Inside Straight, I realized there is one audience I've been neglecting to discuss with my students: in-house counsel.  So in the future I'll be adding those readers, too, to the list of audiences my students need to be aware of.  Oh, and if you happen to be an academic and you check out that post, read the comments and you'll remember why you chose the academy. 


February 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two new articles on the readability of briefs

The effect of readability as measured by sentence and word length was recently studied by Professors Long Lance N. Long of Stetson (pictured at right) and William F. Christensen of Brigham Young University. In Does the Readability of Your Brief Affect Your Chance of Winning an Appeal? An Analysis of Readability in Appellate Briefs and Its Correlation with Success on Appeal, they report their study of 882 briefs filed in federal and state courts and conclude that readability does not have a statistically significant effect on case outcome.  This may be partly due to another of their findings, that there was not much difference in the readability of the briefs they studied.  The article includes other interesting findings and ends with helpful suggestions for brief writers.                          

Duncan Formatting for readability is the topic of Best Dressed Briefs—Why Appearance Matters, by Professor Susan Duncan of the University of Louisville. This bar journal piece discusses the effect of such characteristics as typeface, white space, and underlining, and notes that courts can be “passionate about how the brief looks.”



February 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Law Profs' Preoccupation with 'Impractical Scholarship' Obstructs Legal Education Reform

Ralph Brill tipped us off to an interesting article on the Tax Law Prof Blog on the connections between traditional "impractical" academic scholarship and the need for skills education in law school.  Click here to read more.


February 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A federal judge’s suggestions about legal writing

Judge-Guilford A federal judge provides helpful suggestions about legal writing in a recent California Bar Journal article titled Legal Writing: A Contract between the Reader and the WriterJudge Andrew Guilford  advises lawyers to imagine they’re writing to an “unsophisticated person sitting at the breakfast table.”  This tactic should remind them to aim for simplicity and cogency and to incorporate themes and transitions in their writing.  The judge also suggests avoiding gender-biased language, which might be offensive to some readers. 


February 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another example on the importance of punctuation . . . .

I received an email message that said "Please see the attached invitation for futher information."  But there was no attachment.

A few minutes later I received a follow-up email that said: "Sorry this email has the attached invitation."

Of course, that should be something like this:  "Sorry.  This email has the attached invitation." 

The original follow-up message is so funny that I used it in class to show the importance of punctuation.  Please feel free to do the same, and to use our "comment" function here on the blog to add your own examples of sentences with punctuation problems.


February 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is legal writing a mixtape?

Kim_chanbonpin In a beautiful use of the extended metaphor, Professor Kim Chanbonpin, at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, has written an article on why "Legal Writing is (Not) a Mixtape: Plagiarism and Hip Hop Ethics."

Reading a title like that, you have to be curious as to how it plays out (no pun intended).  Here's her summary:
"In this Article, I draw on hip hop music and culture as an access point to teach first-year law students about the academic and professional pitfalls of plagiarism. Hip hop provides a good model for comparison because most of our entering students are immersed in a popular culture that is saturated with references to hip hop. As a point of reference for incoming law students, hip hop possesses a currency as something real, experienced, and relatable even if an individual student has alternative musical tastes. Furthermore, although attempting direct analogies would be absurd, significant parallels exist between the cultures of U.S. legal writing and hip hop. Chief among these, and the central focus of this Article, is the reliance of both genres on an archive of knowledge, borrowing from which authors or artists build credibility and authority. Whether it is from case law or musical recordings, the necessary dependence on a vast but finite store of information means that the past work of others will be frequently incorporated into new work. The ethical and professional danger inherent in this type of production is that one who borrows too freely from the past may be merely copying instead of interpreting. In the academic world, this is plagiarism. Members of the hip hop community call this "biting." In neither culture is this mode of production celebrated.

"My goals for this project are two-fold. First, as a law professor, I want to ameliorate the problem of plagiarism that I have seen growing worse each year. Second, as a scholar, I would like to contribute to the growing body of literature on hip hop and the law. This Article marks the beginning of my attempt to theorize a hip hop ethics and develop its application to the teaching, the academic study, and perhaps eventually, the reform of the law."

February 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)