Monday, February 7, 2011

Burton Award nominations due Friday

Logo For over a decade, the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement have recognized excellent legal writing done by lawyers and law students.

For the past seven years, the Burton Awards have included an award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the education of lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research, and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking, or writing. The contributions considered may be significant single achievements or the accumulated achievements of a career.  

Nominations should describe the contributions of the nominee and should be forwarded to one of the members of the selection committee by e-mail: Anne Kringel,, Grace Tonner,, or Nancy Schultz, nschultz@chapman.eduNominations are due this Friday, February 11, 2011.

hat tip: Anne Kringel


February 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The meaning of "dicta"

Stinson 3 Professor Judith Stinson of Arizona State University has written a thorough and lucid explanation of the meaning of “dicta” in an article titled “Why Dicta Becomes Holding and Why It Matters.”   Her article demonstrates that lawyers and even courts often misuse the term, leading to misconceptions about what is controlling law.  The piece contains enlightening analysis and suggestions for addressing the problem.

Hat tip: Terri LeClercq


February 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

applications for legal writing scholarship grants due Monday

The ALWD/LWI Scholarship Grant Committee has announced that LexisNexis is donating $10,000 to the pool of available grant money for the 2011 Legal Writing Scholarship Grants.  Adding this contribution to the grant money supplied by LWI and ALWD brings the total grant money available close to $35,000. 

In addition to receiving grant money, authors of papers supported by the Legal Writing Scholarship Grants are guaranteed a presentation slot at either the ALWD conference or the LWI biennial conference.  Both full-time and adjunct teachers of legal writing and research are eligible to apply.  Applications must be received by 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, this Monday February 7, by emargoli@temple.eduYou may contact Ellie Margolies at that same e-mail address if you do not otherwise have access to the application form. 



February 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 4, 2011


David Austin (at California Western) took some great photos at the AALS annual meeting last month.  He has generously made access to them easy.  To see photos from the Friends of Legal Writing Luncheon, click here.  To see photos from the ALWD-LWI reception and awards ceremony, click here.

Thank you, David!


February 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blurring the legal standard

A recent case illustrates the importance of careful analysis and wording in legal writing.  In Perry v. AT & T Operations, Inc., a lawyer’s motion was stricken partly because it blurred the applicable legal standard.  The motion for summary judgment inappropriately argued questions of fact, stating that certain points had been "proven." The court explained that while such arguments may belong in a trial brief, they are not appropriate on summary judgment.   The lawyer’s errors in punctuation and grammar only worsened the court’s impression of her papers.


February 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

legal writing conference in South Africa


APPEAL has announced its next conference will take place December 8-10, 2011, at the University of Zululand's Richards Bay Campus (about 90 miles north of Durban, South Africa).  The focus of the conference will be Preparing Students for the Practice of Law: Helping Students Develop Their Ability to Read and Write in English. The conference will focus on meeting the challenges facing African academics when teaching legal writing, including large classes, lack of resources, inadequate secondary preparation, and multilingual students, to prepare African students to practice law in an increasingly global society. 

            We will post the call for proposals here when it becomes available in May.  In the meantime, you can direct questions to Mimi Samuel, APPEAL Co-President, at, or either of the co-chairs of the Conference Committee, Janet Dickson at or Olugbenga Oke-Samuel at





February 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

how 2Ls and 3Ls approach a legal research & writing problem

Ever wonder how much students are able to run with what they learn in their first-year LRW courses?  Jootaek Lee has studied how upper level law students approach research problems and published the results in an article on "Legal Informatics: Metamorphosing Law Students into Legal Professionals Based on Empirical Evidence of Attorneys’ Information Seeking Behaviors"

Here's an abstract of the article:
"Law students' practical ability to seek information by researching and to organize the complex layers of legal and non-legal information will not be enhanced without the law school's special efforts to provide pedagogies of practice in their remaining two years. In other words, the lack of more practical pedagogy prevents the law students from changing and extending their cognitive maps until they have a real job, where they do research, draft documents, advocate and counsel, and negotiate.

"This study attempts to find answers to the questions by investigating the extension and enlargement of young lawyers' cognitive maps and their process to solve a difficult, uncertain situation. I believe that unraveling the mystery of their information seeking will contribute on law librarians' efforts to develop an appropriate curriculum specifically for 2L and 3L students and further, how to design the advanced legal research and upper-level writing classes."



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

Easy Reading, Hard Writing

Srowe Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Professor Suzanne Rowe reminded readers of this truth in an article in the Jaunary Oregon State Bar Bulletin.  Rowe emphasized that writing, rewriting, proofing, and accepting criticism are difficult even for professional writers.  But it’s better that the writer, not the reader, should suffer—especially when the reader is the judge who’ll rule on your case.


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