Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The 15th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, scheduled for May 29-June 1, 2012 in Palm Desert, California will be the second LWI Biennial Conference not hosted at a law school. To continue to keep the registration fees for the conference as low as possible (while still providing high-quality events and programming), LWI is soliciting contributions to support the conference.
Sponsorship Levels for Law Schools and Other Organizations:
Bronze Sponsors ($500-$999): All Bronze sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Bronze sponsors will have the opportunity to sponsor the LWI Fun Run or one of the new morning Coffee Sessions.
Silver Sponsors ($1,000-$1,999): All Silver sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Silver Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Room Sponsorship. Room sponsors will have the opportunity to sponsor the presentation technology in one room for one session. In addition to recognition in the program and on the on-site program board, the room sponsor will be listed outside the sponsored room for each session.
- Coffee Break or Afternoon Break Sponsorship (minimum donation $1,500): In addition to recognition in the program and on the on-site program board, Coffee Break or Afternoon Break Sponsors will be recognized in signage prominently displayed during the Break.
Gold Sponsors ($2,000-$4,999): All Gold Sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Gold Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Committee Fair Sponsorship
- Poster Presentations Sponsor
- New Teachers’ Workshop Sponsor
Platinum Sponsors ($5,000 and up): All Platinum Sponsors will be recognized in the conference program and will be listed on the on-site program board. Additionally, Platinum Sponsors can choose to receive recognition as a sponsor of one of the following types of events or programs (others may become available as planning progresses):
- Breakfast Sponsor (Title Sponsorship for one day available at $5,000, and Co-Sponsorship available at $2,500. Co-Sponsors will be recognized as Gold Sponsors.)
- Lunch Sponsor (Title Sponsorship available for one day at $7,500; Co-Sponsorship available at $3,000. Co-Sponsors will be recognized as Gold Sponsors.)
- Program Sponsor
Because there are limited sponsorships available at each level, the choice of sponsorships will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Law schools and other organizations interested in supporting the LWI conference should contact Rachel Croskery-Roberts, Ken Chestek, Mel Weresh, or Ruth Anne Robbins.
- Rachel Croskery-Roberts, Secretary of the Legal Writing Institute rcroskery [at] law.uci.edu
- Ken Chestek, President of the Legal Writing Institute kchestek [at] iupui.edu
- Mel Weresh, President-Elect of the Legal Writing Institute melissa.weresh [at] drake.edu
- Ruth Anne Robbins, Immediate Past President of the Legal Writing Institute ruthanne [at] camden.rutgers.edu
The Legal Writing Institute is committed to a policy against discrimination and in favor of equal opportunity for all of its members regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. All conference sponsors must comply with LWI’s non-discrimination policy.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Among the many events held during the annual meeting of the Association of American Law School was the Diversity Committee Luncheon for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. That luncheon was organized by Professor Kim Chanbonpin of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, who has been working steadily with the Diversity Committee over the past few years and who had moved up the committee ranks last year to become Chair of the AALS Section's Diversity Committee.
Kim has brought special energy and vision to the legal writing community through the section's Diversity Committee. In addition to her work with the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, Kim has also helped out quite a bit with special projects for he Legal Writing Institute and the Society of American Law Teachers.
Congratulations and thanks to Kim Chanbonpin and the AALS Section Diversity Committee
On the Martin Luther King holiday, we should recall that King was a superb advocate. Many legal writing professors use King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail to illustrate persuasive techniques. King wrote the letter to a group of clergymen who had criticized his recent activities. This passage illustrates his skill in refuting their arguments:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. . . . The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
King then presented moving examples as he asked readers to imagine having to “explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children . . . .” That language appears in a lucid 316-word sentence, which spectacularly breaks the usual guideline to keep sentences short.
Near the letter’s end, King effectively used antithesis:
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
The rest of the letter is a treasure trove of examples of persuasive writing.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
The University of Pennsylvania Law School seeks to appoint a full-time Senior Fellow and Associate Dean to its faculty to develop, administer, and teach in a newly expanded skills program in legal writing, drafting, and communication. The Senior Fellow will develop the new curriculum in three broad areas.
First, the Senior Fellow will design and implement a new first-year legal research and writing program and a new LLM research and writing program that recognize the diverse communications skills needed for today's lawyers; the Senior Fellow will recommend the appropriate staffing and will have the assistance of the School's research librarians.
Second, the Senior Fellow will also design and implement with appropriate staff an upper level writing curriculum that builds on the required first year program but also recognizes the varied types of writing and communications skills used by lawyers in diverse practice settings.
Finally, the Senior Fellow will to the extent possible identify and implement ways to enhance the communications learning opportunities broadly. After gaining an in-depth understanding of the full Penn Law curriculum, the Senior Fellow will integrate and coordinate the program with analytical and doctrinal courses, clinical and practice courses, externships, pro bono learning, and the Penn Law Center on Professionalism programming.
Penn Law seeks candidates with strong practice experience, distinguished academic and professional achievement, dynamic teaching and supervisory skills, a track record of excellent team skills, and a collaborative approach. Candidates must have a minimum of five years of relevant practice experience; prior teaching and/or substantial experience mentoring new attorneys is desirable but not required. Candidates must hold a J.D. degree and be a member of a state bar.
Please submit all letters of interest with supporting CV/resume and other documents via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The position advertised may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
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 over $120,000.
4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be more than 60.
Penn Law has an incoming class of 250 students, plus 100 LLM students. We expect that the person hired will work with the Director and current faculty to determine overall staffing levels in the first year and LLM programs, as well as to build on upper level offerings.
hat tip: Anne Kringel
Friday, January 13, 2012
Syllabus is the newsletter of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. In the latest issue of this newsletter, Brenda Gibson, LRW director at North Carolina Central, has written a helpful article on Why Many Law Schools Are Better Prepared Than Anticipated for the Proposed ABA Standards 302-205. It's worth a read, so you'll be in the know and able to reassure your law school colleagues.
Some good tips on writing a winning brief appear in a recent article by Mississippi appellate lawyer Margaret Cupples. She emphasizes points we often cover in our legal writing courses: include a “map” and “landmarks” to guide the reader; consider the standard of review when framing issues; state the issues persuasively; be both honest and persuasive in the statement of the case; and present a readable argument. Cupples also reminds brief writers to “pay attention to technicalities,” including the required format for the brief. Her article appears at 30 Mississippi Law Review 1 (2011).
Thursday, January 12, 2012
For those teaching letter writing in the spring semester, Legal Week (UK) put out a nice piece this week, Taking Out The Heat -- Key Points to Avoid in Legal Letter Writing. It looks like many of the same pitfalls exist on both sides of the Atlantic:
- Do not accuse people of crimes. It only winds them up.
You really don't want to be defending a claim for defamation either.
The better way may be to write to your landlord saying you are concerned that your respective accounts do not tally and that you need a breakdown of how he has calculated your arrears so you can check if his records are correct - rather than accusing him of "stealing" or "fraud".
Are you so convinced a crime has been committed that you've called the police? Well then, leave it out of your letter.
- Don't threaten people. It only makes them want to call your bluff.
Think about it. You'll only feel sheepish if they tell you to, "go ahead and take this to the Supreme Court/European Court of Human Rights/Anne Robinson".
It is always better to be seen as the reasonable and slightly bemused guy who's trying to sort this problem out rather than ranty man who people can't have a conversation with without police intervention.
Maybe Anne Robinson will be the final arbiter of your complaint. At least you will be able to show her that you've tried to do everything possible to resolve it before having to involve her.
The article goes on to include additional solid advice. Students might enjoy seeing the universal nature of problems that lawyers in both countries face, and the vocabulary in the piece might be a jumping off point for a discussion about the differences between our systems.
Gail Stephenson, the legal writing director at Southern University, is the new President of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Gail has always been a positive force to be reckoned with, so the local bar in her city is in good hands.
hat tip: Michele Butts
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Last Thursday, the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research brought more than 100 law professors to visit the Library of Congress and the Law Library of Congress during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. It was the section's first field trip.
Photo by Karin Mika.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
LRW professor Allison Martin (Indianapolis) has co-authored a new article in the National Law Journal, discussing a study about hope and law school success that was the focus of the 2009 Colonial Frontier LRW Conference. A law journal report of the study was previously published in the Duquesne Law Review, along with many other articles from the conference responding to Allison's work.
hat tip: Jan Levine
Monday, January 9, 2012
Click here for pictures from the Law Library of Congress Field trip.
Click here for the full video of Susan Brody and Mary Ray receiving the AALS Section Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.
Click here for the full video of Suzanne Rowe receiving the Thomas F. Blackwell Award.
Last Thursday evening the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) conferred what has become one of the highest honors in the legal writing community, the Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing. The award was presented to Suzanne E. Rowe of the University of Oregon School of Law. LWI President-Elect Mel Weresh and ALWD President J. Lyn Entriken presented the award at a reception held during the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools.
The award is given in memory of Thomas F. Blackwell, a legal writing professor at Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. Tom's widow, Lisa Blackwell, and two of their three children were able to attend this year's ceremony in Washington, D.C.
This year marked the tenth time that the award had been given. Previous award winners were:
- Richard K. Neumann, Jr. (2003)
- Pamela V. Lysaght (2004)
- Ralph Brill (2005)
- Mary Beth Beazley (2006)
- Louis J. Sirico, Jr. (2007)
- Diana V. Pratt (2008)
- Linda H. Edwards (2009)
- Steve Johansen (2010)
- Carol McCreahan Parker (2011)
The event in Washington included the now traditional slideshow of legal writing photos (provided by David Austin, Karin Mika, and Mike Curran) organized by Mary Beth Beazley and Ruth Anne Robbins. Another great jazz band (an idea initiated by Mary Algero) made the evening very special indeed.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research had a great field trip to the Law Library of Congress. No, not just great, but absolutely amazing and fantastic. The law library staff went over the top in everything they did for us. I'm sure we will have more photos and comments through the week. Please send us your photos if you attended the trip.
During the opening presentation, Robert Newlan snapped a photo of me (which was itself captured and put on the Law Library of Congress Twitter Feed).
Many thanks again to the Law Library of Congress. We learned a great deal about the research resources of this great national (and international) treasure.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
If you've been thinking of sending in a proposal to present something at the Third Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference, remember it's due by this Thursday, January 12, 2012. The conference will take place Saturday, June 23, 2012, at the SUNY Buffalo Law School in Buffalo, New York. The planning committee invites proposals for presentations on a broad range of topics relevant to those who teach legal writing and research. Proposals may be geared to either new or experienced teachers. Both panel presentations and proposals from those who have not presented at a conference before are especially welcome.
For details on submitting a proposal, see the Call for Proposals here. Your proposal should go to Stephen Paskey at email@example.com, with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
At the end of last semester, the Rutgers-Camden faculty unanimously voted to promote Jason Cohen to the rank of full Clinical Professor of Law, based on his teaching innovations, teaching excellence, and service. He was already granted clinical tenure status last year. Jason teaches a "hybridization of legal writing and clinic as combo courses". He also teaches a popular Public Speaking for Lawyers course, with a rhetoric-based approach. And Jason is an associate editor for Legal Communication & Rhetoric: J. ALWD. Congratulations Jason!
hat tip: Ruth Anne Rovvins
Friday, January 6, 2012
In his January ABA Journal column on talking like a lawyer, James McElhaney presents some good pointers for oral argument. When McElhaney says "talk like a lawyer," he definitely does NOT mean using legalese. Rather, he urges advocates to follow a clear organization, show rather than tell, and keep the argument simple. He also advises, “When you are done, stop.” Although the column is aimed at oral argument, most of its suggestions will apply to brief writing as well.
Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff will be the director of legal writing at Concordia University School of Law in Boise, Idaho, a new law school that will be opening in the fall. As a law student, Tenielle was an LRW tutor at U. Oregon for two years, and she returned as a visiting professor there from 2008 to 2010. Tenielle has clerked for several judges in Idaho, including the Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court. She is currently practicing in Boise, writing a column for The Advocate (the Idaho bar bulletin), and leading CLE sessions. She is also a co-author of Idaho Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press 2008).
hat tip: Suzanne Rowe
Thursday, January 5, 2012
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research put on a great field trip to the Law Library of Congress today. Kudos to section chair Mark Wojcik and his team for putting on a well-run, educational, and entertaining event. Everything was great, down to the lunch buffet in Madison Hall. We heard from talented library staff, took behind the scenes tours, and attended the presentation of the section award to Susan L. Brody and Mary Barnard Ray.
Here are some pictures from the event, including Ralph Brill from Chicago-Kent inspecting some rare law books, award winner Mary Barnard Ray (with co-author Barbara Cox, Jill Ramsfield, and AALS Legal Writing Section Chair Mark Wojcik), and Lou Sirico from Villanova: