Saturday, December 29, 2012

SALT supports LRW professors

Correction: The ABA Standards Review Committee (SRC) will take up its work again starting January 18th, in St. Louis. More information is available here


At the AALS annual meeting next week, the ABA will begin its review process of accreditation Standard 405, which covers the terms of employment for law faculty. SALT has issued a statement critical of both the status quo and the proposed alternatives, and highly supportive of legal writing professors and the work we do. Every legal writing professor should read it. And every practicing lawyer who wants to hire law grads who can write should read it, too.

hat tip: Ralph Brill


December 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Legal Writing Prof Blog Editors

Mark and SueWe wish all of our readers a happy new year.

Legal Writing Prof Blog Editors:

Mark E. Wojcik, Professor of Law, The John Marshall Law School (Chicago) (pictured at left and right)

Sue Liemer, Professor of Law and Director of Lawyering Skills, Southern Illinois University School of Law (pictured at left)

Nancy Soonpaa, Professor of Law and Director of Legal Practice, Texas Tech University School of Law

Judith Fischer, Associate Professor of Law, University of Louisville School of Law

Mark and DustinDustin Benham, Assistant Professor of Legal Practice and Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives, Texas Tech University School of Law (pictured at right with Mark)

Legal Writing Prof Blog Contributing Editors:

Lori D. Johnson, Legal Writing Professor, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Kristen E. Murray, Associate Professor of Law, Beasley School of Law, Temple University

Thanks so much for your support!

December 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

legal writing position in Los Angeles

Global-header Southwestern Law School is seeking applicants for a full-time position as a professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS). The LAWS course offers first-year students six credits of instruction in core lawyering skills including research, writing, client counseling, oral advocacy, and professionalism. The entry-level appointment as an Associate Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills is for an initial contract of two years with the possibility of presumptively renewable five-year contracts after the third year. LAWS professors participate actively in the life of Southwestern and enjoy full faculty voting rights. The LAWS program has a director and shared core assignments, but faculty members each select and develop their own teaching materials and lessons. 

Applicants must have a law degree, strong academic record, and at least two years of post-law school experience demonstrating the potential for excellence in teaching legal writing and other practical lawyering skills. Teaching experience is preferred but not required. Southwestern is committed to faculty diversity.

Applicants should anticipate a start date in July 2013. Please send a cover letter and resume to You can address your cover letter to Members of the LAWS Hiring Committee.

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 - $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.


December 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Student Writing Competition (International Humanitarian Law)

American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Center) and the American Society of International Law’s Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict (ASIL) are holding their the Third Annual International Humanitarian Law Student Writing Competition.

The Competition seeks submissions of academic papers on the topic of international humanitarian law (IHL) from students currently enrolled in a law degree program in the United States or abroad. The purpose of the Competition is to enhance scholarship and deepen understanding among students in this important area of international law. The winning authors will be flown to Washington, D.C. to present their papers at a conference at American University Washington College of Law focused on emerging issues in IHL with a panel of expert professors and practitioners. In addition, winners will receive a complimentary registration to the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C. on April 3-6, 2013, and a one-year ASIL student membership. Last year, the Competition received over 50 submissions from 13 different countries.

This Competition is part of a multi-pronged initiative to expand and support the teaching and study of IHL among both students and professors in which both the Center and ASIL have been deeply involved.  In 2007, the Center published a study with the International Committee of the Red Cross on Teaching International Humanitarian Law in US Law Schools (available at center/ihl_report.cfm). The study identified a growing need for resources to support and expand the teaching of IHL among law faculty, but also a desire to support the interest of students in learning about IHL. The IHL Student Writing Competition promotes and supports student interest and deepening scholarship in IHL by providing students with a tangible way to become more directly involved in the global discourse around IHL.

Further details and the comprehensive rules, submission guidelines, and award information is available by clicking here. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm (noon) EST.

Hat tip to the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law


December 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

legal writing humor "du jour"

Sorry, there's no options for italics in the headings on this platform.

Whatever you're doing today, which likely is not work, enjoy some relevant humor here.


December 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Houston Journal of International Law

For those of you looking for something to do until classes start again in January, the Houston Journal of International Law welcomes articles, papers, and comments addressing issues of international law, immigration, and human rights. The Journal welcomes topics relevant to both practitioners and the academy. The Houston Journal of International Law is received by subscribers world-wide, including a number of universities, law firms, and the United States Supreme Court.  Please email submissions to  For more information on submission guidelines, please visit  Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis. 

Hat tip to Jordan Paust.


December 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts on Curricular Reform

D.A. Jeremy Telman, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and an Professor at Valparaiso University School of Law has been doing a series of posts over on the Contracts Prof Blog.  We think that some of these posts on curricular reform might be of interest readers of the Legal Writing Prof blog.  You can find the first post in the series by clicking here.  The series includes some thoughtful commentary on subjects such as the cost of providing skills education.


December 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations to Michael Hyman

Michael B. Hyman, a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and Vice President of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers, has been named as a Justice on the Illinois Appellate Court.  His installation ceremony will be on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.  


December 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Email Cover Memo

Like many other professors, I have my students turn in their papers electronically.  The email allows me to see that the students have submitted their papers on time.  I can see if they have used the grammar and style checking programs on their computers.  I can print out multiple copies if I need to (such as for in-class editing exercises).

And for the last two semesters, I've added something new -- the "email cover memo."  

Instead of an email saying something like "here's my paper, prof," I have students do an "email cover memo" to summarize the findings of their legal memo.  Having done it now for two semesters, I can say that it the results have been good.  It gives the students another writing opportunity.  It allows them to share information about their research that they might not include in the memorandum itself.  And it gives them an idea of how lawyers and others working in a law firm might actually communicate.  

I'm sure that many visitors to this blog must have tried something along these lines.  Would you mind sharing your experiences in the comments below?


December 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Favorite legal words?

Just in time for the holidays, the ABA Journal has posted a roundup of favorite legal words from some notable lawyers and bloggers.  The responses ranged from "amicus brief" to "res judicata."  What's your favorite legal word (or phrase)?  This time of the year, mine is anything other than "office memo." 

Hat tip: ABA Journal 


December 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Very good news from UNLV!

The faculty at UNLV unanimously voted to move Sara Gordon and Rebecca Scharf from 405(c) status to full tenure track appointments.  Congratulations to them both!

The Lawyering Process faculty at UNLV is also eagerly anticipating Terry Segilmann of Drexel's arrival as a visitor this spring.

December 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yes, Virginia, a court can take judicial notice of Santa Claus

A recent Southern District of New York opinion confirmed that a court can take judicial notice of SantaSanta Claus. In a copyright suit over a screenplay written by actress Emma Thompson, the court cited a previous court’s judicial notice that “’Santa Claus is a legendary Christmas figure’ based on ‘Sint Nikolaas.’” The court then took judicial notice of facts about nineteenth-century art critic John Ruskin and held that Thompson could proceed with her film about Ruskin’s involvement in a love triangle. The case, which is not yet officially published, is Effie Film, LLC v. Pomerance.


December 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

a legal (writing) career

If law school admissions offices told potential law students that lawyers write for a living, likely few would complete the application process. It falls to us 1L legal writing professors to break that news to law students. But as Linda Edwards explains in her excellent textbook (Legal Writing: Process, Analysis, and Organization), the average lawyer writes more in a lifetime than the average novelist. It may help students and practicing lawyers alike to wrap their heads around this core characteristic of a legal career by reading what Wayne Scheiss has to say on the topic here.


December 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

University of Louisville seeks distinguished visitor or visiting assistant professor of legal writing

     The University of Louisville's Louis D. Brandeis School of Law seeks to hire a legal writing professor to fill the Ralph S. Petrilli Distinguished Visiting Professorship for the year 2013-14. A visiting assistant professor position may also be available. Persons filling either position will be primarily responsible for teaching in the law school’s year-long first year Basic Legal Skills program.  The salary for the Distinguished Professorship is negotiable; the salary for the visiting assistant professorship is $56,000.

      The University of Louisville is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is a city of 1.3 million with vibrant arts, educational, medical, and business communities, and was recently named Lonely Planet’s Top US Travel Destination for 2013.  Information about the law school is available at the school’s website at  For further information about the school, or to apply, please contact Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Timothy S. Hall, at or (502) 852.6830.

      The University of Louisville is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, age, religion, sex, disability, color, sexual orientation, national origin or veteran status. Applications from individuals who will contribute to the diversity of our law school are welcomed.    


December 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are There Too Many Lawyers?

For people thinking about attending law school, click here for a short video on the subject of "Are There Too Many Lawyers?"



December 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Do Robomemos Dream of Electric Nouns?

Ian Gallacher at Syracuse posted a great forthcoming piece on the possiblity that machines may soon write many of the documents that lawyers have traditionally produced.  The article, Do Robomemos Dream of Electric Nouns?: A Search for the Soul of Legal Writing, argues that machines lack a critical human trait that is vital to quality legal writing -- empathy.  From the abstract:

This essay considers the possibility that computers might soon be capable of writing many of the documents lawyers typically write, and considers what qualities of writing are uniquely human and whether those qualities are sufficient to render human written work superior to computer generated work. 

After noting that despite the claims of rhetoricians and narrative theorists, not all legal writing is persuasive writing, and that it is in the non-persuasive area of prosaic, functional documents that computer generated documents might gain a bridgehead into the legal market, the essay tracks the development of computer-generated written work, particularly in the areas of sports journalism and corporate reporting. The essay notes that the templates developed to generate these documents can be customized to produce the tone desired by the customer, meaning that both rhetoric and narrative have been captured and transformed into tools that can be manipulated by computer programmers. This in turn means that computer generated documents will not be devoid of rhetorical or narrative interest, making the programs that develop them potentially appealing for lawyers even if they seek to use them to draft persuasive as well as more functional documents. 

What these programs will lack, however, is empathy -- the ability to anticipate what information a reader will need from a document, and when the reader will need it, and to draft a document that meets the reader's needs and expectations. An empathetic human writer knows when to follow and when to break the genre expectations of a document and can send powerfully persuasive messages to a reader by use of that knowledge. 

The essay concludes that empathy is a crucial, and uniquely human, aspect of persuasive writing and that an empathetically-aware written document should be superior to a technically accurate but non-empathetic computer generated document.


December 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 17, 2012

How word choice can help prevent future shootings

     Author Jay Heinrichs has written an informative piece about how word choice can help prevent future mass shootings. Among his suggestions: instead of calling the shootings a tragedy--which implies that they were inevitable--call them a massacre; and when the Second Amendment is discussed, mention that it calls for a "well-regulated malitia," which has nothing to do with shooting children.

    I discussed similar issues of word choice in my article about George Orwell's relevance to legal writing. And I've noticed how gun-control opponents use language to their advantage when they say, "Guns don't kill people--people do." That piece of linguistic legerdemain ignores English syntax. A drinker could say,"The bartender made me drunk" (focusing on a person) or"the Scotch made me drunk" (focusing on the immediate cause). Both are true. Of course guns kill people--a fact that was all too vividly demonstrated at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

hat tip: Lisa McElroy


December 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Response to shootings in Newtown, Connecticut

In response to the Newtown shootings, Supreme Court expert Lisa McElroy has written a moving piece inMcelroy the Huffington Post. McElroy, who teaches legal writing at at Drexel University, argues that the nation’s gun control policy must change in order to prevent further mass shootings—and that a key place to start is with future nominations to the Supreme Court.

Hat tip: Ralph Brill


December 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

re-drafting for fun & profit

ImagesProfessor Mark Cooney has written an amusing little piece in the November 2012 edition of the Michigan Bar Journal. Here's how he summarizes "Emergency!":

"A mild-mannered law-firm associate transforms into Editor Man and redrafts a dense statutory provision that has literally floored a colleague. (A short piece offering strategies for the legal drafter.)"



December 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 14, 2012

legal writing resources for international students

GabeGoodwin_asp05Click here to see Gabrielle Goodwin's postings of useful writing resources for international (i.e., non-U.S. native) J.D. and LLM students. A lot of her material may be equally helpful for anyone working on better legal writing.




December 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)