Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reminder of Call for Nominees for the Burton Award in Legal Writing Education

The Burton Awards are seeking nominations for the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. Nominations are due on March 20, 2015.

The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement promote and publicize the importance of writing in the legal profession. The Awards, which recognize lawyers and law students whose work exemplifies the goals of our field, were founded in 1999 by William Burton, author of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus and recipient of LWI’s 2010 Golden Pen Award.  The Burton Awards are held at the Library of Congress and it is, without a doubt, the most glamorous night anywhere to celebrate legal writing.

For more than a decade, the Burton Awards have included a category that emphasizes the vital role that educators play in improving legal writing throughout our nation’s legal system: the award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. The award is given annually during the oh-so-fabulous black-tie gala at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. 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.

Previous recipients of this prestigious award have been:

  • Dean Kent Syverud of Vanderbilt,
  • Dean Darby Dickerson of Stetson,
  • Professor Ralph Brill of Chicago-Kent,
  • Professor Laurel Oates of Seattle University,
  • Professor Mary Beth Beazley of Ohio State,
  • Professor Richard Neumann of Hofstra,
  • Professor Helene Shapo of Northwestern,
  • Professor Marjorie Rombauer of the University of Washington,
  • Professor Tina Stark of Boston University,
  • Professor Mary Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Law, and
  • Professor Anne Enquist of Seattle University.

The Burton Awards are an excellent forum to publicize the achievements of those who teach in the field of legal writing. The committee for this award asks that you nominate deserving individuals or groups for the Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award. Nominations should describe concisely the contributions of the nominee and should be sent to one or more of the following members of the selection committee by e-mail:

  • Noah Messing (noah.messing [at]  
  • Grace Tonner (gtonner [at], or
  • Nancy Schultz ( 

Nominations are due by March 20, 2015. 

Hat Tip to Noah Messing


March 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The ALWD Guide and the Bluebook

The Legal Writing listserv recently had a discussion about the differences between the ALWD ALWD-BB Guide to Legal Citation and the Bluebook. I've used the ALWD Guide (previously the ALWD Manual) since it was first published about fifteen years ago, and in my final class every year I've spent a little time discussing the differences between the two guides. But I won't need to do that this year. As author Coleen Barger pointed out on the listserv, the fifth edition of the ALWD Guide was revised to comport with the Bluebook rules. So citations written under the fifth edition will look the same as those written under the Bluebook's nineteenth edition. The ALWD website contains helpful charts comparing the latest ALWD Guide and Bluebook editions.

Buffalo's Stephen Paskey posted the following praise of the ALWD Guide:

For anyone who’s interested, a lengthy dispatch from the front lines of the citation manual wars, where all is not yet quiet on the western (New York) front.

Students who compete for membership on the Buffalo Law Review must take a citation test, and they’re allowed to bring nothing other than a Bluebook into the room. I met with the law review’s editor-in-chief to discuss whether my students could bring an ALWD Guide instead. He was sympathetic, and he readily acknowledged that the Bluebook is “crappy” and “awful.” However, he would not agree to let students use the ALWD Guide.

His justification? The test and answers were developed using the Bluebook. He wouldn’t feel “right” about letting students use the ALWD Guide unless he was sure it produced the same answers. It would take his staff hours of work to go through the test with an ALWD Guide in hand, and he’s not willing to do that.

My students who plan to compete for law review have begun buying Bluebooks and learning their way around them. To my surprise, even those students are thanking me for assigning the ALWD Guide instead.  

Students who’ve used both have told me that the Bluebook is a mess, the type is too small, and it’s hard to read and harder still to find things. One student said the appendices in ALWD are clearer and better organized than the Bluebook’s tables. Another said he likes the way the ALWD Guide is focused on practitioners, with a clear explanation of the differences for academic work at the end of every rule. Yet another likes how the ALWD Guide explains key points that are left unexplained in the Bluebook.


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes All You Need to Brighten Your Day is a Little Bit of Linda Edwards

Linda EdwardsIf you don't know Linda Edwards, you should.

Take the opportunity to meet her in an interview that Melissa Greipp did for the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog by clicking here.

Here's an excerpt:

How did you first get interested in teaching legal writing?

Even as a child, I was curious about how people try to persuade others. As early as age ten, I remember watching TV commercials and speculating about what strategy the advertisers were using. When I went to law school, courses in legal writing were in their infancy and mine was not all that effective, but the practice of law made legal writing’s importance crystal clear. After ten years of practice, I had a chance to join the NYU Lawyering faculty, and it all came together for me there. I felt like I had found my professional passion. That was 27 years ago, and that passion is still as fresh for me today as it was so long ago.

Hat tip to Melissa Greipp and the Marquette University Law Faculty Blog


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New BarBri Survey Highlights the Importance of Legal Writing for New Law Grads

Yet another study recently highlighted the importance of legal writing. BARBRI's State of the Legal Field Survey, published in 2015, reported that both responding attorneys and law professors rated legal writing as the most important skill for recent law graduates. Interestingly, the study also found that while 82% of third-year law students believed they were effective legal writers, only 57% of lawyers who hire new graduates saw them as effective writers.

The BarBri survey is new, and let's just say here from the Legal Writing Prof Blog that we are happy that the company has launched this new annual survey and that it intends to continue this survey in future years.  This survey gets answers not only from law students but also from law school faculty and members of the practicing bar.

Previous research has shown that students sometimes have inflated views of their writing abilities.  See, for example, Felsenburg and Graham's Beginning Legal Writers in Their Own Words.

hat tip: Gabriel Teninbaum

(jdf and mew)

March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New issue of the Legal Writing journal

Leg W JThe latest issue of Legal Writing: Journal of the Legal Writing Institute arrived in my mailbox today with these intriguing titles on its cover:

Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Of Old Dogs and New Tricks--Can Law Schools ReallyFix Students' Mixed Mindsets?

Melissa H. Waresh, Uncommon Results: The Power of Team-Based Learning in the legal Writing Classroom

David J. Herring & Collin Lynch, Law Student Learning Gains Produced by a Writing Assignment and Instructor Feedback

Toree Randall, Meet Me in the Cloud: A Legal Research Strategy That Transcends Media

Lindsey P. Gustafson, Texting and the Friction of Writing

Jeffrey D. Jackson & David Cleveland, Legal Writing: A History from the Colonial Era to the End of the Civil War

My interest was especially piqued by Jackson and Clevelend's history of teaching legal writing before the end of the civil war--it contains interesting history that I didn't know about.

The journal's website says the next volume will be an all-electronic one. So this final print volume may become a collector's item!


March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening: Atlanta

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School invites applications for a teaching position in its Legal Skills and Professional Program to teach Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis I and II.

Responsibilities & Qualifications

This is a full-time, non-tenure track position that begins on August 1, 2015.  Responsibilities of the position include teaching a full load of Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis courses for first year students in the day and evening divisions. Applicants must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent academic credentials, a strong writing background, and legal practice or clerkship experience.  Preference will be given to applicants who have at least two years of recent legal practice or clerkship experience or experience teaching legal research and writing.

Application Information

Initial review of applications will begin no later than March 20, 2015.  While this position will remain open until filled, applications received by that date will be assured of full consideration.  Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and list of three (3) professional references to:

  • Dean Malcolm L. Morris, c/o Farrah Fisher
  • Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
  • 1422 West Peachtree Street NW
  • Atlanta, Georgia 30309

or by email to

The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. This is a one-year teaching appointment with a potential opportunity at the end of the appointment to lead to a tenure-track position in the Legal Skills and Professionalism Program.  The position would involve full voting rights if it resulted in the applicant securing a tenure-track position at the end of the one-year appointment.

Anticipated salary is between $50,000 to $79,000, and you would be teaching between 36 to 50 students.  The applicant would teach two sections of legal writing, research and analysis per semester.  Although the primary teaching responsibility for this position will be teaching legal writing, research and analysis, depending on teaching needs, the applicant could also have an opportunity to teach an elective experiential or writing course.



March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reforming the law school curriculum

Reforming the first-year curriculum is a perennial project in law schools. But an article in the CassidymfFebruary Journal of Legal Education proposes a different approach. Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down, 64 J. Legal Educ. 428 (2015), by Boston College’s R. Michael Cassidy, notes that law schools have been slow to change in response current criticisms, partly because of professors’ resistance to change. Therefore, “Deans need to commandeer the ship of curriculum reform in a way that responds to the urgency in the crisis of legal education, while appropriately respecting faculty governance.” And instead of tinkering with the first-year curriculum, which Cassidy believes is working fairly well, deans should focus on upper-level courses. Among his recommendations are team-taught subject-specific capstone courses, which he calls “Advanced Legal Problem Solving” workshops.   


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

2016 US News rankings, LRW programs

The rankings we love to hate, from the U.S. News and World Report magazine.

1. Seattle

2. Stetson


4. Oregon

5. The John Marshall Law School - Chicago

6. Mercer

7. Denver

8. Arizona State

9. Georgetown

9. Suffolk

11. Temple

12. Marquette

12. Wyoming

14. Drexel

14. Duquesne

14. Ohio State

14. UNC Chapel Hill

18. Lewis & Clark

19. Indiana

19. Rutgers

19. Arkansas-Little Rock

22. Cornell

22. Chicago-Kent

22. Northwestern

22. Stanford

22. Texas Tech

22. Michigan

March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teaching Legislative Drafting

In a guest post on our sister blog, the Legislation Law Prof Blog, Professor Kevin Hull explains how to teach Legislative Drafting. Kevin teaches Legislative Drafting at the The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He worked for the 91st Illinois General Assembly, serving as Assistant Counsel to the House Speaker, handling issues including Redistricting, Governor Ryan’s Death Penalty Commission Report, and the state’s response to the September 11th attacks. He currently advocates for American veterans and military families through his position as Executive Director of the Westside Institute for Science and Education at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in downtown Chicago. Click here to read the post on teaching legislative drafting.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening: Law Librarian of Congress

The Library of Congress is seeking applicants to the position of Law Librarian of Congress.

The Law Librarian of Congress manages the Law Library of Congress, which houses the largest collection of United States and foreign legal literature in the world. The legal collections represent all known legal systems, including common law, civil law, and religious and customary law jurisdictions. The Law Library of Congress, its staff, and collections support the legal reference and research needs of the United States Congress. The Law Librarian of Congress exercises final responsibility for the Law Library budget, management of staff, policy administration and development, and overall operational effectiveness. The Law Librarian serves as a member of the Library of Congress Executive Committee (EC) and participates in the overall management of the Library of Congress.

REQUIREMENTS: Applicants MUST be a graduate from a full course of study in a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association and be a member in good standing of the bar of a state, District of Columbia, territory of the United States, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or an attorney with demonstrable expertise in foreign and comparative law and the law and legal system of a foreign jurisdiction outside of the United States.

To view the complete vacancy announcement and to apply for the position, visit: Questions should be addressed to the Library of Congress Employment Office at (202) 707-5627.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rocky Mountain Rocked, and Congratulations to Tamara Herrera

We hear from Kim Holst that the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference was a great success  Congratulations to Steven Homer and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico School of Law, and congratulations to Tamara Herrera, Coordinator of the Legal Writing Curriculum at Arizona State University, who received the Rocky Mountain Award in recognition of her hard work, endless support for her colleagues, and dedication to the field.

Hat tip to Kim Holst


March 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

20th Edition of the Bluebook Expected by this Summer

Profeesor Brian Sites of Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law shared the news that the 20th edition of The Bluebook "will be available in the late spring/early summer of 2015."  Oh, goodie! Click here for more information.



March 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 ALWD conference--Innovative Teaching Workshop

In conjunction with the June 2015 ALWD conference in Memphis, ALWD's Innovative Teaching Workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 3.  Participants will present a creative teaching idea/technique for feedback.

If you're interested, please fill out and submit the attached form:  Download ALWD Innovative Teaching Workshop Participant Form 2015.


March 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Association of Academic Support Educators Conference

Registration is now open for the Third Annual National Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators.  The conference will be May 26-28, 2015 (just after the Global Legal Skills Conference) at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. Click here for more information.


March 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop in July

Washburn University School of Law is proud to announce the second annual Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, to be held on July 24-25, 2015.  This workshop will provide a unique collaborative environment in which to receive feedback from other legal writing professors on your scholarly projects. Participants will work in small groups to give suggestions, ask questions, and offer input on the papers presented.

The workshop organizers, Professors Emily Grant and Joseph Mastrosimone, strongly encourage scholarship submissions that are in any stage – idea outline, work-in-progress, or nearly complete and ready to submit.  The call is open to all junior legal writing professors (defined as anyone without tenure) whether they are full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty and those who are seeking employment as a legal writing professor.

There is no registration fee for the workshop.  In addition, Washburn University School of Law will provide all meals during the workshop and hotel lodging for Friday night, July 24.  Such a deal!  The workshop will run from mid-afternoon Friday to mid-day Saturday to give participants sufficient time to travel Friday morning and Saturday evening, which should hopefully allow participants to attend the workshop without needing a second night’s hotel stay.

If you are interested in participating in the Washburn Junior Legal Writing Scholars Workshop, please let them know by April 17, 2015, by emailing Joseph Mastrosimone at Washburn.  In your email, please describe your scholarly work and estimate what form it will take by the end of July (outline, early stage work-in-progress, nearly complete draft, second edition?).  A maximum of eight papers will be selected to guarantee a workshop atmosphere. Those selected will be notified by May 15, and workshop submissions must be completed by July 13, 2015.

More information about the 2015 workshop and last year’s successful workshop can be found by clicking here.

Hat tip to Joseph Mastrosimone


March 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ed Harri Receives Oregon State Bar Award

Ed Harri OregonEdward J Harri of Willamette University College of Law is a Professor of Legal Writing and the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.  He began teaching Legal Research and Writing in 1986 and he has served as associate dean from 1994 to 1996. He has been active in several professional organizations as well as Oregon State Bar committees and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. He has written in various fields and edited the Oregon State Bar’s Appeal and Review Handbook.

In December he received the Oregon State Bar Award, and Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon was kind enough to send us this picture of that happy event.  He was quoted as telling students to devote "every fiber of your intellect to your client."  Good advice indeed. 

Hat tip to Suzanne Rowe of the University of Oregon.


March 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Presenters: Global Legal Skills Conference

The Global Legal Skills conference, in its 10th year, will be held in Chicago, the city of its origin. The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where it was held three times. It has also traveled to Mexico (twice), to Costa Rica (twice), to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and most recently to the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy.

This year’s conference (GLS 10) will be held at The John Marshall Law School for the first two days and will be hosted at Northwestern University School of Law for its final day. The two schools are within walking distance and are also served by subway line

The first call for proposals for presentations has already closed and acceptance messages are going out to those who submitted.  This is the second call for presenters. Proposals should be for a 25-minute presentation (for one or two people) or an interactive group panel presentation (no more than four panelists) of 75-minutes (including audience participation).

The conference audience will include legal writing professionals, international and comparative law professors, clinical professors and others involved in skills education, law school administrators, law librarians, and ESL/EFL professors and scholars. Also attending will be faculty members teaching general law subjects with a transnational or international component. Attendees have also included judges, lawyers, court translators, and others involved in international and transnational law. Attendees come from around the world, and as many as 35 countries have been represented in past conferences.

Please submit a proposal on any aspect of Global Legal Skills, including experiential learning, distance education, comparative law, international law, course design and materials, teaching methods, and opportunities for teaching abroad and in the United States. However, because the conference focuses on legal skills for a global audience, please tailor your proposal accordingly.

The schedule for GLS 10 will allow for professional networking opportunities and development and also a chance to take in the many sites (and excellent restaurants!) Chicago has to offer. Chicago is served by two airports, O’Hare and Midway, making travel to the city easy. The timing of the conference (the week before Memorial Day weekend) is intended to allow you to spend extra time exploring Chicago and its environs at a time when the temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.

This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the registration fee of $225.00. A small number of need-based scholarships will also be available, especially for participants from outside the United States. Additional tickets for family members and friends will also be available for the walking tour, law school reception, and Union League Club Gala Dinner. Chicago in the springtime is a great travel destination for families where they can enjoy Millennium Park, two world class zoos, and the amazing Museum Campus.

You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking slots you will only be allowed to speak on one panel.

Please send program proposals to You can also send a copy to Lurene Contento (Program Chair of GLS 10). Her email is

Please include “GLS 10 Proposal” in the subject line. Then, list the names and institutional affiliations of presenters, the title of your presentation, a brief summary of your presentation, the format you would prefer (25 minutes or 75 minutes), and the target audience.

You will find travel information and more conference information on the GLS website, Additional proposals will be accepted through April 15 if additional speaking slots are available.

Spanish Language CLE Proposals

You may also submit proposals for CLE presentations in Spanish. A Spanish-language CLE track will include sessions for attorneys, law students, and court translators. Persons submitting proposals for presentations in Spanish may also submit a proposal in English as an exception to the single presentation rule. Proposals are sought on topics such as “Introduction to Mexican Law,” “Understanding the Amparo,” and “Latin American Corporation Law.”

Scholars’ Forum (Tues. May 19, 2015)

A one-day scholars’ forum is also planned for May 19th, the day before the GLS conference begins. Participation in this forum will be limited to 16 persons and will include special sessions on international legal research as well as the presentation of papers and works-in-progress. For more information about the Scholars’ Forum, send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at with the title of your proposed work. Registration for the scholars’ forum is at this link:

We hope to see you in Chicago this May for the 10th anniversary of the Global Legal Skills Conference!

Thank you,

Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, Global Legal Skills Conference
Prof. Lurene Contento, Chair GLS 10 Program Committee, The John Marshall Law School

March 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Burton Awards

The Burton Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing is the most glamorous evening for legal writing. That's been true for years, and the 2015 award ceremony promises to continue that trend.  The 2015 Awards will be held at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2015 in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  Awards will be given for public interest, public service, "Legends in Law," distinguished legal writing awards, outstanding journalist in law, and an award for "Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education."  Entertainment will be provided that evening by Kristin Chenoweth, the Emmy and Tony Award winning superstar.  It's a black tie event and tickets can be pricey, but the value of the evening makes it all worthwhile.


March 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)