Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Law Student Essay Competition on Public Interest Law

The University of Pennsylvania Law Review announced a competition for student-authored submissions for its first annual public-interest essay competition.  The author of the first-prize paper will receive $3,000, and the winning article will be published in volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Here's what you need to know about it.


Submissions must focus on a specific legal issue within the public interest. This encompasses any issues relating to social justice or advancing the general welfare and good of the public. Topic selection will be one of the criteria judged.

Essays must be submitted in PDF format and include footnote citations. Submissions must be no longer than 9,000 words, including all footnotes, and be named "PIEC.pdf". All submissions will be considered anonymously. Students must ensure that their essays do not contain any identifying information. Any essays that include identifying information, such as name, class year, or institutional affiliation, will be disqualified.

The competition is open to all current law students (Classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017) from any ABA accredited American law school. Submissions are limited to one per person and must be an original, unpublished academic essay.


The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is accepting submissions for its first annual Public Interest Essay Competition. The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 22, 2015, at 5pm EDT, via the online submission portal.

All submissions will be considered anonymously by a selection committee from Volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. The best submissions will demonstrate originality and superior literary effort that advances and serves the interests and understanding of a specific topic within the broad arena of public interest and the law. The winning essay will be announced in the fall of 2015, receive $3,000, and be published in print in Volume 164 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

These guidelines and the link to the online submission portal are accessible through the Public Interest tab on the website of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Hat tip to Eleanor Barrett, Associate Dean for Legal Practice Skills, University of Pennsylvania Law School


April 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A verse in praise of plain English

For a light-hearted promotion of plain English, see The Pleading in the March Michigan Bar PoeJournal. The author, Cooley’s Mark Cooney, echoes Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to describe a judge poring vainly over a complaint with its “pond’rous style and more in store,/ Stilted prose and hardly more.” The judge finally tells the complaint's author,

Discard this toilsome legalese, and lift away this needless chore!

Take your vexing cloud of prose, and take your leave, be out my door;

Haunt my chambers nevermore!



April 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Do You Have an Announcement for the Newsletter for the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research?

You can send news of upcoming events, promotions, and conferences to the newsletter for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.  Click here. 

And hey, send us a copy.  We can post news here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog for you too!


April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

LWI to Formalize the Pink Ink Caucus

Pink InkJust a few days in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in the same-sex marriage cases, the Legal Writing Institute announced the formal establishment of the Pink Ink Caucus. The charge of the Caucus is to support LGBTQ faculty and to strengthen the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the legal writing classroom. Membership is open to all, no matter what your sexual orientation is.

The Pink Ink Caucus was never before established as a formal group -- it was an ad hoc response to some job postings on the Legal Writing Listserve that blatantly discriminated against LGBT persons.  The reactions to that posting sparked numerous passionate debates within the Legal Writing Institute about whether job postings from discriminatory organizations could be allowed, and, indeed, whether LWI membership could be open to persons who taught at discriminatory institutions.  The job posting also sparked the ad hoc Pink Ink Caucus which I organized. The Pink Ink caucus usually met informally, but we also met a couple of times in a more organized fashion during LWI conferences. I chose the name Pink Ink from a presentation I had made earlier at the LWI Conference held at Chicago-Kent College of Law, which discussed integrating LGBT characters and legal issues in legal writing problems. It was often the case that in some problems there might be a different answer to the legal question posed if the character in the problem was gay or lesbian.

Membership in the informal Pink Ink Caucus was always open to everyone and matters of discussion included the status of LGBT professors as well as appropriate ways to integrate LGBT legal issues into legal writing problems for research memoranda and appellate briefs.  For example, the LWI Conference in 2008 scheduled a Pink Ink Caucus where we announced on this Legal Writing Prof Blog that the discussion would include these topics:

  • Using issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in memoranda and advocacy assignments, particularly in light of California now allowing same-sex weddings (and that California does not require persons getting married there to be from California);
  • Latest research resources for LGBT scholarship;
  • Mentoring and support for LGBT professors and students;
  • Hiring practices of law schools;
  • Attending the AALS Hiring Conference as an openly LGBT candidate (or recruiter); and
  • A preview of an all-day program at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego on Sexual Orientation Issues Across the Curriculum.

In 2008, the Legal Writing Institute was one of the first organizations to join the national boycott of the Manchester Hyatt Hotel in San Diego (where the AALS Meeting was going to be held) because the owner at the time, Doug Manchester, was the financial sponsor of the California Ballot Measure Proposition 8 that amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.  Click here to read more about that.  LWI organized its Golden Pen Reception that year outside the hotel as a sign of protest against the anti-gay ballot measure.  That move was also not without controversy, but it showed a commitment of LWI to the respectful, equal treatment of all its members.

Along the way the LWI Bad-Ass Legal Writing Store also came up with some wonderful (ok, let's just say rather fabulous) Pink Ink merchandise that was sold at LWI conferences -- such a supportive and much-appreciated gesture. And you know what? You can still buy this Pink Ink Merchandise from the LWI store -- click here to visit the Pink Ink Page at the LWI Bad-Ass Legal Writing Store.  Go ahead, you know you want to buy something.

So if you are interested in joining the new Pink Ink Caucus, please send an email expressing your interest to Sue Painter-Thorne at this email: painter-thorne_sd[at]  (And of course change that [at] to an @ symbol).  You do not have to be gay or lesbian or bi or trans or questioning and you do not even have to own an album by Madonna, Lady Gaga, Judy Garland, or Barbra Streisand.

Thank you, LWI, for formally establishing the Pink Ink Caucus.

Hat tip to Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Scholarship Grant Recipients Announced

The Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors have announced the winners of the 2015 LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Scholarship Grants.  The following four winners will each receive grants of $5000.

  • Deborah Borman, De-grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis
  • Jennifer Cooper, Making It Stick for Law Students: The Science of Successful Learning In Law School
  • Mark Osbeck, Research Memoranda, Data Analytics, and the Future of Case Forecasting
  • Linda Shashoua, In Defense of DeferenceAppellate Review in the Modern Video Age

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to the members of the LWI/ALWD Joint Scholarship Grants Committee:  Mary Adkins, Kirsten Davis, Liz Frost, Ann Killenbeck, Hether Macfarlane, Deb McGregor, Christine Venter, and Amy Vorenberg, and to the committee chairs Ellie Margolis and Greg Johnson. Thanks also to LWI, ALWD, and LexisNexis for funding these awards.

Hat tips to Ellie Margolis (LWI) and Greg Johnson (ALWD)


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Early Bird Registration for the ALWD Conference

Today is the early bird deadline to register for the ALWD conference.  The conference fee is $400 if you register today, and it increases to $450 after today. 

The Association of Legal Writing Directors conference will be held in Memphis, Tennessee, at the University of Memphis School of Law from Wednesday, June 3, to Friday, June 5, 2015.  Presentations will begin Wednesday afternoon and continue for full days on Thursday and Friday, with an ALWD membership meeting during lunch on Thursday and a plenary presentation during lunch on Friday.  Registration includes the Gala Dinner and Tour at the National Civil Rights Museum on Thursday and a fun evening at the Redbirds game on Friday. 

Click here to visit the conference website.

Hat tips to Jodi Wilson and Meredith Aden


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Oh-So-Fantastic University of Bergen Video Explains the Dangers of Plagiarism

We love, absolutely love this video from the University of Bergen in Norway.  It explains the dangers of plagiarism like nothing else you've ever seen.  Click "CC" for the English language captions if they do not appear automatically.  This video was made a couple of years ago in 2010 but it is just as fresh today as when it was first released. Enjoy!



April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Use topic sentences when describing precedent cases

In a column titled "Top It Off," Northern Kentucky University's Jennifer Jolly-Ryan recently Jollystressed the importance of starting a case description with a topic sentence. A cumbersome citation is an ineffective beginning, she explained, as is starting with an overly general statement. Instead, write a topic sentence that conveys substance, and place the citation unobtrusively at the sentence’s end. View the whole column at page 51 of the Kentucky Bench and Bar Magazine's March issue.


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Southeastern Legal Writing Conference

This past weekend, the University of Tennessee College of Law hosted the 2015 Southeastern Legal Writing Conference.  Attendees representing over a dozen law schools convened in Knoxville for two days of conference activity.  The conference was administered by the legal writing faculty at the University of Tennessee, including Michael Higdon, Lucy Jewel and Carol Parker.  The 2016 Southeastern Legal Writing Conference is slated to be in Miami at the University of Miami School of Law.


April 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Singing Legal Writing Professors from the University of Illinois

Two legal writing professors from the University of Illinois College of Law were featured on a local newscast for bringing song to the classroom.  Click here to read more and to see the video.

Congratulations to Sara R. Benson and Rummana Alam of the University of Illinois College of Law.


April 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Professor Marilyn Walter to Receive 2015 Burton Award for Contribution to Legal Writing Education

Marilyn WalterProfessor Marilyn Walter of Brooklyn Law School was announced as the 2015 recipient of the Burton Award for Contribution to Legal Writing Education. She will receive her award at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on June 15, 2015.

Professor Walter joined the LRW community in 1976 when she taught legal writing at New York University. In 1980, she became the director of Brooklyn Law School’s program. She has been a leader in the field of legal writing for nearly four decades.

Her book (coauthored with Professors Helene Shapo and Elizabeth Fajans), Writing and Analysis in the Law, is a widely used first-year legal writing text. She is also the co-author of the first edition of the Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs.  She recived the 2005 Association of American Law School Legal Writing Award in recognition of her “pioneering leadership, extraordinary vision, and outstanding service.” She has been a member of the Board of the Legal Writing Institute, a members of the ABA’s Committee on Communication Skills, an Editorial Committee member of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. In spring 2008, she was a Visiting Professor at the University of Delhi Law School.

Many congratulations to Professor Walter on this prestigious award.

Hat tip to Noah A. Messing



April 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LWI Writers' Workshop

The twelfth Legal Writing Institute Writers Workshop will take place on July 24-July 26, 2015. The workshop will give up to twelve Legal Writing faculty the opportunity to spend time working on their academic writing projects and improving their scholarly skills. The Workshop will take place at the Port Ludlow Resort in Port Ludlow, Washington. It will take place immediately after the Legal Writing Institute Storytelling Conference.

Who is Eligible to Attend?
All members of the Legal Writing Institute are eligible. You must have a scholarly writing project well underway and beyond the initial stages of performing the initial research and drafting a tentative outline. You must at least have some sort of partial draft. To be clear, they expect you to arrive with a substantial work product. In most cases, a scholarly writing project should result in a law review article.
Although all LWI members are encouraged to apply, the workshop is limited to 12 participants. The organizers give priority to full time Legal Writing faculty for whom scholarly writing is a prerequisite for retention, promotion, or tenure. They will also give priority to applicants who have not attended past Workshops.
 What Will We Do at the Workshop?
Participants make presentations on their projects to small groups of three and receive feedback. Each session runs about ninety minutes. They also take part in several guided discussion groups, each on a different topic. Participants will also have time to work on their drafts.
Will There Be Facilitators?
Yes, experienced scholarly writers: Deborah Gordon (Drexel), Steve Johansen (Lewis & Clark), and Chris Rideout (Seattle).
Who Pays?
This year, participants will pay a $300 registration. LWI will cover all meals, beginning with lunch on July 24 and ending with breakfast on July 26 (day time snacks included), and ground transportation between Seattle and Port Ludlow. 
For more information, contact Lou Sirico at Sirico [at]
Hat tip to Lou Sirico


April 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Congratulations to Joan Rocklin

Joan RocklinProfessor Joan Rocklin was announced as the recipient of the Orlando John Hollis Faculty Teaching Award, the highest award given to faculty by the University of Oregon.  The nomination letter submitted by 22 of her students described Professor Rocklin's teaching as demonstrating genuine care about the success of her students--both inside and outside the classroom--and that she has the qualities of an exceptional law professor.

In addition to her teaching, Joan has been a hardworking supporter of the national legal writing community. Her service to the Legal Writing Institute, for example, included a term as LWI Treasurer. She has led LWI's Critiquing Workshop for new legal writing professors at the last three biennial conferences, and will make a similar presentation to new legal writing professors at the June 2015 AALS meeting in Washington, D.C. She was also the 2008-09 secretary for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.

Congratulations on this award Joan!
Hat tips to Liz Frost, Megan McAlpin, David Cadaret, Rebekah Hanley, and Suzanne Rowe

April 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nominations for GLS Awards

The Global Legal Skills Conference being held in Chicago May 20-22, 2015 includes a Consular Reception and GLS Awards Presentation at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday evening, May 21.  Nominations are still open for GLS Awards, which can be given in a number of categories:

  1. Innovative Programs (for example, programs that focus on teaching global legal skills; teaching Legal English or Legal Spanish to non-native speakers; and other innovative programs);
  2. Scholarship (articles and books that advance the teaching of global legal skills, including new casebooks and texts for lawyers and law students);
  3. Educational Leadership (schools that recognize the importance of providing services to international students); and
  4. Support (for companies, law firms, and law schools that give special support for global legal skills).

Nominees need not be present (but it's always nicer if they are).  Nominees and winners in past years have come from around the world (United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Russia for example). 

More information about the GLS conference is available at  

There is no particular nomination form. To submit a nominee, contact Professor Mark E. Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School [mwojcik at] by May 8, 2015.


April 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

News from Chapman University

Jenny Carey, Abigail Patthoff, and Rita Barnett-Rose have been promoted to full Professors of Legal Research and Writing at Chapman University Fowler School of Law in Orange, California. Congratulations!


April 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teaching the Academically Underprepared Law Student

DuquesneThe proceedings from last year's timely symposium "Teaching the Academically Underprepared Law Student" are now avilable in the Winter 2015 issue of the Duquesne Law Review.  Intriguing article titles include Ruth Vance & Susan Stuart's Of Moby Dick and Tartar Sauce: The Academically Underprepared Law Student and the Curse of Overconfidence and Courtney Lee's Changing Gears to Meet the “New Normal” in Legal Education. The symposium's other articles are available for download here, or click here for the full issue.

hat tip: Jan Levine


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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

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


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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Should a brief use litigants’ labels or their names?

In writing a brief, a lawyer must decide how to refer to the parties. Should a party be “Lee Smith,” “Appellant,” or “Plaintiff”? Bryan Garner recently wrote of his leaning toward real names. In his April column in the American Bar Association Journal, he explains that he finds labels to be generic and indistinct. But when he asked lawyers and judges about their preferences, he found some good reasons for lawyers not to use names, including when a well-liked adversary is litigating in his home venue. And some judges disliked names, emphasizing that they decide legal issues and their decisions should not be personal. But Garner interviewed others always use names on the theory that they make a brief easier to read. Hearing all these opinions left Garner with a more nuanced view, though he changed only “a mite.”

It’s worth noting that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28(d) discourages the use of litigation labels, stating that “counsel should minimize use of the terms ‘appellant’ and ‘appellee.’ To make briefs clear, counsel should use the parties’ actual names or the designations used in the lower court or agency proceeding, or such descriptive terms as ‘the employee,’ [or] ‘the injured person . . . .’”


April 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Job Opening at Albany Law School


Albany Law School seeks applicants to direct and expand its academic support and bar success programs.   The Director will administer and assess the existing academic success and bar success programs and recommend additions and modifications to the programs, focusing on initiatives to increase bar passage rates. The Director may have other responsibilities as assigned from time to time by the Dean and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Qualified candidates will have a J.D. with strong law school credentials and admission to the practice of law, preferably in New York. The position requires knowledge of legal theory, analysis and writing, and other skills necessary to succeed in law school and on the bar examination.  Preference will be given for experience in academic support and bar preparation programs, administrative and supervisory experience, law teaching experience, counseling and tutoring experience, knowledge of learning theory, understanding of disability and multicultural issues, and ability to build rapport with students having academic challenges.  This is a full-time, 12-month, long-term contract track position with the beginning rank of Assistant or Associate Professor of Academic Success.  The person who fills this position will be eligible for a five-year long-term contract after a probationary period of three (3) years. 

Albany Law School is the oldest, independent law school in North America with a long tradition of producing great leaders.  We are located in the heart of New York State’s capital since 1851, nestled between the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains.  Albany is within a three-hour drive of New York City, Boston and Montreal, and is served by excellent highway, air and rail transportation systems. The institution offers students an innovative, rigorous curriculum taught by a committed faculty. Several nationally recognized programs -- including the Government Law Center and the Albany Law Clinic and Justice Center -- provide unique opportunities for students and faculty. With 17 neighboring colleges and universities, including a campus shared by Albany Medical College, Albany College of Pharmacy and Sage College, the school benefits from several joint degree programs as well as other associations. Students and faculty also work closely with New York's highest court, federal courts and the state legislature, as well as a thriving tech-based econom

Albany Law School offers competitive pay and an excellent benefits package.  Interested candidates should submit resume and letter of interest using the contact information below.  Deadline for receipt of applications is April 24, 2015.

  • Albany Law School
  • Attn:  Sherri Donnelly, Director of Human Resources
  • 80 New Scotland Avenue
  • Albany, NY 12208-3494
  • Fax: (518) 445-3262
  • E-mail: hr [at]

April 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Westerfield Fellows Program

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY NEW ORLEANS COLLEGE OF LAW invites nominations and applications for its Westerfield Fellows Program.  This program is designed for individuals pursuing a career in law teaching and seeking to gain law teaching experience, while being afforded time to devote to scholarly writing and publication. Applicants should have strong academic credentials, writing experience, and excellent written and oral communication skills.  Fellows will be responsible for teaching legal reasoning, legal research, legal writing, and oral advocacy skills to two sections of first­-year law students in a three-credit hour class each semester.  Fellows will teach their own classes, but will have the benefit of working under the guidance of an experienced director in a program in which the director and the fellows coordinate the content and pace of the courses.  Fellows will also have a student teaching assistant to aid them with their courses.

The College of Law is located in a largely residential area of New Orleans, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States, with unique cuisine, numerous museums and historical sites, and a flourishing arts community.   New Orleans is also the seat of the United States  Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Louisiana Supreme Court, and the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as other lower courts.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume on or before April 30, 2015, to: Professor Mary Garvey Algero, Loyola University  New Orleans College of Law, 7214 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA  70118; email: algero [at] 

The College of Law encourages applications from women and minorities.  Applicants whose backgrounds or scholarly interests would enhance our faculty diversity are especially encouraged to apply.

Some additional details:  Annual Salary is $60,000; fellows are invited and encouraged to attend faculty meetings and participate in faculty colloquia, but are not entitled to vote in faculty meetings; fellows should expect to teach between 41-45 students each semester; fellows will have faculty mentors to assist in their career development.

April 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)