Monday, August 31, 2015

Texas Supreme Court: a Justice's advice

Emg_uncrop_100114Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman spoke on leadership today at Texas Tech University School of Law.

Relevant to our 1-L's, she talked about always setting a goal of excellence and making plans.  Here are two helpful take-aways for our students:

Leaders make a commitment to excellence.  When applying for clerkships, be sure that commitment to excellence shows in your application and letter.

If you don’t make something your goal, you’ll never arrive; when you decide [to pursue something], then you are on your way.


August 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Didn't Submit a Paper -- You Submitted a Hostage Situation

A comment now making the rounds on Facebook . . . .

Student I don’t understand why my grade was so low. How did I do on my paper?

Teacher: Actually, you didn’t turn in a paper. You turned in a random assemblage of sentences. In fact, the sentences you apparently kidnapped in the dead of night and forced into this violent and arbitrary plan of yours clearly seemed to be placed on the pages against their will. Reading your paper was like watching unfamiliar, uncomfortable people interacting at a cocktail party that no one wanted to attend in the first place. You didn’t submit a paper. You submitted a hostage situation.

Hat tip to Linda Edwards


August 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

congratulations to Mark Wojcik!

Wojcik-markBlog co-editor Mark Wojcik was recently appointed to a three-year term on the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.  His appointment began in August 2015 at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.  He had previously served for one year as a member of the Advisory Commission to the Standing Committee.  Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court is another member of that Advisory Commission, which includes national leaders in government, law practice, and academia.

 The Law Library of Congress is the world's largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world.

 hat tip:  Kim D. Chanbonpin


August 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Temple Law Advocacy Program: Inaugural Edward Ohlbaum Annual Paper in Advocacy Scholarship

I am pleased to announce that Temple University Beasley School of Law’s advocacy program is soliciting articles on an advocacy or advocacy-and-law related subject for the first “Edward Ohlbaum Annual Paper in Advocacy Scholarship.” Eddie was a national leader in trial advocacy education and the director of advocacy programs at Temple until his death in March of 2014.

The deadline is December 1, 2015. More details are available here.


August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

job opening at Suffolk

Suffolk seeks to hire a full-time LRW faculty member to start in the fall of 2016.  The person hired will teach two sections of Legal Practice Skills (LPS), a core first-year, two-semester, course (3 credits in the fall and 2 credits in the spring).  

Below are Suffolk's position announcement and the ALWD/LWI disclosure form. 

SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL in Boston invites applications for a position as an Assistant Professor of Legal Writing beginning in the fall semester of the 2016-2017 academic year.  Assistant Professors in the Legal Practice Skills Program (LPS) are responsible for teaching the required first year LPS course that covers legal research, legal reasoning, legal writing, and oral advocacy.  In addition to teaching, responsibilities include developing persuasive and objective writing assignments, conducting individual student conferences, judging students’ oral arguments, and providing individual feedback on students’ memoranda.   Candidates must be available to teach both day and evening-division students and are required to work with students both in the classroom and on a one-on-one basis.  The position is not tenure-track, but may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more yearsThe person hired will teach legal writing each semester to a total of approximately forty-five students a semester.  We welcome applications from all persons of high academic achievement with a strong commitment to legal writing, and particularly encourage applications from people whose backgrounds will contribute to the diversity of the faculty.  Legal writing teaching experience is preferred.  Interested candidates must have a J.D. degree and be admitted to a bar.  Interested applicants should address a cover letter, résumé, and a list of three references to:  Professor Stephen McJohn, Chair, LPS Committee, at Alternatively, applicants may address their materials to the Chair and send them to the following address:  Professor Stephen McJohn, Suffolk University Law School,  120 Tremont St., Boston, Massachusetts 02108.  The Committee will begin reviewing resumes in September of 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.  Suffolk University is an equal opportunity employer.

Which of the following best describes the position you wish to advertise?

Position is tenure-track.

May lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
May lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years.
Has an upper-limit on the number of years a teacher may be appointed.
Is part of a fellowship program for one or two years.
Is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment.

Will the person hired be permitted to vote in faculty meetings?


The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range: (A base salary does NOT include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; nor does a base salary include conference travel or other professional development funds.)

$30,000to $39,999
$40,000 to $49,999
$50,000 to $59,999
$60,000 to $69,999
$70,000 to $79,999
$80,000 to $89,999
$90,000 or more
Part-time appointment paying less than $30,000
Adjunct appointment paying less than $10,000

The person hired will teach legal writing each semester to a total number of students in the range:

 46-50 students

 I certify that my institution's nondiscrimination policy is in substantial compliance with the LWI nondiscrimination policy: "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, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity."


Kathleen Elliott Vinson
Professor of Legal Writing
Director of Legal Writing, Research, and Written Advocacy
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA  02108

August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

position available at UNC Chapel Hill

The UNC School of Law seeks to hire two full-time clinical faculty members to start in summer 2016.  The person hired will teach two sections—each with about 17 students—of Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy (RRWA), a core first-year, two-semester, six-credit course.  Other teaching opportunities may occasionally arise too. 

The person hired will join the School of Law’s Writing and Learning Resources Center (WLRC) (, which also operates an Academic Excellence Program.  Our experienced team—Kaci Bishop, Alexa Chew, Luke Everett, Rachel Gurvich, Jon McClanahan (Assistant Dean for Academic Excellence), Wyatt Orsbon, O.J. Salinas, Craig Smith (Assistant Dean for the WLRC), and Sara Warf—is collaborative and creative.  For example, we are using an innovative textbook written by Alexa Chew and our former colleague (now turned professional writer) Katie Rose Guest Pryal: The Complete Legal Writer (Carolina Academic Press, forthcoming January 2016).  In addition to guiding students with clear explanations and closely related sets of examples, the book uses a genre-discovery approach that promotes student autonomy by teaching a process for learning to write unfamiliar legal documents.

Position Announcement:

Clinical Faculty Appointment for

Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy

Plus Academic Excellence

 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law invites applications for two full‑time clinical faculty appointments to teach first‑year legal research and writing and to serve in the Writing and Learning Resources Center.  The Center houses the law school’s rigorous, six-credit Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy (“RRWA”) Program and its comprehensive Academic Excellence Program.  Starting in the 2016-2017 academic year, the individuals selected for these positions will teach two seminar‑sized sections of RRWA per semester and occasionally offer academic‑excellence workshops or provide educational counseling or tutoring.  Required duties do not include teaching additional courses; nonetheless, the Center’s faculty have occasionally taught such courses.

Candidates must have a J.D., bar admission, and practice or clerkship experience.  Candidates also should have an outstanding academic record, the ability and desire to work collaboratively on an established team, and experience or demonstrated potential in teaching.  A strong plus would be additional experience or degrees in education, counseling, or academic‑excellence work.  The individuals hired will receive an initial three‑year, nine‑month appointment subject to long‑term contract renewal.

 Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled.  Applications must be submitted electronically at  Click on the preceding direct-link URL from any browser to apply.  Applications should include a resume or curriculum vitae, a letter of application, and contact information for four references.  Confidential inquiries are welcome; they can be made to Professor Craig Smith, Assistant Dean for the Writing and Learning Resources Center, at 919.962.7059 or  For more information about the UNC‑CH School of Law, please visit our website:

 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and welcomes all to apply regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  We also encourage protected veterans and individuals with disabilities to apply.

 ALWD/LWI Disclosure Form:

1.  The position advertised:

     _X_   b.   may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.

Additional information about job security or terms of employment, any applicable

            term limits, and whether the position complies with ABA Standard 405(c):

An initial three-year contract will be renewable in five-year increments, and the position complies with ABA Standard 405(c).

2.  The professor hired:

     _X_   a.   will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

Additional information about the extent of the professor’s voting rights:

            The vote will not extend to personnel matters.

 3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below.  (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; a base salary does not include conference travel or other professional development funds.)

_X__ $70,000 - $79,999

Additional information about base salary or other compensation:

The listed salary is for a nine-month appointment.  In addition, a professional development fund accompanies the position.

 4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be:

     __   a.   30 or fewer

     _X_   b.   31 – 35

Additional information about teaching load, including required or permitted teaching outside of the legal research and writing program:

No teaching is required outside of our Writing and Learning Resources Center, which houses our Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy Program and our Academic Excellence Program.  Teaching outside those programs occurs too, and we anticipate a gradual increase in such teaching.


hat tip:

Craig T. Smith

August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Faculty Job Openings: Iowa

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA COLLEGE OF LAW anticipates hiring several tenured/tenure track faculty members and clinical faculty members (including a director for field placement program) over the coming year. Our goal is to find outstanding scholars and teachers who can extend the law school’s traditional strengths and intellectual breadth. We are interested in all persons of high academic achievement and promise with outstanding credentials. Appointment and rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Candidates should send resumes, references, and descriptions of areas of interest to:  Faculty Appointments Committee, College of Law, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa  52242-1113.

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment free from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, religion, associational preference, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.

August 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday Fun: Funny Grammar Errors

Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers--shares with its membership regular tips on grammar and legal research. This week the grammar tip lists websites that collect funny grammar errors, noting that "[s]ometimes it takes a chuckle to bring a grammar error into focus."

Here are some sites collecting grammar errors -- please use the "comment" feature to tell us about other websites or your "favorite errors" from these websites, such as "Your the Best Teacher Ever!"


August 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Song Lyrics & Creativity in Legal Writing

In a recent lawsuit against Peabody Energy alleging civil rights violations, attorneys for plaintiffs Thomas Asprey and Leslie Glustrom including song lyrics from John Prine's song "Paradise" in the compliant.  Peabody's lawyers filed a 17-page Motion to Strike the lyrics, as they reflected poorly on Peabody's business practices.

In a beautifully-written response to the Motion to Strike, plaintiff's lawyers argued in favor of the creative use of song lyrics in legal writing, including a whole section of the response titled "N0n-Traditional Legal Writing is Good."  An article on the dispute here, and the full response letter here.  


Image of  singer John Prine

The response makes for good reading, and serves as a great lesson in allowing our students some creative license as they progress in developing their legal writing skills. 

Hat tip, Lucy Jewel


August 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2015

SEALS LRW programming

This year, SEALS offered a new track for LRW profs. The first panel that I attended covered changes in teaching LRW in the past 20 years ("New Developments in Teaching Legal Writing").

Panelists discussed changes in students (attention span, expectations, parenting styles), changes in pedagogy, the incorporation of mindfulness, teaching with a metacognitive focus, and flipping the classroom. Lots of great ideas, and a nice overview of how far we've come in 20 years.

Panelists included Professor Catherine Christopher, Texas Tech University School of Law; Professor Katrina Lee, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law; Professor Katerina Lewinbuk, South Texas College of Law; Professor Anthony Niedwiecki, The John Marshall Law School; Professor Jennifer Rosa, Michigan State University College of Law; and Professor Pam Armstrong, Albany Law School.




August 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress

Sheila Slocum HollisAmerican Bar Association President Paulette Brown has appointed Sheila Slocum Hollis as the new Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.

Sheila Slocum Hollis is chair of the Washington, D.C. office of Duane Morris LLP, and was the office's founding managing partner, as well as the founding practice group leader for the firm's Energy, Environment and Resources Practice Group. She served on the firm's Executive Committee for more than a decade and the Partners Board for 18 years.

Ms. Hollis practices in the areas of energy transactional and regulatory law and international and administrative law before government agencies, Congress and other entities. She focuses on domestic and international energy, water and environmental matters, representing governmental bodies and the power and natural gas industries. With a long career in issues relating to infrastructure, natural gas development transportation and distribution, energy reliability, enforcement and compliance, and international energy policy, Ms. Hollis successfully represented the District of Columbia in a key electric reliability case and represents the towns of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Scriba, New York, and Oswego County in tax and related infrastructure safety, environmental protection and security negotiation matters. She served as lead investigator of a grid operator's market monitoring practices, and as lead investigator for an electric grid in a Congressional investigation of a major blackout. She also has represented numerous clients in investigations related to natural gas and oil development, trading, transportation and other energy and environmental activities.

Ms. Hollis has served twice in Federal service. She was the first director of the Office of Enforcement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, establishing the office and its policies and procedures, serving from 1977 to 1980. Those policies and procedures remain in place today. She began her energy law career as a trial lawyer at the Federal Power Commission from 1974 to 1975, serving as lead counsel on the Pennzoil-United spinoff case. Over the course of her career, she has played a key role in the formation and implementation of energy law and policy. As a Professorial Lecturer in the Law at George Washington University School of Law, she has taught energy law for 20 years to over 600 students in the Environmental and Energy Law Program.

In 2014 and 2015, Ms. Hollis was named one of Washington, D.C.'s Top 50 Women by Super Lawyers, and is the first energy lawyer to be named to this list. Ms. Hollis was named one of the 50 Key Women in Energy Worldwide and received the 2011 Lifetime Achievement in Energy in Platt's Global Energy Awards. She is the first attorney in private practice to receive the Platt's Award. In late 2012, Ms. Hollis was elected to membership in the American College of Environmental Lawyers. In April 2012 she was awarded the Outstanding International Law Alumni Award by the Nanda Center for International Law and Policy of the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver Law School and delivered a major address on international energy law at the award event. Ms. Hollis served as a delegate of the American Bar Association to the United Nations Rio+20 Conference in June. In 2009 Ms. Hollis delivered the "Dean of the Oil and Gas Bar" address at The Energy Law Institute of the Center for American and International Law in Houston, Texas. In 2010, Ms. Hollis received the Paul Nordstrom Service Award for her contributions to the legal profession and the community from the Energy Bar Association and the Charitable Foundation of the Energy Bar Association.

Ms. Hollis is chair of the Standing Committee on Gavel Awards of the ABA from 2009-2012. She serves in the House of Delegates of the ABA as senior delegate from the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, and also on the Nominating Committee of the ABA and the Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee. She also serves on the ABA's Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs. Ms. Hollis served as the Chair of the Board of Editors of the American Bar Association's Journal from 2007-2010, and as a member of the Board from 2001-2007. She chaired the ABA's Council of the Fund for Justice and Education from 2006-2009. She is the past chair (2001-2002) of the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources of the American Bar Association, representing 11,000 ABA members. She served a three-year term as the Federal Circuit representative on the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary and in that capacity was one of the two primary investigators in the nomination of Justice John Roberts. In addition, she served as chair of the Standing Committee on Environmental Law from 1997 to 2000 and served two terms as chair of the ABA's Coordinating Group on Energy Law. A member of the American Law Institute and a Fellow of the ABA, Ms. Hollis was the first woman to serve as president of the Energy Bar Association (1991 to 1992). She served as president of the Women's Council on Energy and the Environment (1997-2002). She is the only person to serve as both president of the Federal Energy Bar Association and chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources. She is treasurer and a board member of the United States Energy Association and chaired its nominating committee. She is chair of the Federal Bar Association's Section of Energy, Environment and Resources. She also is a member of the Advisory Committee of the North American Energy Standards Board. Ms. Hollis served as a professorial lecturer in the law on the subject of energy law at The George Washington University Law School from 1979 to 1999 and was recently recognized by the school for her 20-year teaching contribution. She serves on the Board of the American Friends of the Royal Society, which is one of the oldest scientific bodies in the world. She is also on the National Sustainability Advisory Committee of KB Homes. Ms. Hollis was awarded the Cheryl Blackwell Bryson Leadership Award in 2012 from the Duane Morris Women's Initiative during the firm's Annual Retreat in Boca Raton, Florida. Ms. Hollis served on the Host Committee of the D.C. Legal Community City Year held in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 2012. The initiative of this group is to assist with high vulnerability students to stay in school and graduate from high school.

Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Colorado, she is a member of the American Law Institute and served for decades on the Board of Trustees of the Center for American and International Law and was vice chair of its Institute for Energy Law. She was also a trustee of the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation and served on the board of the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia. With an extensive background in international energy law, Ms. Hollis is admitted as an honorary, international member of the Commercial Bar of England and Wales. Ms. Hollis is widely published in energy law and policy matters, having co-authored two energy law texts and numerous articles on energy policy, energy enforcement, natural gas, independent power and cogeneration, hydroelectric energy regulation and related environmental topics. She was ranked by The National Law Journal as one of the United States' top 20 energy lawyers and is listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2008-present), AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell for 25+ years, Who's Who in America (1990-present), Who's Who in the World (1990-present) and other biographical directories, including The World's Leading Oil and Gas Lawyers and The World's Leading Project Finance Lawyers. In 2011, Ms. Hollis was selected for inclusion in Who's Who Legal Directory for Oil and Gas. (The attorneys included in this publication were selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and oil and gas lawyers in private practice worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.)

A Colorado native, she is a 1973 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law and a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, cum laude in general studies, honors in journalism. She is conversationally fluent and has some reading ability in Spanish.


August 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Shut Up and Write

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education describes an innovative idea for academic writing: schedule a meeting time with colleagues where you write.  "No idle chatter, no workshopping manuscripts, no wasting time, just a bunch of people from different departments and disciplines who all need to log some writing hours." Jennifer Howard, The Secret to Hitting Your Writing Goals May Be Simple: Peer Pressure, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 12, 2015, at A17.

The article states that whether formal or informal, these faculty writing-accountability groups operate on two assumptions: (1) you're more likely to get writing done if you book regular time for it and (2) you find colleagues to help hold you accountable. 

It's an interesting idea and we welcome your comments on it, particularly if you've participated in one of these faculty writing groups. By being held at a regular time, it seems to have the advantage of  encouraging regular progress on many writing projects.


August 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)