Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pleaded or Pled?

The website for the American Bar Association Journal shared that a reader had questioned the publication’s editorial judgment in describing a story of two women who pleaded guilty to criminal charges. The reader (going by the name "OKBankLaw" asked whether "pleaded" should instead be "pled."

Click here to read more about the great debate.


January 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

One Week Left for Early Bird Registration for the 2017 Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico; Presentation Proposals Still Being Accepted Until January 28th

GLS-FLDMThere's still a week left for the early bird registration for the 12th Global Legal Skills Conference being held at in Monterrey, Mexico at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (FLDM), a previous host of the third and fifth Global Legal Skills Conferences. The conference is being held March 15-17, 2017. There is an optional full-day city tour of Monterrey on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

Proposals for presentations at the conference are also being accepted for another week.

The first Global Legal Skills started as a conference to connect legal writing and ESL professionals who had an interest in teaching international students and lawyers who speak English as a second language. The GLS Conference series has since grown to include not only legal writing faculty, but also international and comparative law professors, clinical faculty, linguists, librarians, judges, attorneys, court translators, law students, and scholars interested in global legal skills education. Now in its 12th iteration, the conference draws hundreds of professionals from around the world.

The conference being hosted at the FLDM is being cosponsored by The John Marshall Law School-Chicago (Illinois, USA), the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico Department of Law (Mexico City, Mexico), and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law (Texas, USA). The conference is also supported by various professional organizations, including the American Bar Association Section of International Law, the American Society of International Law, the International Law Students Association, Lawbility (Switzerland), Scribes — The American Society of Legal Writers, and the Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Click here for more information about the conference (including descriptions of presentations already accepted), the early bird registration, conference hotel discounts, city tour information, and nominations for the GLS Awards.


January 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Legal Writing Photos from the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting

Professor David Austin of the California Western School of Law, a contributing editor to the Legal Writing Prof Blog, has created a wonderful video montage of photos from the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. These photos are from (1) the Golden Pen and Blackwell Reception hosted jointly by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) and the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and (2) the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Awards Luncheon.


January 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bob Brain Finishes Term as Chair of AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research; New Chair is Sabrina DeFabritiis

20170105_133222Professor Bob Brain (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles) is pictured here with an exit sign at the end of his term as Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. He now joins a distinguished list of former section chairs who have advocated for legal writing professors within the AALS and the legal education community. He began his legal career in the litigation department of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he received a pro bono award from the LA County Bar Association for his work with Public Counsel, and represented the ACLU in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He later joined the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law where he taught contracts, torts, constitutional law, sales, and trial practice. While at Pepperdine, he co-taught a course on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court with Chief Justice Rehnquist, tried cases on a volunteer basis for the LA District Attorney’s Office, and served as a commercial arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He later taught at Pacific McGeorge School of Law before becoming a partner at the litigation firm of Howarth & Smith where he tried fraud, defamation, securities, products liability, and assault matters, representing clients like the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Suzuki Motor Corporation and the victims of 9/11. He joined the Loyola faculty in 2006. He is a prolific author and an innovative teacher who has used and developed games for use in class, such as Contracts Jeopardy and Legal Writing Family Feud. If we only known about those innovations earlier, our survey says that we might have had a very different panel session at the AALS Annual Meeting.

Sabrina DeFabritisThe new Section Chair is Professor Sabrina DeFabritiis (Suffolk University Law School). She graduated from Boston College and Suffolk University Law School, where she served as Vice President of the Moot Court Honor Board and the Journal of Trial and Appellate Advocacy. She was a member of the Moot Court Tax Team, which won the National Competition in 2002. Seems like yesterday. After clerking for the Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court, Professor DeFabritiis spent approximately four years as an associate in the Boston office of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy P.C., where she practiced in their advanced motions and appellate practice department. She teaches Legal Practice Skills and Advanced Legal Writing. She also serves as the Faculty Advisor to the Foreign Direct Investments Moot Team and the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Team.

The new Section Chair-Elect (who will take office next January when the AALS meets in San Diego) is Professor Suzanna K. Moran (University of Denver, Sturm College of Law). The Section Secretary is Professor Wendy Adele Humphrey (Texas Tech University School of Law).

Other members of the Section's Executive Committee, in addition to immediate Past Section Chair Bob Brain, are Professors Rebekah Hanley (University of Oregon School of Law), Allison Martin (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law), Joe Mastrosimone (Washburn University School of Law), Anne Mullins (University of North Dakota School of Law), and Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech University School of Law).


January 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hiring at Chicago-Kent

Chicago-Kent College of Law is seeking applications for its Visiting Assistant Professor Program.  Visiting Assistant Professors are generally appointed for an initial term that can be renewed to a total of four years. Each Visiting Assistant Professor normally teaches a single section of approximately 30 first-year legal writing students, with Legal Writing I taught in the fall and Legal Writing II taught in the spring. Regular faculty meetings are held to coordinate assignments and provide newer Visiting Assistant Professors with the opportunity to enhance their legal writing teaching skills, share experiences, and plan upcoming assignments and classes.

In addition to teaching Legal Writing, each Visiting Assistant Professor teaches a single doctrinal course each year, although the professor may opt out of such teaching in his or her first year. Visiting Assistant Professors may teach any course in the law school curriculum other than required courses with class allocation based on the professor's experience and interests and the school's curricular needs. Teaching additional courses is permitted, but discouraged until the Visiting Assistant Professor has written at least one article, as the labor-intensive nature of the course preparation makes it difficult to find time for scholarship. Visiting Assistant Professors are provided with mentoring and guidance from other faculty in preparing and teaching doctrinal courses.

The school provides Visiting Assistant Professors with considerable assistance and guidance in developing their academic scholarship, including a Research and Travel fund. Traditionally, Visiting Assistant Professors use their time at the school to write and publish one or more scholarly articles as a basis (together with their teaching experience) for eventually attaining a tenure-track law teaching position. In addition to providing faculty mentors, the school offers a series of informal roundtables at which faculty members, including Visiting Assistant Professors, can discuss works in progress with their colleagues.

If you are interested in applying for the Visiting Assistant Professor  program, please submit a cover letter, current curriculum vitae, one writing sample, and a research agenda. You may address your cover letter to the "VAP Selection Committee.”  The school began accepting materials as of Nov. 1, 2016. Please email your materials to Lila Wilson at



January 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Miami: How to Conduct Free Legal Research Online

Barbara BavisThe American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress will present a program on "How to Conduct Free Legal Research Online" on Friday, February 3, 2017 during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami, Florida.

The speaker will be Barbara Bavis, a Senior Legal Reference Specialist in the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.  With approximately 2.65 million volumes, the Law Library of Congress is the largest legal collection in the world. (Barbara Bavis is pictured here with Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, a member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.)

The free legal research program will be held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel Biscayne Bay, Level 3, Lummus Island. The hotel is located at 1633 N Bayshore Drive, Miami, Florida

There is no registration fee for the ABA Midyear Meeting, but you must register to attend programs. Click here to register.

To be sure there are enough handouts (they often run out), please also RSVP to Annette Colman at

If you're a law professor, lawyer, or law student in the Miami area, you should plan to attend this program as well as other events during the ABA Midyear Meeting. Click here to see the 15-page calendar of events being held during the ABA Midyear Meeting.


January 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

American Constitution Society Announces Judges for the 2017 Cudahy Writing Competition

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy has announced the judging panel for the 10th Annual Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law, honoring the late Judge Cudahy's contribution to the field. 

  • The Honorable Alok Ahuja, Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District
  • Jack M. Beermann, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  • Jeffrey P. Kehne, former Principal, Hill & Kehne LLP
  • The Honorable Paul Oetken, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Amy Widman, Associate Professor of Law, Northern Illinois University College of Law
  • Allison M. Zieve, Director, Public Citizen Litigation Group

The competition is open to practicing lawyers, policymakers, academics, and law students. A winner will be selected in both the lawyer and student categories. Each winning author will receive a cash prize of $1,500, as well as special recognition at the 2017 ACS National Convention.

The submission deadline is February 5, 2017.

January 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The SSRN Homepage Gets an Upgrade

SSRNIf you haven't visited the website for the Social Science Research Network ("SSRN") recently, you're in for some pleasant surprises. The new home page is more engaging and there's improvements in the full text searching. A new design for authors' pages is also in the works.

SSRN's eLibrary provides 710,460 research papers from 327,700 researchers across 24 disciplines, including law. SSRN provides materials that simply are not available anywhere else. Many of these materials are in the form of draft articles that have not yet been published. The original idea behind SSRN was to provide a platform for scholars to be able to share preliminary research and draft articles with other scholars, who could access the materials posted and communicate directly with the author.  

If you're a litigator, a search of SSRN should be an essential step before deposing any expert. Search the topic of your legal issue as well as the names of your expert witnesses, opposing counsel, and parties. You may be surprised at what you can find on SSRN with a simple search.

Click here to have a look at the new homepage for SSRN.


January 10, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Great Source for Sample Appellate Briefs

US Supreme CourtBryan Garner has shared with us one of his favorite sources to find examples of excellent legal writing. It's the website with links to the briefs of the Solicitor General of the United States. The Solicitor General supervises and conducts government litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court. Almost all of that litigation is channeled through the Office of the Solicitor General and is actively conducted by the Office. The United States is involved in approximately two-thirds of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the merits each year. Their briefs are well written and provide good examples for your own writing.

Click here to have a look.


January 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

What I Wish I Knew About Learning Legal Writing

What I Wish I KnewIt's the start of a new semester for law students around the country. In legal writing classes, some students will be continuing with their professors from last semester while others will be starting with new professors. In either case, a useful discussion question for an early class this semester is to ask students what they wish they knew about legal writing when they first started their legal writing classes.

Here is a summary of some of the answers that students gave in a classroom in southern California:

  • I would have liked to know more about how to organize my research materials. It was hard to have a great quote but not be able to find which case it was from.
  • I wish we knew that the examples of legal writing that we read in casebooks aren't necessarily the best examples of legal writing.
  • It would have been helpful to have more Bluebook training before we started writing. I worried so much about the technical aspects of legal citation that I couldn't really focus on what I needed to do with the written legal analysis in my memorandum.
  • If you don't cite correctly, you won't have accurate legal writing.
  • Citations can be very powerful when used correctly.
  • I didn't know how hard it would be to learn the Bluebook. Maybe it would help to watch a video on legal citation even before we started law school.
  • I wish I knew how important it was to get to the point in the legal analysis in my memorandum. I used too many fluff words and didn't get to the point.
  • I learned that I need to budget a lot more time for research.
  • Take good notes when you research to save time when you write.
  • Majority and dissenting views can really affect how you analyze a case.
  • I wish I knew how much time I would spend writing.
  • I learned that I wasn't really a good writer and that I needed to work hard at becoming one.
  • I wish that I knew more about time management.

And what do the students want to know more about now (rather than learning in April or May)?

  • I'm not sure how an appellate brief is organized.
  • How do you find the correct standard of review for an appellate brief?
  • I want to know the best way to prepare for an oral argument. We all hear nightmare stories about the oral argument competitions that go badly and we want to avoid that.
  • I'm terrified of speaking in public. I want to know how to learn how to stand up in front of an audience without passing out.
  • I would like to see some examples of good appellate briefs.
  • I would like to know how to work more effectively on small group assignments.

Please let us know how your students answer this question (or how you might answer this yourself now with months or years of legal writing experience).


January 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)