Monday, April 24, 2017

Topics for the 2018 Jessup Moot Court Competition

Many readers of this blog are coaches of teams that compete in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

The International Law Students' Association announced that the topics for the 2018 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition will be:

  • the validity of interstate arbitral awards,
  • the capture of a marine vessel,
  • the breach of nuclear disarmament obligations, and
  • the conduct of naval warfare.

The problem itself will be released in September and memorials will be due in January. Qualifying national and regional rounds are held around the world before the international finals in Washington DC in April 2018.


April 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Social Media and Legal Ethics

Another presenter at the Scribes CLE program at the Oklahoma City University School of Law was attorney 20170421_161713John Browning of Passman & Jones P.C., in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Browning is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a member of Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers. His practice areas include Data Privacy, Network Security, Electronic Discovery, and Information Management & Compliance.

His presentation warned attorneys and law students of the dangers of social media for lawyers, citing many recent cases of attorney misconduct and disciplinary actions based on Twitter and Facebook posts. He also discussed whether attorneys now have a duty to investigate social media posts of potential jurors, parties, and witnesses in litigation. He warned against misguided attempts to "friend" jurors, witnesses, or adverse parties, noting that such attempts would be ethical violations (and that you can't avoid the ethical violation by asking your paralegal to "friend" an adverse party).

One important admonition he shared involved the breach of a confidential settlement agreement for $80,000. When the plaintiff's daughter disclosed on her Facebook account that she was going to Europe on a trip being paid for by that settlement money, the settlement was voided and the plaintiff had to return the entire amount. You can read more about that case by clicking here or here.

For his work to promote ethical uses of social media by lawyers, Mr. Browning received the 2016 Lola Wright Foundation Award. That award is presented annually to a Texas attorney to recognize "outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics in Texas.” 


April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scribes Legal Writing CLE Program in Oklahoma

20170421_145040Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- is holding its 2017 Legal Writing CLE Program today at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Among the panels today was one on drafting judicial opinions and appellate briefs. The panelists (from left to right) were: Valerie Couch, Dean of the Oklahoma City University School of Law; Illinois Appellate Court Justice (and President of Scribes) Michael Hyman; Chief Judge Kem Thompson Frost of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals; and Minnesota Appellate Court Judge (and Scribes Board Member) Kevin Ross, the panel moderator.

20170421_141614The panel examined the structure and purpose of each part of an appellate court opinion. The panel described effective ways of presenting the facts and controlling law. They discussed the dangers of using humor in judicial opinions, noting that for litigants their cases are complex, expensive, and serious. And not to disappoint, the panelists also discussed the hot topic of whether citations should appear in the text of an appellate court opinion or in a footnote.



April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scribes Establishes the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award

Joe KimbleScribes – The American Society of Legal Writers – has renamed its Distinguished Service Award as the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award. The honor came as a complete surprise to Professor Kimble, a former Executive Director and longtime Board Member of Scribes. Professor Kimble was in the audience at the Oklahoma City University School of Law when the announcement was made. The decision to name the Distinguished Service Award for Professor Kimble was a unanimous decision of the Scribes Board of Directors in great appreciation of his years of dedicated service to Scribes.

Joseph Kimble is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. He was a staff attorney for the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals. He later practiced law in Flint, Michigan. He joined the full-time Thomas Cooley faculty in 1984.

He is senior editor of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing and the longtime editor of the "Plain Language" column in the Michigan Bar Journal. He has published dozens of articles on legal writing and written two acclaimed books. He led the redrafting of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Professor Kimble is also a past president of the international organization Clarity, served as the executive director of Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers), is a founding director of the Center for Plain Language, and was on the board of the Legal Writing Institute. He is a Fellow of the State Bar of Michigan and a member of the State Bar's Publications Committee.

In 2000, he was named a "Plain English Champion" by the Plain English Campaign, in England. He is one of the first persons to receive that award. In 2007, he won the first Plain Language Association International Award for being a "champion, leader, and visionary in the international plain-language field." He has twice won a prestigious Burton Award for Reform in Law — in 2007 for his work on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in 2011 for his work on the Federal Rules of Evidence. In 2010, he won the award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research of the Association of American Law Schools. And in 2015, he received the John W. Reed Lawyer Legacy Award from the State Bar of Michigan.

Kenneth GartnerThe first recipient of the Kimble Distinguished Service Award was the Honorable Kenneth L. Gartner, a longtime Chair of the Scribes Brief-Writing Award Committee. With the help of a large team of legal writing professors and attorneys who read winning briefs submitted from moot court competitions across the country, the Scribes Brief-Writing Award Committee annually selects the “Best of the Best” Moot Court Briefs.

Kenneth Gartner is a commercial trial and appellate litigator with the New York law firm of Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello LLP, where his practice includes commercial real property, business contracts, tort, and fraud cases. He also represents judges, lawyers, and law firms in criminal, civil, and disciplinary matters and serves as an expert witness or special counsel on legal ethics issues. He previously served as a civil and criminal trial judge in the Nassau County District Court, where he earned the history of being the most published judge in the history of the New York State District Court. He has chaired the Scribes Brief-Writing Committee for more than ten years.


April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Milani Writing Competition on Disability Law, Civil Rights, Family and Medical Leave, or Sexual Orientation

Mercer Law School and the American Bar Association host an annual legal writing competition in honor of Mercer's former legal writing professor, Adam A. Milani. The ABA website says that the First Prize will range between $300 and $500, depending on whether multiple awards are given, and possible publication in the Disability Rights Reporter. But the Mercer website says that the award is up to $1000, and that seems to be the correct information.

The submission may address any aspect of disability law, theory, or practice the contestant chooses. Other permissible topics include issues arising under any of the following statutes: Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Age Discrimination in Employment Act; Family and Medical Leave Act; or any state statutes or municipal ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The deadline for submission is Friday, June 9, 2017.  Further information is available by clicking here.

Hat tip to Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne


April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

LWI Launches its New Website

The Legal Writing Institute released its new website this week. Click here to have a look.

It's fun, friendly, and engaging. You may want to spend your entire summer break surfing this website, which offers a "rich array of conferences, publications, resources, events, and projects sponsored by LWI and carried out by its active volunteer members." The website also includes membership information.

Congratulations to the website designers and to the brave content providers.



April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

National Order of Scribes

Scribes -- The American Society of Legal Writers -- offers its law school institutional members the opportunity to honor a small number of graduates to the National Order of Scribes.

The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, one of the institutional members of Scribes, inducted its student members yesterday as part of a special awards ceremony held at the law school. The new members inducted were:

  • Jordannah Bangi
  • Mitchell Brown
  • Francisco Espinosa
  • Katherine Fisk
  • Stephanie Snow
  • Taylor Riskin
  • Andrea Valle
  • Corey Varma

The students were welcomed into the National Order of Scribes by Dean Darby Dickerson, the Immediate Past-President of Scribes, and Professor Mark E. Wojcik, the President-Elect of Scribes.

In addition to the National Order of Scribes, The John Marshall Law School is one of two law schools that also has a Scribes Student Chapter that meets regularly through the year.

April 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whittier Law School in California Decides to Close

Trustees of Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California announced plans this week to stop admitting new students. A report in today's New York Times said the school had said that it was committed to ensuring that current students would be able to graduate, but it would not admit any new students for the Fall. Elizabeth Olson, Whittier Law School Announces Plan to Close, N.Y. Times, Apr. 20, 2017, at B4.

The New York Times reports that Whittier Law School, an ABA-accredited law school, currently has approximately 400 students. Its bar pass rate for the California Bar Exam last July was only 22 percent, and the employment rate for graduates was only 29.7 percent. The law school had opened in 1966 and was accredited in 1978.

Whittier will be the first ABA-accredited law school to close. Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, which will close in June, had only provisional ABA-accreditation. Two other schools in Minnesota merged (Hamline and William Mitchell). And the for=profit Charlotte Law School in North Carolina was put on probation and its students denied federal loan money.


April 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Empire State Legal Writing Conference

Registration is now open for this year’s Empire State Legal Writing Conference being held this year at New York Law School on Friday, May 19, 2017. Click here to register (free) by May 1, 2017.

Conference Schedule

8:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.: Registration, Coffee, and Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.: Welcome


9:20-10:10: Connections across the Curriculum

  • ·      Maya Grosz and Maggie Lewis (Seton Hall)
  • ·      Aníbal Rosario Lebrón (Howard)

10:10-11:10: The Writing and Thinking Jigsaw

  • ·      Jill Barton (Miami)
  • ·      Aliza Milner (Syracuse)
  • ·      Cynara Hermes McQuillan (NYLS)

11:10-11:20: Break

11:20-12:10: Inspiration in the Classroom and Beyond

  • ·      Joan Foley and Ann Nowak (Tuoro)
  • ·      Abigail Perdue (Wake Forest)

12:15-1:15: Lunch (sponsored by Lexis)

1:20-2:20: Lawyering in Action

  • ·      Stephen Paskey (Buffalo)
  • ·      Cameron Arnold and Susan Greene (Brooklyn)
  • ·      Laura Reilly (Buffalo)

2:20-3:10: Hinting at a Storyline

  • ·        Kristen Tiscione (Georgetown),
  •        Melissa Weresh (Drake),
  •        Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers Camden)

3:10-3:20: Break

3:20-4:10: Lawyers for the Next Generation

  • ·      Monica Todd and Lori Roberts (Western State)
  • ·      Debra Austin (Denver)

Register by May 1, 2017.

*Please contact Professor Anne Goldstein at for hotel information and other questions.

The Program Committee Members are Professors Robin Boyle (St. John’s), Heidi Brown (Brooklyn), Kirk Burkhalter (New York), Elizabeth Fajans (Brooklyn), Anne Goldstein (New York), Aliza Milner (Syracuse), Ann Nowak (Touro), Stephen Paskey (Buffalo), Gerald Rock (Albany), Amy Stein (Hofstra), Lynn Su (New York), and Michelle Whelan (Cornell).


April 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal of Legal Education Articles on ABA Standard 405(c)

The Journal of Legal Education (JLE) has released its Spring 2017 issue. This issues includes several articles addressing the American Bar Association Accreditation Standard 405(c), which sets minimum standards for the employment terms of clinical faculty at accredited law schools. The articles include:

Hat tip to Ralph Brill


April 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nominations for the Mary Lawrence Award

The Awards Committee of the Legal Writing Institute is seeking nominations for the 2017 Mary S. Lawrence Award, which will be awarded at the Association of Legal Writing Directors Conference in July 2017.  Any member of LWI may nominate someone for the award. 
Please submit nominations directly to Kirsten Dauphinais,, by Friday, April 14, 2017.
The award is named for Professor Emerita Mary S. Lawrence, longtime Director of Legal Writing and Research at the University of Oregon School of Law and an early Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research.  For her scholarship and her pioneering work in legal writing education, Mary received the first Distinguished Service Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research; the inaugural Marjorie Rombauer Award from the Association of Legal Writing Directors; a joint LWI/ALWD Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education. 
In the spirit of recognizing the many individuals who make significant contributions to the field of legal writing, the LWI Awards Committee especially encourages nominees who have not already received other LWI or legal writing awards and nominations of women, people of color, and members of other traditionally under-represented groups. Members of the LWI Board of Directors and the LWI Awards Committee are ineligible for nomination until at least one year after completing their service.
Please include a brief statement (no more than 500 words) in support of the person or persons that you are nominating to receive the Mary S. Lawrence Award.  You may also attach that person’s C.V.

Hat tip to the LWI Award Committee (Myra Orlen and Kirsten Dauphinais, chairs, and members Brenda Gibson, Margaret Hannon, Greg Johnson, Mary Nagel, and Suzanne Rowe)



April 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Registration Now Open for the 2017 ALWD Conference

The 2017 Association of Legal Writing Directors ("ALWD") Conference Committee invites you to the 2017 conference, Acknowledging Lines: Talking About What Unites and Divides Us.  Speaker details, and a link to the registration page, are available on the conference website:  The ALWD Conference will be held at the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from July 19-21, 2017.
Hat tip to the 2017 ALWD Conference Committee: Amy Vorenberg, Anne Mullins, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff, Alyssa Dragnich, Chris Soper, Brad Clary, Anne Ralph, David Krech, Rosi Lozada Schrier, Joe Mastrosimone, Shakira Pleasant, Tanya Bartholomew, Sam Moppett, Norm Plate, Mary Garvey Algero, Greg Johnson, Scott Farley, Christine Coughlin, and Michelle Falkoff.

April 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)