Sunday, April 29, 2018

Monkey Lacks Standing Under Copyright Act

Naruto, the seven-year-old Crested Macaque (a monkey) who took a selfie on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia had Article III standing under the U.S. Constitution but he (and all other animals) lacked statutory standing under the Copyright Act to sue for copyright infringement. Click here to read the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Naruto v. Slater.


April 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Save the Date! LWI 2020 in Washington D.C.

The Legal Writing Institute 2020 Biennial Conference will be hosted by the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. from July 15-18, 2020.

The next LWI Conference is in Milwaukee at Marquette University School of Law, from July 11-14, 2018.


April 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Finalists Announced for the 2018 Scribes Law-Review Award

Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers--presents an annual award to the best law-review article written by a law student.

A total of 57 articles were nominated for the 2018 award. From that number, the screening committee selected the following finalists:

  • Caroline Donze, Breaking the Seal of Confession: Examining the Constitutionality of the Clergy-Penitent Privilege in Mandatory Reporting Law (Louisiana Law Review);
  • Adam K. Hersh, Daniel in the Lion's Den: A Standard Reconsideration of Religious Exemptions from Nondiscrimination Laws since Obergefell (Standford Law Review);
  • Estalyn Marquis, Nothing less than the Dignity of Man: Women Prisoners, Reproductive Health, and Unequal Access to Justice under the Eighth Amendment (California Law Review);
  • Fiona O'Carroll, Inherently Governmental: A Legal Argument for Ending Private Federal Prisons and Detention Centers (Emory Law Journal);
  • Steven B. Pet, Preserving Antitrust Class Actions: Rule 23(b)(3) Predominance and the Goals of Private Antitrust Enforcement (Virginia Law and Business Review); and
  • Ryan J. Silver, Fixing United States Elections: Increasing Voter Turnout and Ensuring Representative Democracy (Drexel Law Review).

The winning article was:

  • Julie Lynn Rooney, Going Postal: Analyzing the Abuse of Mail Covers under the Fourth Amendment (Vanderbilt Law Review).

The Scribes Law-Review Award was presented in Chicago on March 17, 2018 at the National Conference of Law Reviews. At that time, the other finalists were not identified. This is the first public list of the 2018 finalists. Congratulations to all.

The final selection committee included Associate Dean Glen-Peter Ahlers (Barry University School of Law), Professor Mary Bowman (Seattle University School of Law), Mr. Steven Feldman (Legal Advisor to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and Professor Richard Leiter (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).

Mark E. Wojcik, President, Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers

April 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What Happens to Your Appeal When You Don't Follow the Rules of Appellate Procedure?

Simple. Your appeal gets dismissed. Ammar v. Schiller DuCanto and Fleck LLP, 2017 IL App (1st ) 162931, 419 Ill. Dec. 541, 93 N.E.3d 660.

The appellate brief in Ammar failed to cite the record and failed to cite supporting legal authority for various points. This was the third time that the plaintiff had brought an appeal, and his briefs each violated the rules of appellate procedure.

It didn't matter that the appellant was not an attorney. "The plaintiff's pro se status does not allow him to claim ignorance of our supreme court rules or excuse his noncompliance. Where a party has chosen to represent himself, he is held to the same standard as a licensed attorney and must comply with the same rules. Id. para. 15, 419 Ill. Dec. at 544, 93 N.E.2d at 663.


April 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

JALWD Editorial Board

The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) has announced that Dr. JoAnne Sweeny (Louisville) will be the new co-Editor-in-Chief of Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD, the legal-writing journal published by ALWD. Dr. Sweeny is stepping into the role that Joan Magat (Duke) has held for the previous eight volumes.

ALWD also announced that Jessica Wherry (Georgetown) would be co-Managing Editor of JAWL


April 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Save the Date: 2019 Applied Legal Storytelling Conference in Boulder, Colorado

The Legal Writing Institute and the Clinical Legal Education Association have announced that the 2019 Applied Legal Storytelling Conference will be hosted by the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Scholarship Group—a consortium of faculty representing University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Denver; and the University of Wyoming. 
The conference will be held July 9-11, 2019 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The conference co-chairs will be Nantiya Ruan (Denver) and Amy Griffin (Colorado).  The Site Selection Committee was chaired by Jason Palmer and included Elizabeth Keith, Ruth Anne Robbins, Beth Schwartz, and Kris Tiscione.

Hat tip to LWI President Kim Chanbonpin.



April 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Supporting the Law Library of Congress

The Legal Writing Institute and Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers—have each sent letters congratulating the American Bar Association on passing Resolution 109 at the 2018 Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. That resolution urges the U.S. Congress “to approve appropriations to the Library of Congress necessary to enable the Law Library of Congress to adequately staff, modernize, and enhance its services, collections, facilities, digital products, and outreach efforts.”

The Law Library of Congress is the largest law library in the world, with approximately three million volumes. Much of its collection is unique and unavailable even in countries where the materials originated. Building and maintaining such a unique and magnificent collection requires trained staff and sufficient resources, including special facilities to store and preserve rare law books. Researchers around the world use this unique collection.

LWI and Scribes also wrote in support of the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, an entity first established 86 years ago as the Special Committee on Facilities of the Law Library of Congress. Now known as the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, it helps inform the public, bar association members, and members of the legal community about the vast and unique collections of treasures in the Law Library of Congress.



April 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Prof. Teri McMurtry-Chubb Elected to Scribes National Board of Directors

Teri McMurtry-ChubbTeri McMurtry-Chubb, Professor of Law at Mercer University School of Law, has been elected to the National Board of Directors of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers.

Professor McMurtry-Chubb researches, teaches, and writes in the areas of discourse analysis, genre analysis and rhetoric, critical legal studies, hegemony studies, and legal history. She has lectured nationally on structural workplace discrimination, disproportionate sentencing for African Americans, racial and gender inequalities in post-secondary education, and African diasporic cultural forms. She has also facilitated narrative mediations of racial disputes in the academic workplace.

Professor McMurtry-Chubb has taught at Loyola Law School-LA, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, The University of Iowa, Des Moines Area Community College, Drake University School of Law, and Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University. While at Fairhaven College, she served as an Assistant Professor of Law and Hegemony Studies, and was the co-founder and first director of Fairhaven’s Center for Law, Diversity, and Justice.

Before returning to academia, Professor McMurtry-Chubb was a Civil Litigation Associate at the law firm of Huber, Book, Cortese, Happe & Brown, P.L.C. (now Huber, Book, Cortese & Lanz, P.L.C.) in Des Moines, Iowa. When she joined the firm, she was the first person of color ever to be hired there and one of only two African American women in the entire state of Iowa in private practice. She practiced in the areas of insurance defense, employment discrimination, and employee benefits involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Before entering private practice, McMurtry-Chubb became the first African American woman hired as a law clerk for the 5th Judicial District of Iowa.

Professor McMurtry-Chubb is a past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD). She has also chaired the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Diversity Initiatives Committee.  She is the author of the book Legal Writing in the Disciplines: A Guide to Legal Writing Mastery (Carolina Academic Press 2012), and a contributor to Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court (Cambridge University Press 2016). 

Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers--was founded in 1963 as a national organization of legal writers dedicated to helping and encouraging people who write about the law. For the past 65 years, Scribes has promoted these goals by sponsoring awards, conducting programs, and publishing periodicals. The organization recently moved its institutional headquarters to The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Membership in Scribes is open to persons who have published two law review articles or a book on a legal subject. There are also associate members, student members, and institutional members. Further information about Scribes is available by clicking here.


April 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Benjamin Franklin's Papers are Now Online

The papers of American scientist, statesman, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin have been digitized and are now available online for the first time from the Library of Congress. The Library announced the digitization today in remembrance of the anniversary of Franklin’s death on April 17, 1790.

The Franklin papers consist of approximately 8,000 items mostly dating from the 1770s and 1780s. These include:

  • the petition that the First Continental Congress sent to Franklin, then a colonial diplomat in London, to deliver to King George III;
  • letterbooks Franklin kept as he negotiated the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War;
  • drafts of the treaty;
  • notes documenting his scientific observations, and
  • correspondence with fellow scientists.

The collection is online at:

Hat tip to the Library of Congress.


April 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Congratulations to Emily Grant at Washburn

Emily Grant - WashburnThe Washburn University Board of Regents has unanimously granted Emily Grant's petition for tenure and her promotion to full Professor of Law.

Professor Grant joined the Washburn faculty in 2011, where she teaches courses in legal writing and estates and trusts. She previously taught legal writing courses at her alma mater, the University of Illinois College of Law, where as a student she served as articles editor for the University of Illinois Law Review. She then joined the University of Kansas School of Law faculty as a part-time lecturer in the Lawyering Program and was later named as a full-time lawyering professor while also working with students as part of the Academic Resources Program.

Before starting her teaching career, Professor Grant was Court Counsel for the  Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau, a small country in the Western Pacific Ocean. She also clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for federal district courts in Illinois and Kansas.

Professor Grant is a co-director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning.

Hat tip to Joseph Mastrosimone, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Washburn University School of Law.

Congratulations Emily (and Washburn)!



April 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kimble on Textualism

Joe KimbleJoseph Kimble, Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law, spoke on April 12, 2018 on the subject of "Textualism" at a meeting of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. The event was held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Textualism is the interpretive theory espoused by Justice Thomas, Justice Gorsuch, and the late Justice Scalia. In his presentation on the subject, Professor Kimble reviewed several high-level cases in which courts have grappled with applying textual canons. Cases he discussed included Lockhart v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 958 (2016), Yates v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1074 (2015), and Paroline v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1710 (2014).

His presentation challenged the audience to consider how better drafting could have avoided the interpretive issue in the first place. He also presented evidence on whether textualism is the neutral, objective, non-ideological approach to judging that it claims to be.

Professor Kimble is the author of several books, including Seeing Through Legalese: More Essays on Plain Language (Carolina Academic Press 2017). He 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. 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 a lifetime-achievement award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2015, he received the John W. Reed Lawyer Legacy Award from the State Bar of Michigan. And in 2017, Scribes created the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award.


April 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Best Cookies Ever

Best Cookies EverThese are the cookies being served today at the Scribes National Legal Writing CLE Program at The John Marshall Law School.

The cookies honor legal writer Thomas Jefferson on the 275th anniversary of his birth. They also honor Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers.

Photo by Dean Darby Dickerson of The John Marshall Law School.


April 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judges Discuss Good and Bad Legal Writing

20180413_111349Appellate and supreme court judges are consumers of legal writing. They read hundreds--make that thousands--of briefs. A panel of judicial readers shared their thoughts at the Scribes National Legal Writing CLE Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The panelists were Justice Mary Jane Theis of the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Kevin G. Ross of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost of the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals. The panel moderator is Michele M. Jochner, a partner at Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck LLP.

Here are some thoughts from the Justices:

  • A good issue statement--one that states the actual issues--is extremely helpful to judges. One judge will compare the issue statements from both the appellant's and appellee's briefs and use the version that most accurately states the issues in the case.
  • Keep the issues readable and easy to comprehend.
  • Keep the number of issues to a reasonable number. One appellate brief included 17 issues -- far too many for that case.
  • Using humor in a brief can be effective, but when it's not effective it can break a case. Lawyers take a big risk by attempting to inject humor into a brief. It's rarely worth the risk.
  • The statement of facts should be objective. Save the arguments for the argument.
  • Be fair in the statement of facts because it will help you frame the best issues for the court.
  • Subheadings help in a statement of facts, but save the argumentative headings for the argument.
  • Prefer the active voice.
  • Order the facts in a way that lays the groundwork for the analysis that will follow -- sometimes a chronological order is not always the best choice.
  • If you include irrelevant facts or minutia in the statement of facts, judges will be distracted by trying to figure out why you included particular facts.
  • Don't insert dates in the brief unless they're necessary. Most dates are not important. (Chronology is important, but specific dates often aren't necessary for the reader.)
  • Don't ignore unfavorable facts. Judges won't be persuaded by an incomplete statement of facts.
  • Stay within the record. The facts you cite must be found in the record.
  • A reliable record is essential to establishing credibility with the court.
  • Online briefs is not the future, it's the present. Although many judges read from paper, appellate court justices are now often reading online.
  • Reading on screens requires more white space to be effective.
  • Spellcheck doesn't catch everything, and many briefs describe what the "trail court" decided.
  • Outlining helps you write a brief more effectively, particularly if you're writing the brief with others.
  • The standard of review can determine the outcome of the case. Include that standard in the body of your argument and conclude with a statement of why the case does (or doesn't) meet that standard.
  • Eliminate weak points in your argument (even if you became emotionally attached to them, they'll rob your brief of its chance for success).
  • Many judges will rely on a good "Table of Contents," so effective headings are important.
  • Use reader-friendly terms. If you have a long name for a particular document or thing, come up with a shorthand term ("the Jones Contract").
  • Don't be afraid to reorder the arguments.
  • Don't cite cases that you don't want the court to read.
  • The lawyer who is least civil--the one who attacks the lawyer for the other side--usually has the weaker argument and will usually lose.

The panel is part of the Scribes National Legal Writing CLE Program at The John Marshall Law School. Click here for more information about Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers. 


April 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scribes National CLE Program :)

Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers--is holding its national Legal Writing CLE program today in Chicago at its new institutional headquarters, The John Marshall Law School.

20180413_100638-1John Browning of Texas opened today's program with a presentation on how courts are now considering the use of emojis as evidence in criminal and civil cases. Emojis have also been used in ineffective assistance of counsel cases and in disciplinary actions involving the character and fitness of candidates for bar admission. Emojis can drastically change the meaning that would otherwise attach to written words. Emojis can express thoughts and emotions. They provide context for communications.

Scribes holds an annual national Legal Writing CLE program that is attended by judges, lawyers, and law students from around the country. This year's program is being held at the organization's new national headquarters at The John Marshall Law School. Membership information and other information about Scribes is available on the organization's website.


April 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Results of the LWI Board Elections

The Legal Writing Institute announced the results of the election for the director-at-large positions for the LWI Board of Directors. Seven persons were elected from a field of 22 candidates. They will take office at the Board meeting during the 2018 Biennial Conference at Marquette Law and serve a four-year term. 
The winners are:

Mary Nicol Bowman, Associate Professor of Law & Director of the Legal Writing Program, Seattle University School of Law

Kirsten Davis, Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law

Cassandra Hill, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Kim Holst, Clinical Professor of Law Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Shakira D. Pleasant, Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law, University of Miami School of Law

Anne E. Ralph, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Rebecca L. Scharf, Associate Professor, UNLV - William S. Boyd School of Law

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all of the individuals who put themselves forward as candidates for the LWI Board of Directors.


April 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Houston is Hiring

The University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) seeks to hire one non-tenure track Lawyering Skills & Strategies (LSS) Lecturer with Bar Prep Emphasis for the academic year 2018-2019.  The lecturer will be responsible for teaching a section of Introduction to American Law to foreign LL.M. students and a bar prep course and bar prep workshops to both JD and FLLM students.  

Qualified candidates must hold a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and be a member of the State Bar of Texas.  In addition, candidates must have strong academic credentials and substantive practice experience. Preference will be given to candidates with experience teaching LSS and/or Bar Prep.  Interested individuals can apply online.   Review of applications is underway. 

UHLC anticipates performing a search during the 2018‑19 school year to hire a full-time Clinical Professor of Law for LSS with Bar Prep Emphasis. The successful candidate for the interim Lecturer position will be encouraged to apply for that position and will be welcome as a candidate in the search. The LSS faculty work collaboratively, but individual professors have broad discretion on course organization and managemt.
The University of Houston is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. Minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

The position advertised is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment. The professor hiredwill not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range of $60,000 - $69,999 [Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. Conference travel and professional development funds may be available for the Lecturer position.] The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be approximately 25 FLLM students and 15-20 JD students.
Hat tip to Sarah J. Moratah at the University of Houston Law Center.


April 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Reminder: LWI Writers' Workshop

Here's a reminder that the Legal Writing Institute will hold its 15th Writers Workshop to take place on Sunday, July 8 through Wednesday, July 11, 2018, just before the 2018 LWI Conference in Milwaukee. 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 two adjacent mansions in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, complete with space for discussion, contemplation, and writing.  All LWI members are eligible. You must have a scholarly writing project well underway and beyond the initial stages of performing early research and drafting a tentative outline. You must at least have some sort of partial draft. In most cases, a scholarly writing project should result in a law review article or something similar.

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 also give priority to applicants who have not attended past Workshops, although a significant number of legal writing scholars have benefited so substantially from the workshop that they have returned in following years.

Participants make presentations on their projects to small groups of three and receive feedback from the other members of their group and from experienced scholarly writers who facilitate the sessions. Each session runs about ninety minutes. Participants also benefit from several guided discussion groups, each on a different topic and led by the facilitators. Participants will also have time to work on their drafts. And time to just gaze out on Lake Geneva too, we hope.

Participants will pay a $300 registration. LWI will cover meals, beginning with dinner on July 8 and ending with breakfast on July 11. For more information, contact Deborah Gordon at (215) 571-4811.

Submit your application at by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 16. The organizers will select participants on a rolling basis.

Hat tips to Cynthia Adams, Ken Chestek, Deborah Gordon, Kim Holst, Chris Rideout, and Lou Sirico.


April 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

NYSBA Offers Advanced Legal Writing Seminars

Here's a final reminder that the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) will offer an Advanced Legal Writing seminar with Justice Gerald Lebovits, a New York City judge since 2001 and president of the 300-judge New York State Association of Acting Supreme Court Justices.

Judge LebovitsJustice Lebovits has been an adjunct professor of law for 32 years, currently at Columbia, Fordham, and NYU. Students at Fordham, New York Law School, and St. John’s have each elected him Adjunct Law Professor of the Year. He has authored six books and more than 300 articles and given hundreds of CLEs on legal writing, ethics, criminal practice, and landlord-tenant law for bar associations, government organizations, and the New York State Court System. He will also be known to many New York lawyers because he has authored the Legal Writer Column for the New York State Bar Journal since 2001.

Justice Lebovits will share easy-to remember and simple-to-understand methods of persuasive writing and the essential elements of a winning brief — from cover to conclusion, including storytelling, theme, organization, style, rhetoric, ethics, and legal method. 
  • Monday, April 23, 2018 | Long Island
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2018 | Westchester
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 | NYC (Manhattan)
  • Monday, April 30, 2018 | Syracuse
  • Wednesday, May 2, 2018 | Rochester
  • Thursday, May 3, 2018 | Buffalo
  • Friday, May 4, 2018 | Albany
NYSBA Members: $125 | Non-Members: $225
4.0 MCLE Credits in Skills

April 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Baltimore is Hiring

The University of Baltimore School of Law is seeking to hire a visiting professor for the Fall 2018 semester, with the possibility of continuing through the Spring 2019 semester. For more information about the University of Baltimore School of Law, please have a look at the school's website by clicking here.

The school invites applications from candidates who have a distinguished academic background and a record of or the promise of teaching excellence. The visitor will be teaching in the fall in our innovative Torts and Introduction to Lawyering Skills course, which integrates the first year Torts class with a class on legal analysis, legal writing, and other lawyering skills. 

The University of Baltimore ("UB" or "University") does not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, race, religion, age, disability, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other legally protected characteristics in its programs, activities or employment practices. UB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/ADA Compliant Employer & Title IX Institution. 

If interested, please apply through the school's Human Resources portal for Job ID/Vacancy Number 300848 at

The position is open until filled, application review begins immediately, and applications received by April 6, 2018 will receive priority consideration.


April 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference a Great Success

Congratulations to the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, which hosted the 2018 Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference. All of the reports suggest that it was a smashing success. Those of us who didn't go will just have to be sure we make it next year!


April 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)