Friday, June 15, 2018
Linda H. Edwards is the 2017 recipient of the Legal Writing Institute's Teresa Godwin Phelps Award for Scholarship in Legal Communication. Professor Edwards is the E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a nationally-recognized scholar of rhetoric and legal writing.
The Phelps Award honors individual works of outstanding scholarship specific to the legal writing discipline that are published in any given calendar year. The award is meant to set aspirational standards for others writing in the field. In making the award, the Selection Committee and the LWI Board focus solely on whether an individual work is specific to the discipline of legal writing and on whether it makes an outstanding contribution to the discipline.
The Phelps Award supports LWI’s discipline-building priority. Naming the award in honor of Terry Phelps recognizes her consistent support for and encouragement of others’ scholarly work and her own exemplary scholarship in narrative, international human rights, and legal rhetoric, including the foundational article that nourished and influenced all subsequent study of the field, The New Legal Rhetoric, 40 Sw. L.J. 1089 (1986). This article was the essential introduction to the idea that legal writing was itself a field worthy of serious study.
The LWI Selection Committee unanimously recommended Professor Edwards for the Phelps Award to recognize her 2017 article, “Telling Stories in the Supreme Court: Voices Briefs and the Role of Democracy in Constitutional Deliberation,” published in Volume 29 of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. It is the first scholarly article to address the recent explosion of narrative briefs filed by non-parties in cases pending before the United States Supreme Court, which she calls “voices briefs.” The letter nominating Professor Edwards’s article explains: Linda situates the briefs as policy that the Court can—and should—consider and illustrates how such stories can persuade by allowing justices a peek at the impact of laws on real lives, lives that may be outside justices’ own experiences. Linda gives advocates a theoretical, scholarly basis to support their decision to use voices briefs and gives the legal writing community the language to use and scholarly grounding to teach students about another way to persuade.”
The award will be presented on Friday, July 13, 2018, during the Gala Dinner at the LWI Biennial Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The LWI selection committee was chaired by Lisa A. Eichhorn and included members Mary Beth Beazley, Elizabeth Fajans, Lucy Jewel, and Teri McMurtry-Chubb.
Hat tip to Kim Chanbonpin.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Thursday, May 24, 2018
The American Bar Association has named Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, the inaugural ABA Competitions Champion.
Competitions Champion is awarded to the law school that garnered the most points through team achievements and participation in the ABA Law Student Division’s four practical skills competitions:
- The Arbitration Competition,
- Negotiation Competition,
- Client Counseling Competition and
- National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC Moot Court).
Ranking criteria and the point totals for the top teams can be found here.
“Our four competitions offer students an amazing opportunity to hone essential lawyering skills before they enter practice. Through consistent participation and success in ABA competitions, these law schools display especially well-rounded practical skills training programs. We are thrilled to recognize these schools through the Competitions Championship,” said Connie S. Smothermon, Competitions Committee co-chair and director of Competitions and Externships, University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Stetson fielded nine teams across four competitions and advanced to the national finals in the Arbitration, Negotiation and Client Counseling Competitions. Vanessa Denk, and Jahanna Azarian finished as national semifinalists at the Client Counseling Nationals in March at North Carolina Central University. The Arbitration team of Olivia Mejido, Max Brown, Caroline Garrity, and Meghan Sullivan placed first at the regional competition at Michigan State University College of Law.
“We are delighted to be recognized by the preeminent organization of our nation’s lawyers. Importantly, these skills are the foundation on which our students will build their professional careers to effectively represent clients and advocate for our communities,” added Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, dean and professor of law, Stetson University College of Law.
ABA competitions teach law students real-world legal skills in a simulated practice environment. Judges for the competitions included volunteer attorneys and sitting members of the bench. This year, over 1,300 students from 156 law schools participated in one or more of the competitions sponsored by the Law Student Division.
Top Ten ABA Competition Law Schools by Points
1. Stetson University College of Law
2. Texas Tech University School of Law
3. Drake University Law School
4. Liberty University School of Law
5 (tie). University of Oklahoma College of Law
5 (tie). Michigan State University College of Law
7 (tie). Chapman University School of Law
7 (tie). University of Illinois College of Law
9. Southern Methodist University – Dedman School of Law
10 (tie). South Texas College of Law
10 (tie). Texas A&M University School of Law
For more information on the ABA Law Student Division and the competitions, visit abaforlawstudents.com/.
(mew) (adapted from an ABA Press Release)
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Here is the list of past winners of the Burton Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education:
- Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago (to be presented on May 21, 2018)
- Linda Edwards, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law (2017)
- Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Villanova University (2016)
- Marilyn Walter, Brooklyn Law School (2015)
- Anne M. Enquist, Seattle University School of Law (2014)
- Mary Lawrence, University of Oregon School of Law (2013)
- Tina L. Stark, Boston University School of Law (2012)
- Marjorie Dick Rombauer, University of Washington (2011)
- Helene S. Shapo, Northwestern University Law School (2010)
- Richard K. Neumann Jr., Hofstra University School of Law (2009)
- Mary Beth Beazley, Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, now at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law (2008)
- Laurel Oates, Seattle University School of Law (2007)
- Ralph Brill, Chicago-Kent College of Law (2006)
- Darby Dickerson, Stetson University College of Law, now at The John Marshall Law School-Chicago (2005)
- Kent D. Syverund, Vanderbilt University Law School (2004)
The Burton Legal Writing Awards Ceremony is beyond doubt the most glamorous legal writing event anywhere. Held annually at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., this remarkable event celebrates exceptional legal writing and its teaching.
The next Burton Awards will be presented on Monday, May 21, 2018 at the Library of Congress. Click here for a look back at some photos from the 2015 awards, in a video provided courtesy of Karin Mika and Ralph Brill.
Monday, May 14, 2018
Newly released survey data from the American Bar Association on the nationwide population of lawyers indicates a total of 1,338,678 licensed, active attorneys in the United States. The total represents a 0.2 percent increase since last year and a 15.2 percent rise over the past decade in number of U.S. lawyers.
The American Bar Association National Lawyer Population Survey is an annual snapshot of the number of licensed practicing lawyers in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. territories. The association compiles this information each year from data voluntarily submitted by state bar associations or licensing agencies that are asked to provide the number of resident and active attorneys as of December 31 of the prior year. Under those parameters, the 2018 survey represents data as of December 31, 2017.
Overall, the 2018 survey indicates a slight gain in the national lawyer population, rising 0.2 percent from 1,335,963 active resident attorneys on December 31, 2016 to 1,338,678 lawyers on the same day in 2017. A look at the 10-year trend in lawyer population also shows modest year to year increases since 2008, culminating in 2018 with an overall 15.2 percent gain in practicing U.S. lawyers over the decade.
Among other findings from the report, the top five areas with the largest number of active attorneys in residence are New York (177,035), California (170,044), Texas (90,485), Florida (78,244) and Illinois (63,422). The top five areas with the fewest resident attorneys are North Dakota (1,694), Virgin Islands (776), Guam (270), North Mariana Islands (128) and American Samoa (59).
The 2018 data is presented in three tables. The first is a state-by-state listing of the number of resident lawyers with comparable data from the previous year. The next table shows the trend in population over the past 10 years, again organized by geographic area. And the last table offers the total number of lawyers by year from 1878 to present.
The numbers presented in the 2018 population report reflect the best available data provided to the ABA from the state associations and agencies. The organizations responding to the survey sometimes change their reporting standards. Among the changes affecting the 2018 report, Vermont was not able to provide current data for 2017 so the data from the most recent submission were used (2016). Virgin Islands was not able to provide residency data in 2018 due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, causing the significant increase in lawyer count. In 2018, Oklahoma removed senior members from the count of active residents (they can still practice but are over the age of 70), causing the significant drop in lawyer count. Each table is footnoted to provide relevant detail on the data submitted by each responding entity.
A full copy of the 2018 survey is located here.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
(ABA Press Release)
Sunday, April 29, 2018
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.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
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.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
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.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
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.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
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.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
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.
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: loc.gov/collections/benjamin-franklin-papers/about-this-collection.
Hat tip to the Library of Congress.
Monday, April 16, 2018
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)!
Joseph 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.
Friday, April 13, 2018
Photo by Dean Darby Dickerson of The John Marshall Law School.
Appellate 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.
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.
John 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.