2016 Mardi Gras Sports Law Moot Court Team Success

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2016 Mardi GrasThe Marquette Sports Law Moot Court team advanced to the final eight of the 2016 Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational Competition hosted by Tulane University Law School. Please congratulate team members Alexa Callahan, Darius Love, and Nicole Ways. Professors Matt Mitten and Paul Anderson coached the team.  This year the competition included more than 50 competitors and 26 teams.

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Congratulations to the 2016 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors

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The Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition is the appellate moot court competition for Marquette law students and is the capstone event of the intramural moot court program.  Students are invited to participate based on their top performance in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy course at the Law School. 

Congratulations to the participants in the 2016 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition:

Barry Braatz
David Conley
Robert Copley
Samuel Draver
Isabelle Faust
Alexis Guraz
Christopher Hayden
Ashley Heard
Amber Horak
Megan Kaldunski
Alexandra Klimko
Alicia Kort
Jessica Lothman
Alan Mazzulla
Kayla McCann
Sara McNamara
Andrew Mong
Brittany Running
Rexford Shield
Amardeep Singh
Emily Tercilla
Natalie Wisco
Samuel Woo
Kiel Zillmer

 

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Marquette Quarterfinalists at NMCC Regionals

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Marquette hosted the Region VIII round of the 66th Annual National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) this weekend, which included fourteen participating teams.

I was pleased to work with two strong, dedicated teams.  Larissa Dallman, Jeremy Klang, and Chal Little advanced the quarterfinal round.  Attorneys Emily Lonergan, Jason Luczak, and Max Stephenson coached the team.  Alexandra Don, Christopher Guthrie, and Lauren Maddente also competed and were coached by Attorneys Sue Barranco, Jesse Blocher, and Mike Cerjak.  Both teams put in many hours preparing for competition.

The NMCC is sponsored by the New York City Bar and the American College of Trial Lawyers. Over 180 law schools compete across the country.  I am grateful for the time donated by the Marquette Moot Court Association, and in particular, Alex Ackerman, who chaired this event.  Numerous judges and attorneys from around the state (and even from around the country) took their weekend time to travel to Marquette to judge the oral arguments, or earlier, to grade briefs.  We rely each year on their dedication to this event, and we truly appreciate their help.

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Marquette Quarterfinalists in Criminal Procedure Moot Court

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public
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Mary Ellis and Natalie SchiferlCongratulations to 3Ls Mary Ellis and Natalie Schiferl for placing in the quarterfinals and being awarded the third place for their Petitioner’s brief in the National Criminal Procedure Tournament this past weekend in San Diego.  The team’s advisors are Professors Susan Bay and Thomas Hammer, and the team coaches are Attys. Brittany Kachingwe, Sarah McNutt, and Jennifer Severino.  Special thanks to alum Jennifer Severino, who has been a tremendous volunteer with the Marquette moot court program as a coach and competition judge.  Atty. Severino is moving to Las Vegas and will be missed at Marquette.

 

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Ashley Heard Wins Legal Writing Society Writing Contest

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At the end of October, Marquette University Law School’s Legal Writing Society sponsored a fun writing contest, looking for poetry submissions that combined law and Halloween themes. Ashley Heard’s poem does precisely that:

There once was a law school demon

summoned by a 1L heathen.

It gave students hell

until in love it fell

with the writings of Justice Stevens.

Heard, a 2L, won a $10 gift card to the Tory Hill Café. To find out more about the Marquette Legal Writing Society, contact Lauren Maddente at lauren.maddente@marquette.edu. For other fun law-related poetry, click here. Also, check out law-related book spine poetry here and here.

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The Best Punctuation Day Ever. Period.

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GrandpaHappy National Punctuation Day—the 11th annual of this festive event. Get out your red pens and Strunk and White and get ready to have some fun today.

This Time article claims that punctuation is changing: some would say not for the better. Among other things, says this post, the apostrophe appears to be phasing out in some circles. I think that’s a shame. One problem is that some technology autocorrects apostrophes improperly, adding them where they are not supposed to be, or removing them. Perhaps tech programmers should work with editors to catch those programming errors.

Read more »

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Gender-Neutral Pronoun on the Rise?

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In English, there are three main singular pronouns: he, she, and it. When we’re talking or writing about people, we eschew it; after all, it suggests a non-human subject. This leaves us with he or she, which often are easy to use. We use he for male subjects and she for female subjects.

This is all easy enough, but there are two times when neither he nor she seems the right word choice. The first is where the gender of the subject does not matter. This situation comes up frequently in legal writing. In explaining a rule of law, we often need to include a pronoun. For example, For a plaintiff to maintain a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, he must prove the defendant’s conduct is extreme and outrageous. In that sentence, we want a singular pronoun to “match” our singular subject noun of “plaintiff.”

Writers are conscious of which pronoun to choose. Many are afraid if they pick the male pronoun—he­—they will be perceived as sexist. One easy fix to avoid picking a pronoun at all is to make the subject “plaintiff” plural so that we can use the plural pronoun “they” (e.g., For plaintiffs to maintain a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, they must prove the defendant’s conduct is extreme and outrageous.). But sometimes that doesn’t work well or we’d rather keep the subject singular. What to do then? Read more »

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Who Needs Words Anymore?

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emoji press releaseMy worst fear has been realized: we can now stop writing in words.

Last week, Chevy issued a press release written entirely in emoji (except for its hashtag line #ChevyGoesEmoji). Emoji are the little graphics that appear all over the digital world. You’ve probably gotten emails or text messages that include them: a thumbs up sign; a little yellow smiley or angry or sad face; a dog; etc. I’ve done a screen capture of a portion of that release that you can see above. According to one journalist, the press release was “utterly incomprehensible.”

The press release introduced the 2016 Chevy Cruze and seemed to be an attempt to appeal to millennials—the younger generation generally born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. While the company released its English translation the following day, those in media attempted to decipher the emoji version. Read more »

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Persuading People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded

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I just finished a recent book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. If the names Levitt and Dubner sound familiar, it’s because you may have heard of their popular (and interesting) Freakonomics books (here and here). In the book I just finished, Think Like a Freak, Levitt and Dubner set out to teach readers how to “retrain [their] brain[s]” so that they, too, can “think like a freak.” The book defines what it means to “think like a freak” (it’s not a bad thing; it’s critical and curious thinking with a twist), and offers its step-by-step guide. But one chapters stuck out to me as particularly relevant to lawyers (and law students): How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded.

Now, the easy thought here is that this advice will apply to brief writing. And, yes, that’s true, but I think we can think of persuasion more broadly. Even a lawyer’s “objective” work has an element of persuasion to it. A demand letter must “persuade” its reader to comply; an internal office memo must “persuade” its reader that the analysis is the correct (or at least best) one.

So, what do Levitt and Dubner say?

First, we must “understand how hard persuasion will be—and why” (168). Read more »

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The Necessity of Revising

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keep-calm-and-revise-11I had a student a couple of years ago who described herself as a “one-sit wonder.” That is, in all of her previous schooling, she was quite adept at pounding out a more than serviceable paper in one sitting. Once she arrived in law school, she realized that style of writing was probably not going to work. (And, to be fair, it probably shouldn’t work in any other setting, either, but I do realize that it’s the way most students do write.)

There’s rarely anyone who can pound out what should be considered “final copy” in one sitting. Really good writers realize that writing is a process; the point of that first draft is to give you something to revise. In the writing process, you should be leaving behind a trail of drafts, some of them quite rough, before you finally arrive at the polished final copy.

Why is it important—no, necessary—to revise? Read more »

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Enhancing Credibility in Brief Writing by Using Oral Argument Techniques

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This semester in Professor Susan Bay’s Advanced Legal Writing course, Rhetoric and Persuasion, our class discussed the means of persuasion: logos, pathos and ethos. Ethos immediately intrigued me because I could not grasp how to employ ethos in brief writing. One legal scholar, Professor Kirsten K. Davis, explains ethos as “classically considered the ‘persuasive force of a person’s character.’” In one word, ethos can be defined as credibility. Reading articles from legal scholars like Professor Davis helped, but I still was missing a connection. And then it occurred to me that I had been familiar with credibility, just in a different branch of advocacy: oral arguments.

My understanding of oral arguments stems from my participation in Moot Court. I am proud to be a Moot Court enthusiast. I did not know about it until Professor Rebecca Blemberg recommended that my 1L Legal Writing, Analysis and Research classmates and I attend the semi-finals and finals of the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition. I was awestruck by the oralists. I vividly recall standing with Professor Blemberg, telling her that I could never recite law or formulate an oral argument the way those students did. To my great surprise, one year later, I competed in the Jenkins Competition.

Through participating in the Appellate Writing and Advocacy course as a student and as a student coach, the Jenkins Competition as a competitor and a student coach, and the National Moot Court Competition as a competitor, I have received and shared advice about how to be a credible advocate at the podium. Here are some ideas about credibility that transcend oral arguments, and that you can apply to your own brief writing.

Respect Your Audience.

Respecting your audience is one way to earn credibility. Just as an oralist does in oral arguments, use proper form when addressing courts in your brief (i.e. the court you are writing to is written as “This Court should,” and a court you are writing about should be written as “The court in Smith”). You can also show respect for your reader and earn your reader’s respect by being respectful to others. Address strong counterarguments or, if you are responding, then the opposing counsel’s strong arguments, and provide specific reasons why those arguments are flawed whether it be because of logic, fact, or policy. Read more »

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Congratulations to Marquette’s 2015 Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Teams

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Congratulations to 3Ls Ariel Dade and Keith Reese-Kelly for reaching the quarterfinals of the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition regionals in Atlanta. 3Ls Brian Brockman and Nathan Cromer also competed, and Professor Kali Murray served as the teams’ faculty advisor. The teams were coached by Attorneys Ryann Beck, Garet Galster, and David Hanson. This year’s competition problem involved two issues: first, the proper definition of a claim, and second, the public availability status of a printed publication.

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