Capitalization in Briefs to a Trial Court

Posted on Categories Legal Writing21 Comments on Capitalization in Briefs to a Trial Court

chart_capitalRight now, our first-year students are finalizing their trial-level briefs in the LAWR 2 course.  We’ve been discussing when to capitalize certain words in a brief.  Here are the general rules according to the 18th edition of the Bluebook.  (Rule 8 and B10.6):

Continue reading “Capitalization in Briefs to a Trial Court”

A Short Primer on Apostrophe Usage

Posted on Categories Legal Writing7 Comments on A Short Primer on Apostrophe Usage

60px-Apostrophe_svgFor those of you who list mastery of apostrophe usage with the rest of your New Year’s resolutions, here is a short primer:

1. Use an apostrophe to indicate possession.

2. Place the apostrophe before the “s” when referring to a singular entity. For example, “the dog’s food bowl is in the kitchen.” Or, “Karen’s house is on the right.”  Continue reading “A Short Primer on Apostrophe Usage”

Come to the Seventeenth Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ (PILS) Auction

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School1 Comment on Come to the Seventeenth Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ (PILS) Auction

howard eisenbergThe Seventeenth Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ (PILS) Auction will be held on Friday, February 12, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Italian Conference Center at 631 East Chicago Street in Milwaukee.

The event, which is named after the late Dean Howard Eisenberg, raises funds for the Public Interest Law Society’s Summer Fellowship Program.

The silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m. Complimentary beer, wine, and soda will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The live auction, MC’d by the very entertaining Professor Ed Fallone, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Appetizers and a light dinner will be served.

Tickets are $40 per person. Student tickets are $25 if purchased by February 9. Tickets may be purchased online or by check at www.law.marquette.edu, or may be purchased at the door. Tickets may also be purchased in the student lounge at the Law School. Special Fellowship and Do-Gooder tables are available.

This year’s auction features terrific live and silent auction items. Continue reading “Come to the Seventeenth Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ (PILS) Auction”

ALWD Scholars’ Forum

Posted on Categories Legal Scholarship, Marquette Law School, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on ALWD Scholars’ Forum

On October 9, the Law School hosted an Association of Legal Writing Directors Scholars’ Forum before the Central States Region Conference.  The Forum was an all-day event in which legal writing faculty from across the United States came to discuss their current scholarship in a roundtable format.  After Dean Rofes’ warm welcome, Professor Dan Weddle from UMKC Law School gave an excellent presentation on how to critique scholarship.  The group then broke up into small sections to give the participants a chance to discuss their scholarship and receive feedback.  At the end of the day, a panel of experienced authors gave helpful and practical advice on how to get published.  Continue reading “ALWD Scholars’ Forum”

Samuel Johnson’s 300th Birthday

Posted on Categories Legal History5 Comments on Samuel Johnson’s 300th Birthday

Samuel JohnsonToday is Samuel Johnson’s 300th birthday.

After nine years of work, Samuel Johnson published a major dictionary of English words in 1755.  One of the key features of A Dictionary of the English Language was that Dr. Johnson used quotations from books where a particular word was used to illustrate the word’s meaning.

Why should a law school be interested in Samuel Johnson’s dictionary and his 300th birthday?  On the way to work this morning, I heard a BBC radio program (aired on NPR) about Dr. Johnson’s dictionary.  On that show, the commentators discussed how Dr. Johnson’s dictionary is important to the United States Constitution because it was the dictionary most often used during the time the Constitution was drafted.  Jack Lynch also refers to Dr. Johnson’s influence on documents related to the founding of this country in his 2005 New York Times article.  For further reading on this topic, Henry Hitching’s book, Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary:  The Extraordinary Story of the Book that Defined the World, looks promising.

Does anyone know of examples where legal advocates have cited Dr. Johnson’s dictionary to interpret the law?

Mastering the Art of Legal Writing

Posted on Categories Legal Writing, Marquette Law SchoolLeave a comment» on Mastering the Art of Legal Writing

childsWednesday night I went to see the movie Julie & Julia, which is about a writer, Julie, who blogs about working her way through chef Julia Child’s famed cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year.  I loved everything about the movie, and as such, I’m starting off this blog post with a discussion of the movie.  (This post was actually originally entitled “Best Brief Awards.”) 

One of my favorite scenes was when Julie pulled her first roasted whole chicken out of the oven.  I roasted my first whole chicken this summer.  Like Julie, who felt like a “lobster killer” when she boiled three live lobsters for Lobster Thermidor, I must admit that I felt a bit like an executioner when I ordered my organic hand-fed chicken through our CSA, Backyard Bounty.  Guiltily, I asked Farmer Laura how she knows which chickens are ready for slaughter.  She said she knows it’s time when the chickens start to bite her.  (I guess the lesson there is “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”)  At home with my chicken, I tried to do the chicken justice by dressing it with olive oil and sprigs of thyme and rosemary from our garden.  I felt Julie’s same sense of pride and excitement when I opened the oven door and a perfect golden-brown roast chicken appeared from the oven.

Watching the movie reminded me of how students develop in their legal writing classes.  Continue reading “Mastering the Art of Legal Writing”

Legal Writing Monograph Series

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Scholarship, Legal WritingLeave a comment» on Legal Writing Monograph Series

13156535v1_240x240_Front_Color-BlackLast year, the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Board of Directors created a Monograph series.  The Monograph’s first electronic volume is now available on the LWI website.  The focus of this first volume is “The Art of Critiquing Written Work.”  Our own Professor Alison Julien worked on this project.  Professor Jane Kent Gionfriddo stated in a post to the LWI listserv that the volumes “will focus on a specific topic relevant to teaching, curriculum, scholarship or status of Legal Writing professionals and will include substantial, well-developed pieces of scholarship in the form of law review articles or book chapters that have been previously published elsewhere.”

Storytelling in Appellate Brief Writing

Posted on Categories Legal Scholarship, Legal Writing2 Comments on Storytelling in Appellate Brief Writing

2566241384_4264b1f0f3At the end of July, both Professor Michael Smith and I attended the Applied Legal Storytelling Conference at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.  The conference was entitled “Chapter 2:  Once Upon a Legal Story” and focused on storytelling in “ways that will directly and tangibly benefit law students (i.e. future lawyers) and legal practitioners (i.e. former law students).”  The presentations I attended addressed ways to use storytelling to create a stronger narrative theme in a case and how to handle the ethical issues in storytelling.

One of the most intriguing presentations was Professor Kenneth Chestek’s talk “Judging by the Numbers:  an Empirical Study of the Power of Story.”  Professor Chestek conducted a study where he wrote four fictional test briefs:  two that focused heavily on stating the law and applying it (the “pure logos” briefs), and two that focused on creating a narrative story into which the law was inserted and applied (the “story” briefs).  (He wrote a logos brief and a story brief for both the petitioner and respondent.)  Professor Chestek solicited appellate practitioners, appellate judges, appellate judicial law clerks, appellate court staff attorneys, and legal writing professors to read these briefs and rate their strength of persuasion.  The participants knew they were taking part in a study, but they did not know who was conducting the study or what the purpose of the study was. Continue reading “Storytelling in Appellate Brief Writing”

Law School Strategies for Success

Posted on Categories Legal Education3 Comments on Law School Strategies for Success

MV5BMTk2NTY2Njg5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTc3OTQ2__V1__CR68,0,283,283_SS100_As we officially open the school year, I have been thinking a lot about what are the secrets to success in law school.  I understand that Dean Rofes spoke at Orientation about the sausage races at Miller Park.  (I personally always root for the Chorizo Sausage!)  Law school may sometimes feel a bit like a race, or, to think more classically about Aesop’s fables, like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  In that story, the tortoise ultimately wins the race using slow and steady steps to the finish line.

What does slow and steady have to do with law school?  Be steady by being methodical.  Read and brief cases before every class.  Be steady by outlining every night when you get home from class.  An hour of outlining nightly will save you from the panic of trying to cram material at the end of the semester.  Outlining each day also helps you to see where you have questions, so you can ask your professors or study group members to help you unravel those questions.  One of the benefits of a Marquette education is that the faculty are accessible; use that accessibility to your advantage.

Be also like the tortoise by being slow.  The study of law takes time.  It takes time to ponder why a decision was rendered or to think about whether a court’s reasoning is sound.  One of the ASP leaders in my Orientation section said that it takes at least ten minutes to read each page in a casebook.  Good legal reading, like good legal writing, is slow going. 

What tips do others reading this blog have for success in law school?  Share your strategies for success here!

Best wishes for a wonderful school year!

Welcome to Professor Michael Smith

Posted on Categories Legal Writing, Marquette Law School3 Comments on Welcome to Professor Michael Smith

Smith_michael_rThis fall, Marquette University Law School is fortunate to have Professor Michael R. Smith as a Robert E. Boden Visiting Professor of Law.  Professor Smith is visiting from the University of Wyoming College of Law, where he is the Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law and the Director of Legal Writing.  Professor Smith’s work in legal writing and written advocacy is nationally renowned.  He has published a book on persuasive legal writing entitled Advanced Legal Writing:  Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing (Aspen 2002).  This book has received such interest and acclaim that the release of the second edition was the impetus for a 2008 conference, A Dialogue About Persuasion in Legal Writing & Lawyering, which was held at Rutgers Law School-Camden.  Continue reading “Welcome to Professor Michael Smith”

Stephen Jay Gould on Jim Bowie, Bill Buckner, and Storytelling

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Legal Writing1 Comment on Stephen Jay Gould on Jim Bowie, Bill Buckner, and Storytelling

AlamoStephen Jay Gould, the eminent scientist and Harvard professor, was interested in human pattern recognition in stories.  He referred to the patterns that human minds want to create as “canonical stories.” His essay entitled “Jim Bowie’s Letter and Bill Buckner’s Legs”, which appears in I Have Landed:  The End of a Beginning in Natural History, describes two famous stories — one of Jim Bowie at the Alamo and the other of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner.    

Gould explains how both of these stories have often been patterned into the form of a canonical story.  In the Alamo story, the canon focuses on the Alamo defenders’ valor and honorable death.  William B. Travis, a young commander at the Alamo, wrote a letter describing the siege, which ends with the phrase “VICTORY OR DEATH.”  (60)  This famous letter is often cited in Alamo legend, but Gould points out that Bowie also wrote a letter, which fails to get mentioned because it does not fit with the canon.  (60)  He goes so far as to say Bowie’s letter is “hidden in plain” sight, ignored in a glass case at the Alamo museum.  (60-61)  Bowie thought that Santa Anna was willing to negotiate, and he wrote in Spanish to Santa Anna asking whether Santa Anna had called for a parley.  (61-62)  Santa Anna responded that he would have no mercy without unconditional surrender.  (62)

Gould then surmises that even with this response, had Bowie been less ill, “some honorable solution would eventually have emerged through private negotiations” because Santa Anna and Bowie were seasoned battle veterans.  (62-63)  Continue reading “Stephen Jay Gould on Jim Bowie, Bill Buckner, and Storytelling”

Summer Reading List

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booksIn his remarks at the hooding ceremony this spring, Dean Kearney encouraged our law graduates to remain active readers.  And during a recent presentation to the Marquette law faculty, Professor Julie Oseid asked us how many books we have on our nightstands.   

That question left me with another: what books are folks reading over the summer for pleasure?  Reading is one of the great joys in life.  Choosing the next good read is almost as satisfying.  We would love to know what books others are reading or have already read this summer to add to our own nightstand collections.  After all, we still have a few weeks to fit in some reading before classes start.   

This summer, I especially enjoyed reading— 

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova:  a Dracula tale, with a literary tour of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008, Jerome Groopman and Tim Folger, editors:  a compilation of beautifully written articles from magazines like The New Yorker.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris:  I read a third of the book before even leaving the bookstore.      

List yours to add to another nightstand.