Justice Ginsburg on Empowering Oral Argument

Justice GinsburgAn interview with Justice Ginsburg appears in the October issue of Elle magazine.  In the article, Justice Ginsburg describes her first oral argument before the United States Supreme Court.  Any advocate could relate to her story:

I had, I think, 12 minutes, or something like that, of argument.  I was very nervous.  In those days, the court sat from 10 to 12, and 1 to 3.  It was an afternoon argument.  I didn’t dare eat lunch.  There were many butterflies in my stomach.  I had a very well-prepared opening sentence I had memorized.  Looking at them, I thought, I’m talking to the most important court in the land, and they have to listen to me and that’s my captive audience.

Justice Ginsburg argued on behalf of Sharon Frontiero in Frontiero v. Richardson.  In that case the Court held that the United States military could not differentiate on the basis of gender in how it provides benefits to service members’ families.

In the interview, Justice Ginsburg recounts that as she spoke before the Court during oral argument her confidence grew:

I felt a sense of empowerment because I knew so much more about the case, the issue, than they did.  So I relied on myself as kind of a teacher to get them to think about gender.



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Judge Catches BP Counsel Sneaking Extra Pages into Its Brief

BPIn a new twist on the BP litigation, BP filed a brief in a Louisiana federal court that seemed to comply with the already-enlarged 35-page limit. But the judge in the case, the Hon. Carl Barbier, uncovered BP counsel’s tactic of reducing the line spacing to cram more material into the brief than the page limit would have allowed. In this way, BP was able to fit in an extra 6 pages worth of material.

Judge Barbier had this to say about BP’s brief:

The Court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules—particularly in a case as massive and complex as this. Counsel are expected to follow the Court’s orders both in letter and in spirit. The Court should not have to resort to imposing character limits, etc., to ensure compliance. Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.


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Professor Edwards Speaks to the Marquette Legal Writing Society

Yesterday, Professor Linda Edwards, the Robert F. Boden Visiting Professor of Law, spoke to the Marquette Legal Writing Society about her work and interest in legal writing. This semester Professor Edwards is teaching a course on the great briefs.  Each week students study a brief to determine what made the brief successful—what made it sing, as she said.  Among her favorite briefs are the petitioner’s briefs in Miranda v. Arizona and in Bowers v. Hardwick.  Professor Edwards recommended reading and…

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Chasing Happiness

HappinessA July 2014 article in the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine describes a nationwide study about the happiness of lawyers.  This study shows factors that correlate with lawyer happiness, as well as those that don’t correlate.  Those factors that correlate most strongly are what the article calls internal factors, and the factors that are least likely to correlate are external factors.  The internal factors relate to how well a person is able to communicate and interact with others, and the external factors relate to points largely outside one’s immediate control.

The article highlights the following internal factors, which positively influence lawyer happiness:

•Autonomy, or being authentic and having a sense of control over one’s choices (0.66)
•Relatedness to others (0.65)
•Feeling competent in performing one’s job (0.63)
•Internal motivation at work (0.55) – that is, finding the work itself meaningful, enjoyable, and so on, rather than being motivated by external factors, such as pressure from others or needing to impress others
•Autonomy support at work (0.46)
•Intrinsic values (0.30) – these may include personal growth, helping others, and so on, in contrast to such extrinsic values as power, affluence, and others



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An Interview with Professor Jake Carpenter


[Editor’s Note: This blog is the fourth in a series of interviews with faculty and staff at the Law School.]

Professor Carpenter teaches Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research courses at Marquette Law School. Outside of the law school, Professor Carpenter presents at writing conferences across the country, teaches Continuing Legal Education courses for the Illinois Attorney General’s offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and co-teaches a course, Writing Persuasive Briefs, for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA). Professor Carpenter is also active on various committees of the Legal Writing Institute.  Before teaching, Professor Carpenter was a civil litigator.

Prior to practicing law, Professor Carpenter was a member of the law review and graduated with honors from Mercer University School of Law. At Mercer, he received the Woodruff Scholarship, the law school’s top scholarship award. Professor Carpenter graduated with honors from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. While at DePauw, Carpenter was named an All-American in track.

Question: How did you first become interested in teaching legal writing? 

I became interested in legal writing when I started practicing law and learned how much of a daily, critical role writing plays in a lawyer’s job.  Fortunately, I had some colleagues in my firm who were great attorneys, great writers, and great mentors.  I often saw the difference a strong brief made compared to a poorly written brief, and I began to view writing briefs as a fun challenge.  After gaining confidence and experience, I began to really enjoy all aspects of writing briefs.  When I decided to pursue teaching at a law school, I wanted to teach legal writing courses because researching and writing briefs were what I enjoyed most about practicing law.  I wanted to help students develop in those areas because it’s such an integral part of practicing law.


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