Margin notes: An oblique solution to citing in-line vs. citing in footnotes

I previously posted a very preliminary look at how legal writing could be made more comprehensible to all readers while satisfying the needs of law-trained readers using marginal notes for citations instead of footnotes. I continue to doubt that these ruminations will make any difference, but I had to take this to the next step because I’ve been closely reading a couple hundred briefs in cases for an empirical study that I’m doing, and my level of frustration is peaking. I can’t understand how judges can stand to read these things, designed so poorly as they are! Consequently, I decided Read More …

1L legal brief and oral argument competitions

A couple weeks ago, I asked on the LRWPROF-L mailing list for folks to describe their 1L brief and oral argument competitions and promised to summarize what I learned and share it back. I thought it might make a good blog post, so here it is. Though I have given this summary the attention I can spare right now, I have not collated responses particularly thoroughly or carefully. This was also by no means a comprehensive study, so the report is somewhat anecdotal . A more thorough, careful survey of the field on this question will require someone else to Read More …

CFP: Classical rhetoric & contemporary law

Express your interest in collaborating on scholarship exploring the intersections of classical rhetoric and contemporary law DEADLINE EXTENDED: Preliminary proposals due September 14, 2018 October 5, 2018 (AoE) Classical Rhetoric & Contemporary Law, a national group of scholars in the legal academy broadly interested in rhetorical theory and particularly in classical rhetorical texts, has been meeting virtually for more than a year discussing such texts and their intersections with contemporary legal practices and education. The list of texts the group has discussed so far appears below. The group has presented portions of its work at 2018 conferences of the Rhetoric Read More …

Defeasible deductions?

I’ve written an article that discusses the use of argumentation schemes in law, with a focus on the argumentation scheme for legal analogy. A common problem for 1L students in my experience, though, is that they apply “rule-based reasoning”—based on the deductive syllogism—a little too confidently in the beginning of their training. So for the article, I recast the deductive syllogism as a defeasible argumentation scheme.[1] I offered that argumentation scheme tentatively, as it is not the focus of the article. But now, I’d like to firm it up a little (perhaps before this article is published, but certainly before Read More …

LWI 2018: Sessions on empirical study of legal communication

The schedule for the Legal Writing Institute 2018 biennial conference in Milwaukee, July 11 — July 14, is published (version as of June 27), and it looks terrific, with a great focus on pedagogy and pedagogical research in the field! This blog post is about a subset of the sessions, those devoted to empirical study of legal communication.  In that category, I include any study that systematically examines some class of legal communication outside the law-school context (so, not including classroom and pedagogical research). I’m excited to see scholars pursuing such projects. I’ve made the argument in the past that Read More …

Introducing the Classical Rhetoric & Contemporary Law group

[It’s been a while since I posted: I’ve been wrapped up in wrapping up things as I prepare to leave Georgia Tech and head to Texas A&M’s School of Law in the fall. But here’s one new project about which I’m very excited.] In January 2017 I invited colleagues in the legal academy, particularly those active as teachers of legal writing and legal theory, to join me in an exploration of classical rhetorical texts and their intersections with contemporary law. I issued the invitation over the Legal Writing Institute’s mailing list and via direct emails to a few specific colleagues. Read More …

#CCCC2017 panel will discuss undergraduate legal writing courses

Updated Nov. 7, with details about Legal Writing and Rhetoric SIG. I’m pleased to be chairing a panel at the 2017 Conference on College Composition and Communication focusing on undergraduate legal writing courses. It takes place Friday, March 17, 03:30 pm – 04:45 pm at Oregon Convention Center E142. There are five talented speakers, identified below. I enjoyed helping with the panel proposal, which Lindsay Head spearheaded, and I’m looking forward to working with them to help draw connections among their presentations. Lindsay also led the effort to apply for a special interest group for this CCCC; the application was Read More …

Does it matter to the legal profession and pedagogy that men and women didn’t write differently?

I gave a talk this week at a law school regarding my article in Written Communication from October 2016, “Gender/Genre: The lack of gendered register in texts requiring genre knowledge.” The article reports the results of an empirical study, but it does so with reference to theories from corpus linguistics and relevance-theoretic pragmatics, not the sort of thing that most law faculty are interested in. Instead, I wanted to emphasize for them the implications of my study in the legal profession and pedagogy and to situate it within a conversation about gender differences more broadly. The article is one voice in a Read More …

My Written Communication article has dropped…

My article in Written Communication is now available online. (The print version comes out next month.) You can read it on the journal’s website only if you have a subscription to the journal. You can read the version I submitted here (not formatted as it appears in the journal, but same content other than a few typo corrections): Gender/Genre: The lack of gendered register in texts requiring genre knowledge You can also contact me directly for a copy of the PDF from the journal (with the official page numbers). Here’s the abstract: Some studies have found characteristics of written texts Read More …

Empirical research into legal comm’n & professional status of LRW faculty

I was delighted to finagle an invitation to speak on a panel at the Legal Writing Institute in Portland on July 12, during the meeting of the LWI Professional Status Committee. The committee met in a plenary session with a larger audience and conducted its business, and then we panelists were asked to comment in short form (two minutes each) on an angle or issue relating to the professional status of legal research and writing faculty. (For readers outside the legal academy, teachers of communication in that field face status challenges similar to those faced by teachers of writing in the broader academy Read More …