Friday, May 29, 2009

Ethics and Professionalism in Legal Writing

For those who are working on writing for clients this summer, a bit on professionalism in legal writing is appropriate. Spelunking around the internet, searching for some writing news, I found a webinar (video lecture) from Stetson Law School titled Ethics and Professionalism in Legal Writing.

Also, I've put together something on this subject, with a focus on adverse authority. A precursor to the publication is at my [ancient] website, where I've linked some additional articles on adverse authority. The website article is Disclosing and Confronting Adverse Authority


Image: Old Main, facing northeast; University of Arkansas campus, May 2009.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sturm College of Law (Denver) - good writing competition site

In this slow news period, let's take a look at the Sturm College of Law's (Denver) writing competition site.

The design features are great at this site. The front page is subdivided along the lines of a newspaper front page. This design allows for some thoughtful commentary on what might prompt readers to see their ability to enter a writing competition, highlights of competitions with imminent deadlines, and public information about DU students who have won prior competitions.

Sturm College of Law: Writing Competitions


Image: wikipedia, Sturm College of Law

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How about a Book Review?

Summer time allows for a little free reading for those who operate on the academic calendar. A good place for you to practice writing is by writing a book review for an on-line audience. Some of the reviews can become fairly elaborate, and it appears there's a place for instant publication for just about anyone.

Like anything else, practicing an art hones the skill at doing it.

Here's a sample book review from a longer review of Justice Scalia's book, Making Your Case:

Whether or not you agree with Justice Scalia's opinions from the Supreme Court, this book as a primer on briefs and oral argument is excellent. I wish that I had this book for moot court. The brief writing section was far better than any of the books I had to help me. The oral presentation section identified solutions to problems that frustrated me. If you are not a lawyer you will likely find the oral argument section interesting and helpful, but find the minutia of the brief writing section boring. As a lawyer, I will reread this book from time to time. Justice Scalia recognizes there are other viewpoints; he discusses them but then explains why his view is better.
More here.

Readers who know of independent book store[s] that puts up reviews like this on their web sites, I'm interested in hearing from you! Write me at


Image: sky over Fayetteville, Arkansas; May 22, 2009 (high school annex in the foreground, facing southeast).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why Write?

Hat tip to the Legal Writing Institute Newsletter for SSRN uploads (Emily Zimmerman and Terry Jean Seligamann, editors) for this article available on the SSRN network:

Erwin Chemerinsky, Why Write?, 107 Mich. L. Rev. (2009)

Image: file copy of "after the pickle, stealing home" 05/20/09

Monday, May 18, 2009

University of Idaho Competitions Site - Many June Deadlines

The writing competition site at the University of Idaho is streamlined and helpful, with both a topic and a date orientation. June is a particularly busy month, with many competition deadlines.

Take a look at the June list at Idaho's site.


Image: Idaho state capitol in Boise, from Wikipedia.

Copyright release: License: This image is public domain, because I took the picture and I've made it public domain. I don't care at all what you use this picture for. If you do use it, please consider linking back to this site. is a repository for free public domain photos. 051809

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bankruptcy Law; June 15, 2009; Publication (open to students and law grads)

(Hat tip to the Idaho Legal Writing Competitions Site)

The following information is taken directly from The Southern New England Roundtable Symposium Law Journal website:

The Southern New England Roundtable Symposium Law Journal publishes articles and student-written comments in a symposium format. Pieces are accepted from any author for consideration as an article, and comment submissions are accepted from current members of SNESL as well as from students at other law schools. The journal is available in both electronic and hardcopy formats. Access to articles is through our website at .

Submitting an Article

We are accepting submissions for the 2009 issue on "Trends and Issues in Bankruptcy", and the 2010 issue on "Trends and Issues in Terrorism and the Law".

The Roundtable Symposium Law Journal will give preference to articles under 25,000 words in length--the equivalent of 50 law review pages--including text and footnotes. We will not publish articles exceeding 35,000 words--the equivalent of 70-75 law review pages--except in extraordinary circumstances.

We accept both electronic and hardcopy submissions. Electronic submissions must be in MS Word. Hardcopy submissions must be accompanied by electronic disc containing the manuscript in MS Word. Please mail your submission to:
Articles Dept.
S. New Eng. Roundtable Symp. L.J.
Southern New England School of Law
333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
E-Mail to: Amy Kamon at

Image credit: Will Simpson

Photographer: Will Simpson
Location: Potter Road, Idaho
Times Viewed: 1225
Keywords: farming

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alcohol Policy; Novmeber 18, 2009; $5,000-$2,500-$1,000

After receipt of a letter dated May 1, 2009, this notice is taken in its entirety from the originating notice at

2009 Essay Contest Topic Announced: "State regulation of alcohol is Important because..."

The Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) is proud to announce the launch of its second annual national essay contest. The contest is intended to foster debate, analysis and examination of the effect of state alcohol regulation. The theme of this year’s contest is: “State Regulation of Alcohol is important because…”

Essays can focus on any aspect of state alcohol regulation including legal analysis, law enforcement perspective, tax collection, public health and other relevant topics. The top three winning entries will receive prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. The deadline for submission is November 15, 2009, and winners will be announced in early December.

Rules & Regulations

Entry Form

Read essays from last year's winners:

1st Place: Andy Herrold, Pennsylvania

2nd Place: Dr. Stephen Bertman, Michigan

3rd Place: Tony Pizur, Massachusetts


Photo (The Legal Writing Competitions blog editor enjoys the smallish town references to "the" smoke and "the" school) (and the editor admires Will Simpson's photography as well as his generosity in sharing it)
Description: These shots where taken at sunset with the sun behind the cloud of smoke from the School Fire.
Photographer: Will Simpson
Times Viewed: 2262
Keywords: wheat, smoke

Friday, May 8, 2009

ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine (for freelancers)

This is a slow news time for writing competitions, but now is the time with some time to think about writing outlets.

Here's one that's worth looking into: freelancing for the ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine. Freelancers have several points of entry, and those who want to submit for payment need to have developed a short chapbook of sample writing. Articles published in a local newspaper (hometown, college campus) on legal topics might work for this introduction.

The Student Lawyer has put together a good set of instructions for potential freelancers, and sums itself up on its freelance page:

We don’t make assignments to writers we’re unfamiliar with, but we are always willing to look at material on spec. If you’re interested in writing for us, e-mail us an article submission or a detailed query with three previously published clips.

The best way to find out what Student Lawyer is all about is to read an issue. They’re available for $8 apiece (plus postage and handling) from the ABA Service Center, 800-285-2221. Questions? Contact the editor by e-mail ( or phone (312-988-6048).

All contributions must include the writer’s name and full contact information. Submit articles by MSWord file attachment to

Image: Will Simpson, Shooting Stars, from Monty's Woods

Thursday, May 7, 2009

June 30, 2009; InformationTechnology, $1,500 (divided among up to three student essay winners)

...from Michigan's Technology Law group newsletter (hat tip, UIdaho writing comp page).

1. Awards will be given to up to three student essays, which in the opinion of the judges make the most significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of information technology law. Factors to be taken into consideration include: originality; timeliness of the subject; depth of research; accuracy; readability; and the potential for impact on the law

2. Essay must be original, deemed to be of publishing quality, and must not have been submitted to any other contest within the previous 12 months.

3. Essay must be typed, double spaced, at least ten pages in length, must contain proper citations listed as either endnotes or footnotes, and must have left, right, top and bottom margins of one inch.

4. Essay must include the submitter’s name, email address, mailing address, telephone number, and school attended.

5. A total of $1,500 in US dollars shall be divided between the award winning essays, and all rights to award winning essays shall become the property of the State Bar of Michigan.

6. The Information Technology Section of the State Bar of Michigan reserves the right to make editorial changes, and to publish award winning essays in the Section’s newsletter, the Michigan IT Lawyer.

7. Essay must be submitted as a Microsoft Word document, postmarked by June 30, 2009, and emailed to

The original notice for this competition appears on page 22 of this pdf newsletter file.

Image: Will Simpson; Full Moon

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

June 30, 2009 Environmental Law - $2,000; $1,000, $500 and potential publication

The following is taken from a pdf flyer which is online at the Michigan State Bar web site (and a hat tip to the University of Idaho's writing competition page).

Sponsored by the Environmental Law Section of the Michigan State Bar

The Contest:
The following prizes will be awarded: $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place. All essays judged to be of publishable quality will be published in the Michigan Environmental LawJournal. Prize winners will be announced no later than September 30, 2009.

Any environmental law topic of current interest to Michigan practitioners.

The contest is open to all students enrolled in any U.S. or Canadian law school. Essays must be original; they may have been submitted for course credit or for law reviews, but not as part of paid employment.

Minimum length is 8 pages, maximum length is 20 pages, typed and double-spaced, including footnotes placed at the end. Entries must follow the Michigan Uniform System of Citation (see Entries must be typed and submitted on letter size (8 1/2" x 11") plain, white bond paper, along with a disk or e-mail version in RTF (rich text format).

Criteria for judging entries will include originality, practicality, quality of research, clarity of style and organization. Entries will be judged by the editors of the Michigan Environmental Law Journal, with any ties decided by the Chair of the Environmental Law Section. All rights to entries will become the property of the State Bar of Michigan. The Environmental Law Section reserves the right to make editorial changes.

To Enter:
Submit entries to Robert L. Schroder, 8921 Margo Drive, Brighton, MI 48114 ( Entries must be postmarked by June 30, 2009. Include with your entry a cover letter stating your name, mailing address (both school and permanent), telephone number, name of law school, year of graduation, and a statement that the essay was not written as part of paid employment.

For Further Information:
Contact Robert L. Schroder (810-229-8401).

Image: Aerial view of the Pointe Mouillee Wildlife Refuge in western Lake Erie near Estral Beach, Michigan, USA; from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

HealthCare, Elections, Immigration; 2,000 words; $3,000-$1,250-$1,000 -- May 11, 2009

the following material is drawn from competition notices sent by the Americanism Educational League to law school deans:

1st Prize—$3,000 ...2nd—$1,250 ...3rd—$1,000

Students may choose to write on any topic listed below. They may also submit an essay on all three. There is only one set of cash prizes, and all essays will be judged in the same pool, regardless of its topic.

Health care. The current American health care system has been widely praised for delivering high quality care while at the same time it has been widely criticized for its costs, bureaucracies and the fact that not all Americans are covered. Many proposals have been advanced to improve the system, ranging from total privatization to total government control, or something in between. What type of health care system would most efficiently deliver high quality health care for the largest number of Americans?

Election campaigns. Political campaigns to elect a new Parliament and Prime Minister in Great Britain last a total of approximately 90 days, private spending is heavily restricted and all major parties get the same amount of free airtime on television and radio. Should the United States adopt the British model for future presidential and congressional elections?

Immigration. Immigration and/or migration is a worldwide phenomena and one that has occurred throughout history. When considering this issue there would seem to be two competing, and possibly incompatible, interests at work: the legitimate interests of sovereign states to control their national borders: and the equally legitimate humanitarian interest of fairly treating migrants seeking a better life. Is it possible for the United States to balance these two interests? If not, why not, and if so, how?

The essays will be judged — not on the basis of agreement or disagreement with the views of Americanism Educational League, or on the length of their bibliographies — but on their internal logic, coherence, originality, thoughtfulness, and evidence of sound research.

Maximum length is 2,000 words/ Essays must be typed and double spaced. Each essay must be accompanied by a brief biography and an Entry Form, available on our website (scroll to the bottom of the website for the entry form). Each college instructor may submit an unlimited number of essays.

POSTMARK—NOT LATER THAN Monday, May 11th, 2009 (deadline extended from Friday, May 8)