Thursday, February 28, 2008

Supreme Court Justices Speak Out
on the Importance of Legal Writing

Bryan Garner is editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary since its seventh edition, and he is a prolific author. His works include The Elements of Legal Style, The Winning Brief, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, Legal Writing in Plain English, Securities Disclosure in Plain English, and many other books and articles. In 2003, The Chicago Manual of Style incorporated his restatement of English grammar into its 15th edition.

In 2006 and 2007, Mr. Garner interviewed eight of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices about legal writing and advocacy. The complete audio interviews are online here. They make for very interesting listening, and they reaffirm the importance of strong research and writing skills.

Monday, February 25, 2008

EJW: The Summer Corps

The Equal Justice Works Summer Corps program engages law students around the country who are expanding the delivery of legal services to those who need it most. Summer Corps is an AmeriCorps-funded program that in 2008 will provide 350 law students with the opportunity to earn a $1,000 education award voucher for dedicating their summer to a qualifying legal project at a nonprofit public interest organization. [This $1,000 award is in addition to any work-study or Touro Public Interest Law Fellowship funds you might receive.] Summer Corps members provide critically needed legal assistance in low-income and underserved communities in the United States on a broad range of issue areas.

In 2006, in response to the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Equal Justice Works dedicated 65 Summer Corps slots to form the Katrina Summer Corps. Katrina Summer Corps members dedicated their summer to assist hurricane survivors and evacuees in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In 2007, 34 Katrina Summer Corps members provided services to more than 1,200 survivors of the hurricanes. Due to our long-standing commitment to legal justice in the region, Equal Justice Works continues to encourage students to develop projects that focus on needs related to the Gulf Coast disasters of 2005.

As a Summer Corps member, you will:

Serve a minimum of 300 hours at a nonprofit public interest organization of your choosing;

Earn a $1,000 AmeriCorps education award voucher upon completion of 300 hours of service that can be used to pay current educational expenses or qualified student loans;

Gain first-hand experience and legal skills in areas such as client intake, representation and legal research and writing; and

Become an official member of AmeriCorps, one of the largest national service networks in U.S. history.

Summer Corps Timeline

March 19, 2008 2008 Summer Corps application will be available on the Equal Justice Works website.

April 2, 2008 Application Deadline - 5:00 p.m. EDT.

April 18, 2008 Notification of status—accepted, rejected or waitlisted—will be received by all applicants.

May 2008 2008 Summer Corps members must complete all enrollment paperwork and submit to Equal Justice Works by the first day of their service or May 23 (whichever date is earlier).

May – June 2008 Summer Corps members begin their service.

July – September 2008 Summer Corps members complete their 300 hours of service by Sept. 1 and submit exit paperwork to Equal Justice Works within 14 days of completion.

October - November 2008 Summer Corps members receive a $1,000 AmeriCorps education award voucher in the mail.


If you have questions about the Summer Corps program, email

Friday, February 15, 2008

Publish. Publish. Publish.

Get this.

The Nassau Lawyer, the monthly journal of the Nassau County Bar Association, is soliciting focused topical articles for its upcoming issues:

March: Trusts and Estates
April: Malpractice/Outsourcing/Ethics/Marketing
May: Matrimonial
June: Criminal
July/August: General Interest

The Nassau Lawyer is soliciting general articles of interest to its readership for these issues as well.

Let's face it, practicing lawyers do not read law reviews; the footnotes alone are enough to drive them nuts. But their bar association newspapers, or the journals published by bar association committees, those they read. This is an extraordinary opportunity to get something that you have written in front of thousands of lawyers who are all potential employers. And the cache of having a publication on your resume is phenomenal.

Articles should be between 1200 - 2000 words, and the Bar Association prefers to publish works of its members (so join the Nassau County Bar Association as a student - it's cheap). Working in conjunction with a professor is always helpful for editing purposes. (Scan down a few articles below this one for a story about how to find research topics which are of interest to practicing attorneys.) Please contact Dean Gilbert for more information, including bar association contact people, about this great opportunity.

And please keep in mind that there are hundreds of student legal writing competitions that offer the benefits of cash prizes and publication for winners. Check out the links to lists of these competitions along the right hand column of this blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Earn Pro Bono Hours
Lobbying Members of Congress

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), whose office is in Touro's Public Advocacy Center, is sponsoring a pro bono opportunity to lobby members of Congress regarding the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. The executive director of SALT, Hazel Weiser, and most likely one or two faculty members, will accompany a group of Touro students to Washington D.C. on Friday, March 7th, for Lobby Day with the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The purpose of Lobby Day is to visit with legislators, or more likely legislative aides, to seek repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

There are two ways students can earn pro bono hours. Students who participate in this project can receive a minimum of fifteen pro bono hours if they participate in the program up until the point of actually traveling to Washington, and they can earn twenty-five hours if they participate and also travel to Washington to lobby.

This is what the project will require:

· A session with a reference law librarian showing students how to research voting records

· Researching the voting records of your own legislators

· Drafting talking points specific to your own legislators (for those of you who cannot travel to D.C., you can write letters particular to your legislators and mail them)

· Mock lobbying session

· Travel to Washington D.C. on the bus with other New York Regional law schools

· Assignment to SLDN teams and actual lobbying (although you will probably be in an observer role)

· Lunch at Georgetown University Law School

· Rally on the steps of the Capital

· Drafting and finalizing thank you letters to the legislators or their aides

The first step is to let Ms. Weiser know whether you are interested in working with SALT on this exciting project. Then contact a Touro Reference Librarian (James Durham, Leslie Wong, Christine Morton, or Roy Sturgeon) to arrange for a training session to learn how to research voting records for members of Congress, both representatives and senators.

After you have researched your own legislators, visit Ms. Weiser to continue with the project.

First-Year Summer Opportunties
in Washington, DC

The final deadline of March 15, 2008 for the Legal Studies Institute in Washington, DC is quickly approaching. There are still spaces open and scholarship funding available!

The Institute provides first-year students with the chance to gain firsthand exposure to the American legal system through clerkships, academic coursework and career development activities.

The 2008 summer program will extend for nine weeks from June 1 - August 3, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Institute offers the following five components:

· Legal Clerkships: Participants will be placed in an 8-week legal clerkship where they will gain substantive experience in the legal profession. Clerkship sites will include law firms, courts, public interest legal organizations, and the legal departments of trade associations, corporations and government agencies.

· Seminar on Constitutional Law: Participants will attend a seminar on Constitutional law taught by leading legal scholars, including Dr. John Baker from the LSU School of Law and Dr. Roger Pilon from the Cato Institute.

· Briefings and Activities: Participants will attend private briefings at institutions of the judicial and executive branches and will meet with prominent judges, lawyers and judicial scholars.

· Career Development Activities: Workshops will be held to help prepare participants for success in their law careers.

· Attorney Mentor Program: Each participant will be matched with an experienced lawyer who will serve as a professional mentor.

Applications for the program will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis until March 15, 2008. The online application may be found at Space in the program is limited, so applicants are encouraged to apply early. Housing in furnished apartments located on Capitol Hill is included in the program fee.