Want to Give Better Writing Feedback? Watch Your Tone. (Guest Post by Joe Fore)

Today, we’re proud to present a guest post by Joe Fore (@Joe_Fore), Co-Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program at the University of Virginia School of Law.

A few weeks ago, Legal Writing Pro Ross Guberman (@legalwritingpro) shared a LinkedIn article posted back in April 2017 about an attempt to give writing advice that turned sour. It’s a tale that can provide some important lessons about giving effective feedback in the legal writing context. Here’s the story: Continue reading “Want to Give Better Writing Feedback? Watch Your Tone. (Guest Post by Joe Fore)”

Telling Yourself What to Do (Guest post by Jennifer Murphy Romig)

Today, we’re proud to bring you this guest post by Jennifer Murphy Romig, Professor of Practice at Emory Law School.


“A true scientist doesn’t perform prescribed experiments; she develops her own and thus generates wholly new knowledge. This transition between doing what you’re told and telling yourself what to do generally occurs midway through a dissertation. In many ways, it is the most difficult and terrifying thing that a student can do, and being unable or unwilling to do it is much of what weeds people out of Ph.D. programs.”

—Hope Jahren, Lab Girl, Chapter 8


When—if ever—does a lawyer transition from “doing what she’s told” to “telling herself what to do”?

In one way, never. The client reigns supreme, right?

The lawyer cannot “generate wholly new knowledge” for the sake of contributing to civilization like a scientist. This is one essential difference between practicing lawyers and law professors: law professors can identify an issue, explore it, and write scholarship, advocacy, blogs, op-eds, and so on—even if no client would ever pay them to do that.

The lawyer, however, takes clients as they are and does what they need. Continue reading “Telling Yourself What to Do (Guest post by Jennifer Murphy Romig)”

Organizational Tools for the Disorganized Lawyer (Guest post by Lauren Clark Rad)

Today, we’re delighted to bring you the #PracticeTuesday Blog’s very first guest post, courtesy of #AppellateTwitter mainstay Lauren Clark Rada litigator at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP. 

 

Take a moment to pause and imagine your ideal lawyer or law student. What is her personality like? What is her workspace like? Most likely, the person you imagined is smart, thoughtful, thorough, and organized. She has a desk that is reasonably tidy and a good grasp of what’s coming up on her calendar. There are reasons for that.

Law is a deadline-driven profession. The consequences of missing those deadlines can be severe, even catastrophic. Clients depend on their lawyers to monitor deadlines and make sure they’re met.

Lawyers are human, though, and they span the spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are just not born with an innate sense of how to be organized. Over the last decade, I’ve been on a mission to find the organization system that works best for me. In hopes of sparing others that same lengthy journey, I’ve compiled this list of various tools and techniques I’ve used, along with a discussion of their benefits and drawbacks. Continue reading “Organizational Tools for the Disorganized Lawyer (Guest post by Lauren Clark Rad)”

Dr. Katie Pryal and the Life of the Mind Interrupted

Today on the blog, we’re delighted to bring you a Q-and-A with Katie Rose Guest Pryal (@krgpryal). Katie is a novelist, attorney, freelance journalist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of novels, including ENTANGLEMENT and CHASING CHAOS, and nonfiction books, including her most recent, LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: ESSAYS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION. She is also the co-author of two popular law school textbooks: CORE GRAMMAR FOR LAWYERS (with Ruth Ann McKinney) and THE COMPLETE LEGAL WRITER (with Alexa Z. Chew). As a journalist, Katie contributes to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, DAME MAGAZINE, WOMEN IN HIGHER EDUCATION, and other national venues.

Katie earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, and her doctorate in rhetoric from UNC Greensboro. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Terrence W. Boyle of the United States District for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

My questions to Katie are in bold; her answers follow. Continue reading “Dr. Katie Pryal and the Life of the Mind Interrupted”

“It’s not so shiny anymore”: 1Ls and the October slump

Unlike many law professors, I only teach 1Ls. It’s a role I relish, in part because I think the first year is a time when good teaching and mentoring can make a huge difference in the life of a law student, and in part because, as I’ve shared before (and again and again), 1L year was far from my finest hour. Between my experience teaching 1Ls and my experience being a 1L, I’ve learned that there are some pretty consistent messages that many first-year law students usually need to hear at about this time of year. That’s why, 1Ls, this post is for you.

So, it’s October. Soon it will be mid-October. Law school probably isn’t so shiny anymore. Maybe you’ve got midterms coming up. Maybe you’ve been talking to 2Ls and 3Ls about how to outline. Maybe you’ve been going to presentations about applying for summer jobs or how to prepare for exams, and, while helpful, they stressed you out because they made you think about The Curve and Everything You Have To Do and How Important Everything Is. Maybe, in anticipation of the end of the semester, some of your classmates aren’t being as friendly or as forthcoming with their work product as they were four weeks ago. Maybe you wrote your first memo and it was much harder than you expected, or the feedback you received wasn’t the kind of feedback you’re used to getting on your writing.

Either way, the newness is wearing off and your nerves may be wearing thin. Here are seven tips to get you through the rest of the semester. (Each of these could probably be their own post; I’ll get more specific about some of them as we get closer to December.) Continue reading ““It’s not so shiny anymore”: 1Ls and the October slump”

Recommendations on Letters

You’re a law student who’s found the perfect opportunity—a summer internship, a fellowship position, or a clerkship. You’ve suffered through drafting a cover letter. You’ve squeezed your resume onto a single page (or not, don’t @ me) and agonized over the formatting so much that you never want to see it again. But you’re not done. The application requires a letter or letters of recommendation. How can you position yourself to receive the strongest possible letters from your law school professors?

The good news is that there are steps you can and should take to increase the quality of the letters written on your behalf. The slightly-less-good news is that some of these steps should begin long before it’s time to ask a professor for a letter. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Recommendations on Letters”

Paying Your Dues, Done Right

It’s often said that new lawyers need to “pay their dues” before stepping up to greater responsibility.

What the dues are can vary depending on what sort of practice setting you’re in.  For BigLaw associates, the dues might be late nights document reviewing, researching on Westlaw, and preparing documents for filing.  For prosecutors, it might be a busy misdemeanor docket.  Whatever it is, the dues are the scut work of the legal world.  In this post: A little bit about what dues shouldn’t be, why you have to pay them, and how to do them right. 

Continue reading “Paying Your Dues, Done Right”

Hello, world!

“Beginnings are always messy.”  
John Galsworthy, The Eldest Son.

Hello, world!

That’s how you’re supposed to start these things, right? But this one’s a bit of a puzzle, because while this blog is new, the hashtag that spawned it—is that even a thing? Can hashtags generate blogs?—is not.

The #PracticeTuesday hashtag was born in November 2016. Before that, Sean and I—who, as of this blog’s launch date have yet to meet in person—were both active participants in one of the nerdiest corners of the internet: #AppellateTwitter. Like a handful of other frequent fliers in that community, we had each been posting occasional tweetstorms on topics relating to the practice of law, primarily framed as advice to young lawyers. For example, Sean posted this thread about getting oral argument opportunities as a junior associate and I wrote this one on saying no as a young attorney.

Not only were these threads generally well received, but more importantly, they prompted excellent, substantive conversations. Those conversations were especially rich in light of the broad range of practice experience within the #AppellateTwitter community, participants’ generosity in sharing their knowledge, and everyone’s eagerness to learn from each other. And then, because we’re lawyers and we like certainty, Sean and I thought: what if we could both (1) ensure that these conversations became a regular occurrence, and (2) capture their valuable content in a way that made it accessible to an even broader audience?  Continue reading “Hello, world!”