I have long complained that many student notes are completely useless for practitioners. ACS tries to harness some of my angst (and the angst of people I know) by creating a program to link up students that want to write notes with practitioners that want exploration, and professors willing to give credit. ACSblog says:
ACS ResearchLink creates a valuable online resource for the legal community by collecting legal research topics submitted by practitioners for law students to explore in faculty-supervised writing projects for academic credit. Practitioners will receive a copy of the resulting student papers, which ACS will post in a searchable online library. Follow these links to search or browse currently available research topics.
And students, it is far better for you, potential employers, and the world, that you write a useful note then you try (and usually fail) to kiss up to a professor by writing some abstract crap that people only pretend to understand. Professors, you know and I know that most of your students won't become professors. Wouldn't you rather have them write notes that are cited as the authority by people that actually practice in this area? And practitioners, this is an opportunity to bring some intellectual coherence to your field and be thanked in a footnote.
And come on, isn’t this better than inanely sucking up to each other at cocktail parties?
And if that don’t beat all, the WSJ writes the most stupid article of the millennium, which is supposed to inform everyone that the “internet” has spawned a kind of slang. Strangely enough, “l33t” slang is actually not used to communicate between hackers, but is more of an elaborate in joke amongst “dorks.”
Today I'm helping to give a one-hour presentation on preserving errors for review, as part of the Louisiana Justice Community Conference in Baton Rouge. For participants and anyone else who may be interested, I've uploaded PDF copies of my written materials and PowerPoint presentation at Minor Wisdom. To get there, click here.
The saintly folks at the University of Michigan have scanned and uploaded a dumptruck of legal works to the web as part of their Making of America (MOA) project.
This is truly a-freakin’-mazing!
Now, you can read and download treatises that the framers of the constitution and the 14th amendment were reading without actually leaving your office! No more will you have to breath the poisonous air of the environment or go to the library and risk having to be around law students. There are many, many books online. Some, like the ones about slavery and subjugation of women, are of little use to lawyers in most states. Others are quite relevant to issues before the courts now. So, for your convenience, I picked a few that might be of use.
Henry Adams et al., Essays in Anglo-Saxon Law (1876). Go here.
L.J. Bigelow, Bench and Bar: A Complete Digest of the Wit, Humor, Asperities, and Amenities of the Law (1867). Go here.
Joseph Chitty, The Law of Nations; Or, Principles of the Law of Nature,
Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns. From the
French of Monsieur de Vattel (1853). Go here.
Luther Stearns Cushing, Elements of the Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies in the United States of America (1856). Go here.
Sherburne Blake Eaton, A Discussion of the Constitutionality of the
Act of Congress of March 2, 1867, Authorizing the Seizure of Books and
Papers for Alleged Frauds upon the Revenue, Together with a Brief
Statement of Certain Objections to the Practical Working of the Law (1874). Go here.
Sidney George Fisher, The Law of the Territories (1859). Go here.
William Lawrence, The Law of Claims Against Governments, Including the Mode of Adjusting Them and the Procedure Adopted in Their Investigation. Pub. by order of the Congress of the United States of America (1875). Go here.
Robert Phillimore, Commentaries Upon International Law (1854). Go here.
Furman Sheppard, The Constitutional Text-book: A Practical and
Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, and of
Portions of the Public and Administrative Law of the Federal
Government (1855). Go here.
Henry Wheaton, Elements of International Law. Go here.
Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law, Designed as an Aid in Teaching and in Historical Studies (1871). Go here.
Recently I was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In yesterday's mail, my certificate of admission arrived — accompanied by a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Perhaps this is the court's way of suggesting that lawyers follow Strunk's and White's rules when writing briefs, motions, and other papers.
Also included in the package from the court was a cover letter encouraging me to "refer to the most recent revisions of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Eleventh Circuit Rules, and Internal Operating Procedures," all of which are available on the court's web site. This reminder calls to mind an important pointer for any lawyer practicing before any U.S. appellate court: Each court's web site includes links to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the court's local rules. Most of them also include guides and checklists for writing briefs. No matter how many briefs you've written, it's never a bad idea to review those on-line resources before writing your next one. Remember that the rules may have changed since your last brief, and that you can always find the most current versions of the rules and guides on the court's web site.
In an appellate brief, how do you cite the record? Both the Bluebook and the ALWD Citation Manual tell you to use the abbreviation "R." followed by the page number.1 That's fine — for a one-volume record. But when you have a multi-volume record, I recommend including the volume number in the citation. Bryan Garner's Redbook suggests using the volume number, the initial "R.," and the page number.2 Thus, if page 1071 appears in volume 5 of the record, the citation is 5 R. 1071.
Why include the volume number when neither the Bluebook nor the ALWD Citation Manual requires it? Because your job as briefwriter is to make it as easy as possible for the court to rule in your favor. That means making it as easy as possible for the court to find whatever you're citing. That means: don't force them to guess or figure out which volume it's in. Give them the information they need to locate it instantly.