2016 AAfPE Conference 

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​Goodbye, New York; San Antonio, here I come! Yesterday was my first time speaking at the United Nations, but I hope it won’t be my last. What an awesome experience! Now I’m looking forward to my two presentations at the AAfPE Conference. Instead of focusing only on legal writing, this year I’m presenting one session on classroom teaching tips and another on campus security. Should be fun!

2015 AAfPE Conference

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I’m really excited to be in Milwaukee attending the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Association for Paralegal Educators (AAfPE)! Last year’s conference was phenomenal, so I’ve been looking forward to learning even more about best practices for teaching legal support skills and strategies. This year, not only did I have the privilege of serving on the conference planning committee, but I am presenting two separate sessions on Friday. Right now I’m sitting in a pre-conference workshop on legal technology and eDiscovery (while multitasking on my blog… don’t tell anyone). More

New Rule: Wider is Better

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New Rule for all PowerPoint users: If you’re presenting on a widescreen, switch to 16:9 slides. Otherwise, you get big black vertical bars on either side of your presentation that amount to nothing but wasted space. Open it up from small screen to big screen. And if you don’t know how to do that, spend the 2.8 seconds and 5 nano-joules of energy required to run a Google search and find out. Your audience will be grateful.

Size Matters

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As I always say to lawyers, teachers, and presenters of any kind, if the audience can’t see, read, decipher, or otherwise make sense of your visual aids, then you’re wasting time, energy, and precious A/V real estate. Enlarge the font, enlarge the font, enlarge the font. Please.


Snapshot of CNN coverage of the Owen Labrie trial. August 19, 2015.

Means What It Says?

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How many times have courts assured you that the legislature says what it means and means what it says? Personally, I’ve lost count. The notion is seared into my legal psyche. So when Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-122* says med-mal plaintiffs can waive a defendant’s obligation to file a certificate of good faith for comparative tortfeasors, I kinda assumed that … oh, I dunno… maybe plaintiffs could waive a defendant’s obligation to file a certificate of good faith for comparative tortfeasors.

“Not so,” says the Middle Section of Tennessee’s Court of Appeals. I just had occasion to write a brief analyzing the recent opinion in Sirbaugh v. Vanderbilt, and it was like eating soup with a fork. According to Sirbaugh, when the legislature allows plaintiffs “to waive compliance,” what that reeeeally means is plaintiffs are still “obligated to file a statutorily compliant certificate of good faith.” Square peg, meet round hole. What am I missing? COA dropped the ball on this one, IMHO. And yet, the Supremes punted. So that bit of judicial wizardry has earned its ink in the reporters. This, even though the Supreme Court just a few years earlier observed (albeit in a footnote) that there’s “no similar statutory obligation imposed on plaintiffs who amend their complaint pursuant to Tenn.Code Ann. § 20-1-119 after the original defendant has asserted a comparative fault defense.” Go figure.

*P.S. – Apparently Justia hasn’t updated its site with the most recent changes to the Health Care Liability Act. Get wit’ it, Justia! Here’s an alternative, but unfortunately there’s no direct link. Navigate to Title 29, then Chapter 26, then Section 122…

Legal Writing Webinar

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Polishing up my PowerPoint for a national CLE webinar tomorrow! It’s my first time presenting for C4CM Training & Development. And this time I’m not flying solo. More

Judicial Plagiarism

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Have you ever argued a motion and had the court rule directly from the bench awarding you your requested relief? Didn’t you feel like the cool kid that day? Chest puffed out a little bit while you tried to restrain yourself out of respect for opposing counsel? And after winning your motion, did the court dump the task of drafting the order on you? Of course it did. No court has time to actually draft orders, right? That’s the least you could do after the court was gracious enough to rule in your favor. And even though it was another tick on your to-do list, you secretly welcomed that chore, because it meant you got to tweak the wording of the order precisely to your client’s advantage. Am I off here? No. You know this drill.

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