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Careful With the Working Papers You Post:

The St. Petersburg Times reports (thanks to How Appealing for the pointer):

In 2004, the woman who would become legal writing director at Florida A&M University's law school posted a working paper online [using Berkeley Electronic Press] so legal scholars nationwide could see her work....

But [the director's] paper was so riddled with grammatical errors and mangled writing that some FAMU law students are now using it to help build a case that [the director] is not qualified to teach and was hired primarily on the strength of her personal ties....

Pat Daniel, an English education professor at the University of South Florida who reviewed [the director]'s paper at the Times' request [which has since been removed from the service -EV], said in an e-mail that it was "sloppily written, in need of serious proofreading." ...

Fast Facts: Excerpts from the paper

* "This reports served as a welcome-mate to concerned groups seeking to resolve potential conflicts regarding international environmental concerns, thus allow disputing parties the opportunity to be heard in an agreeable dispute resolution procedure."
* "This inherent conflict between economic development and environmental protection needs and interest and the focus of managing environmental disputes for sustainable results is the cause of a 10-day delay in productions and obligations."
* "Such an institutional framework would include implementation of sound sustainable development strategies and international treaties by countries should contribute to improved socioeconomic and environmental conditions, and help reduce potential sources of conflict between countries."
* "International environmental disputes can involve parties who hold very strong feelings that they are right and other parties are wrong present unique challenges if fundamental values are in conflict."
* "Borrowing from the environmental dispute strategy of the local threats and the focus of Agenda 21 with the sustainable development flavor it is dispute settlement that is one of the key elements to ensure that the environmental dimensions of security can be maintained."

My quick take: We should cut people some slack with their working papers. Such working papers aren't intended to be final versions, and my sense is that most authors edit the papers fairly heavily after they put out the first working paper draft.

Still, you'd expect that a working paper that's circulated to law reviews, to be considered by editorial boards in competition with other papers, would be at least decently polished. [UPDATE: Also, some might expect, as commenter Anderson points out, that a skilled writer wouldn't produce those sentences even on a first draft, though I'm not positive about that.]

I surely wouldn't advise firing someone, even from a position in which she teaches writing, simply because she didn't adequately edit an earlier draft. But such inadequate editing does say something about how careful the person is, and what her editing habits are. And, more broadly, I would advise people to make sure that articles they expose to the world as thought-through scholarship (rather than, say, off-the-cuff mailing list posts or even blog posts) are at least moderately well edited.

Anderson (mail) (www):
I just don't think a competent writer would've committed many of those sentences in the first place.
6.6.2007 3:01pm
Weird (mail):
Some more commentary at Prawfs on this story appeared earlier this morning.
6.6.2007 3:09pm
Ron Mexico:
I agree with Anderson---it's not so much a criticism of a paper riddled with typos that showed a lack of care or proper editing at this stage. I simply don't think a most writers who knew what they were doing would write this poorly in the first place, let alone someone qualified to be the director of legal writing at a law school. These are not mere errors and typos but a window into a muddled and inarticulate writing style---even with revisions, this author obviously lacks the base knowledge and skills to teach legal writing at a law school.
6.6.2007 3:11pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
I have to wonder what the implications of what I recall being told by an LRW professor.


"When I ask for a draft of something, I don't want a draft, I want a polished paper. We go through the process of writing drafts so you can improve your organization and analysis, you should already know how to write."
6.6.2007 3:13pm
Dan Weber:
The best explanation I can offer is that she was using speech recognition software.
6.6.2007 3:21pm
Ella (www):
I don't know, Anderson, I'm a decent writer and I often find some real doozies when I reread my first draft, especially if I've written the draft over a couple of days. That's the reason I reread before sending a draft out, even for informal comment.

Having said that, I don't think a reasonably professional person would shop something around that contains so many errors. I'm not even sure what she was trying to say in most of the sample sentences posted.
6.6.2007 3:23pm
wooga:
I agree with Dan Weber. I've dictated a lot of stuff to my secretary that ends up in gibberish sentences that would never show up in a first draft I had typed myself.

Thinking of the type of complex sentence you want to use in a scholarly article - and jumping into the dictation of that complex sentence before you've even figured out how it's going to end - is a very difficult task.
6.6.2007 3:26pm
Jim FSU 1L (mail):
Ooh, dictation, I didn't think of that.
6.6.2007 3:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, no question whether such a writer should be teaching writing. No.

As a writer and editor myself, I have mixed feelings about bad writers. I don't like bad writing, but if I have to swallow it to get important information, so be it.

For example, I recently read what I regard as one of the more important volumes in Holocaust studies in recent years, and it was every bit as bad as the excerpts from this 'draft.'

Oddly, parts of the book were in standard academic English, parts in bad academese, as if the book had had two different editors or one editor who didn't get to all the chapters.

The author of that book -- I'm not naming him here -- sits in an endowed chair, and at a prestigious Florida school, too.
6.6.2007 3:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
1) I'm with Anderson. Those sentences are not filled with typos; they're filled with incoherent writing. And frankly, I don't think it would be excusable if they were typo-filled. I'm not going to pretend I've never made a mistake in my writing, but I evidently put more proofreading into blog comments than that person evidently did into a piece of professional writing.

2) Even the parts that are coherent are badly written. It reads as if written by someone trying to pad the length of a paper, in part by resorting to a thesaurus. The fourth excerpt, for instance, doesn't say anything -- but it says it very wordily.

3) I'm also with Dan Weber; that actually reads as if it were dictated (to a sloppy note-taker), not written at all.
6.6.2007 3:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And yes, I just used "evidently" twice in one sentence. Not quite enough proofreading. Still more than that writer, though.
6.6.2007 3:34pm
Hoosier:
But why use "complex sentences" in scholarly articles in the first place? I don't imagine that many of us have more intelligent insights than Orwell in his essays. But when you read his essays, you find that /any/ reasonably well-educated person can follow his thinking.

The first thing taught should be to simplify. Fewer commas, fewer parentheses and double-dashes. More concern for the reader.
6.6.2007 3:34pm
JB:
I also agree with Anderson. These sentences are the mark of a bad writer with poor thought processes. I don't think she could have taught me anything when I was in 8th grade.
6.6.2007 3:36pm
byomtov (mail):
Anderson is right. These are awful. First drafts, working papers, and the like may be poorly organized, or unclear in their logic, but really shouldn't contain much of the kinds of writing we see here.

Blog comments are hardly polished writing, but the ones at sites I read are generally much better written than this stuff.
6.6.2007 3:42pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The reporter who wrote the piece linked to above reports on his paper's blog that the recommendation letters in her personnel file are also riddled with errors.
6.6.2007 3:42pm
Former Law Review Editor:
Has there ever been a legal writing instructor that was worthwhile? I know that the legal writing program at UCLA is bass ackwards in what they teach.
6.6.2007 3:43pm
Guest101:
Dan Weber an wooga,

Is the possibility that she dictated the paper intended as a defense? I've never dictated anything, but I would think that having dictated rather than written a draft yourself would provide more reason to edit carefully before publishing the draft, making the failure to catch these errors even less reasonable.
6.6.2007 3:46pm
Guest101:
Sorry-- meant to say Dan Weber and wooga, obviously. Yet another lesson in the value of proofreading carefully.
6.6.2007 3:46pm
A.S.:
I don't think EV focuses enough on the point that the professor is to become the legal writing director at her school. It is mentioned in passing in EV's post, but, to me, it the key fact.

I mean, if a candidate to become a professor of First Amendment Law had posted a draft paper that completely mangled First Amendment law, even though only a draft, not adequately proofread, etc., wouldn't we be entitled to hold it against the candidate?

I care a lot less if the candidate for Legal Writing director mangles First Amendment law concepts in a draft, or if the candidate for teaching First Amendment Law mangles legal writing in a draft.
6.6.2007 3:53pm
Ron Mexico:
The first thing taught should be to simplify. Fewer commas, fewer parentheses and double-dashes. More concern for the reader.

Fewer parentheses is something I could go for (they usually distract from the sentence and are a weak aside at best). But I am a much bigger fan of emdashes---mainly because they can be used to clarify for the reader and emphasize a point. I also think that commas can be helpful to a reader, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with combining compound thoughts into a single sentence if they flow together logically. Colons can be helpful for many things: lists, examples, or a point of emphasis to complete a thought. Semicolons can also be used as well to properly tie two related sentences together; at other times, their use is awkward and distracting to the reader. Many of the more "complicated" punctuation marks are necessary to adequately express a thought or properly and precisely convey an idea to the reader. For most sophisticated readers, I think punctuation---when used properly---is a roadmap to clearer writing (again, I do agree that parentheses are distracting and should be used sparingly).
6.6.2007 4:00pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
I'm waiting for someone on the left to jump in and say that all this criticism is just racist and that the white power structure should not force its sentence structure on oppressed peoples.
6.6.2007 4:04pm
Ella (www):
Lonely - Have fun with that straw man.
6.6.2007 4:06pm
KeithK (mail):
Just curious: why would anyone be dictating a scholarly paper in this day and age? I personally find it hard to imagine even dictating a letter with available technology, but I guess there are circumstances where it's useful/time efficient. But a scholarly paper?
6.6.2007 4:11pm
taney71:
Bad writers in academia. Who would have thought?!?
6.6.2007 4:12pm
Jim G (mail):
I'm not sure what should happen to the legal writing director, but this sentence should be taken out and shot:

"This reports served as a welcome-mate to concerned groups seeking to resolve potential conflicts regarding international environmental concerns, thus allow disputing parties the opportunity to be heard in an agreeable dispute resolution procedure."

Is English her first language?
6.6.2007 4:14pm
Adeez (mail):
Lonely Capitalist: In part because of posts like yours, I pretty much grew tired of posting on this otherwise great website.

But I can't resist this one, b/c the irony is just too delicious: The first comment here (ya know, the one that most here have wholeheartedly agreed with) was from one of those evil leftists that are responsible for all the world's ills.

You might wanna re-think that brilliant analysis of yours.
6.6.2007 4:20pm
MDJD2B (mail):

"We go through the process of writing drafts so you can improve your organization and analysis, you should already know how to write."


Run-on sentence. I would not snarkily point this out were it not for the topic.
6.6.2007 4:27pm
AntonK (mail):
"Also, some might expect, as commenter Anderson points out, that a skilled writer wouldn't produce those sentences even on a first draft, though I'm not positive about that."

I'd get "...postive about that" Mr. Volokh. My 3rd-grader would write a better first-draft than that.
6.6.2007 4:29pm
RGT:
Ron M:

Betcha had fun writing that one!
6.6.2007 4:29pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I think "welcome-mate" is a typo for "g'day, mate." The sentence makes much more sense that way.
6.6.2007 4:43pm
NARL RE Hunter:
Professor Bernstein, are you saying SFHs in the Arlington orange line areas (Lyon Village, Lyon Park and Ashton Heights) are down off of their 05 peaks? Because I just don't see that. Even in those areas there is fairly low supply, and houses are moving pretty fast. I'll grant your point in 22204, Falls Church, etc. but in the metro-walkable SFH market I just don't see it.
6.6.2007 4:45pm
James Grimmelmann (mail) (www):
Where is it written that something posted to an online working paper site must be "thought-through scholarship?" Standards like "no worthwhile so-called 'writer' would write such so-called 'sentences' in the first place" verge on policing thoughtcrime; according to them, the only acceptable writing process is one that is perfectly clear at all times. Judging people harshly for deficiencies in their working papers is a step in the direction of secrecy and scholarly isolation. Like the attorney-client privilege, some measure of immunity for mistakes in working drafts is a basic ingredient of encouraging productive early sharing.
6.6.2007 4:45pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Fewer commas, fewer parentheses and double-dashes.

The use of commas clarifies things, rather than making them more complex.

For instance, had you written "fewer comams, fewer parentheses, and double dashes" it would be crystal clear that you think double dashes make writing more concise. But you wrote "fewer comams, fewer parentheses and double dashes," which leaves your opinion on double dashes open to interpretation.
6.6.2007 4:52pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I suppose just about anything might appear in a first draft or working paper, but those are the things that are best kept in the privacy of one's own chambers. Any competent person would have reviewed the paper prior to sending it anywhere. Did she neglect to review it, or did she review it and think it was OK?
6.6.2007 5:05pm
Freddy Hill:
To those of you that made mistakes while commenting on somebody else's mistakes: You need not feel bad. You are simply a victim of Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation which states that "any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror."

As the linked post points out, this law has no exceptions.
6.6.2007 5:11pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
AntonK: You might be right -- but the trouble is that few of us know what good writers' early drafts look like; we usually see their final drafts. I like to think that mine, while flawed in many ways, don't have the kinds of sentences that were in the director's article. But even if I'm right about my drafts, I'm not sure about others' drafts.

Maybe one can be a great writer even if one writes awful first drafts but then does a tremendous amount of work (even more than the rest of us) in editing. Maybe not. I just don't know for sure, and I suspect that most people (except perhaps professional editors who work with the early drafts of good writers) don't know for sure.
6.6.2007 5:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Where is it written that something posted to an online working paper site must be "thought-through scholarship?"
In the Buy-A-Clue Handbook. It's not a draft of a shopping list; it's a draft of a scholarly paper, put out for the world to see. Scholarly papers are supposed to be thought-through scholarship. That doesn't mean complete; that means that the paper (a) is intended to be scholarship, not just an offhand comment, and (b) is intended to be read by others.
Standards like "no worthwhile so-called 'writer' would write such so-called 'sentences' in the first place" verge on policing thoughtcrime; according to them, the only acceptable writing process is one that is perfectly clear at all times.
Thank you for illustrating the fallacy of the strawman. First, nobody said anything about "perfect." Second, nobody said anything about "all times." This is not "all times." This is after the purported scholar judges that the paper is ready for others to view it. Third, nobody judged the viewpoint of the paper, so the "thoughtcrime" comment is inane. It was the illiterate nature of the writing that was being judged. No educated person should ever write that poorly. (The only way an intelligent person could do so would be if that person wasn't writing in his or her native language. However, one would hope that such a person would not be teaching a writing class. Or anything else in that language.)


KeithK:
Just curious: why would anyone be dictating a scholarly paper in this day and age? I personally find it hard to imagine even dictating a letter with available technology, but I guess there are circumstances where it's useful/time efficient. But a scholarly paper?
Stephen Hawking's excuse?
6.6.2007 5:19pm
Ron Mexico:
Where is it written that something posted to an online working paper site must be "thought-through scholarship?" Standards like "no worthwhile so-called 'writer' would write such so-called 'sentences' in the first place" verge on policing thoughtcrime; according to them, the only acceptable writing process is one that is perfectly clear at all times. Judging people harshly for deficiencies in their working papers is a step in the direction of secrecy and scholarly isolation. Like the attorney-client privilege, some measure of immunity for mistakes in working drafts is a basic ingredient of encouraging productive early sharing.

The point isn't that a writer must be perfect from the get-go. Editing is an extremely important process, and every paper requires substantial editing from first draft to final paper. My personal concern (and I think the concern of a lot of commenters) is that a director of a legal writing program should not be so clueless about writing in general to have this level of writing ever the pen and hit the paper. I would not care if this were simply a regular professor---many professors struggle with writing but ultimately reach excellent work product through their own hard work and repeated editing. The problem here is that the author is teaching legal writing and does not have the base-level instincts to write intelligibly on the first draft. These sentences should make you cringe upon first reading, but apparently she thought they were good enough to post to the public. A simple edit should have cleared this up---she is either too lazy to read through her writing a single time before posting it in an incomprehensible form for all to see or, more likely, she is simply a terrible writer and not fit to teach writing to first graders. Lawyers and academics are notoriously bad writers. The last thing we need is for another horrible writer to be teaching the next generation of lawyers. On the other hand, I had an excellent legal writing director who loved the subject, was a great teacher, and likely had a positive impact on a decent portion of my class.
6.6.2007 5:24pm
CEB:
For what it's worth, here is the Introduction from the final, published version:

Natural resources are distributed underground through unpredictable regions of land, oceans, ecosystems, and islands. This type of distribution weaves through geopolitical borders, communities, cultures, and sovereign states. Physical boundaries associated with environmental issues often do not correspond to the jurisdictional boundaries that constrain regulatory authorities. 2 Protecting fragile environments while exploring for, developing, producing, and transporting [*98] oil and gas in and through ecologically and socially sensitive areas present important environmental governance challenges 3 and associated security risks. 4 This is a particular challenge because of the extent to which [*99] environmental compliance laws, rules, and regulations vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; 5 treaties to protect our "global commons" (e.g., Earth's air and its atmosphere; the high seas and deep seabed; the polar regions; and the planet's magnetosphere and gravitational field in outer space) are signed by some but not all nations. 6 "International environmental disputes, whether in terms of conflicts initiated from tensions over scarce resources or noncompliance with multilateral treaty obligations, pose new threats to international security." 7

The focus of this article is to discuss mechanisms for international environment enforcement dispute resolutions for an oil producing region that has been the site of major confrontations regarding environmental protection issues - the Niger Delta in the western coastal region of Africa. Over twenty multinational and national oil production companies are engaged in oil and gas exploration in the area. Allegations have been raised that oil and gas exploration companies and African environmental law lack standards to ensure environmental protection. The results have caused regional environmental issues that can expand into global development deficiencies, tensions, or threats to international security.

This article also describes emerging methodologies for achieving sustainable solutions to complex and emotionally volatile multi-stakeholder conflicts, to support the achievement of sustainable development objectives, and urges the support and modification of new [*100] multilateral treaty enforcement mechanisms through the United Nations. It identifies three emerging systems and techniques for managing these environmental risk management and related security risks: (1) ISO 14000 / 14001 and the development of standardized templates for governmental, community, and industry environmental management systems; (2) the recognition and application of the Non-Compliance Provision of the Montreal Protocol; and (3) merging the goals of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development into conflict management methodologies, while seeking to link the individual mechanisms to one jurisdiction for conflict management.

14 Mo. Envtl. L. &Pol'y Rev. 97
6.6.2007 5:27pm
Eliza (mail):
Is it extraordinary that a law professor have only one published paper? If she keeps this up Bush will be wanting to put her on the Supreme Court.
6.6.2007 5:28pm
ATRGeek:
I'm with Ben's LRW instructor. In any legal writing context, or really any professional writing context, you should never provide someone with a "rough" draft. You should provide only "first" drafts, and the difference is that your first draft is as good as you could make it by yourself (without getting outside help).

Of course, few if any people approach perfection in a first draft, which is why you should have other people edit your work whenever it is something important. But if this was her best individual effort, she is unqualified for the position in question. And if it wasn't her best individual effort, then she is also unqualified because she does not understand this basic principle of legal/professional writing.
6.6.2007 5:33pm
wooga:
Dan Weber and wooga,
Is the possibility that she dictated the paper intended as a defense?


Guest101,
No. The dictation theory is simply the only one which would allow me to conclude she is not retarded. If this is how she actually writes, even in a rough draft form, it makes my brain hurt to think she was able to become a law professor.

Either way, she still demonstrated carelessness in "publishing" the paper in this form.
6.6.2007 5:39pm
Ella (www):
Forget the working paper, the introduction to the published paper isn't very good. Does anyone else think that any sentence starting with "The results have caused . . ." is wrong on many levels?
6.6.2007 5:53pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Natural resources are distributed underground through unpredictable regions of land, oceans, ecosystems, and islands.

Right there - bing. You have to stop to figure out whether "land ... islands" are subordinate to "regions of" or just "of." And I can't figure out how "ecosystems" fits, or how "islands" are not "regions of land."

Her very first sentence, and she's not really thinking about what she's writing.

4th sentence has an elementary S-V error: "Protecting ... presents," but b/c "areas" comes right before the verb, she has "present."

5th sentence is simply garbled -- a semicolon is *not* an html mark for "suspend laws of syntax."

There's more wrong, I'm confident, in that sample, but I'll stop there. If you can't polish your intro, what can you polish? God knows what her C.V. looks like.
6.6.2007 5:56pm
TomHynes (mail):

According to the newspaper, paper later appeared in the Fall 2006 Missouri Environmental Law and Policy Review

I couldn't find the article online. Can some commenter find the article and see if it got better? If not, case closed.
6.6.2007 6:34pm
neurodoc:
The author of that book -- I'm not naming him here -- sits in an endowed chair, and at a prestigious Florida school, too.

Prestigious within Florida, or prestigious in the wider world?
6.6.2007 6:40pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
TomHynes, look upthread for the published intro. Better's not in it.
6.6.2007 6:43pm
Carolina:
This was NOT a rough draft. From the actual newspaper article linked in the actual post:

"The year before, either she or Texas Southern paid an online submission service run by Berkeley Electronic Press to circulate her paper to law journals in hopes of getting it published."

In other words, although perhaps not final, the error-ridden version was the version she wanted law reviews to see when evaluating whether to accept this article.
6.6.2007 6:55pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Anyone who thinks people should use fewer commas should remember this dedication to a book from several years ago: "I would like to thank my parents, God and Ayn Rand."
6.6.2007 7:01pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
No, Sean, they probably meant that.
6.6.2007 7:13pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
The only excuse she might have is that the material quoted is literally her first draft. A set of notes that she had not read over-- even once-- and not proofed in any way. (And, yes! That's a sentence fragment. Don't even go there.)

At times, when I am feeling particularly "inspired," my typing cannot keep up with the flow of my ideas. The result is usually a series of slightly scrambled sentences with a multitude of typos.

I cannot imagine, however, why someone would make public their "written on a napkin" notes, and raw ideas. At the very least, you would have to question her judgment.
6.6.2007 7:15pm
Carolina:

The only excuse she might have is that the material quoted is literally her first draft. A set of notes that she had not read over-- even once-- and not proofed in any way.


It is not a first draft. See my post above. That awful draft was circulated to law reviews in an attempt to get the article published, according to the newspaper article.
6.6.2007 7:16pm
Another Random Commenter:
Is there a reason the author was not identified in EV's post?
6.6.2007 7:25pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm with Ben's LRW instructor. In any legal writing context, or really any professional writing context, you should never provide someone with a "rough" draft. You should provide only "first" drafts, and the difference is that your first draft is as good as you could make it by yourself (without getting outside help).
Indeed. It reminds me of the anecdote about... well, it's told about lots of people, but I heard it most recently about SecDef MacNamara, in Mark Herrman's book:

An aide leaves a draft memo on his desk. The next day, MacNamara summons him and says, "Is this the best you can do?" The aide takes it back, spends a week revising it, and returns it. MacNamara summons him again and says, "Is this really the best you can do?" The aide, by now feeling flustered, takes it back, works on it nonstop all weekend, and returns it to MacNamara. A day later MacNamara calls him and says, "Are you absolutely certain this is the best you can do?" The aide, upset, yells at MacNamara, "Yes, this is the absolute best I can do. What do you want from me? I can't do any better." MacNamara says, "Fine. Now I'll read it."
6.6.2007 8:21pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And yes, once again, I realize a mistake right after posting, in that his name is McNamara.
6.6.2007 8:23pm
TomHynes (mail):
Anderson:

Thanks, I read the intro above and saw this gem:

treaties to protect our "global commons" (e.g., Earth's air and its atmosphere; the high seas and deep seabed; the polar regions; and the planet's magnetosphere and gravitational field in outer space) are signed by some but not all nations.

Do we have treaties to protect the earth's gravitational field?
6.6.2007 9:01pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
neurodoc, prestigious everywhere although more so in your field than in European history.

I begin to suspect, given the topic, that the writer's first language (or at any rate, one of perhaps more than one cradle languages) is Nigerian English. That would explain some of the tin-eared and non-idiomatic (to us) constructions, though not some of the other infelicities.

Professor Volokh sez: 'I just don't know for sure, and I suspect that most people (except perhaps professional editors who work with the early drafts of good writers) don't know for sure.'

I do that. If we are talking about native writers, then if they're good, they're always good, right from the first draft. A good writer might write something that can be improved, but he cannot write something bad.

I have occasionally encountered people writing in second languages who are pretty bad at the first go but much, much better once they've had a chance to revise. I am in awe of such writers.
6.6.2007 10:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Do we have treaties to protect the earth's gravitational field?

Yes, but the Venusians won't sign.
6.6.2007 11:44pm
Concerned (mail):
Boy, it's awkward living in a time when so few folks will come right out and state the obvious. We will bend over backwards to make excuses though, no matter how silly or far fetched they might appear for those who will not or cannot perform adequately.
6.6.2007 11:52pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Was she responsible for "All your base are belong to us"?

Nick
6.7.2007 12:04am
neurodoc:
EV: I surely wouldn't advise firing someone, even from a position in which she teaches writing, simply because she didn't adequately edit an earlier draft.

No, this by itself does not prove that she is unfit to direct the legal writing program, but it certainly calls into question her fitness for the position. Shouldn't the school look at more samples of her own legal writing and her mark-ups of student submissions? It seems to me that the students arguing that she is unqualified have made a prima facie case that should be answered, if it can be answered.


Harry Eagar: neurodoc, prestigious everywhere although more so in your field than in European history.

OK, so you must be alluding either to the Gators or the Hurricanes. Having done an internship and residency in Miami, I would like to think that school is the stronger of the two in neurologically speaking. But then there is the matter of pre-eminence in football, which is not constant year to year. (Basketball supremacy is clearly Gainesville's to claim.) Eminence in European history, I have no idea.
6.7.2007 1:01am
AppSocRes (mail):
If you follow the links back and do a Google image search on the author's name, you will get some new insights into this situation.
6.7.2007 10:01am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Oh, very classy, AppSoc.

I got a new insight into you, that's for sure.
6.7.2007 11:37am
AppSocRes (mail):
Anderson: She's not Nigerian, as some posters suggested. She's native-born American with English as her native language. What's your problem?
6.7.2007 12:10pm
Houston Lawyer:
She was at Texas Southern before here in Houston. They manage to get about 25% of their grads to pass the Texas bar exam on the first try. The other law schools in Texas get 80% or more of their grads to pass.
6.7.2007 12:42pm
JGR (mail):
I am constantly amazed when I read Nietzsche's (sometimes hastily scribbled) notes to himself - collected in a large volume posthumously titled The Will To Power - that his stream- of-consciousness writing is written in a sparkling prose and logical coherence that surpasses most of the great essayists.
Of course, almost all of us would fail by such standards. The observation just always fascinated me and is just on-topic enough to justify it in a post.
6.7.2007 1:09pm
markm (mail):

Anyone who thinks people should use fewer commas should remember this dedication to a book from several years ago: "I would like to thank my parents, God and Ayn Rand."

Good example, but too many commas can be just as bad:

"The panda eats, shoots and leaves."

Seriously, how representative are those quoted sentences of the whole paper, which I assume must have been very long? I can see even a skilled writer producing a few garbled sentences like that on the first pass. I can see a skilled writer, who proofread in a great hurry, failing to notice a half-dozen such sentences out of twenty pages. But no one who releases a paper for others to read before it is in much better shape could possibly be qualified to teach writing in legal or standard American English.
6.7.2007 1:24pm