Law and Conversation

May 15, 2012


Filed under: CLE,Law — Helen Gunnarsson @ 9:00 am
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Lawyers, have I got a deal for and a favor to ask of you: if you are not already a member of the American Bar Association, sign up by using this link for a FREE trial membership through August 31. There is no obligation; you don’t have to provide a credit card number to sign up, and if you don’t want to continue to be a member, when the ABA sends you a bill at the end of the trial, you can just write cancel on it and send it back. (Though you might decide you like it and want to continue. I hope you will; it’s a great organization.)

In the meantime, you get all the usual member benefits, including some FREE CLE–1 webinar a month, I think. And we all have to do CLE!

What’s in it for me: as long as you use the link in this e-mail to sign up, I’ll get credit and could (but probably won’t) win a cool prize. But regardless of whether I win anything, it’s FREE to you, there is no obligation to continue, and clicking on the link will not give you a virus or subject you to spam. Deadline is May 31, but the next free member CLE webinar is this coming Monday, May 21, on cloud computing, so it makes sense to join now.

Thanks much, and please share the link with your friends!

September 2, 2011

Europa Challenge Blog: The Girl on the Via Flaminia

Challenge Button

I’m over on the Europa Challenge Blog today with a review of Alfred Hayes’s “The Girl on the Via Flaminia.” Originally published in 1949, the story is set in Rome as World War II winds down. It’s a powerful depiction of the unforeseen personal and legal complications of a simple business arrangement between a US GI and an Italian woman. Please click on over and check it out!

Last week I posted about my delight at having my cover story in the August 2011 issue of the Illinois Bar Journal, “To Tweet Or Not To Tweet,” selected as Pick of the Week by TechnoLawyer’s BlawgWorld

This week I’m preening all over again because the ABA Journal, published by the American Bar Association, picked up my cover story for this month’s (September 2011) issue of the IBJ, “The Five Biggest Business Mistakes Lawyers Make,” for which I interviewed Wauconda, Illinois lawyer Timothy Storm. I predict that Storm’s upcoming presentation at the ISBA’s Solo and Small Firm Conference in Springfield will have lawyers standing up and shouting “AMEN!” Please click on over and read the articles–ISBA has generously made them available to the public, free of charge. If you’re an Illinois lawyer and you’re NOT an ISBA member, what are you thinking? Go join right now! (This has been an unpaid public service and self-promotional announcement 😉 )

August 12, 2011

Crime fiction, Giller Prize, CLE

Despite its popularity, crime fiction isn’t generally a genre that attracts me. Even though I’ve practiced only civil, not criminal, law, it’s just always seemed too much like reading about work in my free time. By its nature, any crime fiction novel involves an investigation, which is common to any legal matter, criminal or civil. Often lawyers are involved. And then there are the gory details–sometimes more, sometimes less.

But Sarah Weinman has an article in The Wall Street Journal that explains what its devotees see in it. Reviewing a new translation of French noir novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette‘s “Fatale,” Weinman writes “One way crime novels become classics is by channeling the social concerns of the day. Raymond Chandler’s novels were indictments of moral corruption, pre- and post-World War II, while Dashiell Hammett countered Jazz Age excess with a decided anti-capitalist bent. These works offered a window into how the world really works, not how we wish it did.”

Weinman’s analysis makes sense to me, and it’s helping to convince me to plan on reading some noir in the near future. Reading some intriguing reviews and mentions of noir such as Jean-Claude Izzo’s and Carlo Lucarelli’s works on The Europa Challenge Blog, which are published in translation by Europa Editions, is strengthening my resolve. Crime fiction always includes strong stories and place settings, both of which I love. And I’ve observed that doing or reading something outside my usual routine on a regular basis almost always reinvigorates me.

Speaking of the Europa Challenge blog, after noticing a tweet yesterday about the forthcoming announcement of the longlist for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize, which annually recognizes the (arguably) best Canadian novel or short story collection published, I wondered (via tweets) whether some of the many Canadian booklovers might establish a Giller Prize Challenge Blog along the same lines as the one for Europa Editions books, which, in turn, was inspired by The Complete Booker blog.

The Giller Prize has been awarded only since 1994, so there aren’t as many to choose from–and those with far more expertise in CanLit than I pointed out that the quality of some of the winners has been controversial. So I proposed (also by tweet) that if someone does decide to establish a challenge blog, extending the reading challenge to books that made the shortlist–to expand the choices, not to challenge participants to actually read all of them (unless they really wanted to). As on the Europa Challenge Blog, participants could choose to read 4, or 7, or 14, or any other number, for various levels of satisfaction.

Toronto literary critic Steven W. Beattie responded by linking to a recent post of his own criticizing the method for selecting Giller contenders. Follow him, @bookgaga, @janetsomerville, @jadeperreault, @lawartsculture, @GillerPrize, and, of course, @MargaretAtwood, among many other bookloving Canadians, on Twitter for incisive tweets about CanLit and more. Please follow my fellow bloggers over at The Europa Challenge Blog, too!

I was thrilled to learn this week that several of my articles that have appeared in the Illinois Bar Journal will be included in materials for upcoming CLE seminars in Illinois and Oklahoma. “Tech tools for solos” and “From Sheepskin to Shingle,” both of which appeared in the September 2009 issue of the IBJ, will be part of the materials for an Oklahoma Bar Association seminar on the basics of law office technology, while “Unbundling Explained,” published in the October 2010 IBJ, will be included in the materials for a webinar from the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education on Limited Scope Representation. I had a lot of fun writing the lead article in the current (August 2011) IBJ, “To Tweet Or Not To Tweet: Twitter For Lawyers,” since as part of my preparation I got to talk to and quote a number of lawyers I follow on Twitter.

Are you reading or planning to read anything that’s unusual for you?

September 9, 2010

Thursday thanks!

Filed under: CLE,Law,legal writing — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am
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I recently came across Advocate’s Studio, the blog of Martha Sperry, a Boston lawyer who, like me, has a strong writing background and is also interested in music, technology, and a wide range of other subjects.  On her blog, Martha covers legal research and modern tech tools to assist the professional practice of law.  Unbeknownst to me, Martha praised my presentation for MentorCLE, “Persuasive Writing for Lawyers,” in a post last June.  Many thanks, Martha!

As I noted in a previous post, you can watch my presentation and any of MentorCLE’s other great offerings for free; if you’re a lawyer, you can pay a small fee and receive one hour of professionalism (ethics) credit for it in Illinois.  If you’re licensed in a different state, check out your state’s policies to see whether you can get CLE credit there.  As I mentioned last week,  I receive a small royalty every time someone views my course and pays for CLE credit.

A literary agent provides some adjectival suggestions for us writers to freshen up our prose at SlushPile Hell.  A LadyGagaLicious reference is guaranteed to make the judges of the Seventh Circuit (or any other court) sit up and take notice of your brief!   Hat tip:  Janet Reid via Twitter.

September 2, 2010

Thursday thanks!

Filed under: CLE,Law,lawyer writers,legal writing,trials — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am
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I’d like to thank Illinois lawyer and superstar blawgger, Evan Schaeffer, for mentioning my recent article from the August 2010 Illinois Bar Journal, “Uncivil Action.”  I’ve interviewed Schaeffer on multiple occasions for articles on trial practice and legal technology.  He’s always responded to calls or e-mails promptly and provided spot-on commentary.  His inspiring, well written blogs have a wealth of information for lawyers on trial practice, writing, and technology, with occasional other fascinating tidbits thrown in.  And, in true superstar fashion, Evan sent me a very gracious e-mail when I started this blog, welcoming me to the blogosphere!

Evan was also kind enough to review my presentation for, “Persuasive Writing for Lawyers,” and gave it a thumbs up.  You can watch my presentation and any of MentorCLE’s other great offerings for free; if you’re a lawyer, you can pay a (rock bottom) $19.95 and receive one hour of professionalism (ethics) credit for it in Illinois.  If you’re licensed in a different state, check out your state’s policies to see whether you can get CLE credit there.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I receive a small royalty every time someone views my course and pays for CLE credit.

Here’s a fun site for others who love good writing:  The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.  Hat tip:  writer Sandra Boncek Hume.  On the other end of the punctuation spectrum, Jane Austen apparently didn’t DO punctuation in her mss., says Jack Malvern in The Australian.  Hat tip:  Jane Austen Today.

Have I missed you?  I have some more posts in the works thanking others, one by one, who have linked to this blog and referenced my work.  If you’ve linked to this site and/or included it on your own blogroll, or otherwise referenced my work, please let me know.

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