Fall 2013 Writing Skills Workshops

Workshop No. 1: Parallel Construction and Passive Voice
Friday, September 20, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Parallel Construction and Passive Voice

The image at left is a protest opposing the paffife voice from the 16th century, and in fact, prohibitions against its use pre-date the King James Version of the Bible. The passive voice obscures the true actor in a sentence and is disfavored in almost all academic disciplines, including legal writing. This workshop will help readers learn to identify and eliminate the passive voice and preserve or create parallel sentence constructions. The latter are particularly important for lawyers to master because of the significant role analogies play in legal analysis.


Workshop No. 2: Word Choice and Correct usage
Friday, September 27, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Word Choice and Correct Usage

You have probably gotten back a paper, at least once in your life, with “awkward” written somewhere in the margins (and usually in red ink). Though poor grammar often plays a role in creating awkward sentences, a writer’s word choice can be equally to blame. Missives and letters are the same thing, but which is the better choice when drafting discovery requests?  This workshop will help writers think about how to gauge the appropriateness of a word choice and spot easily mixed-up or confused words.


Workshop No. 3: Comma Use
Friday, October 11, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Comma Use

True or false: A comma should be placed wherever a reader pauses. Answer: false. Emphatically false, in fact. All punctuation is more than just a breathing exercise, and effective legal writing is almost impossible without using commas correctly. This workshop will review the rules for comma use that are the most fundamental to clear writing as well as touch on skills that can help writers improve their sentence structure.

Workshop No. 4: Colons and Semicolons
Friday, October 18, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Colons and Semicolons

Fun fact: Aldus Manutius the Elder, a Venetian printer who lived during the Italian Renaissance, invented the semicolon. (He also invented italic print; citation would not be the same without him.) Legal writers rely on colons and semicolons more often than other writers because both marks are common in statutory language. Both can also help organize the complex sentence structures all lawyers must master. This workshop will focus on the most common uses of the colon and semicolon in legal writing.

Workshop No. 5: Quotes, Apostrophes, and Series
Friday, October 25, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Quotes, Apostrophes, and Series

Vampire Weekend cares about the Oxford comma, and so should you. Quotations, apostrophes, and items in a series are all small points of grammar that can create large gaps in meaning. Consider the differences between these possible openings: “The defendant’s claim…,” “The defendants’ claim…,” and “The defendants claim…” This workshop will cover the basic rules for punctuating quotations, using apostrophes correctly, and properly setting out items in a series.


Workshop No. 6: Agreement: Noun, Pronoun, and Verb
Friday, November 1, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Room 302

Workshop: Agreement: Noun, Pronoun, and Verb

Most writers know intuitively that nouns and pronouns need to agree in count and  kind and that verbs need to agree in count and tense. Spotting these issues,  however, gets increasingly tricky as sentences become increasingly complex. This  workshop will review the basic rules for noun, pronoun, and verb agreement.

Workshops will generally be held at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. every Friday in room 302. There will be no workshop on October 4th.

All workshops will be facilitated by Writing Specialist Steven Schultz.

Office : Room 322


Phone: 610-519-6243

Office Hours: Until 2 p.m. on Mondays and all day on Wednesdays and Fridays. Students may meet with him
individually for additional feedback on their writing or to make up missed workshops.