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Legal writing scholar spearheads Stetson’s first Law and Rhetoric Colloquium


Stetson University College of Law hosted its first Law and Rhetoric Colloquium on March 9-10 in Gulfport. Professor Kirsten Davis, Ph.D., the director of Legal Research and Writing at Stetson, spearheaded the colloquium, which included a dozen professors of law, communication arts, and the humanities.

Scholars gathered at Stetson for the first Law and Rhetoric Colloquium.

Scholars gathered at Stetson for the first Law and Rhetoric Colloquium.

Davis said that the goal of the colloquium was to build a community of scholars on the topic.

The colloquium brought together professors from across disciplines to discuss the relationship between law and rhetoric and the value of introducing rhetoric into the legal writing curriculum.

“Rhetorical theory influences how you read and write and speak the law,” Davis said.

Davis explained that the goal of legal writing is to persuade, and understanding rhetoric can help lawyers become better readers and writers and ultimately more persuasive communicators.

“Lawyers need to be masters of language,” she said.

In addition to courses on legal research and writing, Davis teaches a seminar on legal discourse and rhetorical theory at Stetson.

She is the author of several law review articles on the subject. Her article, “Building Credibility in the Margins: An Ethos-Based Perspective on Commenting on Student Papers,” was published in the first volume of the Legal Writing Institute’s online monograph of “important articles” on student feedback.

She said that she hopes the colloquium will expand, start a listserv and begin a law and rhetoric blog.

Photo caption: Front Row, L to R: Kristen Tiscione, Professor of Legal Research and Writing, Georgetown University School of Law; Colin Starger, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Baltimore  School of Law; Dr. J. Clarke Rountree, Chair and Professor of Communication Arts, University of Alabama, Huntsville; Dr. Jeff Todd, Assistant Professor of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law  (Co-organizer); Dr. Jennifer Andrus, Assistant Professor, University of Utah, College of Humanities; Dr. Kirsten K. Davis, Professor of Law, Director of Legal Research and Writing, Stetson University College of Law (Co-organizer). Back Row, L to R: Dr. Katie Rose Guest Pryal, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law; Julie Oseid, Associate Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis School of Law; Francis J. Mootz, Dean and Professor of Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law; Nick Scuillo, Graduate Assistant, Georgia State University Department of Communication; Dr. Greg Pingree, Professor of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law; Jack Sammons, Professor of Law, Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University.