Outstanding In-House Publication Award: Appellate Brief Guide

While Debbie and I have been offering Word Workshops in our first year Legal Writing curriculum for 5+ years, this new guide was designed to focus on the resources offered for just one major assignment, breaking down each section to match the skills I show in my in-person workshops.

For Spring 2022, I knew I’d be seeing 250 students over the semester and I wanted to make the materials I’d created as accessible as possible.

Guide link: Appellate Brief Tools & Tips

I knew we have upper division students who continue refer to my training materials for assignments, moot court competition briefs, or even work files, as one student reached out to mention:

I’m a working paralegal, and I’ve referenced {your videos} multiple times since doing our first Appellate Brief to format/create Tables of Authorities and Contents for briefs in my day job with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

In 2020 and 2021, I shifted from focusing just on my in-person workshops to creating video segments students could review that would match specific steps in the editing process as they had questions. I had very positive responses from this, but the videos were less visible to students after their course websites finished.

The new guide consolidates step-by-step instructions with details screenshots, sample files, video clip demos. This year, seeing some students had trouble following longer in-class activities, I also added recorded versions that have matching files with track changes annotations explaining what needs to be fixed and written instructions, so students can use the files with whatever training method is easiest for them to follow.

Guide & Video Usage

While I tried to reach out to the students early with these resources, both before spring break and before my in-class workshops, I wasn’t surprised to find from the viewing stats on the videos and guides that the majority of the usage came right before the assignment was due:

Within the month of it going “live,” there were 1,300+ views of this Guide, with the videos (which were also sent via email and embedded in course websites) viewed 775 times by 163 unique viewers.

I also promoted the guide on the monitor in the library, with print handouts below students could pick up, since I taught several sections workshops remotely.

Slide shared on Library monitor promoting the new Appellate Brief Guide
library monitor promotion

I offered a limited number of 1:1 remote study sessions with students who still had questions, but made sure to note they could use the guide too.  A few students cancelled the 1:1 sessions they’d booked when they found the answers in the guide and I used my other sessions to tweak language to make it easier for students to find content there if we had different ways of looking for the same tips.

Award Hijinks

Both Emily Bs with their "Outstanding In-House Publication" awards
Making the award exchange!

As you can see in the cover photo, both CALL Bulletin Editors with names starting with “Emily B” won the “Outstanding In-House Publication” award this year. when the awards were mailed to each of us at our offices, though, there was a mix-up and we each received each other’s award!

Fortunately we work near each other, so we arranged for a quick street-corner exchange next to Union Station before the May 2022 Business meeting began!