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Showing posts from June, 2013

Law Reviews Born Digital Pt. 2: Archiving Considerations

Most of us are in agreement that it's time for law reviews to go online. As a librarian, my biggest concern is archiving. I want to make sure that we do not lose the valuable information that legal scholars create.

From the Durham Statement: "[W]e believe that, if law schools are willing to commit to stable and open digital storage for the journals they publish, there are no longer good reasons for individual libraries to rely on paper copies as the archival format. Agree-upon stable, open, digital formats will ensure that legal scholarship will be preserved long-term."

I've been trying to find best practices for archiving, and I haven't come up with much. What we consider "stable, open, and digital" is constantly changing, and there are no set standards.

From the FAQ's on the Durham Statement's website:

Are there "stable, open, and digital" formats available now for preserving law journals?
We recognize that there is work to be done to…

Law Reviews Born Digital Pt. 1: An Online-Only Publication

It's amazing that in this day and age, no flagship law review has taken the lead to go all digital. To date, all of the American law school's flagship law reviews still publish in print and most are duplicating coverage through their own institutional website or through a digital repository. The information is also uploaded to Lexis, Westlaw, and HeinOnline.

There are many pros to going all digital -- the cost savings associated with canceling print, greater access, and marketing through social media, to name a few.
In fact, the issue was solidified in 2008 with the Durham Statement on Open Access in Legal Scholarship.

"[T]he directors of the law libraries at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and Yale University met in Durham, North Carolina at the Duke Law …

A Momentous Day for Gay Rights

In a surprise ruling, SCOTUS ruled that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional for having no legitimate purpose.

"The case on the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307, considered the part of the law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits. The decision on the federal law was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

This is a surprise ruling given the Court's conservative stance on the…

eHearsay You Say?

The law is constantly trying to keep up with technology. Technology changes at such a rapid pace, and the law, well, does not. With the advent of social media and real-time updates, William & Mary Law professor Jeffrey Bellin proposes a new eHearsay rule to help accommodate the unreliable witness.


From the abstract of William & Mary Law prof Jeffrey Bellin's eHearsay article [SSRN] (Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 98, 2013):

"This Article proposes a new “eHearsay” rule of evidence that will permit the admission, over a hearsay objection, of a broad spectrum of electronic out-of-court communications. The proposal builds on prior hearsay reform proposals, and also takes advantage of the fact that electronic statements are invariably recorded. Litigants’ ability to show jurors actual text messages, Facebook “status updates” and Twitter “tweets” authored by percipient witnesses shortly after a disputed event and prior to litigation makes these out-of-court statements compellin…

Library Vinyl Record Collections In a Post-Vinyl World

To commemorate my trip to Memphis, TN, including a trip to Sun Studio, I thought I'd show a little love to library vinyl record collections.

I think it's safe to say that most libraries ditched their vinyl record collections around the time of the cassette tape, but there were a few libraries who held onto these gems presumably for archival purposes.

But with the budget and space constraints of the last decade, even those libraries that initially held onto their record collections started to shed them. As one librarian noted in 2010, "[w]e had noticed over the last several years that the vinyl is not circulating like our CD’s are, or our DVD's, and what we wanted to do was make space for new items and get them into the hands of people who would really appreciate them." So they held a sale that I wish I would have been around for. "[T]he Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library in Tennessee has sold its collection of rare vinyl record albums for $1 a …

More Libraries Than McDonald's or Starbucks!

In news that makes any librarian's heart flutter, there are more public libraries than McDonald's or Starbucks in the United States.

"If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the ubiquity of McDonald's, this stat may make your day: There are more public libraries (about 17,000) in America than outposts of the burger mega-chain (about 14,000). The same is true of Starbucks (about 11,000 coffee shops nationally).

“There’s always that joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner," says Justin Grimes, a statistician with the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington. "But when you really think about it, there’s a public library wherever you go, whether it’s in New York City or some place in rural Montana. Very few communities are not touched by a public library.”

In fact, libraries serve 96.4 percent of the U.S. population, a reach any fast-food franchise can only dream of."

Here is a link to the article and a few maps:
The Atlantic Cities -- Every…

Class-Based Affirmative Action

SCOTUS is set to rule on the most recent affirmative action case any day. Is society beyond the need to guarantee diversity in higher education through the use of affirmative action? Are the races keeping up with one another in terms of achievement?

Some say yes, others say no, but one thing is certain -- race-based affirmative action will end at some point because it is only meant to be a temporary solution. Many commenters believe that race-based affirmative action should be replaced with class-based affirmative action. "There is no question that [race-based affirmative action] is a relatively efficient way to make higher education less monochromatic. But sooner or later, racial preferences, which were originally designed to be temporary, will end. Whatever the court decides in the pending case, it is time for college administrators to shift their attention decisively away from racial preferences to an affirmative action based on class."

It's interesting to note that r…

Florida's Costly Timely Justice Act

While I was listening to This American Life on NPR this weekend, I heard a horrifying story about Florida's new Timely Justice Act.

The Act essentially speeds up the death penalty process. "It sets a deadline of 30 days for the governor to sign a death warrant once an inmate’s appeals become final—that is, after at least one round of state and federal appeals, and after a review by the governor for clemency. And once the governor signs the warrant, the Timely Justice Act says the execution must occur within 180 days."

To some, this may seem like a good thing if we look at the death penalty in purely economic terms. It is hugely expensive to put someone to death with all of the appeals and years and years of waiting on death row.

But it's not purely economic because 'death is different.' It is imperative that we go through the legal processes because we can't undo this punishment. "One of the enduring arguments in Supreme Court death penalty jurisprud…

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Did you know that there is a student-loan forgiveness program specific to those who work at a qualifying non-profit organization? Whenever people ask me about student loan repayment, I am quick to inform them of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) because many people do not know that the program exists.

"In 2007, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on their eligible federal student loans after they have made 120 payments on those loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers."
In legal terms, what this means is that:  You must make 120 on-time, full, scheduled, monthly payments on your Direct Loans. Only payments made after October 1, 2007 qualify.You must make those payments under a qualifying repayment plan.When you make ea…

What is Metadata?

To piggy back on my last post about the National Security Agency collecting the metadata associated with our cell phone calls (data), it might be important to describe metadata and why it is useful.

So what is metadata? "Simply put, metadata is data about data. It is descriptive information about a particular data set, object, or resource, including how it is formatted, and when and by whom it was collected. Although metadata most commonly refers to web resources, it can be about either physical or electronic resources. It may be created automatically using software or entered by hand."

In the library world metadata is extremely important because it is how we organize information. "The underlying concepts of metadata have been in use for as long as collections of information have been organized. For example, the information structure for materials in library catalogs is a type of metadata that has served as a collection management and resource discovery tool for decades…

Invading Privacy Rights In the Name of Protection

We all now know that the National Security Agency has been collecting our (meta)data from our wireless and Internet service providers. We can't say that we didn't see it coming, since George Orwell prophesized about Big Brother in his book 1984. In fact, Amazon sales of the book have skyrocketed over 7000% over the last week.

But now that we know they are collecting our data, is there reason to be concerned? Our leaders are poo-pooing any concern with statements that [i]ntelligence agencies were not reading personal messages, but rather information about the messages. “This is just metadata,” Senator Feinstein said at a news conference. “There is no content involved.”

It's not that simple, however, because "researchers in the field of data analysis [say that] metadata, or the information about such things as where a message came from and when it was sent, is frequently more valuable to security officials than the content of the messages. A study published in Nature la…

A MOOC For New Librarianship

It was just announced that there will be a MOOC (massive open online course) devoted to New Librarianship. It is free and has guided instruction from July 8 - August 4.

I hope to take part in the class as professional development, so I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Announcing the New Librarianship Master Class Online

The Sway of a Judicial Law Clerk

How much influence does a judicial law clerk have on the happenings of a court?

At the United States Supreme Court level, the Justices' clerks may be the key to judicial reform that keeps pace with current society.

Edward Lazarus, a former law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun wrote a booked called Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court that was released in 1998. In the book, Lazarus "claims that clerks hold too much influence over their justices-- they succeed in persuading the justice to accept the clerk's view."

In a law review response piece to Lazarus's book, Sally J. Kenney, writes, "I think clerks do have a positive influence on the justices and the Court by bringing fresh ideas and providing a close-knit group wherein justices can reconsider their positions if they choose to do so. Being persuaded by clerks to reconsider a position or accept an argument is very different from being manipulated by th…

Please Don't Cite Me

In Maryland v. King, the recent SCOTUS decision regarding DNA sampling of arrestees, Justice Kennedy quoted a book called 'Actual Innocence' for support. 'Actual Innocence' was written by the founders of the Innocence Project. But, in this case, the authors of the book are not happy because Kennedy took the quote out of context. Kennedy made it appear as if the founders of the Innocence Project support the DNA sampling of people upon arrest, but they do not.

NYTimes -- Cited by a Justice, but Feeling Less Than Honored

Legal Internship or Free Labor?

Many law schools require their students to get practical legal experience with an unpaid internship. These internships are valuable for networking and for a hands-on education with a mentor. But an internship is more valuable if the student is actively learning. The internship is much less valuable if it merely amounts to free menial labor.

"With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor."

Interns must be paid if an employer cannot comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for an internship to be unpaid. "Among those criteria are that the internship should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer 'derives no immediate advantage' from the intern’s acti…

Employment Stats For 2011 & 2012 Law Grads Nearly The Same

The employment statistics for the 2012 graduates are nearly the same as those for the 2011 law school graduates.

"As of Feb. 15 ... 56.2 percent of all 2012 graduates of ABA-approved law schools held long-term/full-time jobs—expected to last a year or more—that require a license to practice law. That’s a slight improvement over the previous year, when 54.9 percent of 2011 graduates of ABA-approved schools held full-time/long-term jobs requiring a law license nine months after graduation."

One telling statistic is that the "percentage of 2012 graduates who still were unemployed and seeking work nine months later—10.6 percent—reflects an increase from 2011, when 9.2 percent of all graduates were unemployed and seeking work nine months later."

However, there were more law school graduates in 2012 than at any other time in law school history. "At 46,364 graduates, the [201] class was the largest on record, 5.4 percent more than the 43,979 graduates of ABA-approved…

The Weighty Consequences Of Law Practice

This seems like a no-brainer, but a survey this week reinforced the notion that the duties of the legal profession help pack on the pounds.

"Lawyers, judges and other legal professionals work in one of the top professions for weight gain, according to a survey of nearly 3,700 full-time workers by CareerBuilder."

Among those most likely to report weight gain:

1) Administrative Assistant (69 percent said they gained weight in their current jobs)

2) Engineer (56 percent)

3) Teacher/Instructor K-12 (51 percent)

3) Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant (51 percent)

5) IT Manager/Network Administrator (51 percent)

6) Attorney/Judge/Legal Professional (48 percent)

7) Machine Operator/Assembly/Production Worker (45 percent)

8) Scientist, Biological/Physical/Social (39 percent)

As AOL Jobs observes, "[t]hose in the law profession have to read reams and reams and reams of text. Not the kind of text that you can scan while jogging on the treadmill, but the kind of text that t…

Should Judges Have To Retire At Age 70?

Across the United States, 33 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory retirement for judges who reach a specific age. 

The most popular mandatory retirement age is 70, and Michigan is one of the states that requires judges to retire at 70. Vermont has the highest mandatory retirement age at 90. 

There are arguments brewing that 70 is too young for a mandatory retirement age -- mainly because life expectancy is longer today. Many of the mandatory retirement age limits were put into place 50+ years ago when life expectancy was 61, and a judge in New York argues "as long as I am physically and mentally capable of doing this, I want to keep doing this."

New York is set to vote on legislation "that would amend the State Constitution, if approved by voters, to extend the retirement age to 80 for hundreds of judges statewide." As the sponsor of the bill said, "[t]he 70-year-old that existed in the 1890s is not the 70-year-old of today."

I see this from …

The Invaluable Michigan Courts' Website

The Michigan Courts One Court of Justice website is an invaluable resource for Michigan practitioners.

Below I will highlight just a few of the resources available on the Michigan Courts' website, but I would advise anyone interested in practicing law in Michigan to make yourself very familiar with this website.

You can find State Court Administrative Office court forms that are fillable PDF forms and can be filed in courts throughout Michigan. These forms offer a pre-formatted caption and the information necessary to start a cause of action. 
There is a free case law database where you can find Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals cases using the party name, docket number, or by doing a keyword search. 
You can find the Model Civil Jury Instructions, which are often a helpful place to start research. The MCJI give the necessary elements for a civil cause of action with citations to both case law and statutes to further your research. 
There is information about the va…

Scribes Guidelines for Excellence in Law Reviews

In 2011, The Scrivener released the Scribes Guidelines for Excellence in Law Reviews written by Scribes board members Bryan A. Garner and Richard C. Wydick.

Below are the main points:

Every member of a law review should be required to buy and learn the current editions of these books:
The citation manual the law review uses (e.g., The Bluebook or ALWD).Eugene Volokh's Academic Legal Writing.Bryan A. Garner's The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style. Each edit suggested by a new member of the review should be supported by citation to one of those texts. 
A law review office should have in its library current editions of the following books: Two copies of each of the three books listed above.Black's Law Dictionary.Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers.Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage. Kimble, Lifting the Fog of Legalese.Trimble, Writing with Style.Garner, The Elements of Legal Style. Anyone wishing to become an editor of the law review should be able to certify that he or she ha…