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Showing posts from October, 2013

Michigan Bar Exam Passage Rate Up From 2012

Although we are still waiting on the official breakdown of passage rate by school, the State Bar of Michigan Blog reports that five hundred thirty eight certified passers successfully navigated July's bar exam.

That number is up 13.5 percent from last year's certified passer list.

Happy Halloween!

For the man who launched a thousand Halloween costumes, let's pay tribute to David Bowie's reading list.


David Bowie's top 100 must-read books

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby (2008)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard (2007)
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage (2007)
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters (2002)
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens (2001)
Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler (1997)
A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes (1997)
The Insult, Rupert Thomson (1996)
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon (1995)
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman (1994)
Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard (1993)
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C Danto (1992)
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia (1990)
David Bomberg, Richard Cork (1988)

State Fines For Texting While Driving

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I'd wager that most people have sent a quick text while driving or have been the remote texter who texts a friend while the friend is driving. While these acts are common, it is obviously risky, and the various states are trying to discourage texting while driving with steep fines.
Lifehacker posted the following map of the states with each state's fine for texting while driving:



"Alaska has the strongest penalty: Up to $10,000 and a year in prison for the first offense. California has the smallest minimium fine—only $20 per offense. Four states: Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and South Carolina, have no bans or penalties for texting while driving whatsoever. The national median is $100, and many states scale the dollar amounts and penalties up from there."
These are fines for driving while texting, and New Jersey recently upped the ante when "a New Jersey appeals court held that a remote texter can be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the di…

Free Online Training For Librarians

Check out LibraryScienceList! From the website: "LibraryScienceList is a hip library science social community for librarians around the world. We are a truly global site for librarians. Our site is run by data and editorial geeks with a community of diverse librarians. Our aim is to showcase creative editorial around the field of librarianship."

Melissa Steele posted a list of free online training websites for librarians earlier this year. Because, as she noted, "the training never ends. There are always new skills to learn and new abilities to master, and that’s why so many librarians continue to utilize online courses to boost their overall knowledge."

The July 2013 Michigan Bar Exam Results

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners just released the results for the July 2013 Michigan bar exam.

The results can be found at the Michigan Board of Law Examiners website.

A Law Librarian's Degrees

Hiringlibrarians ran a post about an analysis of law librarians who work at top-50 institutions (U.S. News) and the rank of their degree-granting institutions. Here's a citation to the results: Ahlbrand, A. & Johnson, M. (2012).Degree pedigree: Assessing the effect of degree-granting institutions’ ranks on prospective employment at academic law libraries. Law Library Journal, 104(4), 553-68.

The authors compared the ranks of where librarians acquired their library science and law degrees to the rank of the school at which they were employed. The authors used U.S. News and World Report rankings as the measure since those rankings are most prevalent today

The methodology for the study consisted of the authors recording each librarian’s employing law school and its current rank; the attended law school and its current rank; the attended library science program and its current rank; and the years each degree was attained, if available. The initial data analysis was performed on bo…

New England School Of Law Rumored To Cut 14 Faculty

The TaxProfBlog is reporting on a rumored new measure at the New England School of Law to eliminate 14 fulltime faculty positions by August 1, 2014. 

According to information at TaxProfBlog: "Depending on how one counts, this is about 35-40% of the regular faculty. The School's entering class was up in 2012, but was down in 2013 and by some accounts the School has an endowment of $80,000,000. Faculty have been told by Dean John O'Brien that these 14 positions will be eliminated according to the School's needs, regardless of tenure or seniority. An incentive plan has been offered to senior faculty and certain clinical faculty, but those who don't take it have been threatened with termination. Their decisions must be final by the end of the Fall term. Those who still do not comply or were not offered the plan, were told that if they remain, their workload during the next academic year will move from 2 to as much as 4 courses per semester and that they will be require…

Happy Open Access Week!

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Open Access Week runs from October 21 - October 27, 2013. Although we are nearing the end of this "holiday," it is an important event that celebrates the ideals that inform society. 
From the website: "'Open Access' to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole."
In addition, "Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporti…

A Repository Of Law Review Publication Agreements

Here is a great new resource that I first noticed over at Law Librarians -- The PrawfsBlawg has compiled a number of law review publication agreements.You can find the whole spreadsheet of the compiled law review publication agreements here.

As noted, "[i]t might be useful for folks to have access to law reviews' publication agreements, whether to help with negotiations, compare copyright provisions, or whatever. [PrawfsBlawg] has begun a spreadsheet with links to such agreements that are available on the web. If you are aware of other such links, please add them in the comments to the [PrawfsBlawg] post or email [PrawfsBlawg] directly, slawsky *at* law *dot* uci *dot* edu," and the agreements will be added to the spreadsheet.

PrawfsBlawg is interested in links to any law review publication agreements, whether main journal, secondary journal, peer-reviewed, or student reviewed.

I have a forthcoming article coming out titled, How Law Librarians Can Assist with Law Journal…

Law Schools Dabble In Online LL.M. Programs

A National Law Journal article notes that there are three law schools that have taken the plunge into online LL.M. degree programs -- USC Gould School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

"Florida Coastal School of Law was the first to offer an online LL.M. in U.S. law in 2010. Washington University in St. Louis School of Law followed suit in 2012, effective at the start of 2013. Administrators initially expected to enroll about 20 students, but 51 are participating. In a further bid to break out of the pack, USC’s online program will offer students the opportunity to concurrently earn a certificate in entertainment law or business law at no added cost."

This makes sense as online degree programs gain traction and also because "LL.M. tuition has become something of a lifeline for some law schools as J.D. enrollments plummeted during the past three years. [LL.M. programs] face little oversight from the ABA and law s…

Let's Talk About The Good Things Going On With Law Reviews

People are talking about law review reform, so it looks like the recent paper met its goal. 

This time it's the NYTimes reporting on law review reform with questions like, "why are law reviews, the primary repositories of legal scholarship, edited by law students?" 

And other obvious statements like, "[t]hese student editors are mostly bright and work hard, but they are young, part-time amateurs who know little about the law or about editing prose. Yet they are in charge of picking the best articles from among many hundreds of submissions written by professors with authentic expertise in fields the students may never have studied."

The article notes that judges do not rely on law review articles, and anyone arguing in front of the Supreme Court would be an idiot to cite one. Judge Dennis G. Jacobs, of the federal appeals court in New York, said that he hasn't opened up a law review in years. “No one speaks of them. No one relies on them.”

So the NYTimes fact ch…

Policies For Shorter Law Review Articles Go Unenforced

As a law librarian who works extensively with law journals, I can attest to the general consensus that law review editors believe that law review articles are too long.

The ABA Journal recently reported on a UCLA law professor named Stephen Bainbridge who wrote a 39,000-word law review article this fall. "But he wondered if he should cut it. Why? A joint statement from 2005 from 11 leading law reviews indicated that they wanted to start running shorter articles based on responses to a survey that reflected 'one particularly unambiguous view shared by faculty and law review editors alike: The length of articles has become excessive.'"

Currently "submission guidelines from Harvard and Yale now explicitly state that they discourage articles of more than 25,000 words." Articles that are 25,000 words equal about 50 pages. 
Professor Bainbridge decided to look at the seven most recent issues of the Harvard Law Review and Yale Law Review and check the length of the a…

Libraries Connect With Community By Lending Unusual Items

Most people think of libraries as a place to check out books or DVDs, but NPR recently ran a story about the unusual items that public libraries lend.

Libraries have increasingly gone to creative lengths to continue to connect with their communities in the digital age. "What's the point of a library in the digital age? It's a question that makes librarians bristle. They are quick to remind you that they are not just repositories for printed books and DVDs. Regular patrons know this, but public libraries want to reach beyond the faithful. To that end, many librarians are finding creative ways to get people through the doors despite their limited resources."

For example, a handful of library branches in New York lend out fishing poles. "The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provides the library with eight poles, and the local Fish and Game Club gave funding for tackle boxes."

Some may ask what fishing poles have to do with libraries? As o…

Circuit Splits & Law Review Topic Selection

When there is an issue that has the federal circuit courts split on interpretation, it is the perfect time to step in and analyze the issue in a law review comment. 
Circuits splits are particularly good for law review comments because it gives the author a chance to analyze what the circuits are doing and offer suggestions for SCOTUS should the case make it that far. Circuit splits are great fodder for the United States Supreme Court, especially if the justices believe that the circuits are interpreting laws or cases in a way that was not intended. It's also substandard to have the various circuits interpreting laws in different ways because federal laws are the supreme law of the land, and their interpretation should be consistent no matter which federal circuit court hears the case.
There are a few great places to go for circuit split news: Circuitsplits.com offers background information about circuit splits, as well as mentions the various case citations for a great start to re…

The Time Is Upon Us -- Take The Bluebook 20th Ed. Survey Now!

I received this information via email, and then saw it posted on Law Librarians, so I thought I would also share it.
Help Us Improve The Bluebook ! The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to embark on the exciting task of making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and we need your help.  We rely on user input to guide our revisions to The Bluebook. This survey is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with us as we update The Bluebook so that we can target our revisions to best serve your needs. Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey at  www.legalbluebook.com/survey.  Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com. Bonus Prize: As an added incentive for the completion of our survey, we will select five participants at random to receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. An additional twenty participants wi…

An Enlightening Interview With SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia

My last post was about an interview with Justice Kennedy, and today it's Justice Scalia's turn. Both of these interviews are nice glimpses into the current state of mind of the Supreme Court Justices.

The Law Deans Blog posted about a New York Magazine interview with Justice Scalia.

Scalia, in part, discussed his originalist views:

Had you already arrived at originalism as a philosophy [while in law school]?
I don’t know when I came to that view. I’ve always had it, as far as I know. Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change. I mean, the notion that the Constitution should simply, by decree of the Court, mean something that it didn’t mean when the people voted for it—frankly, you should ask the other side the question! How did they ever get there?

But as law students, they were taught that the Constitution evolved, right? You got that same message consistently in class, yet you had other ideas.
I am something of a contrarian, I suppose. I feel less comfortable when ev…

An Enlightening Interview with SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy

Law Librarians discussed the WSJ Law Blog's post on a conversation that Justice Anthony Kennedy recently had with WSJ's Jess Bravin.

Below are excerpts from this conversation:

Q: Some 9,000 or 10,000 appeals typically are filed each year at the Supreme Court, fewer than 100 usually are accepted. Can you explain the process?

A: Of the 9,000 we mark about 500 for discussion. From the 500 we discuss, we should take about 100, 120. Lately we’ve been taking only 80. There’s not a lot of emotional or intellectual capital expended arguing over whether we should take the case.  If it’s a really important case and we feel badly that it wasn’t taken, there will be another one [sooner or later] on the same issue.

This answer is interesting for the though process of not taking a case. To Kennedy, it seems that there is no harm in not taking a case because if it is really important there will be a similar case that comes down the pipeline sooner or later. However, I can't help but think …

The Old Debate Of Law Review Reform

This debate has been going on forever, and according to The National Law Journal, there is a new article that expounds on the various reasons that the current law review system needs to change. The article is “Do Law Reviews Need Reform: A Survey of Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys and Judges," in the latest edition of the Loyola Law Review, 59 Loy. L. Rev. 1 (2013).
"The eight authors queried 1,325 law professors, 338 student editors, 215 attorneys, and 156 judges about how they view the current system, the quality of law review articles, the way articles are selected, and how they would like the system reformed." 
The ideas for reform include: Blind peer reviewShorter articlesMore student training
"The law professors responded that law reviews frequently select articles based on the author’s credentials instead of the quality of the submitted article, and that law reviews don’t give adequate consideration to articles before making a decision on whether …

The Florida Bar's New Social Media Rules

The ABA Journal recently reported on the Florida state bar’s new social media rules, enacted as part of new rules on lawyer advertising approved in May by the Florida Supreme Court.

"According to this summary, the guidelines require advertising lawyers to list their names and office addresses, bar misrepresentative testimonials and restrict the use of the words 'specialist' and 'expert,' as well as their variations."

"Many law firms consider the rules regarding Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be the toughest in the country. Lawyers on Twitter are concerned about the need to state an office location on each tweet. Lawyers on LinkedIn are concerned about the need to ban third-party endorsements and to refrain from using the word 'expertise.' For lawyers on Facebook there is another potential problem—the need to refrain from posting inappropriate or unprofessional photos and videos."

Currently, the "bar is involved in two disciplinary pr…

The Importance Of Punctuation In Statutory Drafting - Case Turns On A Comma

The WSJ Law Blog reported on a recent case out of the 2nd Circuit that underscores the importance of punctuation in statutory drafting. And "Kenneth A. Adams, a contract drafting expert from Long Island, has written a must-read polemic about [this particular] comma."

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was authored by Judge Pierre Leval. "The question before the 2nd Circuit — whether federal courts had jurisdiction over a lawsuit involving an offshore banking transaction — hinged on the meaning of a comma found in an obscure 1933 statute that Congress attached to an international banking law known as the Edge Act. It was a comma sandwiched between a list (composed of a mix of nouns or phrases) and a modifier."

Accordingly, "[t]he plaintiffs and the defendants disagreed on what part of sentence was modified — the whole list or just the last bit before the comma. According to Judge Leval, this sort of comma is governed by a simple rule. 'When a …

Return On A College Education Investment

As the "[d]ebate over the return on investment of higher education has intensified as tuition has risen faster than family income, The Chronicle of Education reports on the recent Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society report.

"The expansive triennial report examines the value of college in both financial and nonfinancial terms. The goal is to 'call attention to ways in which both individuals and society as a whole benefit from increased levels of education,' the authors write."

The report shows that "[t]he earnings gap between young college graduates and their peers with only high-school diplomas has narrowed slightly in recent years, but adults with bachelor's degrees still make significantly more over their careers. In 2008, males ages 25 to 34 with bachelor's degrees made 74 percent more in median earnings than did high-school graduates in the same age range; the figure was 79 percent for women. In 2011…

SCOTUS's New Term Starts Today

The Supreme Court begins a new term today. As the NYTimes reports, "[t]he court has agreed to hear more than 50 cases so far on disputes both familiar and fresh: from affirmative action and freedom of speech, to campaign finance and the president’s power to make recess appointments."

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION A familiar issue, but this time the question is whether a state may amend its constitution to prohibit the consideration of race or sex in public university admissions decisions.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE In one of the most closely watched cases of the term, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court will consider the constitutionality of overall limits on how much an individual donor may give directly to federal candidates, party committees and PACs in a two-year election cycle.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION In McCullen v. Coakley, anti-abortion protesters are challenging a Massachusetts law that sets a 35-foot “buffer zone” around health care clinics where abortions are perfo…

10 Tips For Writing Scholarly Nonfiction

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education proposed "10 tips on scholarly nonfiction writing that might help people write less badly."

1. Writing is an exercise. You get better and faster with practice.

2. Set goals based on output, not input. "I will work for three hours" is a delusion; "I will type three double-spaced pages" is a goal.

3. Find a voice; don't just "get published."

4. Give yourself time. Many smart people tell themselves pathetic lies like, "I do my best work at the last minute." Look: It's not true.

5. Everyone's unwritten work is brilliant. And the more unwritten it is, the more brilliant it is.

6. Pick a puzzle. Portray, or even conceive, of your work as an answer to a puzzle.

7. Write, then squeeze the other things in. Put your writing ahead of your other work.

8. Not all of your thoughts are profound.

9. Your most profound thoughts are often wrong.

10. Edit your work, over and over. Have other peo…

THOMAS.gov Transitioning To Congress.gov For Legislative Information

It's difficult to write about government websites in the wake of the shutdown, but I was able to use a Google cache workaround to access the Library of Congress's website for information about the retirement of THOMAS.gov. As an FYI, if you Google a website and it is shutdown, instead of clicking on the link to the website, click on the down arrow next to the link and click on 'cache' to access most of the information.

"THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to" include bills, resolutions, congressional record, committee information, and treaties, among other things.

THOMAS.gov will soon be retired and replaced by Congress.gov.

From the Library of Congress (who maintained THOMAS):
"We are hard at work preparing fo…

Library Resource Discoverability & A Pre- And Post - Internet Scholarship Age

An article on InsideHigherEd got me thinking about the complexity of library research and the reason that some scholarship remains unread and not cited -- it's just too hard to find.
The author did a hands-on exercise with students to get them familiar with the various resources in the library. "Groups of students had four citations: a mix of books, journal articles, essays in edited collections, and conference presentations." Is it a book? Use the catalog, look for the location and call number, figure out what floor it’s on, and find it on the shelf. If a book is not in our catalog, use Worldcat to request it through interlibrary loan.Is it an article? Type the name of the journal it was published in into our journal list, unless it’s an article in a book. The journal list will tell which volumes of that journal are in any of our databases or in print at our library. The surprise was the conference papers. Often, a citation to a paper means you’re out of luck unless you c…

For The Love Of Archives

On a night out last month, I was on my way to a R. Buckminster Fuller documentary at the Detroit Institute of Arts when my friend asked me, "why do we need libraries and librarians when everything is online?" I hardly had a moment to answer because the documentary was about to start, but I did rattle something off about the slow process of digitization and the need to organize the world's information.

Then something magical happened. During the beginning of the documentary, the narrator went into great detail about his visit to the Dymaxion Chronofile. "The Dymaxion Chronofile is Buckminster Fuller's attempt to document his life as completely as possible. He created a very large scrapbook in which he documented his life every 15 minutes from 1920 to 1983. The total collection is estimated to be 270 feet (80 m) worth of paper. This is said to be the most documented human life in history." And the very reason that we still have this wonderful piece of recorde…