Monday, March 31, 2014

Law Librarians & Law Reviews

As the library liaison to a law review, I blog about law reviews often (just filter my posts by 'law review'). 

I am pleased to announce that two of my (very) short articles dealing with the various ways that law librarians can help law reviews have been published. The articles discuss law librarians assisting with publication agreements and law librarians creating a law review library for cite-checking.

The articles are part of a broader Best Practices Manual that came from the 2013 National Conference of Law Reviews. 

For more information on law librarians assisting law journals, please see:
Keele, B. J. & Pearse, M. (2012). How librarians can help improve law journal publishing. Law Library Journal, 104(3). 383-410.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Friday: Law School Tumblr

There is a funny tumblr devoted to law school called #wheninlawschool.

I like this one (especially since exams are right around the corner).

The law library.

At the beginning of the semester:

During finals:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Likability for Success

Is it increasingly important to be likable at work to be successful? The Wall Street Journal thinks so.

According to WSJ, "[l]ikable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven." The article goes on to discuss coming across as likable on video.

And Findlaw thinks that it is more important for women to be likable than men in order to be successful. "The interplay between likability and success has been debated since Machiavelli's 'The Prince' hit the printing presses. He famously pondered the question 'whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved?' His answer to male politicians (then and now): 'It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.' Women have not fared so well with this advice [after all] Machiavelli didn't write 'The Princess.'"

They go on to offer 4 tips for women to be likable and successful:
1. Authenticity - strive to be genuine and don't fake the funk. If you don't care how someone's day is, don't ask.
2. Honesty - when giving feedback, be honest, not overly critical.
3. Integrity - leading by example is a great way to not only set expectations but also show how you expect work to be done.
4. Hard Work - no matter how authentic, honest or likable you are, you're going to have to put your time in.

I'm not sure how any of this is different for men than for women, but Findlaw says, "clearly the guys have to do this too, but it seems like they might get a bit more leeway."

Maybe they are right. It might be more important for women to be likable than men, but I think both sexes would do well to remember these 4 tips for a happy workplace environment for all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is The Absence Of Technological Knowledge Career Suicide?

Some judges seem to think that career suicide is inevitable for attorneys who are not tech savvy.

The ABA Journal reported on a conference where U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis of New York's Southern District - a "cyberstar" federal judge who spoke on the future of law and technology at LegalTech New York 2014 - "was among the most concerned regarding lawyers who are clueless about the latest in technology."

"Francis said he sees technological advances like e-discovery as so critical to the courtroom that he views attorneys who are unaware of its nuances as essentially engaging in a slow career suicide. 'E-discovery is pervasive. It's like understanding civil procedure,' Francis said. 'You're not going to be a civil litigator without understanding the rules of civil procedure. Similarly, you're no longer going to be able to conduct litigation of any complexity without understanding e-discovery.'"

Law firms are already weeding out the tech savvy from the tech ignorant, and it will become increasingly important for new lawyers to have tech skills to stay competitive.

Another issue is the availability of very sensitive data. "Too many attorneys haven't logically concluded that they could be ethically liable for the loss of such data, and that they could be facing multiple lawsuits if the data falls into the wrong hands. The problem is especially troublesome given that attorneys, like the general populace, are using smartphones and tablets for both personal and business matters. That's a major change from a decade ago, when most attorneys used a desktop for work and only needed to secure a laptop outside of the office." It's easy for a smartphone with sensitive client information to be misplaced.

Up to this point, it seems that most lawyers have been left to their own devices to learn the technology necessary to stay competitive. Law schools should do a better job of teaching the technological side of the law to sufficiently prepare new attorneys.

There are schools that teach some of these courses -- see Cloud Computer, Mobile Tech, & Legal Apps (a librarian taught class), but it's safe to say that all law schools could do a better job of teaching e-discovery practices, etc....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Changes To Public Service Loan Forgiveness

There are changes brewing for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. "The president’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes a number of the reforms, such as a new loan forgiveness threshold for borrowers with high levels of debt and a cap on Public Sector Loan Forgiveness. It closes a loophole that allowed married borrowers to exclude their spouse’s income from the IBR calculation. And it uses the savings generated by the proposals to expand access to IBR."

The big question is whether these changes will apply to existing borrowers or future borrowers.

"The department of education seems to suggest that under the president’s budget proposal, the PSLF cap would only apply to new borrowers."

A wise soul decided to ask the Department of Education directly:

"Will the Proposed PSLF cap ($57,500) only apply to New Borrowers after July 1, 2015 (and those who opt into the new program)? Or to all borrowers? Or all borrowers that use PAYE as a repayment plan ?
This has been an issue of great concern for current borrowers and official clarification would be helpful. See [AskHeatherJarvis] [Boston Student Loan Lawyer Adam Minsky] and Comments in [New America Foundation]. Also, PSLF is a separate statute from PAYE, so how would ED/Congress change PSLF to only effect future PAYE borrowers? Would it create a new time period for PSLF or create new language in the PAYE program for a new PSLF program? If the PSLF statute (20 USC 1087e(m)) is changed to include the cap (without clarification), then it would appear to apply to all borrowers. Any guidance on this would help."

The Education Department's Answer:
"For all new borrowers (with minor exceptions) starting with the 2015-2016 academic year the new expanded PAYE program will be the only income-based repayment plan available so the cap applies. For any other existing borrowers they retain the income-based repayment plan in their promissory note but if they choose to switch to the new expanded PAYE program, they have to accept all the conditions including the caps."

While the language in the response is a bit vague, the [Education] Department seems to say the PSLF “cap” would only apply if existing borrowers switch from their current IBR plan to the new, extended PAYE plan.

The game will change immensely for those of us taking advantage of PSLF in its current form. I know that I have made major life/financial decisions in reliance on the current form of PSLF, and I hope that any changes that take place will be limited to new borrowers who are on notice of these changes.

This at at time when graduate school financing through student loans is rising at a rate unseen.

The United States needs an educated workforce, and if graduate school is effectively cut off from most of the population (only those who can afford to pay out of pocket get to go), then we will be doing a major disservice to our future as a global competitor.

Monday, March 24, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Library Internships

In what is sure to be a great opportunity for any future law librarian, "[t]he Supreme Court of the United States has openings for 3 summer interns in the Library."

The three internship positions are:

Technical Services and Special Collections Department:

Technology and Collections Management Department:

Research Department:

The Library is willing to consider course credit eligibility for these internships. Any questions may be addressed to the Personnel Office at:
Phone: (202)479-3404

Friday, March 21, 2014

LexisNexis Extends Database Subscription After Graduation

Law students rely heavily on the major legal databases while in law school for their legal research needs. It can be onerous on some graduates to maintain subscriptions to the databases past graduation, so it's nice to see that LexisNexis is providing free access to law students for a period after they graduate.

From LexisNexis:
"We recognize that your education extends beyond your formal law school program and we want to continue to meet your research needs after you graduate. Therefore, we are pleased to offer May 2014 graduates a complimentary ID that you can use through December 31st 2014. This special ID is intended to help you study for the bar, conduct your job search and become more efficient in Lexis Advance® research. As you may know, 90% of Am Law 100® firms, as well as government agencies and firms of every size, have Lexis Advance."

This is a great promotional tool for LexisNexis that shows their commitment to law students and law school graduates.

For any May 2014 graduates, make sure to take LexisNexis up on this special offer.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Side-by-Side Comparison Of The Legal Databases

The University of Cincinnati Libraries created an amazing guide for building terms and connectors searches in the various legal databases. This guide offers a terms and connectors research strategy and discusses the nuances in each of the databases.

They offer a basic overview and also a side-by-side comparison of the connectors in each of the major legal databases - Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, WestlawNext.

There is also promotional information from each of the databases that aids in searching.

Great job, University of Cincinnati Libraries! This is a wonderful, practical guide.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LSAT Takers Increase

For the first time since June 2010, the number of LSAT takers has increased. The number who took the LSAT in February 2014 (19,499) was 1.1% higher than in February 2013 (19,286).

Image from LSAC:

As LSAT blog mentioned, "[w]e're dealing with an extremely small number of test-takers. The difference between these two test administrations is only slightly more than 200 test-takers. The real news is that it didn't continue to drop as it has for the last several test administrations."

Law schools all hope that this means that the numbers are starting to stabilize. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recent Decisions From The ABA's Legal Education Section

The ABA Journal reported on the recent meeting of the ABA's Legal Education Section in San Diego.

"The [Legal Ed.] council approved several chapters of proposed changes in the standards that will now go to the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston in August, including one that would increase the experiential learning requirement from one credit hour to six credit hours.

It also agreed to post for notice and comment a number of other proposed changes in the standards, including one that would eliminate the current prohibition against granting academic credit to a student who participates in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation.

Those changes, if approved by the council in June, would also go before the House in August. The House can either concur with the changes or refer them back to the council for reconsideration with a statement setting forth its reason for the referral, but the council has the final say on any changes in the standards."

The Section is moving in the right direction for legal education reform. The experiential learning increase is great for practical training, and to be compensated while receiving credit will help ease the debt burden of law graduates.

The one proposed changed that the ABA Legal Education Section did not advance was the one dealing with eliminating the tenure requirement for law school professors.

"That leaves in place for the foreseeable future the current standard, which is widely understood to require tenure or a comparable form of security of position for all full-time faculty members, except for clinical professors and legal writing instructors."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wikipedian in Residence

It's safe to say that most of us use Wikipedia a lot. Whenever I am researching something of first impression (other than legal research), I will Google the topic and rejoice when I see a Wikipedia entry on point. These entries offer basic introductory information, and they are generally a great starting place for research -- especially when the author of the Wikipedia post cites to reputable resources.

Many research experts warn of Wikipedia entries for academic research purposes. The entries are crowd-sourced, and anyone can post, so you have to be leery of the information. But others have found "Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature."

Wikipedia will become even more reliable as academic institutions continue to supports its mission through academic Wikipedians in Residence.

John Overholt, Houghton's Curator of Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, posted a job listing for a Wikipedian in Residence—someone who can serve as a kind of liaison between Wikipedia and the academic, cultural, and intellectual institutions whose source material its entries rely on. In this case, Harvard.

"The Wikipedian in Residence will help to 'expand coverage on Wikipedia of topics relevant to Houghton collections.' He or she will add sources for existing Wikipedia pages and create new pages 'on notable topics.' The person will also 'provide appropriate formatting and metadata (and OCR cleanup in the case of texts) to upload public domain content to Wikimedia and Wikisource, and facilitate the use of such materials by other Wikipedia users.'"

"This won't be the first Wikipedia in Residence attempting to narrow the divide between the intellectual resources of the campus of those of the web. The British Museum has had such a person; so has the British Library. So has the Palace of Versailles in France and the Museu Picasso in Spain and the Federal Archives of Switzerland. Here in the States, Wikipedians in Residence have helped seed the crowd-sourced encyclopedia with material from the Smithsonian Institution, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, and the National Archives and Records Administration."

This is a great endeavor, and Wikipedia users will increasingly be able to rely on the information with the comfort that the entries are created by an expert liaison from academic institutions.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Teaching Kits For Law Librarians

Yesterday, I posted about useful teaching kits for law professors, so I thought I would do the same for law librarians.

The Research Instruction & Patrons Services (RIPS) special interest section of the American Association of Law Libraries is in its 22nd year of offering teaching kits for law librarians.

The information for this year's teach-in includes:

Presentations and Course Materials
Advanced Legal Research
Citator Exercise
Cloud Computing, Mobile Tech & Legal Apps
Federal Legislative History Assignment
Federal Statutes Assignment
Introduction to Empirical Legal Research
Local Government Law
Online Search Fundamentals
Research Practicum
Secondary Sources Exercise

Handouts and Guides
Administrative Law Research Guide
Cost Effective Legal Research Guide
Legal Research Guides
Online Legal Research Handout
Preemption Checklist
Research Checklist

State Law Oranges to Oranges
State Law Bingo
State Law Flashback
State Law Sub Rosa

These all look great, and I am particularly interested in the Cloud Computer, Mobile Tech & Legal Apps instruction kit. More and more of our students will rely on cloud computing and mobile technology while in practice, and I think it is important for the students to receive some training on the dos-and-don't of mobile technology.

Thank you RIPS for compiling these great resources!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Compendium Of Innovative Law School Courses

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System has compiled a portfolio of innovative law school courses. This is a great resource for other law professors to compare and contrast their own teaching methods.

Each course has detailed course information, and the courses include:

This course teaches legislative drafting skills while also teaching administrative law, using the novel Jurassic Park as a real-world scenario to drive the course-long simulation.

Roberto L. Corrada
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver

This required, upper-level course is designed to provide students with a conceptual and practical understanding of the meaning and application of the rules governing the admission of evidence at trial.

Steven Friedland
Elon University School of Law

This course is an elective for the second or third year, with a goal of providing students with a very realistic understanding of how lawyers actually negotiate.

John Lande
University of Missouri School of Law

This is an advanced tax course taken by upper-level students. The course is designed to transmit substantive knowledge through a problem-based approach.

Anthony C. Infanti
University of Pittsburgh School of Law

This course is an in-house live client clinic, offering a multidisciplinary learning experience to second and third year law students.

JoNel Newman and Melissa Swain
University of Miami School of Law

This is an upper level simulation course with an emphasis on research, drafting and presentation for a legislative immersion experience.

Jean Whitney
William S. Boyd School of Law
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The course is a semester-long simulated negotiation of an international business transaction offered to upper level JD and LL.M. students.

Jay Gary Finkelstein and Daniel D. Bradlow
Washington College of Law
American University

This is an upper level practicum in a niche area of law offered in the first year that uses peer teaching to promote reflection.

Wes Reber Porter
School of Law
Golden Gate University

This required, first year course goes beyond the “law of lawyering” by putting the rules in context of practice and exploring the students’ professional futures.

William D. Henderson
Maurer School of Law
Indiana University


This upper-level elective uses lecture, collaboration, legal writing, and other methods to teach the student how to solve the client problems, which may have legal, business, practical, and ethical dimensions.

Michael Madison
University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Students enrolled in this upper level course are designated the Ethics Committee of Stanford Law School’s Mills Legal Clinic.

Lawrence C. Marshall
Stanford Law School

These litigation and transactional immersion courses are part of a required third year experiential curriculum.

James Moliterno
Washington & Lee University School of Law

This is an upper level Carnegie-integrated course, with a required legal writing component.

Benjamin Madison
Regent University School of Law

This is a first year course that uses collaborative learning, group discussion, peer teaching and Socratic inquiry.

Gillian K. Hadfield
Gould School of Law
University of Southern California

This is a required first-year contracts course, taught in two sequential semesters

Michael Hunter Schwartz
Washburn University School of Law

This course is an upper level, elective course that blends substantive doctrine with field observation and simulated exercises.

Andrew Schepard
Maurice A. Deane School of Law
Hofstra University

This course is an upper level practice-focused course in the law of Civil Discovery. I created the course to address the lack of practical courses on discovery in most law school curricula.

David Thomson
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver

This course is an upper-level, elective course allowing students to organize and elect a union to represent them in negotiations with the professor over the terms and conditions of the course.

Roberto L. Corrada
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver

This is an upper level course that uses team- and case-based analysis to deepen students’ understanding of contract law principles and their capacity to deploy them in the context of solving practical problems that involve contracting relationships.

Gillian K. Hadfield
Gould School of Law
University of Southern California

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Librarians Without Borders

Are there any librarians out there who have always dreamed of a trip to Guatemala? And to help other libraries and librarians while you're at it? Then you should check out Librarians Without Borders.

From the website:
Trip Participants will travel to Guatemala, visiting school and community libraries in Quetzaltenango and Chajul. Volunteers will complete seven days of work with two partner organizations: the Asturias Academy and Limitless Horizons Ixil. Other trip activities include sightseeing, cultural visits and workshops designed to give participants a comprehensive understanding of libraries, education and culture in Guatemala. This highly immersive experience allows volunteers to provide much needed on-the ground support.

The Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango has been working with Librarians Without Borders since 2010, to envision and develop a library within the school. Today, the library is open to students and staff and has just begun lending books for use outside school hours. During the 2014 trip, volunteers will work with library staff to assist with library-related work activities including cataloguing, programming and library maintenance. LWB volunteers will also plan and deliver a series of activities and programs for the Academy students and staff during the annual “Library Day” celebration.

The Saber Sin LĂ­mites Chajul Community Library is the first and only community library in the town of Chajul, located in the rural mountainous region of Quiche, Guatemala. With a membership of 1,400 users—ranging in age from four to forty—and counting, 3,783 titles, two librarians, and many helping hands, the library is making reading fun and popular in Chajul. During the service trip, LWB volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about issues related to education and literacy and provide assistance with the children’s library fair.

This looks like a great organization that has been making libraries a reality in this region since 2010. Act fast as applications are due March 13. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Ideal Law School Graduate: An Expert Researcher With Social Graces

The Wall Street Journal blog posted the results of a focus-group study with legal employers, and it seems that employers are looking for expert researchers with people skills.

Law school graduates entering the workforce need to know that "it’s the softer skills, like work ethic, collegiality and a sense of individual responsibility, that really impress legal employers, according to the study." While the "researchers had thought that the attorneys would focus mostly on the need for basic practical skills, like writing, analysis and research, the comments on soft skills — defined as “personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee” — tended to dominate the responses."

"The focus-group participants said ideal job applicants have a strong work ethic, can work independently without excessive 'hand holding,' and would bring a positive attitude to the workplace."

The other important skill was the ability to research. "Employers, particularly those with more years in practice, rely on new attorneys to be research experts. The employers in [the] focus groups have high expectations when it comes to new hires’ research skills, i.e., '[t]hey should be able to adequately and effectively find everything that’s up to the minute.'"

And according to these legal employers, "[b]eing a research expert also means knowing how to scour books, not just websites. 'Statutes, treatises and encyclopedias, and desk books are the sources employers still use in paper form. For this reason, new attorneys may want to be familiar with these paper sources.'"

And last but not least, legal employers want new hires to know their audience when it comes to memo writing. There are some clients who might prefer the "full-blown research memo" that we learn in law school, and there are other clients who just want the answer in a short and succinct format. It's important to know which type of client you are dealing with to best suit their needs.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Free Case Law On The Internet

One of the Law Library of Congress's recent blog posts pertained to finding free case law on the Internet.

As the post points out, "[o]ne of the defining features of the common law system is the emphasis placed on the precedential value of case law. Until recently, case law has not been widely available on the Internet, leaving researchers with no choice but to seek out print reporters and commercial electronic databases to locate cases of interest. This situation has started to change, however, and now researchers have several free, online databases at their disposal."

Generally, free databases on the Internet only contain the text of the opinion and do not contain the valuable annotations that aid in research, but these databases are a starting point.

The free case law databases that the blog post specifically mention are:

Google Scholar offers an extensive database of state and federal cases.

FindLaw offers a database of case law from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, as well as several state supreme courts.

Justia offers cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, and U.S. District Courts. Additionally, you may find links to many state supreme court and intermediate court of appeal cases.

The Public Library of Law (PLOL) offers cases from the U.S. Supreme Court (1754-present), U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal (generally 1951-present, with a few exceptions), and state cases (1997-present).

And as I've mentioned before, many state bars offer a free case law database to their members.

Most of these databases will have their own specific advanced searching techniques, so make sure to check out the 'help' function on each database for more information.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do Americans Prefer Male Attorneys?

The ABA Journal reported on a survey where the majority of respondents "still prefer men for some powerful professions, including lawyers."

The survey consisted of 2,047 respondents chosen from a group of people 18 and older who agreed to participate in the survey. The survey wasn't random, so the results cannot be generalized, but the results still show certain societal preferences.

"Sixty-five percent of survey respondents agreed that more women should be in positions of power, and 71 percent said they would be comfortable working or interacting with women lawyers. However, when asked to choose which gender they preferred working or interacting with if forced to make a choice, 53 percent preferred male over female lawyers."

It's not surprising that some Americans still gravitate toward traditional gender roles. That inherent socialization is hard to break, but 53 percent is only slightly better than a coin flip, which means that many people don't necessarily prefer male attorneys over female attorneys. It would be interesting to compare these numbers to numbers from the 80's or earlier.

"Another interesting survey finding: Older Americans were more comfortable with women in traditionally male professions. As other research has shown, stereotypes can be broken down through real-life experiences with women in traditionally male occupations."

At least we are moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Uncertain Restructuring of American Legal Education

Law Deans posted an entry by Dean Frank Wu that sums up the issues with legal education pretty well.

Dean Wu notes that "[l]egal education does not suffer from a problem. It suffers from multiple problems."

"First, there is a glut of lawyers on the market. There are simply too many people out there who hold JDs and wish to work as lawyers. (There is the irony of a lack of lawyers available to represent ordinary people.)"

"Second, legal education costs too much."

"Third, the skills that are imparted through the traditional program of training are not suited to the demands of employers, and, ultimately, clients."

All of the issues that Dean Wu points out are true, and the legal academe is currently at a bit of a loss as to how to fix these problems because of the inherent conflict in the goals. For example, "[t]he possibility of a shortened curriculum, meant to address the second problem (high cost), would worsen the third problem (inadequate skills)."

Dean Wu goes on to mention something more profound that is taking shape. Something that none of us can afford to ignore. "In the background, there is a problem bigger than all of the ones mentioned above. We are living through a period of profound economic restructuring in general. It isn’t merely the pervasive effects of globalization and the speed of technological advance; it’s the constancy of change and the volatility of society. Almost all of us are unsettled by uncertainty, even if we would like to be avant-garde. For those of us who have felt assured of the American Dream, it is about as demoralizing as it could be to realize that our reasonable expectations might not be matched by economic realities — never mind unreasonable expectations that are held dear. The only hope, for institutions as well as individuals, is to adapt. That has always been true. It hasn’t always been acknowledged. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds; that is yet to come."

Law schools and their law libraries need to continue to adapt and change in the current climate to make our graduates ready for the future legal market that they face.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bepress Webinars For Professional Development

Bepress's Digital Commons is a wonderful resource for institutional repositories that help preserve and disseminate faculty scholarship. A shining example of a Digital Commons repository is Duke's Scholarship Repository. Not only is it a great way to organize, preserve, and disseminate faculty scholarship, it also comports with open access initiatives.

"Bepress regularly hosts webinars and live events on a variety of topics related to IR [institutional repository] management, development, and success. Presented by both bepress and Digital Commons community members, these webinars share innovative ideas and best practices for building an IR that is of clear value to the academic, professional, and regional communities it serves."

To find upcoming Bepress webinars, see their events calendar.

For past webinars, check out their archived webinars page.

I find Bepress to be a great place for a law librarian's professional development. I recently watched the webinar called 'Library Services for the Self-Interested Law School: Enhancing the Visibility of Faculty Scholarship,' and it gave a lot of great ideas for law librarians to assist their faculty with publishing -- from checking citations, to aiding with journal submission, and uploading articles to SSRN.