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Showing posts from March, 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.

Happy Friday: Law School Tumblr

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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:


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.'&…

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…

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…

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: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/364207800

Technology and Collections Management Department: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/363757900

Research Department:
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/363756100

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
Email: PERSONNEL@SUPREMECOURT.GOV

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 Ma…

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.

LSAT Takers Increase

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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: http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/lsats-administered

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.

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 t…

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 Cu…

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

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

These all look great, and I am particula…

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:

Administrative Law: Dinosaur Park Simulation 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 _________________________________
Evidence Law 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 _________________________________
Negotiation This course is an elective for the second or third year, with a goal of providing students…

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…

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 resea…

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.

FindLawoffers a database of case law from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Circ…

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 nece…

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 sk…

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 cal…