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Showing posts from August, 2014

Summer Associate Interview Tips

It's that time of year - on campus interviews for summer associate positions. As a green law student, I didn't understand the importance of landing a summer associate position and how these positions can set you on the right trajectory for an early successful career.

For those lucky enough to land an interview, the Findlaw blog offers tips for a successful interview:

1. Your Resume - Always bring a few copies of resume to your interview.
2. Ask Questions - Bring a list of questions with you to the interview; during the course of the interview jot questions down as they come to mind.
3. Make Them Feel Special - Just as you would tailor each cover letter to the particular firm you are applying to, be ready to talk about why you want to work at that particular firm.
4. Oldies but Goodies - Be ready to answer interview standby questions like: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
5. Keep It Positive - Everything you say in the interview should be positive.

As the Findlaw b…

Talk To Librarians For Optimal Student Success

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The Chronicle of Higher Education's Vitae blog offered advice to faculty about who they should talk to on campus for optimal student success.

The author notes how graduate students are expected to jump into the classroom autonomously once they are hired as faculty. But this autonomy does not mean that faculty should not confer with other professionals on campus to provide a comprehensive educational experience.

The first set of professional listed are the librarians:

"If you haven't spent a good few hours going over your syllabi with a librarian trained in your subject area, you're shortchanging your course and your students (and yourself). Librarians keep up with the technology in your field. They know the campus holdings and can order better texts for you if they know what you're teaching.

Librarians can offer even more help if you give them a heads-up about what your assignments are going to be. They can pull relevant texts from the stacks and hold them on rese…

The Shrinking First-Sale Doctrine

The digital age is affecting libraries in profound ways. Libraries must negotiate with publishers and distributors to license electronic content and libraries must also find ways to manage that content. Electronic content is also shrinking the pool of material that libraries can lend.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the effect that streaming media has on the first-sale doctrine and the ability for libraries to lend. The article provides the following case-in-point:

"In March 2011, the University of Washington’s library tried to get a copy of a new recording of the Los Angeles Philharmonic playing a piece by Gustavo Dudamel, a popular composer, that the library could lend to students. But the recording was available only as a digital download, and Amazon and iTunes forbid renting out digital files.
So the librarians contacted the Philharmonic to see if there was some way they could get a copy of the Dudamel album that they could loan out like a compact disc. The orche…

Teaching Technology To Law Students

In today's world, lawyers must be tech savvy. Lawyers need to know how technology intersects with the law for things like eDiscovery and eHearsay purposes. And lawyers also need to know how technology can make their jobs more efficient and cost effective.

The NYTimes reported on law schools that are taking an innovative approach to teaching technology. "'Legal education has been stronger on tradition than innovation,' said Joan W. Howarth, dean of the Michigan State law school. 'What we’re trying to do is educate lawyers for the future, not the past.'"

"Michigan State professors don’t just teach torts, contracts and the intricacies of constitutional law. They also delve into software and services that sift through thousands of cases to help predict whether a client’s case might be successful or what arguments could be most effective. They introduce their students to programs that search through mountains of depositions and filings, automating tasks li…

Courtroom Sociology

When I step into a courtroom, I can't help but scan my surroundings to understand the courtroom demographics. As I scan the room, I think about the subconscious events that are occurring based on extensive reading of various studies on courtroom interactions.

Here are a few examples of recent articles:

NYTimes article mentioned that judges with a daughter are more likely to rule in favor of women's rights. "'Having one daughter as opposed to one son,' the study found, 'is linked to an even higher 16 percent increase in the proportion of gender-related cases decided in a feminist direction.'"

Another article at HuffPost notedthe pressure to plead guilty because of judicial vacancies. "Federal judicial vacancies are causing unsustainable courtroom delays, resulting in evidence going stale, witnesses dying before they can testify and, in some instances, people being pressured to plead guilty just to get out of jail faster, according to study releas…

Non-Competes Everywhere!

The Findlaw blog noted that "[a]ccording to the NYTimes, noncompete agreements are on the rise even in industries which have been traditionally light on paperwork. Case in point: a Massachusetts man whose job involves spraying pesticide on laws had to sign a two-year noncompete agreement."

From the NYTimes, "[t]he United States has a patchwork of rules on noncompetes. Only California and North Dakota ban them, while states like Texas and Florida place few limits on them. When these cases wind up in court, judges often cut back the time restraints if they’re viewed as unreasonable, such as lasting five years or longer. In most states there has to be a legitimate business interest, and it has to be narrowly tailored and reasonable in scope and duration."

Ethics rules generally preclude noncompetes for attorneys, but some states are allowing them within reason.

Although noncompetes are popping up everywhere, not all businesses actually need one. To determine if your bu…

Research Libraries Are Big Business

The Chronicle of Higher Education has released its Almanac of Higher Education 2014.

"The Chronicle's 27th annual collection of data on colleges answers perennial questions like how much faculty make and which colleges are growing the fastest. This year's Almanac also gives you new ways to compare institutions. Which colleges have the most students enrolled in online courses? Which have the highest percentages of nonresident aliens?"

A data set that I find particularly interesting is the spending by university research libraries 2012-13. "Six universities on the Association of Research Libraries' Library Investment Index had more than 500 professional and support staff members in 2012-13, and 19 spent more than $10-million on salaries and wages for their professional staff. Eleven had total library expenditures exceeding $50-million."

Those are impressive numbers for library involvement at a major research university.

Some examples of data are:
Institut…

Researching Across The Curriculum

InsideHigherEd ran a piece this spring that discussed the need for faculty to teach writing across the curriculum (WAC). "Most agree that Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), in which the task of teaching writing is one assigned to all professors, not just those who teach English or composition, is an important academic concept. If we had a WAC playbook, it would sound something like this: students need to write clear, organized, persuasive prose, not only in the liberal arts, but in the sciences and professional disciplines as well."

The same ideal rings true for researching across the curriculum in law school. Law schools generally require one or two research & writing courses before graduation. Some students will actively seek electives that provide additional training with a research & writing component, but many students shy away from these courses.

Like writing, students need as much practice with research as possible before graduation to really understand the …

Legal Scholarship Blog Facilitates Dissemination

If you are about to embark on a legal scholarship endeavor but are having a hard time choosing a topic, you may want to refer to a call for papers to narrow your focus. There are a few great resources for this, and one that I particularly like is The Legal Scholarship Blog.

The Legal Scholarship Blog features law-related Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops as well as general legal scholarship resources.

From the website:
"The Legal Scholarship Blog seeks to facilitate the legal academy’s development and dissemination of scholarship, and so does not feature events such as Continuing Legal Education programs or regional bar association meetings.

Created in 2007, the Legal Scholarship Blog is a free, non-profit service managed by faculty and staff at:"

The Ohio State University Moritz College of LawUniversity of Pittsburgh School of LawUniversity of Washington School of Law You can use the site to: Read about new conferences, workshops, and calls for papers as they are po…

Library Assistant's Manual - A Retrospective

Sometimes it's a good idea to look back and see where we have been to know how we have gotten to this point and find additional insight into where we are going.

The Paris Review recently ran a post about a Library Assistant's Manual issued on the occasion of the 61st annual meeting of the Michigan State Teachers’ Association, Ann Arbor, October 30–November 1, 1913.

The Manual includes a portion on the qualities necessary to be a library assistant. "Qualities that unfit one for library work in general are physical weakness, deformity, poor memory, a discontented disposition, egotism, a lack of system in one’s method of work, and inability or unwillingness to take responsibilities, a tendency to theorize, criticize, or gossip, inability to mind one’s own business, fussiness, and long-windedness."

As I see it, many of these qualities unfit for library work still ring true. The Manual goes on to list questions to ask an aspiring library assistant:

Has she tact?
Has she en…

Selecting A Case To Cite

A question that comes up pretty often from law students in legal writing classes is, "how do I know which case to cite?"

This is a good question and one that really depends on what cases are found during the research process. I ran across a succinct article a few years back that does a pretty good job of discussing how to select cases to cite.

From the article:
"Most legal writers seem to have developed an instinct for which cases to pick and which to discard. Moreover, the considerations that the writer consciously or subconsciously brings to bear on which cases to include in legal citation are more complicated than merely citing to the most recent case from the highest court. These considerations probably begin with an informal categorization of all the cases found in the process of researching a given issue."

The article then goes on to discuss categorizing cases. "The cases supporting a given proposition of law might roughly be categorized as follows:

Semin…

Become A Lawyer Without Going To Law School

The NYTimes recently reported on the lawyer's apprentice and the ability to become a lawyer without going to law school.

This isn't a new phenomena, and the most famous lawyer's apprentice was probably Abraham Lincoln. "Before the prevalence of law schools in the 1870s, apprenticeships were the primary way to become a lawyer." And there is still "[a]n obscure California rule that allows people to 'read law' much as Lincoln did, studying at the elbow of a seasoned lawyer."

California is not the only state that still allows people to read the law. "California is one of a handful of states that allow apprenticeships in lieu of a law degree as a prerequisite to taking the bar and practicing as a licensed lawyer. In Virginia, Vermont, Washington and California, aspiring lawyers can study for the bar without ever setting foot into or paying a law school. New York, Maine and Wyoming require a combination of law school and apprenticeship."

The…

Electronic Resource Management

As a reference librarian, my focus is on instruction, reference, collection development, and faculty research. I have honed my skills in these areas, and I am excited to start learning about other aspects of law librarianship. As a law librarian, it is important to be well-rounded and understand how the various facets work together to provide the best end-user experience.

One of those facets is the management of electronic resources. It's safe to say that most law-library patrons prefer electronic access to resources. And most libraries are transitioning from print to digital. With the continued push toward digital, it is a challenge to keep track of access rights, licensing information, statistics, renewal date, proxy information, and the vendor contact information for the multitude of databases.
Electronic resource management (ERM) is complex because "unlike their print counterparts, e-resources may be accessed via a diverse array of data formats, delivery systems and inter…

Friday Funday - Fun Uses For Old Card Catalogs

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Mental Floss recently blogged about fun uses for old card catalogs. "The library catalog has gone digital, but that doesn’t mean all the old oaken card catalog cabinets have been flung on the ash heap of history." There are many ways to renew the card catalog.

A few creative ways to reuse card catalogs include:

1. SEWING SUPPLIES SMARTLY SORTED
2. WINE WAREHOUSE WHERE WE WOULD NEVER SUSPECT
3. POSTCARDS PERCHED AT PECULIAR ANGLES
4. SECRET STASH OF SPARE SHOES
5.  DRAGONS [FLOWERS] DREAMING IN A DRAWER
6. ADD CASTERS TO CARRY A COFFEE TABLE
7. A SORTING SYSTEM FOR SALTY SNACKS
8. CAMERAS CAREFULLY CATALOGUED

I particularly like the sewing supplies, wine warehouse, and coffee table ideas.

                                         https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8370/8487861580_dfe38c7669_z.jpg

Browsing Wikipedia Akin To Browsing Print Stacks

A big criticism of getting rid of print-library collections is that digital collections don't allow for those happenstance finds that spur creativity like browsing print stacks. Now there's an argument being made that the new Wikipedia app might be the answer to our problems.

"For years, critics have feared that the Internet will kill interestingness, offering us only what we’re looking for with none of the happy accidents that can spur creative thought. Might a solution to this problem come from the kind of browsing we do on Wikipedia?"
Wikipedia allows for these happy accidents by "warp[ing] time and space to send you down a rabbit hole [that] has been a central part of its long-term success." The new Wikipedia app will make this even easier by adding "a new sidebar that allows users to jump easily to different sections of a single article. Vibha Bamba, an interaction designer at Wikipedia, says: 'We understand that readers love reading on Wikipe…

DOJ's Compiled Legislative Histories

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Legislative history research can be a painstaking process. Finding the various bills, committee reports, hearings, and debates can make any researcher's head spin - especially for more antiquated laws that were passed before most of this information was uploaded on Congress.gov (Thomas.gov's successor). For older laws, it may even mean getting into microfiche
The good news is that there are sources of compiled legislative history that bring this information together for you in one place. As we teach our students, if you are lucky enough to find a source of compiled legislative history, there is no need to recreate the wheel. 
The United States Department of Justice has a website devoted to legislative histories compiled by DOJ staff.

From the website:  "The following are legislative histories that were compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Library Staff throughout the years. These legislative histories were originally researched, collected and bound as paper …

Library As Place

Lately, I've blogged about how users interact with library resources and how librarians are in the best position to promote resources to enhance student comprehension.

Part of puzzle is the library as space. There is a new article in Legal Reference Services Quarterly that discusses placemaking in the academic law library.

From the abstract:
"In recent years a number of factors have coalesced to shape the future of print collections held by academic law libraries. These factors include: declining acquisitions budgets, rapidly rising print subscription costs, duplication of print materials in online databases, student and faculty preferences for electronic resources, collaborative print retention projects, changes to the American Bar Association's Annual Questionnaire and Standards, calls to produce practice-ready graduates, and the repurposing of library space for other law school functions."

Many law libraries are now storing large portions of their print collection…