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Showing posts from October, 2014

Statutes In WestlawNext

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WestlawNext is an amazing product. The new interface is very user friendly. And although I generally prefer to use terms and connectors searching, the natural language algorithm does have a benefit for the up-and-coming Google generation.

One of the best features of WestlawNext and West products, in general, is the editorial process that cases and statutes go through to organize the content and connect cases and statutes to other helpful content. For example, statutes have annotations that cross reference to secondary sources, give the history of the statute, and offer Notes of Decision, which are cases that interpret a particular statute.

While researching recently, I noticed that WestlawNext does not update the Notes of Decision for a particular statute after a statute has been amended. There may be cases attached to the amended statute that interpret the older language of the pre-amended statute. This was confirmed by Westlaw through one of their Research Attorneys: "Generally…

Evolving Role Of The Academic Library

Libraries must constantly evolve to meet the demands of a changing patron base. For most academic libraries, that means evolving from a repository of print material to a dynamic, technologically advanced institution.

An article posted on Coexist highlights the changes taking place in academic libraries. "Despite all the dire predictions for the future of academic libraries in the digital age, when people believed the digitalization of print and other emerging technologies would make them irrelevant, universities around the country are evolving their libraries and intellectual centers into catalysts for discovery, learning, collaboration, and scholarly breakthroughs."

The article goes on to highlight 4 ways that academic libraries are adapting for the future:

LIBRARIES MUST RESPOND TO STRATEGIC CAMPUS AND BUSINESS NEEDSThe library is a part of the overall institution and needs its strategic plan to coincide with the overall strategic plan and mission of the university. For exam…

Alternative Lending In College Libraries

College libraries are starting to circulate interesting technology as an alternative lending scheme. Alternative lending is not a new phenomena as libraries continue to transition from print to digital and have more space at their disposal. With alternative lending, libraries are also trying to reach a wider patron base.

I have blogged about alternative lending here, here, and here. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently posted about college libraries and alternative lending. Georgia Institute of Technology has a "program at the library that lets students and professors check out a growing catalog of computers, cameras, and other electronics—a selection more akin to a Best Buy store than a lending library."

CHE goes on to offer a few of the more unique tech items that "[c]olleges and universities across the country now lend ... in addition to books":

• Drones. Colgate University’s library is among several around the country that offer what are known as 'dron…

Law Firm Transitions To Digital Library

The NYTimes reported that when the law firm Kaye Scholer moved to Manhattan, it left a lot behind, including most of its library.

"Shelves full of uniformly bound legal volumes — beloved of any photographer, videographer or cinematographer who needs a background that instantly proclaims 'law office' — are headed to oblivion in the digital era. Kaye Scholer’s library just got there faster because of the exigencies of the move."

When Kaye Scholer moved, "[n]early 95 percent of a library that numbered tens of thousands of volumes was discarded. Outdated books were recycled. Updated books were donated. Some were kept, like 'New York Jurisprudence, 2d,' which costs $19,963 for a new hard-bound set."

The new library in the Manhattan office has 700 ft of linear shelving compared to 10,000 ft in the old library. As one partner said, "[w]e have an account with an online library. That’s all that’s used.”

From the NYTimes article, it sounds like Kaye Sch…

Copyright Case Update: Cambridge v. Patton (Georgia State)

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently released its opinion in Cambridge v. Patton, the Georgia State course reserves case.

As InsideHigherEd noted, "proponents of fair use said the opinion in Cambridge v. Patton recognizes that colleges and universities can legally create digital reserves of books in their collections," but the appeals court reversed the lower court's decision creating a bright-line rule for fair use.

"[T]he appeals court instead issued a stern warning against quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions to legal disputes -- specifically, the idea that copying less than a chapter or 10 percent of a book automatically protects an institution from a lawsuit."

Cambridge v. Patton "concerns an initiative created by Georgia State University, which in 2004 began letting faculty members scan book and journal excerpts and host them in the university’s e-reserves. Instead of waiting in turn for their classmates to finish an assigned reading on hold in…

Law Office Or Law Offices?

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To name your PLLC "Law Office of ______" or "Law Offices of _______," that is the question.

When I was in law school, I noticed that many attorneys named their law office, "The Law Offices of ______ _ _____" even though they only had one office. So when it was time for me to create and name my own professional limited liability company (PLLC), it seemed prudent to name it "The Law Offices of Jamie J. Baker." It seemed like a common market use, and I didn't think twice about it.

Then I came across a blog post from Findlaw that discussed the pitfalls of this issue. "The baseline rule, per the ABA's Model Rule 7.1, is that a lawyer 'shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services.' So, dropping the plural 'offices' when you only have one location might fall under that broad rule." Although there doesn't seem to be an ethcis opinion on point, other "[e]thics …

Tarlton Law Library Seeks Fellow

For JDs interested in a career in law librarianship, you may want to consider applying for the Tarlton Fellowship.

"The Tarlton Fellowship was created to encourage law graduates to pursue careers in law librarianship and, especially, to focus on the academic and scholarly side of law librarianship. Fellows are employed in the public services department of the Tarlton Law Library while they attend the University of Texas’ School of Information."

The Fellowship is generally a two-year appointment, and "Tarlton Fellows, as members of the library's public services staff, engage in a wide variety of activities. Much of their time is spent providing reference services to the University of Texas Law School faculty and students and the general public. As part of their duties, they work closely with faculty members on in-depth research projects, assist student journals in a variety of activities, and offer bibliographic assistance, instructional programs, and current awarene…

FREE Webinar For Public Librarians: Connecting Patrons With Legal Information

Webinar: Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

Every day, public library staff are asked to answer legal questions. Since these questions are often complicated and confusing, and because there are frequent warnings about not offering legal advice, reference staff may be uncomfortable addressing legal reference questions. To help reference staff build confidence in responding to legal inquiries, the American Library Association (ALA) and iPAC will host the free webinar “Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information” on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The session will offer information on laws, legal resources and legal reference practices. Participants will learn how to handle a law reference interview, including where to draw the line between information and advice, key legal vocabulary and citation formats. During the webinar, leaders will offer tips on how to assess and choose …

Coherently Reporting Research In Emails

Garner's On Words series in the ABA Journal is very useful. Each month, he offers great tips for better legal writing.

Garner's September post is about coherently reporting research in emails. As noted, "[i]n the rushed exigency of modern law practice, with the expectation of nearly immediate responses to all manner of queries, emails are overtaking formal memos as the standard method for communicating research to senior colleagues and to clients."

As Garner mentions, email is often seen as a more informal means of communication, which means that many emails are rushed and may lead to more questions than answers.

He advises that "[b]efore hitting 'send,' step back and ask yourself exactly how clear you’re being. Avoid answering in a way that is sure to beget further queries. You might be well-advised to make your summary at least as clear as it should be in a formal memo."

To paraphrase Garner, this means instead of replying to a research question di…

Chemerinsky's Preview Of New SCOTUS Term

Erwin Chemerinsky recently reported to the ABA Journal his preview of the new SCOTUS term. SCOTUS will review many familiar issues this term like executive power, bankruptcy, religious freedom, voting rights, employment discrimination, and the Fourth Amendment. There is one novel issue on the docket this term: "true threats" and the First Amendment.

As Chemerinsky noted, "[t]he U.S. Supreme Court’s summer recess is over and the justices will return to the bench for oral arguments. The court traditionally sets half the docket for the coming year before it adjourns in early July, and grants the remaining cases between late September and mid-January."

The cases on the docket this term include:

Executive power: Zivotofsky v. Kerry is back before the court for a second time. Earlier the court ruled the case did not pose a political question and now the court will consider whether Congress impermissibly intruded upon executive powers by enacting a law that directs the U.S…

SCOTUS Updates Website

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Last Monday, SCOTUS unveiled an updated website. Findlaw reported on the new website noting  that "[a] new carousel of images greets visitors to the Court's main page, along with a more conspicuous calendar, a list of recent decisions, and a table of recent arguments with accompanying transcripts and audio recordings."

Here are some highlights of the Court's new website (and compare with this version of the website as it was archived on August 29):

It's responsive. Page elements automatically change size when the window is resized. This also means that the site is finally mobile device-friendly.The menus have been simplified. Instead of over a dozen menus and submenus, there are only six on the new website, and they fit into fairly logical categories: "Opinions," "Oral Arguments," "Case Documents," "Rules & Guidance," "News Media," and "About the Court."The image carousel on the main page shows many pi…

Use Adverbs Sparingly In Legal Writing

Adverbs and legal writing go hand in hand. For example, statutes that deal with criminal intent use adverbs to describe the essential state of mind. "Words such as 'knowingly,' 'intentionally' and 'recklessly,' which deal with criminal intent, pop up most frequently, but plenty of other adverbs have enjoyed the spotlight." One of the most recent adverbs litigated was "[w]hen the U.S. Supreme Court recognized religious protections of closely held companies, justices pondered the significance of an adverb in a 1993 federal statute that guards against laws that 'substantially burden' the exercise of religion."

Because statutes are often written with adverbs, it means that the exact meaning of a particular adverb is litigated fairly often. In fact, the Wall Street Journal notes that "[t]he number of adverb-dense disputes over how to properly construe a criminal statute has surged since the 1980s, according to a case-law search condu…

Library of Congress's Guide To Law Online

When a legal issue presents itself from a new state or country, librarians must acquaint themselves with the legal materials from that state or country to do proper legal research. Understanding the courts within the jurisdiction or if the jurisdiction has an administrative code, for example, may be essential to proper legal research depending on the focus of the issue. 
One of my go-to resources for information about state, federal, or international resources is the Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online. The Guide aggregates and offers a portal to information from each of the jurisdictions. 
"In compiling this list, [the LOC emphasized] ... sites offering the full texts of laws, regulations, and court decisions, along with commentary from lawyers writing primarily for other lawyers. Materials related to law and government that were written by or for lay persons also have been included, as have government sites that provide even quite general information about themselves …

Privacy, Privilege, & The Cloud

According to the 2013 ABA Tech Survey, over 90% of attorneys use smartphones in practice. The most popular smartphones (Androids & iPhones) generally have default settings that store material directly in the cloud. This should be a major concern for attorneys who must protect client confidentiality and adhere to the attorney/client privilege.

The ABA Journal recently reported on ways for attorneys to protect their privacy following recent iPhone updates. "Lawyers must be especially vigilant about securing their mobile devices to guard any potentially sensitive client data." For iPhones, make sure to change your '"Diagnostics & Usage Data,' which can be found in the 'Settings' icon, under 'Privacy.' If you don’t check off the 'Don’t Send' option, 'pretty much everything you do on your iPhone or iPad' is tracked by Apple."

To further protect sensitive data, "Apple provides more suggestions on ways to guard your devi…

Tell Your Library Story

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Gale has started an online community called My Library Story to combat the impression that libraries are past their prime or doomed to irrelevancy.

From the promotional material:

"Let's get the good news out about libraries!

Visit and share the brand-new online community, My Library Story, to talk about the great things libraries do every day. How they are an essential institution in your community or on your campus. How all ages use libraries to thrive. How libraries make a significant impact on positive user outcomes like greater student performance, job placement, and more."

There's a great story about a high school dropout who credits his local library, the Detroit Public Library, for educating him for "free." He never completed high school, never went to college, but he was admitted to the Detroit College of Law and practiced as a lawyer for 30 years (at the time when more law schools would admit nontraditional students without undergraduate degrees if t…

Luring Attorneys To Rural America

In recent years, there's been a push to get more attorneys to underserved rural areas. As I mentioned in April 2013, "[n]early 85% of law students graduate with $100,000 in debt, and it is nearly impossible to service that type of debt by offering low-cost legal services in rural areas."

Like South Dakota's stipend to get lawyers to its rural areas, a small town in North Dakota is doing something similar. The ABA Journal reported that "Wishek, [ND] took the unusual step of offering to pay for office space and other business expenses if a young lawyer agreed to move to town. The city got two: Cody Cooper and Mary DePuydt, a married couple who both finished law school in 2013 and moved to Wishek from the Twin Cities in April. They planned to set up separate law offices to avoid potential conflicts of interest."

Wishek's offer to pay for office space and other business expenses was just one thing that lured the attorneys to town.

"The two were interes…

New RIPS Blog Post - Researching Across the Law School Curriculum

Please check out my new blog post on the Research, Instruction, & Patron Services (RIPS) Blog about incorporating legal research instruction across the law school curriculum.

Libraries Lend The Internet

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NPR reported on a cool new alternative lending service available at some public libraries. "The public library systems in New York and Chicago won funding from the Knight Foundation to experiment with the idea of hot-spot lending. Both say they hope the move will help them expand Internet access among low-income families."

As the New York Public Library's pitch reads, "'[b]ecause many Americans find themselves unable to afford quality Internet at home, they are caught on the wrong side of the digital divide.' This chasm presents an obstacle to participation in America's $8 trillion digital economy and deprives the Internet of contributions from these individuals."

With so many people unable to afford Internet at home, "[g]iving patrons — particularly those who are low income — the ability to 'check out' the Internet seems a simple solution to improving Internet access across the country, particularly if the program expands beyond these …

Access JSTOR Material With JSTOR Daily

InsideHigherEd reported on JSTOR's new daily magazine - JSTOR Daily. "Much of the world’s knowledge is contained in JSTOR, a vast digital academic library. But most of that content is behind a subscription wall. And if you’re not looking for something specific -- or even if you are -- attempting to take in all that knowledge can be an overwhelming experience. Wanting to make JSTOR's content a little more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience, the library is officially launching its new online magazine, JSTOR Daily."

The content on JSTOR Daily links to the JSTOR library with free access to articles and other material. 
From the about section: "JSTOR Daily offers a fresh way for people to understand and contextualize their world. Our writers provide insight, commentary, and analysis of ideas, research, and current events, tapping into the rich scholarship on JSTOR, a digital library of more than 2,000 academic journals, dating back to the first volu…

Uniform Electronic Material Act

With continued support from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Uniform Electronic Material Act (UELMA) is starting to take hold.

What is UELMA, you ask?

"The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), approved the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in July 2011, recommending that it be enacted in all states. The act sets forth language, provisions, and parameters that require government publishers of primary legal materials in electronic format to authenticate, preserve, and provide permanent access to those resources."

UELMA "addresses many of the concerns posed by the publication of state primary legal material online. UELMA provides a technology-neutral, outcomes-based approach to ensuring that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and will be permanently available to the public in unaltered form. It furthers state policies of accountability and trans…