Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Net Neutrality Proposal Classifies Internet As A Public Utility

NPR is reporting on today's net neutrality vote by the FCC. As noted, "Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has outlined his vision of the Internet, saying his agency should use its authority 'to implement and enforce open Internet protections.' Wheeler's plan would pave the way toward regulating the Internet as a public utility, an idea backed by President Obama but strongly opposed by some cable companies and their lobbying firms that say it will hurt investment."

The NYTimes has a great video discussing net neutrality and why it matters. David Carr (RIP) discusses what's at stake. So far we've been able to get information freely and openly, which makes the Internet the epitome of democracy. Even the smallest voice can be picked up and heard on the Internet.

However, if net neutrality is not regulated, then the strong voices with the most money to pay for fast delivery will reach our screens first, and the small voices will be lost in the mix. The small voices may eventually reach us, but we'll have to dig pretty deep to find them, which most people will not do.

I don't know about you, but I don't like this kind of gatekeeping based on who has the deepest pockets. It will change the entire way that information flows and is received.

As NPR notes, "Net neutrality is the concept that your Internet provider should be a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet, not a gatekeeper deciding to load some sites slower than others or impose fees for faster service."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reading Is Fun-damental

Do you remember the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program from elementary school? Oh, the sheer joy of walking into that room full of books and being able to choose one of your very own. This program, as well as great teachers made me an avid reader from a young age.

Then I went to law school. Now when I try to read for pleasure, the pleasure is mostly lost on me. I tend to read with the same forcefulness that I read cases, which isn't necessarily pleasurable.

An attorney posed the question of how to regain reading for pleasure in the ABA Journal. The author of the article expounded on the type of reading lawyers do and the lack of pleasure in reading for fun:
  • The first is that law school entails so much required reading that students who enjoy literature simply lose the habit.
  • Second, most legal writing can't be read closely with any sort of gusto. It's clumsy, verbose and studded with irrelevancies that must be skipped....
  • Third, the hurly-burly of law practice can lead you to feel perpetually behindhand. A chronically impatient reader who feels oppressed by time constraints will rush through—an approach that simply isn't conducive to appreciating literature.
The author states that this is a fairly common malady among lawyers. One of the main recommendations to combat this problem is to continue to read nonlegal material. And listen to books for awhile until it becomes pleasurable again.

Another piece of advice is to read short stories. By digesting pleasurable reading in smaller bits, you can remind yourself what it is that you love about reading.

As a law librarian, I read all day, everyday. I set a goal this year to read at least one "non-work" book per month. I am keeping pace, and I am starting to remember what it is that I love about reading. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

ABA Proposes Requiring More Data On Attrition

The ABA Journal reports that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s Standards Review Committee is proposing a requirement for law schools to provide additional data on attrition to promote greater transparency.

Under the proposal, "law schools would be required to provide more detailed information about attrition rates for admitted students under a proposed change in the reporting requirements being requested by an ABA committee. Currently, law schools are required to disclose on their annual information reports the overall number and percentage of admitted students from each class in the previous academic year who flunked out, transferred to another school or left for non-academic reasons."

The approved resolution requires law schools to "break those numbers down based on the admitted students’ LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages."

"The committee says more detailed data reporting is necessary to promote greater transparency and provide greater consumer protection for law school applicants. It would also assist the Accreditation Committee and the section’s governing council in assessing whether a school is operating in compliance with the accreditation standards."

How would this data promote greater transparency? "Committee member Peter Joy, who drafted the proposed resolution, said the way attrition data is currently reported, while accurate, can be misleading, particularly to an applicant with weak academic credentials, who may not realize that the academic attrition rate for similarly situated students may be much higher than the school’s reported rate overall."

The committee hopes that the new reporting requirement will arm potential law students with all of the information that they need to make truly informed decisions about whether to attend law school. And it will also help to determine if the lower admissions standards are having a great impact on attrition.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Notorious R.B.G. Just Won't Quit

If you are a woman in the law, it is impossible not to owe a debt to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka The Notorious R.B.G., who has broken down many barriers on her way to becoming the second female Supreme Court Justice.

There have been calls for her to retire given her age, 81, to effectively "take one for the team" and get another liberal appointed to SCOTUS under the auspices of a Democratic president.

As the NYTimes noted, "[t]he retirement talk started around 2011, when the Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy wrote an essay in The New Republic arguing that both Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer should quit while there was still a Democratic president to nominate replacements. 'What’s more, both are, well, old,' he added uncharitably.

As time moved on, the focus shifted almost exclusively to Ginsburg (“Justice Ginsburg: Resign Already!”). Perhaps that’s simply because she is older than Breyer, who is now 76. Or perhaps there’s still an expectation that women are supposed to be good sports, and volunteer to take one for the team."

There has never been an insistent call for the resignation of a male justice, and there have been male justices who were older than R.B.G. when they stepped down. “John Paul Stevens didn’t step down until he was 90 and Louis Brandeis had served until he was 82."

This scenario, in some ways, reminds me of the recent Sheryl Sandberg article in the NYTimes noting the sacrifices that women are expected to make in the workplace. "This is a sad reality in workplaces around the world: Women help more but benefit less from it. In keeping with deeply held gender stereotypes, we expect men to be ambitious and results-oriented, and women to be nurturing and communal. When a man offers to help, we shower him with praise and rewards. But when a woman helps, we feel less indebted. She’s communal, right? She wants to be a team player. The reverse is also true. When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers. But when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is 'busy'; a woman is 'selfish.'"

R.B.G. could have succumbed to the calls for her to leave office, but for the sake of women everywhere, we should all be happy that she didn't. She is still, at the ripe age of 81, leading the way.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

LexTalk from LexisNexis

As Lexis Advance continues to evolve, it can be difficult to stay on top of all of the enhancements. That's where LexTalk comes in.

LexTalk is a fairly new service from LexisNexis that provides featured topics, featured posts, and featured forums to bring the legal community together.

The part that I find the most useful is the Lexis Advance Enhancements under featured topics. Here you will see information pertaining to upcoming webinars and other useful "Tuesday Tips" for maneuvering Lexis Advance.

This is a nice effort by LexisNexis to bring lawyers, law students, and information about Lexis Advance together in one place.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Washington & Lee Top 50 Law Reviews & Submission Criteria

As spring law-review submission season winds down, many law faculty are busy submitting to journals. Here is a compilation of the Top 50 law reviews as ranked by Washington & Lee (current combined score 2013) and the submission criteria for each of those law reviews compiled from Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals (Jan. 22, 2105).

1. Stanford Law Review
[Submit] Must use their online submission form. Do not include any identifying information in the submission. Include a brief abstract [Citations] Bluebook format [Word Requirements] word limit of 30,000 words (including footnotes). Remove name or other identifying information [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Use their online form

2. Harvard Law Review
[Format] Word document [Submit] Through their online system or by mail (Articles Office, Harvard Law Review, Gannett House, 1511 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138). Only include identifying information on separate cover page.[Word Requirements] Prefer less than 25,000 words (including footnotes). They will not publish those exceeding 30,000 words or 60 pages. [Citations] Bluebook format [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

3. Columbia Law Review
[Submission Deadlines] CLR publishes 8 times a year (not February, July, August, and September). They accept submissions on a rolling basis. [Submit] Accept and manage submissions exclusively through Scholastica [Word Requirements] 20,000-37,000 (including footnotes). [Format] Double-spaced Word document. [Citations] Bluebook format.

4. The Yale Law Journal
[Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Use their online form. [Word Requirements] 25,000 or less (including footnotes) [Submit] Must use their online submissionn form. Remove all author identifying information from the submission. Include a short abstract.

5. University of Pennsylvania Law Review
[Word Requirements] Prefer 35,000 words or less (including footnotes). [Citations] Bluebook format [Submit] Either ExpressO or mail (Articles Editors University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6204). If sending as exclusive submission, send by email ( [Processing Period] THey will consider requests for expedited review. Send through ExpressO or via email (prefers ExpressO) (

6. The Georgetown Law Journal
[Word Requirements] Must be less than 35,000 words (including footnotes). [Submit] Strongly prefers submissions by Scholastica. (The Georgetown LawJournal is listed under the “T’s” inScholastica.) or by email ( Include an abstract and a CV. [Format] Word document [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

7. UCLA Law Review
[Word Requirements] Prefer articles under 25,000 words and will not publish those which exceed 35,000 words. [Submit]Preferred submissions through Scholastica, but may send by mail (Articles Dept., UCLA Law Review, UCLA School of Law, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476). Include a table of contents, CV, and a cover letter. [Processing Period] Usually reviewed within 8 weeks. They will consider requests for expedited review.

8. Michigan Law Review
[Submit] (1) Scholastica or (2) mail (Michigan Law Review, Hutchins Hall, 625 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215). Include a cover letter with contact info and word count. [Citations] Bluebook format and style should follow The Chicago Manual of Style [Processing Period] Email requests for expedited review. [Word Requirements] Prefer less than 25,000 words (including footnotes)

9. California Law Review
[Submit] (1) Scholastica (preferred), or (2) by mail (Articles Department, California Law Review, 40 Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720). [Word Requirements] Articles should be 25,000 words or less (including footnotes). They will consider submissions of up to 35,000 words. [Citations] Bluebook format [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

10. Virginia Law Review
[Submission Deadlines] They publish 8 times a year (March, April, May, June, September, October, November, and December). [Word Requirements] Prefer under 25,000 words (including footnotes). [Submit] Exclusively Scholastica. Must include cover letter, which contains title, contact info, brief abstract, copy of manuscript, submission guidelines for Empirical Aricles and Essays [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

11. Minnesota Law Review
[Citations] Bluebook format [Submission Deadline] They publish 6 times per year (November, December, February, April, May, and June. They are now accepting submissions until the volume is filled. They usually accept until September. Accepts through Scholastica.

12. Texas Law Review
[Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Use their online form. [Submit] Accepts submissions by Scholastica only. [Word Requirements] 40-70 pages (20,000-35,000 words, including footnotes), no absolute cap.

13. New York University Law Review
[Citations] Bluebook format [Word Requirements] Prefer pieces under 25,000 words (including footnotes). Include brief abstract. [Submit] Exclusively Scholastica. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

14. Fordham Law Review
[Submit] Strongly prefers submissions via Scholastica or by mail (Executive Articles Editor, Fordham Law Review, Fordham University School of Law, 140 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023). [Word Requirement] None[Citations] Bluebook format. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

15. Cornell Law Review
[Word Requirements] Prefer 30,000 words or less (including footnotes) They will not publish if over 40,000 words. [Format] Word document [Submit] Either through ExpressO or by mail (Articles Office, Cornell Law Review, Myron Taylor Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853). [Citations] Bluebook format [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

16. Notre Dame Law Review
[Citations] Bluebook format [Submit] Strongly prefers submissions via Scholastica. [Format] Word document 15,000-30,000 words (footnotes included). Include CV. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review by email. [Submission Deadline] They publish 5 issues between October-June

17. Northwestern University Law Review
[Submit] Submissions must be made by Scholastica. Submissions are not accepted via e-mail and mailing of hard copies is allowed only in extenuating circumstances. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review through Scholastica. [Word Requirements] Prefer articles between 15,000 and 30,000 words (including footnotes). [Citations] Use footnotes rather than endnotes; Conform to the Bluebook and the Texas Law Review Manual on Usage & Style. [Format] Double-space

18. Iowa Law Review
[Submit] Must use Scholastica [Format] Word document [Citations] Must conform to the Bluebook, Redbook, and the conventions of the Iowa Law Review. [Submission Deadlines] They publish 5 times per year(November, January, March, May, and July)

19. Duke Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They publish 8 times per year. [Citations] Bluebook format [Submit] Either Scholastica or by mail (Duke Law Journal, Duke University School of Law, 210 Science Drive, Box 90371, Durham, NC 27708).[Word Requirements] Prefer articles of fewer than 35,000 words (including footnotes).Include a cover letter.

20. Vanderbilt Law Review
[Submit]Strongly prefers ExpressO. Also accepts submissions by e-mail to OR mail to:Senior Articles Editor, Vanderbilt Law Review, 131 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203. They publish 6 times a year (January, March, April, May, October, and November). [Format] Include cover letter and CV.

21. William and Mary Law Review
[Submission Guidelines] They publish 6 issues (October, November, December, March, April, and May). Submit before February the year before. [Submit] Either via ExpressO or mail (Senior Articles Editor, William & Mary Law Review, William & Mary School of Law, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795). Include a cover letter and an abstract. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review by email (

22. Boston University Law Review
[Processing Period] They consider requests for expedited review. [Submit] ExpressO. Include a CV and cover letter

23. The University of Chicago Law Review
[Submit] Either via Scholastica or email ( [Submissions Deadline] They accept submissions on a rolling basis. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review through Scholastica or email.

24. University of Illinois Law Review
[Citations] Bluebook format and conform to the Chicago Manual of Style. [Submit] (1) ExpressO, (2) email (, or (3) mail (Articles Editors, University of Illinois Law Review, University of Illinois College of Law, 244H Law Building, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue. Champaign, IL 61820-6996). Include a cover letter or CV. Will consider expedited review.

25. Boston College Law Review
[Submission Deadline] They publish 5 times per year. They accept submissions year round [Submit] (1) via Scholastica, (2) email (, or (3) mail (Boston College Law School, Attn: Boston College Law Review, 885 Centre Street, Newton, MA 02459-1163). Include a cover letter and resume/bio/CV. [Format] Word (preferred), WordPerfect, or PDF. Please include (1) cover letter that references the article’s title, briefly describes the article, and contains the author’s name, affiliation, and full contact information; and (2) résumé, bio, or CV.[Processing Period] They consider requests for for expedited review.

26. Cardozo Law Review
[Word Requirement] Preference that are under 35,000 words. [Submit] Scholastica or email ( [Submissions Deadline] The Spring issue period is February-April and Fall issue period is August-September. Please include (1) cover letter that references the article’s title, briefly describes the article, and contains the author’s name, affiliation, and full contact information; and (2) résumé, bio, or CV.

27. North Carolina Law Review
[Submit] Strongly prefers submissions throughScholastica. Can mail (Executive Articles Editor, The North Carolina Law Review, UNC School of Law, Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 100 Ridge Road, Campus Box #3380, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-3380). [Citations] Bluebook format [Word Requirements] Prefer under 25,000 words (including footnotes) and will not publish if over 40,000 words. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Email the Executive Articles Editor at

28. U.C. Davis Law Review
[Citations] Bluebook format [Format] Word or PDF document [Submit] Either Scholastica or email ( Include a table of contents, CV, and cover letter. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review by Scholastica or email.

29. Indiana Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They will begin accepting submissions for the next volume in February 2014. [Submit] ExpressO [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. [Format] Text and citations should conform to the Bluebook and the Chicago Manual of Style.

30. Southern California Law Review
[Submission Deadline] They accept submissions on a rolling basis. They publish six issues a year. [Word Requirements] Prefer 35,000 words or less (including footnotes) [Citations] Bluebook format [Submit] (1) Scholastica, (2) email (, or (3) mail (Executive Articles Editor, Southern California Law Review, The Gould School of Law, University of Southern California, University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089-0071).

31. The George Washington Law Review
[Submit] Strongly prefers Scholastica, but will continue to accept submissions by e-mail to [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

32. Hastings Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They are currently accepting submissions and will start reviewing at the end of February. [Submit] (1) ExpressO (strongly prefer), (2) via email (, or (3) by mail (Hastings Law Journal, U.C. Hastings College of the Law, 200 McAllister Street, San Francisco, California 94102-4707). Include a cover letter and brief abstract. [Word Requirements] Prefer less than 30,000 words. [Citations] Bluebook format [Format] Double-spaced [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review during the school year.

33. Emory Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They publish 6 times per year. [Submit] They only accept submissions through ExpressO. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. [Citations] Bluebook format (footnotes rather than endnotes).

34. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology
[Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Consider expedite requests [Format] Word document [Submit] Via Scholastica. Include a resume, letter of introduction, and a short abstract.

35. Florida Law Review
[Submission Deadline] They cannot review submissions or expedite any reviews during the summer period (late April through July) or the winter period (early November through January). [Submit] Only accept submissions through ExpressO. Include a cover letter (that includes contact info and a short synopsis of the manuscript) and a CV. [Word Requirements] Under 50 pages (approx. 25,000 words including footnotes). [Citations] Bluebook format. [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review.

36. Connecticut Law Review
[Submit] (1) Prefers Scholastica or (2) mail (Connecticut Law Review, Attn: Submissions, 65 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT 06105-2290) Include a cover letter or CV/resume. [Processing Period] Considers expedited review.

37. Wisconsin Law Review
[Submit]Accepts submissions only by Scholastica. [Ciations] Bluebook format and the Chicago Manual of Style [Word Requirements] Prefer 30,000 words or less (including footnotes). [Processing Period] Will consider expedited requests.

38. Washington University Law Review
[Submission Deadline] They accept submissions on a rolling basis. [Submit] Either via ExpressO or email ( Include cover letter that indicates the manuscript’s title, its nature, and provides contact information. [Citations] Bluebook format [Word Requirements] Typically between 15,000 and 35,000 words [Format] Word document [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review through ExpressO.

39. Supreme Court Review
[Submission Deadline] They publish once in the Spring. They make editorial decisions once in June and then again in Sep. [Citations] Should follow The Maroon Book style guide [Submit] Mail 3 copies to Dennis Hutchinson, 1111 East 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637

40. Harvard International Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They accept on a rolling basis but for Summer Issue (submit by November 1st) and for Winter Issue (submit by May 1st). [Word Requirements] Minimum of 12,500 words and maximum of 35,000 words. [Citations] Bluebook format [Submit] Only accept through ExpressO or the submission form on their website. Include an abstract of not more than 250 words, as well as a resume or CV, which includes a list of current publications. Authors also must ensure that their submissions include a direct e-mail address and phone number at which they can be reached throughout the review period. [Processing Period] Will consider expedited reviews.

41. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review
[Submit] Either through ExpressO or by email ( Include a cover letter and a CV. [Citations] Bluebook format [Word Requirements] less than 30,000 words (including footnotes)

42. Wake Forest Law Review
[Word Requirements] Prefer 25,000 words or less (including footnotes). [Format] Word document (Times New Roman, 12 pt, 1 inch margins). Include a cover letter describing the article and indicating why it should be published. Disclose any economic interests and affiliations that may influence the views expressed. [Submit] (1) Strongly prefers submissions by Scholastica, (2) email (, or (3) mail (Wake Forest Law Review, Wake Forest University School of Law, P.O. Box 7206 Reynolda Station, Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7206).

43. American University Law Review
[Submission Deadlines] They accept submissions on a rolling basis. [Submit] They prefer submissions via Scholastica or ExpressO. Include an abstract and a CV. [Processing Period] Will consider expedited review requests.

44. Washington Law Review
[Submit] Either via ExpressO or mail (Washington Law Review, Attn: Articles Department, University of Washington, William H. Gates Hall, Box 353020, Seattle, WA 98195) [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review. Email the Editor-in-Chief at [Word Requirements] 30,000 words or fewer [Citations] Bluebook format. follows the grammar conventions of The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style and The Chicago Manual of Style, and follows the spelling conventions of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and Black’s Law Dictionary.

45. Harvard Journal on Legislation
[Submit] ExpressO. [Citations] Bluebook format [Format] Word (double-spaced).

46. Arizona Law Review
[Processing Period] They consider requests for expedited review. [Format] 35,000 words or less (including footnotes)[Citations] Must be in footnote format and conform to the Bluebook. [Submit] Consider expedited requests. Either via Scholastica/ExpressO or by email, with a resume/CV (

47. Ohio State Law Journal
[Submission Deadline] They will start accepting submissions for each upcoming year in late February. Best time to send is mid-February-early April or early August-early September [Citation] Bluebook format [Submit] Either ExpressO or mail, include a paper copy (Ohio State Law Journal, Attention: Article Submissions, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210). Include a cover letter with your contact information and CV. [Processing Period] Email them with requests for expedited review.

48. Lewis & Clark Law Review
[Submission Deadline] Submissions are generally accepted every August and February. [Citations] Bluebook format [Format] Word, WordPerfect, and PDF. If submitting by e-mail, include the author’s name and manuscript title in thesubject line. [Submit] Scholastica (preferred), ExpressO, by email (, or by mail (Lewis & Clark Law Review, Attention: Submissions Editor, Lewis & Clark Law School, 10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97219-7799). [Processing Period] Will consider expedited review requests.

49. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
[Format] Double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. [Submit] Via ExpressO (preferred) or by mail (1541 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138). Include CV and cover letter (with word count and short description of the manuscript).

50. Washington and Lee Law Review
[Submission Deadline] They accept throughout the year. [Citations] Bluebook format [Format] Word document (12 pt. font/double-spaced) [Processing Period] They will consider requests for expedited review through ExpressO. [Submit] Either via ExpressO or mail (Senior Articles Editors, Washington and Lee Law Review, Room 408, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia 24450).

Good luck this season! As a note, Washington & Lee expects to have the rankings database updated sometime in early March.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

As Libraries Face Pressure To Cancel Print & Repurpose, Admins Must Look Beyond Monetary ROI

Rick Bales, Dean of Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, posted a picture over on the Law Deans Blog showing anecdotal evidence of a law library's mass cancellation of print. 

Dean Bales noted that "[l]ibraries are going digital, and budget pressures make it difficult to justify maintaining print publications. Most law firm and county libraries have long since cancelled their print subscriptions, driving up the publication costs for the few remaining (mostly law school) buyers."

It's true that libraries can discard a lot of material that was once only available in print but is now duplicated by many electronic resources. Law libraries are officially in "The Shed West Era" where we can reasonably rely on WestlawNext rather than the costly print material. There are pitfalls associated with relying on proprietary databases, but this is the direction we are all moving.

Dean Bales goes on to say that "[s]helves at many law libraries already are tagged with a note indicating that the shelved material is no longer kept up-to-date. Rows of discontinued publications already look antiquated; it's only a matter of time (and a reversal in the decline in law school admissions) before libraries are pressured to discard the paper and repurpose the space."

One thing that is very important for law school administrators to understand is that although there is a lot of room to shed duplicated material, there is a lot of material that is still only available in print. And we want law schools to be a place of academic rigor and exploration, which requires having access to the material. But the pressure that libraries will continue to face may be just what we need to innovate in a positive way. 

Libraries currently do a great job of sharing print, but we need to go a step further and try to configure a system for electronic resource sharing. Law libraries may also need to seriously consider providing new services to stay relevant.

There's no doubt that librarians will innovate in the face of challenge, but it's also important for administrators to understand that there should not be a total focus on monetary ROI to determine if law libraries are still needed. The library is often a huge expenditure for a law school, and it's a tempting place to tighten the purse strings without looking at the intrinsic value of the library.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Digital Public Library Of America Strategic Plan

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has a lofty goal of bringing "together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and mak[ing] them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used."

And DPLA now has a strategic plan to work from. "Following a successful planning phase and launch in April 2013, the Digital Public Library of America is well on its way toward achieving its ambitious goal of bringing together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites, and making them freely available to students, teachers, researchers, and the general public. The strategic plan lays out DPLA’s goals for 2015 through 2017. It focuses on critical elements that must be completed in this timeframe for DPLA to succeed—top priorities—as well as areas that we must pay careful attention to, and in some cases prepare the groundwork for—supplemental priorities."

As noted in Advanced Technology Libraries, "[t]he top priorities are to 1) complete a hub network so that all collections and item types in America have an on-ramp to DPLA; 2) fully build out the technology platform to ensure a solid foundation for many years to come and to anticipate further growth and diversification; 3) and pursue an outreach plan that gets DPLA resources more widely into the hands of the global public, into education at all levels, and onto the screen of amateur and family historians and developers who are creating the latest app and Web sites.

Although the strategic plan lays out a few topic priorities, "[i]n the next three years, DPLA's top priority is to complete its national network of service hubs so that it can draw materials from every state in the union. Currently there are 11 state or regional hubs, which cover 15 states."


Friday, February 13, 2015

More Law Students Receive Business Instruction

There is a growing trend in law schools to offer instruction in the various areas that the law intersects, and business is a big one.

The NYTimes reported that Harvard Law School released a survey of employers in February 2014, and the "124 firms that responded to the survey, called 'What Courses Should Law Students Take? Harvard’s Largest Employers Weigh In,' listed accounting, financial statement analysis and corporate finance as the best courses to prepare lawyers to handle corporate and other business matters."

In essence, "[l]aw firms were telling [law schools] that associates had no business literacy. The need for business literacy has existed for a long time and graduates had to learn the business basics on the wing, but the legal recession has forced law schools to address flaws like this that had been papered over, or not addressed, in flush times."

And law schools all over the country "are adding business-oriented offerings to better equip students to compete in a job market that is being reshaped and slimmed down as more routine legal work is being outsourced and corporate budgets cut back."

It's wonderful that law students are receiving a well-rounded education, but as Brian Tamanaha points out, law schools may do better by placing students in externships with attorneys in practice to gain the "real-world" experience. Even if law schools teach students about business and other areas that intersect with the law, sitting in the classroom just isn't the same as seeing it in action.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Study On Law School Diversity Sees Improvement At The Bottom

The National Law Journal reported on a a diversity study conducted by Aaron Taylor, an assistant professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law. Taylor "examined application trends, Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores and enrollment figures for minority and white students in both 2010 and 2013. He hoped to better understand how the dramatic downturn in law school applications nationwide has affected diversity."

"Taylor focused on 2010 and 2013 because they defined 'feast or famine' periods for legal education. The incoming class in 2010 was largest on record, but by 2013 enrollment had declined by nearly a quarter, representing the smallest cohort of new law students in 40 years."

This "feast or famine" meant that "[c]ompetition between schools for students was fierce in 2013." And "overall admission rates rose to 51 percent from 36 percent in 2010. Theoretically, [when it comes to diversity] relaxed admissions standards should help African-American and Hispanic students get in the door, since those groups on average score lower on the LSAT. (The average LSAT score for African-Americans is 142; Hispanics come in at 146; and white and Asian test takers average 153.)."

This theory was correct as "[t]he percentage of African-American and Hispanic students enrolled in law school increased between 2010 and 2013, but those gains came almost exclusively at less prestigious law schools with lower admission standards. He found that law schools at the bottom of the prestige ladder—those with the lowest median LSAT scores for incoming students—have relied disproportionately on African-American and Hispanic students to fill their classes. That shift may have served as an economic lifeline for law schools during a difficult period, but bolstered the racial stratification that already existed. Elite law schools with higher median LSAT scores actually saw a proportional decrease in African-American and Hispanic students between 2010 and 2013, Taylor found."

It's wonderful that law schools, in general, are more diverse. And "Taylor credits lower-tier law schools with helping to improve the overall diversity of the legal profession, which remains significantly whiter than the population as a whole. Elite law schools should do their part by admitting a larger number of African-American and Hispanic students."

But Taylor remains concerned that the higher ranked "schools that can ensure good career prospects aren’t making diversity a priority. There seems to be much more of a focus on the [LSAT and grade-point average] numbers.”

I can attest to the benefits of going to a diverse law school. My law school has, for many years, been considered the most diverse law school in the nation, which is attributable to its admissions policies. Law school was the first time in my life where I was surrounded by a large number of people from other backgrounds, and it was an eye opening time filled with curiosity and ultimately total acceptance of other cultures.

It behooves elite law schools to also promote diversity. As one commenter put it, "[t]he legal profession will never be more diverse than the population of law students. We need to build a more diverse profession—and it needs to start with law schools across the board.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Law School Incubator Success Stories

The ABA Journal recently reported on young lawyers who utilized a law-school incubator program and are now finding success on their own.

As mentioned in previous posts, law schools have been using the incubator concept "to jump-start the careers of young lawyers going into solo or small practices."

As Yogi Patel put it, “[t]he incubator gave me the time to find my identity as a practitioner and get to the point where you are without fear that you won’t be able to pay the rent next month." And "[n]ot having the pressure of overhead costs allowed Patel to focus on building the business so that when he left the incubator, he already had some clients and income. One of the most valuable parts of being in the incubator program was meeting other lawyers at networking events."

Another success story is Michelle Green who "was among the first to complete the incubator program at Chicago-Kent College of Law, which requires applicants to have a business plan. She had started a solo practice after graduation and worked from home specializing in small-business matters. She joined the incubator for a needed boost." After participating in the incubator program, she now has a small office on the north side of Chicago. As for her experience in the incubator, she said that she "met a really good group of attorneys with solo and small practices" and got a list of attorneys who she could refer matters to and call with questions, which helped her confidence."

It's great to see that law students are succeeding after taking part in an incubator program. And law libraries can offer all sorts of support to incubators to encourage success.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Libraries Working Together To Share Resources - ILL & Licensing

One of the most collaborative things that libraries do is facilitate interlibrary loan. We have a world-wide system to share resources across all libraries, which is truly remarkable.

But as Barbara Fister points out, the interlibrary loan system is no longer sufficient because a library's access to many resources is behind pay walls, licenses, and publisher databases.

In what is a great response for the need of a library given interlibrary loan, Fister gives the following example: Quite a few years ago, a college president said to us, not entirely in jest, that he couldn’t see why the library needed all that money when we had interlibrary loan. Why not just order whatever students and faculty needed from other libraries? We had to explain that there was a legal agreement in place that prevented us from sponging off other libraries. Sharing is great, and we couldn’t possibly meet the needs of our students or faculty without it, but it only works so long as every participating library was willing to pitch in. We had to have a collection that we could share if we wanted to borrow. We all had to be prepared to do our part.

Just like all libraries had to work together to facilitate interlibrary loan, we have to continue to work together to share licensed materials, which is becoming a larger and larger part of our collections. "Academic libraries all spend a large part of our budgets on ephemeral licensed materials which, for the most part, we cannot legally share among libraries. We can still get our students and faculty what they want, kind of like interlibrary loan, but we have to pay publishers by annual subscription or by the piece and for the most part we don't have any assets to show for the money we’ve spent. If we have a bad year, large chunks of the library can vanish."

And we are still trying to figure out how to collaborate and share materials in this new terrain. Fister brainstorms a collective funding stream where all libraries work together to fund open access to scholarship. "Somehow we’re going to have to persuade those who hold the purse strings that the only way we’ll all get adequate access to knowledge is if we put our institution’s money into projects that benefit others through organized and equitable sharing - by all of us doing our part."

This is one of the major issues facing libraries today. If you are interested in these issues, you may want to look into the Northwest Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing Conference 2015 (NWILL). The program committee for the Conference is interested in proposals in the following areas:
  • Managing your ILL statistics
  • Sustainable ILL & green practices
  • Coping with fewer resources
  • ILL for public libraries
  • Succession planning
  • Libraries without books, what does it mean for ILL?
  • Keeping track of licensing of e-content for ILL
  • Training staff and students
  • Copyright and licensing
One of the ways that we can stay on top of this issue is to come together and brainstorm solutions for collaborative, collective action.

Monday, February 9, 2015

GPO Goes From Government Printing To Government Publishing Office

Most law librarians refer users to GPO/FDsys - what was formerly known as the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System. "GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government."

Recently, I had a colleague refer to GPO as the Government Publishing Office, and my internal dialogue sounded a red flag. I had always known it to be the Government Printing Office. So I looked into it.

The Wikipedia entry states, "[i]n December 2014 an omnibus spending bill funding US federal government operations was passed which included a provision changing the name from "Government Printing Office" to Government Publishing Office. Following signature by the President the change took effect on December 17, 2014."

Than you Wikipedia! It can be difficult to stay on top of these subtle changes, and Wikipedia makes it that much easier.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Law Library Fellowship For JDs Seeking Library Degrees

Are you a law school graduate interested in obtaining a library degree?

The University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) and the Cracchiolo Law Library of the James E. Rogers College of Law offer a two-year fellowship in law librarianship for lawyers seeking to become law librarians. The successful applicant will work 20 hours per week in the Law Library while pursuing an M.A. in Information Resources and Library Science. The salary is $12,000 per fiscal (twelve-month) year (based on an annual salary of $24,000 prorated at .50 FTE/20 hours per week). Benefits and tuition reduction are included. (In the current fiscal year the fellowship recipient would pay minimum tuition and surcharges up to about $200 per semester and have the remaining tuition and other fees waived).
For further information and to apply see the University of Arizona's job posting.
This fellowship is the best of both worlds. You get quality hands-on experience in a law library with financial incentives, and you can also focus on your studies with a 20-hour workweek. 

Any JDs interested in library science and law librarianship should seriously consider this. And if you're not sure, check out a post on what law librarians do.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Title II & Net Neutrality

The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, wrote an article for Wired yesterday that outlines his new proposed rules to keep an open Internet. 

The over arching theme is that "the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression." 

Wheeler offered an interesting historical context. "The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open. The phone network’s openness did not happen by accident, but by FCC rule. How we precisely deliver that kind of openness for America’s broadband networks has been the subject of a debate over the last several months."

Wheeler initially thought that existing laws would protect an open internet. "Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of 'commercial reasonableness' under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers."

Instead of relying on the "commercial reasonableness" standard under Section 706, Wheeler is proposing that the FCC use Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections. "Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission."

This is great news for supporters of net neutrality. It's wonderful that the FCC responded correctly to the nearly 4 million public comments that demanded the continuance of an open internet. And there are provisions in the proposed rules that will keep the internet open from threats that we can foresee today, as well as undetermined threats in the future. 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

SCOTUS's Secret Decisions & Increasing Article Readership

University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Law (and former SCOTUS Law Clerk), William Baude, wrote a fascinating NYTimes article about SCOTUS's secret decisions.

Professor Baude illustrated these secret decisions with the following story:
A convicted murderer, Charles F. Warner, was executed in Oklahoma last month after the United States Supreme Court denied his request for a last-minute stay. Mr. Warner and other death-row inmates had challenged the state’s lethal injection procedures as unconstitutional. In a strange twist, the court agreed to hear his claims — a week after Mr. Warner had been executed.

Traditionally, the court postpones an execution once it has decided to hear an inmate’s case. Why did the court wait to accept the case until it was too late for Mr. Warner? Did it decide for some reason to depart from tradition? The court gave no explanation. Four justices dissented from the refusal to stay the execution, but the majority issued only a one-sentence order stating that the application for a stay had been denied.

Mr. Warner’s execution illustrates the high stakes in a crucial part of the court’s work that most people don’t know anything about: its orders docket.

The orders docket is intriguing. As mentioned, "[t]he orders docket includes ... which cases to hear, procedural matters in pending cases, and whether to grant a stay or injunction that pauses legal proceedings temporarily. There are no oral arguments in these cases and, as in Mr. Warner’s situation, they are often decided with no explanation. Despite their obscurity, these orders — there are thousands each year, if you count decisions not to hear cases — are significant. Consider the flurry of orders issued in the month before the 2014 election. The court stopped Wisconsin from implementing a strict voter identification law while it allowed a similar law to be implemented in Texas, and it also stopped lower courts from expanding early voting in Ohio or voter registration in North Carolina."

And Baude goes on to note the implications from the lack of transparency. "This lack of transparency has a practical impact. Because the court doesn’t issue opinions in these cases, lawyers don’t know what legal standards to apply when litigating the issue again in the future. These procedural issues also affect the lower courts, which are supposed to follow Supreme Court precedent. But because the lower-court judges don’t know why the Supreme Court does what it does, they sometimes divide sharply when forced to interpret the court’s nonpronouncements."

Baude offers a fairly simple recommendation to the Court. "What could the court do? First, it could provide more written explanations. It would not need to do so in every case. It could, however, briefly explain its decision when it either reversed a lower court decision, or when it proceeded in the face of a written dissent. In both cases, the presence of a thoughtful written opinion on the other side shows that the court’s decision is not so obvious as to go without saying. In many cases these explanations would take only a paragraph or two — but they would be a big improvement over our current, murky practices."

The story is fascinating on its own, but it also provides a wonderful example of a tenure-track professor using a major news outlet to expose his or her scholarship. You see, Professor Baude linked to a longer article on the topic that was published in January and uploaded to SSRN

This is a wonderful way for law professors to advertise their scholarship and reach a wider audience. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Helpful Sources For Teaching Legal Writing

Two sources that I find particularly helpful for teaching legal writing is the Citing Legally Blog and Perspectives Newsletter.

The Perspectives Newsletter generally comes out every spring and fall. It includes a variety of practical articles on teaching legal research & writing. This spring's newsletter contains the following articles:
  • No Shoehorn Required: How a Required, Three-Year, Persuasion-Based Legal Writing Program Easily Fits Within the Broader Law School Curriculum
  • The Art and Architecture of Paragraphs: Focus, Flow, and Emphasis
  • In the Mind’s Eye: Visual Lessons for Law Students
  • Helping International Students Avoid the Plagiarism Minefield: Suggestions from a Second Language Teacher and Writer
  • Shakespeare on CR(E)AC: Turning Reluctant First-Year Law Students Into Addicts
  • The “Shock and Awe” Approach to Legal Research: Helping Students to Understand Their Research Deficiencies so That They Are Better Prepared to Learn Legal Research
  • Training the Superstar Associate: Teaching Workplace Professionalism in Legal Writing Courses
  • Lights! Camera! Law School—Using Video Interviews to Enhance First-Semester Writing Assignments
  • When the ABA Comes Calling, Let’s Speak the Same Language of Assessment
  • Legal Writing in the Real World—Using Practitioners’ Briefs to Teach Advanced Legal Writing Strategies
  • A Tale of Two Outlines
  • An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Teaching Persuasive Writing Through a Settlement Offer Email Assignment
I am particularly interested in USC's "Shock and Awe" approach to teaching legal research. This may be another way to help fill the "knowledge in action gap" with law students.

The other source, the Citing Legal Blog, is focused on "occasional observations concerning the citation of legal authorities by lawyers and judges." Legal citation is so much a part of legal writing, and this blog offers really great content on the nuances of legal citation. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

NYPL's Information Sleuth

The NYTimes did a piece on the "New York Public Library’s virtual reference service, which has been known for decades as a call-in information line — now 917-ASK-NYPL — but which today also fields queries by chat, email and text."

The Times showcased library researcher, Matthew J. Boylan. "Mr. Boylan and the eight other full-time researchers sit in a network of cubicles in the library’s Main Branch at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and field about 300 requests a day."

As Mr. Boylan put it, "[i]n a certain sense, the work I do begins where the Internet ends. Certain things you can’t find with Google." In fact, "[t]he library system’s former president, Paul LeClerc, nicknamed him 'the Magician' for his ability to take on complicated questions and stumpers, and find answers in the library’s stacks, microfilm and other resources."

Boylan knows that he is well positioned. "I sit near millions of books and I have access to 650 databases above and beyond the open Internet." Which brings up a great point. There is a lot that is not available on the open Internet, and one way to access these resources conveniently is through a call to a local library.

Boylan goes on to note the sheer variety of questions that he encounters. And he reiterated the reason that many librarians love their jobs - because no two days are exactly the same, and it keeps things interesting. Through his work, Boylan has even had a chance to do great public service:
  • There was the 2010 call from a New York City police officer trying to rescue a suicidal teenage girl on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The officer had found the girl’s library token bearing a bar code number, with which Mr. Boylan was able to identity her and provide a family contact, helping the officer to save her. Mr. Boylan wound up writing a suicide response policy for the library system’s staff, which was followed by other libraries nationwide
  • There was the elderly rent-regulated tenant on West 87th Street who needed lease information within hours to avoid eviction. Mr. Boylan found it on microfilm and delivered it to her door
And like any great researcher, Boylan says that "[w]hen people tell me they don’t think I can find it, that’s a motivator." It's always a wonderful challenge and very satisfying to leave a patron happy.