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Showing posts from February, 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 …

RIPS Post: Law Libraries Innovating Under Pressure

Check out my post over on the RIPS Law Librarian Blog discussing law libraries innovating under pressure.

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 …

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 transpare…

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

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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 wo…

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.

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 c…

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 t…

Digital Public Library Of America Strategic Plan

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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 20…

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 stu…

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 …

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…

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 libr…

GPO Goes From Government Printing To Government Publishing Office

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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.

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co…

Law Library Fellowship For JDs Seeking Library Degrees

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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 libr…

Title II & Net Neutrality

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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 ope…

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…

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 CurriculumThe Art and Architecture of Paragraphs: Focus, Flow, and EmphasisIn the Mind’s Eye: Visual Lessons for Law StudentsHelping International Students Avoid the Plagiarism Minefield: Suggestions from a Second Language Teacher and WriterShakespeare on CR(E)AC: Turning Reluctant First-Year Law Students Into AddictsThe “Shock and Awe” Approach to Legal Research: Helping Students to Understand Their Research Deficiencies so That They Are Better Prepared to Learn Legal ResearchTraining the Superstar Associate: Teachin…

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 abo…