Sunday, September 24, 2017

Celebrate #NationalPunctuationWeek with a Salute to the Octothorpe

National Punctuation Day, celebrated Sept. 24 each year, gives us a chance to have a little nerdy fun or to rant about our pet peeves. Maybe I should I say pet peeve's: making plurals of uncommon words with an apostrophe is one of mine. One of my favorite restaurants had Banana's Foster French Toast for years. Even if I wince at a menu, I can still love the restaurant.

So what the heck is an octothorpe? It's that eight-pointed symbol more commonly known as a number sign, pound sign (another pound sign is £), or hash mark.

The odd name was made up by someone in Bell Labs during the development of the Touch-Tone phone. Obviously, it hasn't caught on, because thousands of automated answering systems advise us to "press the pound key" or enter our PIN, "followed by the pound sign"—and even the most annoying phone tree doesn't mention an "octothorpe." For more on the history of this and other punctuation marks, see Keith Houston, The Ancient Roots of Punctuation, New Yorker (Sept. 6, 2013), or Houston's book, Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks (2013).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Announcing: West Academic Study Aids Online

At the end of a law student's quarter of law school, she might not know how to approach their exams. Students can't possibly expect to write everything that they learned in a three hour exam, so how do they pare their outlines down to the information that they need to know? How can a student figure out which of the cases that he has forgotten he needs to relearn? Of course, some students might have been too busy to do all of the reading for Contracts. How can they hope to catch up?

Any student would benefit from using a study aid to prepare for their exam for a number of reasons. Study aids are some of the most valuable tools that law libraries provide for law students. Experienced law students can tell you that they are so valuable that they can often be difficult to find around exam time. While many law libraries (including Gallagher Law Library) do what they can to keep paper copies of these resources available to students, they often go missing or are regularly checked out up until the moment the exam ends.

Gallagher Law Library has responded to this recurring issue by subscribing to West Academic Study Aids Online, which is now available to any University of Washington law student. You can reach the database through the library's home page, as shown to the right, or by searching for "study aids" in the Gallagher Catalog. The service provides students with online access to hundreds of the most popular study aids. These aids address a variety of different needs and are suited to a variety of learning styles. There's no one "right" way to learn the law, and exploring the variety of study aids available through this database is a great way to refine your own education process and make sure that you are getting the most out of your legal education.

While West Academic Study Aids Online contains many of the most popular study aids for law students, it does not contain all of the study guides that aspiring students might be interested in. Those wishing to test their knowledge might want to check out resources like Examples & Explanations or Questions & Answers from the library, or making use of the school's subscription to CALI Lessons. If you ever have trouble logging in to the resources at your disposal, need help finding a study aid or figuring out which one is right for you, you can always feel free to contact your reference librarian. The reference team looks forward to helping students find and use these tools in the upcoming year!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Path to Lawyer Well-Being

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being has just released its report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (Aug. 2017). It's important for all sectors of the legal community, so it includes recommendations for judges, regulators, employers, law schools, bar associations, and others. The recommendations for law schools (pp. 35-40) include a mention UW Law's peer support program. For more on wellness and local resources, see UW Law's wellness page.

For a tragic story of a successful lawyer who left "the path to lawyer well-being" and died an addict, see The Lawyer, the Addict, a long article by the lawyer's ex-wife, Eilene Zimmerman (New York Times Magazine, July 15).
Human beings are physically and emotionally complex, so there is no simple answer as to why Peter began abusing drugs. But as a picture of his struggle took shape before my eyes, so did another one: The further I probed, the more apparent it became that drug abuse among America’s lawyers is on the rise and deeply hidden.

Confederate Monuments and the Law

Civil War monuments have been in the news lately, so I thought I'd do some research.

One great (and free) starting point is SSRN, a site where scholars can post their papers and researchers can search them. I typed in civil war monument and found North Carolina's Heritage Protection Act: Cementing Confederate Monuments in North Carolina's Landscape, by Kasi Wahlers, posted Nov. 3, 2015. Here's the abstract:

Monday, August 14, 2017

The History and Law of Special Counsel

Robert Mueller
You may have heard about special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating any potential connection between President Donald Trump's election campaign and the Russian government. The public relationship between President Trump and Mueller has been strained, with President Trump
allegedly considering terminating Mueller as counsel. Meanwhile, Mueller has expanded the scope of the investigation beyond its initial parameters. With all of this news, one could be forgiven for not actually knowing what the special counsel does or what its relationship is with the President. This post will try to provide a bit of background on the position.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Law-Related Blogs in Washington State

Do you think lawyers only write motions, briefs, wills, and contracts? Think again: a lot of lawyers write blogs. Why? To share information, to express opinions, to establish their expertise, and to market their practices. Why read them? To learn about new developments in different fields and the lawyers who practice in those fields.

We have revamped our guide, Law-Related Blogs in Washington State. You'll find blogs on a wide variety of topics, from IP to DUI defense, from bankruptcy to international development.

Friday, June 9, 2017

UW Law Reads: Summer Reading Recommendations

Now that finals are over and summer is upon us, how about some summer reading recommendations from UW Law faculty and staff?

Since 2015, we have added to a research guide that contains book recommendations from the UW Law community. Whether you prefer literary fiction or memoirs, prize-winning nonfiction or escapist fantasies, or are just looking for some new recipes for summer picnics and parties, there's likely something that suits your tastes on our reading list.

A new display in the entrance to the law library features some of these faculty and staff recommendations.

law library display of reading recommendations from UW Law faculty and staff

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

De-stress with Art in the Library!

Need a quick and mentally stimulating study break?  Look no further than the walls and shelves around you!  You may have noticed some of the wonderful artwork displayed throughout the library and wondered where it came from. Much of it is part of a contemporary Native American Art collection put together by artist John Feodorov.  This helpful map can guide you as you wend your way through the stacks and carrels to view all the entire collection.  In addition, this page provides information about the artists who created the works and includes their comments on the pieces displayed.
"Skinwalker" by John Feodorov (2000).  On display behind the Gallagher Circulation desk.
As an added bonus, your art viewing session may help to decrease any built up finals-related stress. In a study completed by researchers at the University of Westminster, London city workers were asked to spend 35 minutes in an art gallery over their lunch hour.  The participants' levels of cortisol (the hormone linked to stress) and self-reported stress levels were measured both before and after their time in the gallery. The result?  Individuals who entered the gallery with high levels of stress experienced a reduction in cortisol that would normally occur over a five hour period.  Talk about a great use of your lunch break!

If you feel the lure of the sunshine and want to get your art fix out-of-doors, the University of Washington has a walking tour designed to help you explore the campus artwork on foot.

Happy viewing!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

No key card access to library tonight and early tomorrow morning

The card readers at the doors to the library are temporarily malfunctioning. Law students hoping to stay in the library after hours can stay, but will not be able to re-enter the building after leaving between 11:00 PM tonight and 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. Please talk to staff at the Circulation Desk if you have any questions.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Legal Challenges of Comic Book Movies

Super heroes have become a dominant force in American cinema, and the prevalence of super heroes has inspired studios to create movies that overlap with other movies to create “cinematic universes.” There is a lot of complexity attached to these cinematic universes that may escape the notice of the average moviegoer, and this post will try to draw attention to some of the complexities of the intellectual property law surrounding super heroes.

There are two major companies in charge of super hero comic book publication, Marvel and DC. DC owns the rights to heroes like Batman and Superman. It is also a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which means that the same company owns the film rights to these characters and does not have the same complicated legal structure as Marvel. Marvel, which is currently owned by Disney, owns the rights to characters like Spider-Man and The Avengers. Marvel and DC have always allowed their characters to appear in other books owned by the company. 

While the DC and Marvel shared universes were generally distinct from one another, crossovers were not unheard of. One character owned by both parties, Access, has the power to move between each company’s comic universe. Both companies own the rights to the character, and both have published stories featuring the character independent of the other company.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Shining a Light on Government

Although Sunshine Week has come and gone, open government, also known as government transparency, is a continuing issue.  Sunshine week is an initiative from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to celebrate, "access to public information and what it means to you and your community."  The focus is on freedom of information services, such as the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA").  FOIA requests are an important tool for citizens exercising their right to know what the government is doing, who they are doing it with, and why they've decided to take these actions.  

While FOIA is one mechanism for citizens to access information, there have been strides in recent years for government to facilitate the accessibility of government documents and data. The concept of open government and access to government documents was a key component of the Obama administration.  They published their first National Action plan in 2011.  The plans reflected President Obama's "commitment to an open and citizen-centered government."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Executive Order Download

President Trump's executive orders have made headlines and inspired lawsuits. But he's not the first use use executive orders. makes it easy to look at the last few administrations, with bulk downloads of executive orders from 1994 in different formats.

This table shows tallies of the number of executive orders per year since 1994:

So far, President Trump has issued 15 executive orders. President Obama issued 37 in his first year in office and President George W. Bush issued 51. Clinton, Bush, and Obama each issued just a handful (7, 3, and 7, respectively) in their last years in office. 

To learn more about executive orders, see the Useful Reference section of our Presidential Power guide.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Right to Carry: 30 States Allow Guns in Public Libraries

Under many states' laws, including Washington, public libraries (not affiliated with schools or private institutions) cannot restrict patrons who are carrying firearms from entering the premises.

For example, a recent Missouri law relaxing the regulation on concealed weapons in public spaces has affected the public libraries in the state. Missouri Senate Bill 656 eliminates the requirement to have a permit to carry a weapon in most public spaces, and public libraries are not listed among the exempted institutions. The Missouri State Legislature voted to override then Governor Nixon's veto of the bill on September 14, 2016 and the law went into effect on January 1, 2017. In response to a letter from a state representative, the public libraries in Columbia, MO changed the signs on their doors from "Carrying or possession of firearms or weapons prohibited" to "No person shall possess, on the library premises, a weapon of any kind, unless authorized by law" on February 17, 2017. A spokeswoman for the library said that, for the time being, the library would allow concealed weapons on the premises, but the library received complaints from patrons about the policy change and its attorney is reviewing the situation and would make a report to the board.

Missouri is not the only state to allow weapons, concealed or otherwise, in public libraries. In a 2012 decision, a state appellate court in Michigan held that a public library policy prohibiting weapons was in conflict with state law and the policy is therefore "preempted."

Diana Gleason of the University of Idaho College of Law Library conducted a study entitled "Can I Bring my Gun?" and found that you can likely bring your gun to public libraries in over 30 states. Her study is a 50 state survey of gun laws in which she created two charts: one with citations to statutes regarding (1) preemption of local government restrictions on guns, (2) open carry, and (3) concealed carry, and a second chart assigning point values to the restrictions (or lack thereof) and ranking states from most likely to least likely to uphold gun restrictions in libraries. The survey was last updated in 2015, so Missouri's new law is not included. As Gleason says, "Research on gun laws is a moving target, so to speak."

State surveys are a good way to compare and contrast state laws regarding a specific subject. Westlaw and Lexis both offer 50 State Survey tools; both services have them available with their secondary sources/materials. Gallagher's own Cheryl Nyberg is an author of the "Subject Compilation of State Laws," available in print in the reference area or through HeinOnline.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keyboard Designed for Lawyers

On January 5, Brian Potts debuted a new $65 "legal keyboard" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As a partner at Foley & Lardner, Potts encountered the familiar frustration of having to use the symbol browser to insert the section (§) symbol. Security software on the firm's computers prevented Potts from saving shortcuts in Word, so he set about designing a keyboard specifically for lawyers.

Some of the features include (all available with a keystroke):

  • Insert section, paragraph, and copyright symbols
  • Insert words: Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court, id., see, e.g., U.S., F.3d, F.2d, F.Supp, U.S.C., C.F.R., plaintiff, defendant, appellant, and respondent
  • Switch between large and small caps
  • Insert a footnote or comment
  • Spacing: single, 1.5, and double spacing
  • Bullets

For more see: Robert Ambrogi, Debuting Tomorrow: A Keyboard Designed Just for Lawyers, and a video of unboxing and using the board.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Keeping up with Washington v. Trump

Washington State's case challenging President Trump's executive order banning travel by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries is moving fast. If you'd like to catch up and read some of the news coverage and court documents, see the Washington v. Trump page in our Presidential Power guide.

Friday, February 3, 2017

ACLU Papers Now Available Online

With the ACLU in the news recently and likely for the foreseeable future, you might be interested to learn more about the organization's history. 

Papers from the collection of the American Civil Liberties Union are now available to researchers through a database provided by GaleCengage. American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990 [UW Restricted], a collection of clippings, client and member correspondence, case files, legal briefs, and administrative documents, will be interesting to law students who want to dig deeper into the history of some of the most-studied constitutional law cases of the 20th century.

main page of the ACLU database

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Old News! Female Clerks in Treasury!

The Library of Congress jointly sponsors a historic newspaper database. Get your old news for the years 1789 through 1924. Free.

(Washington Territory)

Describing the general public's first impression of events adds another dimension to legal scholarship. Newspapers give context to events like reluctant progress in women's employment rights. Newspaper accounts also help complete the picture of the fourth branch of government's influence.

Available in old news: summaries of major historic cases, accounts of historic elections, reports of speeches from important figures, interpretations of economic developments, enthusiasm for then-new inventions. There are 318,605 results for pages published in Washington state.

This database has advanced search options: proximity terms, phrase searching, and Boolean logic. A researcher can limit by year or date range (m/d/y – m/d/y). Other limiters include publication location, newspaper title, and front page only/specific page.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Preventing Nepotism in the Federal Civil Service

A June 2016 report by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board dealt with a very timely topic.
Preventing Nepotism in the Federal Civil Service deals with criminal laws prohibiting nepotism in titles 5 and 18 of the U.S. Code, specifically:

The report analyzes these statutes and discusses significant cases under these laws.

For more information on how these laws might affect the incoming administration, here are just a few items from the Internet:

And for a historical take, see Presidential Nepotism Debate Goes Back to the Founders' Time, National Constitution Center Blog, Nov. 21, 2016

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Presidential Power: Timely Course and Guide

Seal of the President of the United States
When Professors Kathryn Watts and Sanne Knudsen announced a new law school course on presidential power for this quarter, the course quickly filled. But the interest wasn't restricted to law students: faculty and students from other UW departments, alumni, and community members were also eager to learn about the law of presidential power.

Professors Knudsen and Watts couldn't let everyone into the class, but they could ask the library to help them share their reading list. Our new Presidential Power guide opens up their course readings to anyone who's interested, along with a few additional resources that will be useful to people studying the topic.

Graphic: Presidential Seal from Wikipedia

Monday, January 9, 2017

More for the Minimum

Although we are in the doldrums of winter, Washington workers can expect a little more silver lining their pockets this year. Washington's new minimum wage law went into effect on January 1, 2017, raising wages from $9.47 to $11.00. This increase was a result of Initiative 1433 which passed with over 57% of the vote in November. The law provides for a gradual increase to $13.50 by 2021, then there will be a yearly cost of living adjustment based on the National Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Minimum Wage Word Cloud

The City of Seattle guarantees even higher wages for workers. Minimum wage for Seattle is based primarily on two factors: size of the company and whether the employer pays towards medical benefits. For example, a worker at a company with over 500 employees where the employer does not contribute $2 towards medical benefits will earn $15/hr in 2017. This is one of the highest minimum wages in the country; but is it enough? Many argue it's not even close, while others predict dire consequences with high minimum wages. How did we get here and has anything changed in the last 80 years since the first minimum wage?

Social Justice Organizations; Campus Speech Discussion

Tomorrow afternoon Prof. Ron Collins is hosting Speech and Counter Speech: Rights & Responsibilities. Sponsored by the UW's Race & Equity Initiative, the discussion will feature Nadine Strossen, a professor from New York Law School and long-time president of the ACLU, and Michele Storms, assistant director of the ACLU of Washington, formerly assistant dean here at UW Law.

To complement the program, Prof. Collins asked the library to compile a selected list of local social justice organizations. Some of the organizations, like the ACLU of Washington, Legal Voice, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, use the tools of the law to further their missions. Others are more grassroots. We hope the list will be useful to the campus community.
Speech & Counter Speech: Rights & Responsibilities
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, 4-6 pm
Light refreshments 4-4:30
Program 4:30-6
wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prof. Ziff Reflects on The Bluebook

cartoon of the Bluebook as a monsterMaybe you're a little scared of The Bluebook. Nothing to be ashamed of: lots of people are.

But you can conquer your fear. One step toward that might be understanding it better. To that end, check out David Ziff's thoughtful (and entertaining!) review essay, The Worst System of Citation Except for All the Others, forthcoming in the Journal of Legal Education. 

One of the authors of The Complete Legal Writer blog gave Prof. Ziff's review a big thumbs up yesterday. She also insightfully observed:
I’d argue that the hardest part of learning legal citation is not mastering The Bluebook, not learning the italics and the abbreviations and the periods. Rather, it’s learning the judgment required to know what to cite, and when, and for what purpose. After all, as a system of communication that is built upon precedent, legal writing in the Anglo-American legal system depends on citation in ways that other fields do not and never will. Citation is integral to how our meaning gets made.
Amen to that. Sure, you need to figure out the rules for citing law review articles, treatises, cases, and the rest. But that's just a matter of looking up the rules and following examples. The harder task if figuring out when to cite a law review article, a treatise, or a case.

For some help with The Bluebook, check out our guide, Bluebook 101.

Graphic by Mary Whisner

Law Professors & Other Law School Folks Meet in SF

The Association of American Law Schools is the professional association for law teachers and administrators. It's been around a long time: next week (Jan. 3-7) it hold its 111th annual meeting, in San Francisco, led by this year's president, Dean Kellye Y. Testy of UW Law.

UW Law activities at the meeting include:

  • Helen A. Anderson, William S. Bailey, Benjamin S. Halasz, and Kathleen McGinnis will speak on experiential learning in legal writing programs.
  • Jennifer S. Fan will speak on corporate venture capital; Prof. Fan is also participating in a discussion on why transactional law matters.
  • Anita K. Krug is the chair-elect of the Section on Securities Regulation. 
  • Aline Carton Listfjeld and Hugh Spitzer will participate in a discussion on leadership in the law school curriculum.
  • Emily McReynolds will speak on a panel about using technology to increase access to justice and law school engagement. Michele Storms, now at the ACLU of Washington, will moderate that panel; she's finishing up her term as chair-elect of the Section on Pro-Bono and Public Service Opportunities. 
  • Peter Nicolas will speak on LGBT legal issues after Obergefell.
  • Dean Testy is all over the meeting in her role as president. She's also speaking on a panel on the future of corporate governance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Indian Fishing in the Northwest

Some members of the Yakama Nation still fish for salmon using traditional 30-foot-long dip nets at Lyle Falls in the Columbia River Gorge (KUOW, Dec. 16, 2016).  To learn more about that history, check out a book coauthored by Prof. Bill Rodgers that chronicles the legal battles around the centuries-old Indian fishery at Celilo Falls, lost when a dam destroyed the waterfall:

book jacket - The Si'lailo Way
The Si'lailo Way: Indians, Salmon and Law on the Columbia River, by Joseph C. Dupris, Kathleen S. Hill &William H. Rodgers Jr.  See publisher's page.

For more on fishing controversies in the Northwest, see:

Messages from Frank's Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way, by Charles F. Wilkinson (2000)

Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr. , by Trova Heffernan (2012)

Empty Nets: Indians, Dams, and the Columbia River, by Roberta Ulrich (1999) The nature of borders : salmon, boundaries, and bandits on the Salish Sea, by Lissa K. Wadewitz (2012)

You can also stream a documentary through UW Libraries subscriptions: River People: Behind the Case of David Sohappy (1991)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Interim and Holiday Library Hours

Fall Quarter ends today, December 16. Winter Quarter begins Tuesday, January 3. 

The library is on interim hours between now and January 3. This means that the library will be closed on the weekends and Monday, and open 8-5 Tuesday to Friday.

Please visit our hours page for more information.