Thursday, October 18, 2018

Compare Statute Versions with Westlaw Edge

Sometimes it's hard to get a handle on what changes have been made to statutes over time. You can look at the credits at the end to see the citations to amending statutes—but what's the difference between today's statute and the statute that was in effect two, three, or ten years ago?

Westlaw Edge has a new feature that helps us sort out the changes.Suppose you're looking at 26 U.S.C.A. § 164, the part of the Internal Revenue Code that allows taxpayers to deduct some state and local taxes from their federal tax bill. You can see in the credits at the end that the section dates from 1954 and has been amended a couple of dozen times.

Credits for 26 U.S.C.A. § 164

It might take a lot of plodding to figure out the differences between any two versions.

But now there's the Compare Versions feature!

Screen snip showing  Compare Versions button

If you click on the Compare Versions button, you'll get a "redline" version showing what has changed since the last version—in this case the version that was effective between Dec. 18, 2015, and December 21, 2017.

Screen snip showing new subsection, 26 U.S.C.A. § 164 (b)(6)

It leaps out at you that § 164(b) has a new subsection, 164(b)(6), putting a lid on the amount that a taxpayer can deduct for state and local taxes.

That's pretty handy. But what if you wanted to look at older changes?

At the top of the screen, click on History, then Versions. Westlaw has 12 versions of this code section, going back to 1996. You can choose any two of the versions to compare

Screen snip showing "Add to compare" button for 1996 version of 26 U.S.C.A. § 164

If you paste a comparison into Word, you'll find that it's just like Word's compare documents feature. You can omit the redlining by choosing Simple Markup and see it again by choosing All Markup (in the Review tab of Word's ribbon).

Try out this new feature. It's handy!

By the way, all law students in the country will have access to this new feature in Westlaw Edge. We are one of the law schools that got the new features in September.

Library now closing at 4:30 on Friday

The library will now be closing at 4:30 on Fridays. Please remember that this now means that the circulation desk will also be closing at 4:15, and the Reference Office will be closing at 4:00. This change will be going into effect immediately.

The Friday before exam week, December 7, we will remain open until 6.

All other hours remain unchanged. Thank you for your understanding.

Reference Office
Monday - Thursday
8am – 8pm
9am – 5pm
8am – 4:30pm
9am – 4pm
11am – 6pm

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Library Closing at 3:00 on Friday

Due to staffing issues, the law library is closing 3 hours early on Friday, Oct. 12th. The library will close at 3:00 pm on that day.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Library Closing at 4:00 on Friday

Due to staffing issues, the law library is closing 2 hours early on Friday, September 28. The library will close at 4:00 pm on that day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Researching Lawyers & Legal Employers

You've heard that informational interviewing can be really helpful as you try to figure out your career. You're willing, but how do you find someone to talk to? Try some of the tips in Researching Lawyers & Legal Employers.

You have an interview with a lawyer you don't know anything about. How can you prepare? Try some of the techniques in Researching Lawyers & Legal Employers

You want to find medium-sized firms in Denver or public defender offices in California. Where do you look? Try some of the sources in Researching Lawyers & Legal Employers

We have a new guide, Researching Lawyers & Legal Employers. We hope that it's helpful for you. Give it a try!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Library Closed 9/3/18

The Library will be closed on Monday, September 3rd for Labor day. We will reopen again on Tuesday at 8:00 am.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What's Front-Page News?

Newspaper editors don't always select the same stories to highlight. One editor might judge an event to be less significant than another does, or they may choose stories that are important locally but not nationally.

This morning a friend posted on Facebook that his local paper did not put Michael Cohen's plea and Paul Manafort's convictions above the fold on the front page. That inspired me to visit the Newseum's cool collection of today's front pages. You can browse hundreds of papers. 

Compare the treatment in Columbia, SC, in The Post and Courier, which puts Cohen's plea in a small story in the bottom corner: 

front page Post and Courier Aug 22 2018

with that in The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), which has a banner headline:

excerpt of front page Times-Picayune Aug 22 2018

or the Arizona Republic (Phoenix), with a big headline, photos, and analysis of the possible impact of the two cases::

excerpt from Ariz Republic front page Aug 22 2018

In The Birmingham News, the Cohen case didn't make the front page at all:

front page Birmingham News Aug 22 2018

By the way, I copied the images from the front pages here (rather than simply linking) because the links will lead to tomorrow's front page tomorrow and the next day's the next day. The Newseum provides access to an archive of selected front pages "from events that are considered of historical significance and fit its educational mission." A free registration is needed to view them. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Visualizing "Lines" of Cases: the SCOTUS Mapping Project

Are you a visual learner? Are you fascinated with the myriad tangled ways in which cases fit together to form the complex legal doctrines associated w/topics like "reasonable expectation of privacy" or "clear and present danger"?

If so, you should definitely check out Baltimore Law's SCOTUS Mapping Project.

These maps can help law students navigate the salty seas of Supreme Court jurisprudence by plotting the relationships between cases, making the different "lines" of cases quite literal. A quick look at the "clear and present danger" map should give you an idea of how it works:

Chart showing the evolution of Clear and Present Danger by connecting SCOTUS cases elaborating that doctrine into three branching "lines."

The project has a library with plenty of useful maps on a wide variety of important doctrines and subjects, including a detailed "atlas" for charting the tortuous strains of the 4th Amendment.

Plus, if you fancy yourself a constitutional cartographer, the mapping tool is available online.

Check out our libguides on related topics like constitutional research and legal resources for the public.

Corpus Linguistics and Legal Research

When it comes to constitutional interpretation, it's safe to say that Originalism is a pretty big deal. But until recently, it was frustratingly difficult to approach original meaning from an empirical angle with any degree of real precision.

Enter Corpus Linguistics. This cool tool helps to resolve the tricky evidentiary problems (Yale L.J.F.) that attend to discerning what scholars like to call original public meaning: that is, the meaning that the Constitution (or even a regular old statute) would have had to ordinary folks readings a document of its type at the time it was adopted/enacted.

So, what is a corpus? Simply put, corpora are searchable bodies of text used to determine meaning through language usage. For legal research, we are most interested in corpora that are large (consisting of tens of millions of words) and historical (providing a linguistic "snapshot" of a certain time period).

For legal research, the corpus collection at BYU Law is the gold standard, especially the Corpus of Founding Era American English ("COFEA"). The BYU corpora are also designed by linguists, so they incorporate a balance of texts from different genres and offer a slew of analytical tools to aid your research.

This is cutting edge stuff. You might have read this WaPo op-ed using COFEA to shed some light on the OPM of "bear arms." In a similar vein, the LAWnLinguistics blog has a great series on "Corpora and the Second Amendment." There are also signs that corpus linguistics is becoming a valuable tool for litigants and courts: check out this 2015 decision used corpus linguistics to find the original meaning of a Utah statute. And for those who want to take a deeper dive, law profs are working together to write some excellent scholarship.

For more on a few related topics, check out Gallagher's libguides on constitutional research, legal dictionaries, and stats for law & policy.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Law360 For Legal News!

For current awareness, it is important to keep up with news-related changes in the law. Law360, a LexisNexis company, is a subscription-based news service that can help there. It is listed in Selected Databases on the library’s homepage. The articles provide insights into various subject areas such as intellectual property law and Native American law. One of its main features provides users an opportunity to search by topic using the Advanced Search tool. Through this tool, one can search by topic using the standard search operators such as AND, OR, or NOT along with other search fields. For instance, if one wants to learn more about Uber or Lyft and the gig economy, one can perform the following search:

1. Go to Law360 Advanced Search (UW Restricted) (in Gates Hall only).

2. Construct the search as follows: (Uber or Lyft) AND "gig economy" into the search box.

3. Examine the results.

For more information or helpful tips on this tool, visit the Law360 Advanced Search Guide. For more information on staying up to date with new legal developments, make sure to check out the law library research guide on staying current.

(Law360 is only available in Gates Hall. You can get some content via Lexis. 8/3/18)

Friday, June 8, 2018

"We Were Best Buddies"

With the bar exam a looming specter a few months away you may be thinking of going into a deep dark hole until after the Bar. Don't. Your friends can be a tremendous fountain of strength and support. The friendship between Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia illustrates a deep and supportive friendship. 

Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Dey Street Books

The Justices often spent time with each other outside the court room. Ginsburg and Scalia often spent New Year's Eve with their spouses. Upon Justice Scalia's death, Justice Ginsburg told reporters that "We were best buddies." The Justices shared a love of Opera, even serving as extras in a party scene of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” in 2009.

So remember to take a little time out of each day to enjoy the passions that make life enjoyable.  For more tips on maintaining wellness during bar prep, checkout Gallagher's LibGuide on Wellness.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Library Summer Hours 2018

The law library summer schedule will start on June 13th, this will continue through August 20th. 

Sunday June 10th - 12th Interim:
The library is closed on Sunday June 10th to Tuesday June 12th for Interim. 

Summer Quarter Schedule (June 13-Aug. 20):
Mon: Library open 8am to 8pm; Reference open 9am-12pm, 1pm-3pm
Tus-Fri: Library open 8am to 5pm; Reference open 9am-12pm, 1pm-3pm
Sat-Sun: Library is closed

July 4th Holiday:
The library is closed on Wednesday, July 4.

August 20th Interim:
The library is closed on Monday, August 20th for the first day of interim.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Congratulations, UW Law Grads!

From all of us at the Gallagher Law Library, CONGRATULATIONS to the UW Law Class of 2018! We wish you the best of luck with the bar exam and beyond!

Please know that graduating law students retain overnight access to the law library throughout bar prep. We'd be happy to see you-- even if you're a little stressed!

Don't forget to also check out our new guide on WA state bar exam preparation, which provides a number of informational (and stress-reducing) bar-related resources.

Finally, make sure to bookmark the UW Law Alumni page to remain up to date on all the latest in UW Law alumni news, events, reunions, and more. 

CONGRATULATIONS again to the UW Law Class of 2018!

Prune Your URLs: Snip the UTM Codes

Lots of websites put “UTM” codes in their URLs to help them figure out where their site traffic is coming from. (See UTM Parameters in Wikipedia. If you're a web developer, you can find many sites offering tips on using UTM codes.)

For example, I get email updates from the National Academies Press. If I click through on an interesting title (“The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States”), the URL that appears in my address bar is: 

From that, the web managers can tell that their email marketing is doing its job because I went to their website from the email alert.

But if I want to tell you about this publication, do you need to know all that? No! I can snip off everything before the ? and get to the same place: 

Let’s try it again. I also get email alerts from the Brookings Institution. I click on an interesting story title (“No, Dodd-Frank was neither repealed nor gutted. Here’s what really happened.”). The URL in the address bar is: 

The Brookings web managers can tell that I used their email. But if I want to cite this story, I just use the part before the ?: 
 Isn’t that better?

Friday, May 25, 2018

In Praise of Using Facts

image from Critical Merchandise
We in the library biz tend to like the idea of seeking out reliable sources and basing decisions on what we find. But we aren't the only ones.

You can even find T-shirts to show your support, with captions like "Facts and Evidence: They're Gr-r-eat!" or "Demand Evidence and Think Critically."

The Pew Research Center and the RAND Corporation—two non-partisan institutions many people trust for gathering and analyzing facts—are looking at American society's changing attitudes toward facts.

RAND calls it Truth Decay, "the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life." You can download a report (326 pages!), Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life (2018) to dig deep or you can explore the website for commentary and videos, Truth Decay and the Spirit of the Law, which was originally in the Daily Journal (California).

Pew's project is called Trust, Facts and Democracy It includes lots of interesting reports on Pew's public opinion research.

See also Facts Matter, from the Urban Institute.
image from Tee Shirt Palace

If you're as fascinated as I am, here are some books for your summer reading:

Jennifer L. Hochschild, Do Facts Matter? Information and Misinformation in American Politics (2015)

Dave Levitan, Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science (2017)

Daniel Levitin, Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era (2017)

Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters (2017)

And if you'd like some data for your area of interest, check out our guide, Statistics for Law & Policy.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Are you still frustrated with the Bluebook?

Are you still frustrated with the Bluebook? Do you find yourself wondering what all those abbreviations mean and where they go?

GOOD NEWS! LexisNexis has a resource that can help.

LexisNexis Interactive Workstation Homepage

LexisNexis Interactive Citation Workstation provides over 250 citation problems on the fundamentals of BlueBook citations. These questions will help you hone your Bluebook skills. This exercise set covers everything from case names to those perplexing signals. There is even a section on Law Review Citations. 

To access the LexisNexis Interactive Citation Workstation click on the window icon at the top left of the Lexis Advance Home Page.  This will display a box of several of LexisNexis' modules, including the Interactive Citation Workstation.

LexisNexis Interactive Workstation Icon

The Washington Style Sheet also gets a shout-out in the Washington specific exercises. You can get a free copy of the LexisNexis' version of the Style Sheet from the Lexis Nexis Store.

For more tip and tricks see our Bluebook 101 research guide.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Happy Law Day 2018!

Image from the American Bar Association

Happy Law Day 2018 from the Gallagher Law Library!

Per the American Bar Association, Law Day is held on May 1st every year to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession.

This year's Law Day theme is "Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom."

You can learn more about Law Day and this year's theme on the American Bar Association's Law Day 2018 page.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Free Law!

Logos for the Library of Congress and the Law Library of Congress
Image from
The Digital Projects of the Law Library webpage created and maintained by the Library of Congress is an exciting source for free legal information. If you find yourself without a Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg Law login, this website will be your best friend.

We want to give special recognition to Jennifer Gonzalez, Legal Information Specialist at the Law Library of Congress and graduate of the UW's Law Librarianship program! She has been responsible for much of the digitization and management work behind this incredibly ambitious project.

Image of the United States Reports books in the Gallagher Law Library
Photo by Danielle Lewis
Already available!

Image of the Arraignment document of Captain William Kidd
Image from The Law Library of Congress
For History Buffs!

Coming Soon!
  • Code of Federal Regulations: one of their ongoing projects. The Code of Federal Regulations  1938-1995 will be available online sometime in 2018.
  • Hispanic Legal Documents (15th-18th Centuries): one of their future projects.
  • National Transportation Safety Board Orders: another one of their future projects.

For more ideas on how to stay up to date on legal information and how to research legal topics for free online see our guides on Free Law Online and Staying Current.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This Sunday 4/8 - The library will be closing at 5 pm

Due to a law school event the library will be closing one hour early at 5 pm on Sunday 4/8.

This closure includes law students.

Thank you for your understanding and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Enjoy Sunshine Week—Literally and Figuratively

Sunshine Week celebrates—and advocates for—the public's access to government information.
Sunshine Week logo - "Your Right to Know"

Established by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, its marked by lots of organizations, from the National Archives to Open the Government.

In an editorial lauding access to information, the Seattle Times links to investigative stories that were made possible by access to government information. Sunshine Week: Government Records Belong to the Public, Seattle Times (March 12, 2018).

Sunshine Week can include not just celebrations of access but demands for more access. For instance, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John Sarbanes, Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, released a new “Sunshine Week” video, The Trump Administration's Unprecedented Cloud of Secrecy, March 13. Rep. Cummings also issued a fact sheet, Shining a Light on Secrecy in the Trump Administration. Joe Davidson, a Washington Post columnist, also averred Sunshine Week brings Trump’s information darkness to light (March 13).  (The Trump administration is not unique in being subjected to criticism during Sunshine Week. See, e.g., Josh Hicks, Sunshine Week: Transparency issues persist with Obama administration, Wash. Post (March 17, 2014).)

So much for the metaphorical sense of "sunshine."

Those of you who have had your heads down, powering through finals, might not have noticed that we have had literally had sunshine this week. It's pretty nice. And the cherry trees on the Quad are coming into bloom.

Now that you've reached Spring Break, take the opportunity to go outside and enjoy the sunshine! Or, as might come up, according to, Mostly Sunny, Mostly Cloudy, Partly Cloudy, Mostly Sunny, and Showers, . . .

cherry blossoms, UW quad

cherry trees & pedestrians UW quad

Photos by Mary Whisner

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day, Private Investigators!

Today (3.14) is affectionately known as Pi Day because the date is the same as the first digits of π.

Two years ago, we marked the occasion by offering some information about PI (personal injury) practice. Today, we look at another PI: private investigators.
drawing from Sherlock Holmes story

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys probably didn't get licensed, but maybe they should have. In Washington, licensing PIs is handled by (who else?) the Washington State Department of Licensing, which also licenses for professions as diverse as professional boxers, cosmetologists, and scrap metal recyclers.

There are separate licenses for PI agencies, unarmed PIs, armed PIs, and certified trainers for aspiring PIs. An exam covers Washington State laws (e.g., on surveillance and criminal law), federal laws (e.g., FOIA and the federal Privacy Act), court systems, and legal procedures and definitions. Applicants have to undergo a minimum of four hours of training. WAC 308-17-300.

And just like the PIs in some of the books and movies, licensed private investigators are supposed to carry their license cards whenever they are "performing the duties of a private investigator" and show it upon request. RCW 18.165.080.

Graphic: "He looked round him in surprise," drawing from Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, Strand Mag., April 1902, at 243, 252, available on Google Books

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

This Thursday--3/15, Library Closing at Noon

Due to a staffing emergency, the law library is closing to the public at 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 15.

The library Circulation Desk will still be staffed for UW Law students, faculty, and staff.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to visitors.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

HeinOnline's Women and the Law Collection

In honor of International Women's Day, I went browsing in HeinOnline's Women and the Law Collection.  Subtitled Peggy, honoring the mother of one of the developers, this collection has a rich variety of documents, from nineteenth-century suffrage tracts to recent law review articles.

Illustration from Abby Smith and Her Cows

Under "Legal Rights & Suffrage," I came across Abby Smith and Her Cows, with a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law, a tract published by Julia Smith in 1877. Abby and Julia were sisters who inherited a farm in Glastonbury, Connecticut, from their father. After paying taxes for some time, they began to ask why they had no say in the government that assessed the taxes and sent the tax collector. The sisters launched a tax protest which led to extensive attention in the papers and three court proceedings. I just skimmed it so can't relate the details, but it offers an interesting peek into life and law.

If you taste runs to the more recent developments, consider

Jessica Watters, Comment, Pink Hats and Black Fists: The Role of Women in the Black Lives Matter Movement, 24 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 199 (2017)


Christian Jordan, Note, The Casting Couch Is More Than Tortious: The Case for Expanded Interpretations of Rape Statutes, 13 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women's Studies 199 (2004)

. . . or search for any topic you want. It's an amazing collection!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Grumpy Cat Goes to Court

In case you have not yet heard, Grumpy Cat, won a copyright case!
picture of the cat named Tardar Sauce also known as Grumpy Cat
Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat
Image from

Grumpy Cat started as an internet meme and has grown into a money maker. The Grumpy Cat shop has puzzles, t-shirts, mugs, even a Little Golden Book. According to the complaint, Grumpy Cat has "starred in her own Lifetime Television Christmas movie. . . ."

Grumpy Cat Limited v. Grenade Beverage LLC was filed in Federal District Court in the Central District of California in 2015. The case revolved around a dispute over the use of the "Grumpy Cat" brand by Grenade Beverage LLC, and this week, the jury found for Grumpy Cat.

The complaint itself is worth reading. It alleges, "Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants' despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about."

Law students: This case is not over! The counterclaims will continue to be litigated. If you are interested in reading more about the case and stretching your legal research legs at the same time, look up the docket information with docket number 8:15-cv-02063-DOC-DFM. The commercial contracts of Westlaw and Lexis some have docket information, but for law students Bloomberg Law is the way to go.

Interested in Copyright Law? Check out these guides: Copyright Law: Primary Sources and Copyright Law: Secondary Sources.

Need more legal fun in your life? Check out our Judicial Humor Guide!

Want to know more about how to track and access docket information? Check out these guides: Staying Current and Judicial Branch Publications: Briefs, Oral Arguments & Dockets.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Diversity and the Law - Guide to Related Readings

UW School of Law is wrapping up Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Week, but the conversation doesn't end at the close of the week's programming. If you are interested in learning more about diversity and the law, check out the Gallagher Law Library's guide to Diversity Readings Related to 1L Courses. This guide provides information with links to books and articles that discuss the intersection of diversity with some of the most foundational legal subjects, including Contracts, Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, and more!