Thursday, April 30, 2009
It is that time of year when rumors and reports of imminent retirements spread like wildfire, and speculation begins about how the Court will decide the remaining cases. What will the voting line up be? Who will author the majority opinion?
The Court generally issues opinions each Monday morning at 10 a.m. EST until end of the Term in late June. No one outside of the Chambers knows which cases will be decided on any given Monday, and the most controversial cases are often saved until the final days of the Term.
To keep abreast of breaking developments at the Supreme Court, check out the SCOTUSblog (SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States). With new postings every day, SCOTUSblog reports breaking news, provides analysis and commentary, and compiles statistics for the Term. The blog is maintained by lawyers in the Supreme Court practice group at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and features posts by veteran litigators, reporters, and law students in Stanford's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.
If you're interested in more information about a particular case, Akin Gump created a companion website, SCOTUSWiki, as a one-stop shop for information and briefs for each case. The Wiki is organized by Term, and then chronologically in the order in which the cases were argued.
-- Jackie Woodside
As reported on Robert Ambrogi's LawSites blog,
The iPhone edition includes more than 43,000 definitions and nearly 3,000 quotations from legal authorities spanning five centuries of jurisprudence. It features hyperlinked cross-references and audio pronunciations for some of the more difficult to pronounce terms.The developers talk about the product on YouTube.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Tips for all kinds of writing are in another guide, Word Tips to Make Your Life Easier.
This free program is intended to help law students gear up their legal research skills for their summer jobs. Sessions will cover the following topics:
- practice materials
- legislative history
- administrative law
The May 20th program will be held at the Seattle University School of Law and the June 24th session will take place here at Gates Hall.
Visit the Bridge the Gap website for more information and to register.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In this collection, you can find background data for studies such as:
- Andy J. Rottman; Christopher J. Fariss; Steven C. Poe, 2009, "The Path to Asylum in the US and the Determinants for Who gets in and Why"
- LoPucki, Lynn M.; Whitford, William C., 1998-12-10, "Patterns in the Bankruptcy Reorganization of Large, Publicly Held Companies, 1979-1988: [United States]"
- Abhijit Banerjee; Esther Duflo, 2006, "Reputation Effects and the Limits of Contracting: A Study of the Indian Software Industry"
- Hannaford-Agor, Paula L.; Hans, Valerie P.; Mott, Nicole L.; Munsterman, G. Thomas, 2003-10-30, "Evaluation of Hung Juries in Bronx County, New York, Los Angeles County, California, Maricopa County, Arizona, and Washington, DC, 2000-2001"
The journals are: Stanford Law Reviewl,l New York University Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, Northwestern Law Review, and University of Chicago Law Review.
Authors of articles that are forthcoming in the different law reviews write pieces -- dubbed Editorials -- making the arguments in their longer, more scholarly work. If a piece grabs you, the full article is just a click away.
Links also make it easy to email the pieces or share them on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can subscribe to the magazine in a feed reader or email.
An interesting development in the world of law reviews!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The public website, maintained by Thomson West, contains the text of all instructions, Notes on Use, and Comments. Users navigate through tables of contents for the Civil Jury Instructions (also found in volumes 6 and 6A of Washington Practice) and Criminal Jury Instructions (also found in volumes 11 and 11A of Washington Practice). Search is not available.
More information, including a link for subscribing to an email alert for revisions to the instructions, is found at the Court’s website.
Monday, April 20, 2009
There a tweet.
Everywhere a tweet tweet.
If you are new to Terra Twitter, visit this list of the Top 100 Twitter Feeds for Law Students.
Assembled by a blogger at Online Best Colleges.com, the list is organized by types of Tweeters:
- law students
- law firms
- law librarians, including Rita Kaiser from the King County Law Library
- law professors
- law schools
Crime Victims' Rights Week will be held from April 26 through May 2.
Sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime, the event promotes awareness of victims' rights issues. This year's theme is 25 Years of Rebuilding Lives.
The Office also hosts crimevictims.gov, a website that provides useful information such as:
- a searchable directory of crime victim services
- hotlines and other toll-free numbers
- help for victims by topic or population (e.g., campus crime, drunk driving, missing and exploited children, victims with disabilities)
Another OVC website -- victimlaw.info -- enables researchers to identify federal, state, and tribal laws and constitutional provisions by topic, term, jurisdiction, or citation.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I just read Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption and I'm very eager to hear the authors, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, when they speak tomorrow afternoon (UW School of Law, Gates Hall room 133, 4 p.m.).
The authors' friendship is improbable and compelling. In 1984 Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a stranger who broke into her apartment. She studied the man's face so she could describe him to the police. A tip based on the composite sketch led to Ronald Cotton, whom she identified in a lineup and in court. She was sure of her identification. But 11 years later, DNA testing confirmed his claim of innocence. Cotton was freed from prison.
When witnesses are given a choice of, say, six men, they will often pick the one who looks most like the person they saw commit the crime. Then that person's image becomes part of their memory. Because of this case, their town's police department changed its procedures for photo arrays and lineups. Now witnesses are shown pictures or suspects one at a time to reduce that effect.
This should be a great talk.
The library's copy of the book hasn't been processed yet but will be available soon. Update: Now it's ready! -- HV6568.B87 T56 2009 at Good Reads. (I wrote this update April 24, but it was ready days ago.)
The University Book Store will also be selling copies at the event.
Friday, April 17, 2009
1. Don’t be afraid (or too lazy) to use print materials for legal research—sometimes it will save you so much time. Many of you are probably tired of hearing this, but I swear it’s true. I admit, when I went to law school my laptop was my constant companion. Sure, I did print research when it was required of me. But most of the time I went directly to Westlaw for things. I still use Westlaw most of the time, but for certain tasks, print may be more efficient. Here are some examples:
- You are looking for general information on a common area of law.
Let’s say you are studying for a contracts test and need an overview of the topic. In this case, a print index is likely to have the terms you are looking for and a computer search is likely going to bring up too much information, because your search terms are probably commonly used and are going to create many hits
- You are researching a vague topic.
If you are looking for a vague topic, it may be easier to flip around in a print index for terms that might get you what you are looking for; often indexes will say something like “see also” to direct you to a different search term that might be applicable
- Your search term is ambiguous
If you want to look up something ambiguous (its meaning varies based on context), print is probably your best option; an internet search probably isn’t going to be able to do a context-specific search and you are going to get results for all the meanings. For example, a search for the term “consideration” is going to bring back topics related to the contracts terms, but also documents including “for your consideration.”
2. Use treatises and hornbooks when you don’t completely understand a topic—and DON’T BUY THEM! When I was in law school, I had this strange aversion to actually using physical copies of the reference materials, especially the treatises and hornbooks. I found them very useful, but I felt like the reference check out time was too short for me to get anything accomplished or that I was hogging them from other students if I sat in the library and used them every day for hours on end. So instead, I purchased them for all the major subjects! I justified it by telling myself that I would use them to study for the bar and in practice. Want to know how many times I cracked them after law school? That’s right—none! Quite honestly, I didn’t even use them that much in law school. As it turned out, all I could only stand to read them for about an hour at a time. I could have easily sat in the library and read them. And even if I wanted to sit there and read them for 6 hours on end, oh well—library materials are meant to be used! Now that work in a library, I see how completely ridiculous and unfounded my concerns were.
3. Use the library’s stash of past exams—they really are helpful. I didn’t start doing this until I was a 3L, and I sure wish I had started sooner. I found that a particular professors’ exams really didn’t change all that much from year to year, and if I took the time to sit down, issue spot, and write up a messy little answer, I ended up getting a great grade on the exam. Here, the library has a digital collection for you to use, so you can even use and print them from home.
Want more ideas of what the library can do for you? Ask one of the reference librarians—they are here to help you!
-- Rachel Turpin
Monday, April 13, 2009
- Enter one of our contests! Try to guess the number of candies in the box at the Circulation Desk and win them all! Complete a crossword puzzle focused on UWLS faculty scholarship and win a gift card to a local store.
- Enjoy candy in Student Lounge & Reference Office.
- Watch for interesting library factoids in your daily email.
- Check out the Banned Books display, just outside the library. Did you realize that I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, was one of the Top 10 Challenged books in 2007?
- Attend the National Library Week “Thank Goodness It's Friday" event on April 17th (3:30-5:30pm) in Room 115 – with library entertainment!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I cannot dissect the things that affected the evolution of my thinking in this case. Surely the environment in which I was working contributed in some way. Surely the assemblage of books in front of me played a part. My exchanges with my colleague contributed as well. I am sure of only one thing: no one sitting in an office alone pushing buttons and watching a computer screen could be in an environment as hospitable to legal research as I was that day.Of course, you can still come to the law library even if you aren't using books: I see plenty of students perched behind their laptops, and perhaps they sometimes share the sort of professional discussion about their research projects that Mr. Kramon did.
* * * The only notable thing about this story is that most lawyers who embarked upon their practices less than 10 or 15 years ago will never have such an experience. Computerized research has obviated the need for books and libraries. Although not intended to do so, it has also largely foreclosed serendipitous research discoveries and casual encounters with colleagues. Many of us have a storehouse of legal knowledge we acquired turning the pages of lawbooks and in banter with other lawyers. Sometimes turning pages you will pass by a case that relates to a matter for another client. Sometimes a case will catch your eye simply because it interests you. Even in the laborious process of Shepardization you may learn something by seeing how seminal opinions have radiated to other courts.
By the way, Kramon is not a starry-eyed romantic about books. He understands the great advantages online research can offer:
A single practitioner in the smallest town in North Dakota can now perform the same legal research as a lawyer in a large firm in Manhattan. Lawyers with computers are able to do legal research virtually anywhere at any time. Computerized research eliminates the cost of law books (which I can remember purchasing from a retiring federal judge), floor space and structural requirements of law libraries, the necessity for librarians and the inevitable delays installing supplements. I doubt if anyone will miss hearing people walking through the halls shouting things like, “Does anybody know where I can find 283 F.2d?”Thanks: Pamela Gregory.
Friday, April 10, 2009
- Venkat Balasubramani, the principal of Balasubramani Law and author of Spam Notes;
- Dan Harris, the founder of Harris & Moure and the coauthor of China Law Blog;
- and me, a reference librarian, author of Trial Ad (and other) Notes, and coauthor of Gallagher Blogs.
The lawyers at the meeting (and a couple who were participating via webcast) were really interested in how new media could help their practices. A blog is an easy and cheap way for a solo practitioner to develop a web presence and become known in the community.
Even easier are sites where you can post profiles, including Avvo and LinkedIn. There's no reason for a lawyer now not to have some information on the web so that colleagues and clients can find out more about him or her.
Curious about who else is blogging about law locally? See Law-Related Blogs in Washington State. Want to know more about blogs and blogging generally? See Blogs & RSS Feeds.
Venkat, Jill, and Dan all are on Twitter, which has been termed "microblogging," in addition to their blogs. For more on that, see Robert Ambrogi, Tweet 16: 16 Ways Lawyers Can Use Twitter, March 20, 2009 (orig. pub. Nov. 2008); Blake Boyd, How to Use Twitter as a Lawyer — 7 Ways to Use Twitter Part 5, Blog for Profit, Sept. 26, 2008.
Two new digest topics were created:
- Privileged Communications and Confidentiality "encompasses privilege issues arising in discovery and at trial and contains expanded classifications covering attorney-client privilege, physician-patient privilege, and executive privilege"
- Protection of Endangered Persons covers "restraining orders and other protection from domestic violence, harassment, and stalking; guardian ad litem appointments; agency investigations and liabilities; and criminal and civil liability"
- Disorderly Conduct
- Products Liability
Friday, April 3, 2009
- Career transitioning
- Job searching and networking
- Practice management
- Professional development
- Savings, insurance, and CLEs
- Stress management
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Thanks: Bonnie Shucha at WisBlawg.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The Washington State Oil Spill Advisory Council released a 300-plus page study, "Assessment of Capacity in Washington State to Respond to Large-scale Marine Oil Spills." The purpose of the study is
"to provide the citizens of Washington State with an assessment of the current marine oil spill response capacity available in Washington State. Specifically, the study sought to measure hether the oil spill response resources (equipment and personnel) available for a spill in ashington would be sufficient to effectively contain, clean up, and mitigate environmental impacts from an oil spill. The study uses several oil spill scenarios in order to assess response capacity for a range of spill volumes."