Friday, May 29, 2009

New Blog on the Business & Practice of Law

Legal Current is the name of a new blog from the folks at Thomson Reuters (owners of West Publishing and Westlaw). This blog replaces WestBlog.

Currently the blog features a video describing the process of adding a U.S. Supreme Court case to Westlaw, complete with headnotes and Key Numbers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor Resources


The Law Library of Congress has collected information and material by and about President Obama's first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The website includes a bibliography of Judge Sotomayor's articles and her original confirmation hearings, as well as links to sites that provide additional information.

Monday, May 25, 2009

URL shortening services

Do you ever wish you could make a long, complicated URL more manageable? You can, using services like tinyurl.com.

This post -- Wikinomics» Blog Archive » Are URL shortening services wrecking the web?, May 19, 2009 -- lists several services, while wondering about the potential hazards of having a lot of URLs depend on the kindness of strangers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lexis and Westlaw Access for Students in the Summer

In this week’s UWLS Crier, you will find an article titled “Summer Access to LexisNexis and Westlaw”. In the article we wanted to remind law students that the password(s) you were issued at the UW School of Law are for academic use only. However, students engaged in certain activities can continue to access LexisNexis & Westlaw this summer. (Be sure to sign up by June 30 to ensure uninterrupted access.)

*** UWLS students are eligible for summer access to LexisNexis & Westlaw if you will be:
· enrolled in a law school summer class
· conducting research that is related to moot court or law review
· working as a UWLS professor’s research assistant
· EARNING SCHOOL CREDIT by working in an unpaid non-profit/public interest internship/externship or pro bono work
· studying for any July bar exam

We are sending this note to clarify that students doing pro bono work (volunteer /not paid) this summer can only use your Lexis or Westlaw passwords if you are receiving Law School credit specifically for that pro bono work. For information on other databases available for your use during summer employment see, http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/lowcostcalr.html or http://lib.law.washington.edu/research/research.html or contact the Reference Office (lawrefst@u.washington.edu).

If you are graduating from UWLS in Spring 2009, LexisNexis is offering a special program for you called ASPIRE “Associates Serving Public Interest Research”, which provides complimentary LexisNexis access to all law 2009 law school graduates pursuing verifiable public service (non-profitable or charitable) work for one year. For information on how to sign-up for this, see this UWLS Career Planning blog entry, http://uwlawcareerplanning.blogspot.com/2009/05/lexisnexis-service-free-for-2009.html.

A Fairly Short History of the U.S. Code

Recently, I was asked to find an earlier version of the U.S. Code in order to find some specific language. This instance dealt with an Act that was passed in 1912, and I was looking for the language as it appeared in the U.S. Code.

Checking the Gallagher catalog, I found that we had the official version of the code back to 1940. This would not do. I then checked the Hein Online database containing pdf copies of the official code. According to Hein Online, the earliest version of the U.S. Code was a 1925-1926 edition. I assumed that there must be an earlier edition of the code that just was not digitized yet.
Then I noticed two editions of something called the Revised Statutes of the United States, listed under “Earlier Codification of Federal Law.” The perplexing part was that these were dated 1875 and 1878. This forced me to wonder where I would find the missing codifications of federal law that fall into the almost 50 year gap between these two sources. That is where it got interesting…

Prior to June 22, 1874, a person looking for the law would have to sort through the Statutes at Large. Perhaps you are familiar with these characters – they are published chronologically and the index is not cumulative. That means that a researcher would have to find the exact volume of Statutes at Large containing the law they were looking for. For all the curious people out there, by 1874 this was as many as 17 volumes to look through for a particular law. The people of 1875 were lucky enough to have the Revised Statutes of 1875 published. This collection organized federal statutes into 74 subject titles and was submitted to Congress. This is the beginning of the positive law issue, which I will not get into. If you are interested in knowing what positive law is and the arguments surrounding it, take a look at this pdf file from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel. The Revised Statutes of 1878 was published in an effort to correct errors present in the first edition.

So what happened between 1878 and 1926? 27 more volumes of Statutes at Large! There were enactments of a Criminal Code and a Judicial Code between 1909 and 1911, but nothing that covered all federal statutes. Some commercial vendors attempted to compile the new laws, but these had their own difficulties aside from being unofficial. Finally in 1926, the United States Code arranged the legislation in the Revised Statutes of 1875 and the legislation found in each volume of the United States Statutes at Large into 50 Titles. This is the first version of the U.S. Code you know and love today. So the next time you are having a hard time scanning through a massive pile of information, take a break, go to Hein Online and browse the United States Statutes at Large to get a better perspective on finding a needle in a haystack!

-- Joe Cera

SubtleDig Presents: The Party Law School Rankings

SubtleDig Presents: The Party Law School Rankings. We're number 58. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

EPA Region 10 Library

Did you know that as a member of the public, you have access to an extensive environmental library located right in the heart of downtown Seattle? I didn’t, and was pleasantly surprised to learn of the many resources available to the public during a recent visit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Library.

EPA Region 10 focuses on the EPA's work and mission in the Pacific Northwest, which is comprised of: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and the Pacific Northwest Indian Country. To learn more about Region 10, you can visit their website.

In addition to serving staff from the EPA and other governmental agencies, the Region 10 library is also frequented by environmental professionals and local attorneys. Located downtown at 1200 Sixth Avenue, the library is open to the public from 9am – noon and 1 - 4pm, Monday - Friday (except federal holidays). (Visitors to the library are required to first check in at the EPA Service Center on the 12th floor.) The library's collection includes legislative histories, CFRs, USCAAN and selected journals. It also maintains a collection of materials unique to the work carried out by the EPA in Region 10. Reference assistance is available in-person at the library, and also online. For online assistance, just click on “Ask a Librarian” directly from the library's homepage. From the homepage, you also can access the EPA Library Catalog, as well as link to various Region 10 public documents.

In addition to its legal collection, the Region 10 library also highlights fun and interesting reads pertaining to the environment. The Cyanide Canary—an environmental legal thriller based in the Pacific Northwest—was highly recommended during my visit to the library. This book just so happens to also be a part of Gallagher Law Library’s "Good Reads" collection, located near the Law Student Lounge. So, if this peaks your interest and you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands, come over to the library and check it out.

-- Melia Cossette

Monday, May 18, 2009

Free Case Law on the Web

Noted legal technology reporter Robert J. Ambrogi briefly reviews 10 free sites for case law on Law.com. He identifies major strengths and weaknesses of services such as Cornell's Legal Information Institute, FastCase, FindLaw, Justia, LexisOne, and PreCYdent.

For additional (although a bit dated) comparisons, see the Gallagher Law Library guide on Low-Cost Legal Research Services on the Web. This guide includes information about special law school offerings from several low-cost legal information providers.

Another great guide on this subject comes from the Georgetown Law Library. Free & Low-Cost Legal Research organizes the information by type of legal source (cases, constitutions, statutes, etc.) instead of by vendor.

Why should you care? Some legal employers do not provide the unfettered LexisNexis and Westlaw access to which you have become accustomed in law school. You may need to consult some of these free and low-cost alternatives during your summer job.

Digital Forensics Talk on Campus

The Information School hosts a talk on digital forensics this afternoon:
Digital Records Forensics. What is a record in the digital environment and why is it important? The Findings of the InterPARES project and the premises of the DRF project (Speaker: Luciana Duranti)
Date: 5/18/2009 to 5/18/2009
Time: 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Mary Gates Hall 420

Under the aegis of two of her research projects, InterPARES and the Digital Records Forensics (DRF) project, Prof Duranti will demonstrate how information technologies have made it difficult to identify and establish the trustworthiness of records in various digital environments, and have added a level of complexity to the concept of record itself such that the legal system has serious problems in assessing digital documentary evidence.

Prof Duranti will begin her talk with a discussion of the concept of record as understood in traditional diplomatics and archival science, and then demonstrate its application to static and dynamic entities in digital systems by looking at selected InterPARES case studies. Finally she will discuss some of the legal consequences of the InterPARES project research findings and the way they are addressed by the Digital Records Forensics (DRF) project, for example, with regard to the hearsay rules.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research

Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research, Nat'l L.J. (law.com), May 7, 2009:
A California plaintiffs' attorney has filed a lawsuit against a New York-based law firm on a behalf of a former client of the firm for what she claims is a hidden but widespread practice within the legal profession: law firms secretly profiting off legal research fees by overcharging clients.

* * *

Meyer of San Diego's Patricia Meyer & Associates said that many similar lawsuits are in the pipeline, noting that she has amassed evidence that shows at least a dozen other law firms are overcharging clients for legal research, but not telling them.
Meyer alleges that firms are using Westlaw and LexisNexis as profit centers -- subscribing under flat-rate contracts, but billing clients as if the firms are being charged the higher, hourly rates.

Mattress Tags

Lots of people joke about the offense of removing a mattress tag, but have you ever wondered about the law behind the joke? I did. I describe my research -- and draw some lessons for legal researchers -- in Mattress Tags and Pillow Cases, 101 Law Libr. J. 235 (2009).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

U.S. Information Security Law

Professor Jane Winn recently published a chapter in the book, Challenges of Privacy and Data Protection Law – Perspectives of European and North American Law [Défis du droit à la protection de la vie privée] (Cahiers du Centre de Recherches Informatique et Droit, Bruylant, 2008).

Professor Winn’s chapter, entitled “Can a Duty of Information Security Become Special Protection for Sensitive Data Under U.S. Law?” discusses the United State’s approach to information privacy law. According to Winn, U.S. information privacy law is made up of a number of individual and very specific information security laws. Winn discusses the information privacy protections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, and the Federal Information Security Management Act, in particular.

Winn asserts that the United States' piecemeal approach to creating information privacy laws has created a “de facto” category of sensitive data. European countries, on the other hand, have opted instead for a “de jure” category of sensitive data, created in part by Article 8 of the EU Data Protection Directive, which establishes a special category of sensitive data that is subject to higher levels of protection.

Winn argues that emerging U.S. information security law “is not intended to prevent the collection and use of personal financial information, but rather to prevent clearly unauthorized uses. The commodification of personal financial information plays an essential role in the sociology of consumption in the US today, and few US consumers would support an information privacy law reform that would threaten to radically curtail their current consumption behavior” (p. 257).

To learn more about U.S. and European information privacy laws, check out Challenges of Privacy and Data Protection Law, available at Gallagher.

-- Rachel Turpin

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Depression stalks the legal profession

The National Law Journal points out that economic depression can bring an increase in psychological depression, and more lawyers are seeking help through lawyers assistance programs: Depression stalks the legal profession, law.com, May 4, 2009.

Here at the UW, the Law School has information about mental health and a list of resources for students here. Faculty and staff, check out the services available through UW Carelink. Lawyers, see WSBA's Lawyers Assistance Program.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cell Phone Discounts for UW Students & Employees

In the May 1st issue of OnTechNews, discounts of 10-18% for cell phones from AT&T and T-Mobile were announced. Check out the contact information and details.

Fordham Law Class Collects Personal Info About Scalia; He's Not Happy

The students in Prof. Joel Reidenberg's class on privacy used to be assigned to find publicly available information about him. This year, he spiced up the assignment, asking them to find information about Justice Scalia, who has made some remarks that might have questioned the need for privacy protections. Fordham Law Class Collects Personal Info About Scalia; Supreme Ct. Justice Is Steamed | ABA Journal - Law News Now, April 29, 2009.

Scalia says the exercise was not illegal but showed very bad judgment.
"When there are so few privacy protections for secondary use of personal information, that information can be used in many troubling ways," [Prof. Reidenberg] writes in an e-mail to the ABA Journal. "A class assignment that illustrates this point is not one of them. Indeed, the very fact that Justice Scalia found it objectionable and felt compelled to comment underscores the value and legitimacy of the exercise."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu in International Law

Wondering about the role of international law in the response to the H1N1 flu outbreak? See David P. Fidler, The Swine Flu Outbreak and International Law, ASIL Insights, April 27, 2009.

ASIL Insights, from the American Society of International Law, offers concise explanations of international law topics by experts (David Fidler, for instance, is the James Louis Calamaras Professor of Law and Director of the Center on American and Global Security at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington).

If you'd like to build your knowledge of international law and keep up with new developments, you can subscribe to ASIL Insights and have each issue emailed to you. You can also subscribe using a feed reader or just browse the archives.

Library Hours for Memorial Day

On Monday, May 25th, the Law Library will be open from 8am to 5pm.

The Reference Office will be open from 1 to 4pm.

Memorial Day is a campus and national holiday. For more information about Memorial Day, visit MemorialDay.org.

ShareLaw Ceases

ShareLaw, the combined catalog of 6 major law school libraries (including the UW Gallagher Law Library), is being discontinued for financial reasons.

Using this catalog, UWLS faculty, students, and staff have been able to directly request books that were not available here at Gallagher. A fast delivery service and the richness of the participating libraries made ShareLaw an appealing option and we are certainly sorry to see it end.

Please note these important deadlines:
  • May 14: last day to request or renew items through ShareLaw
  • June 15: last day to return items received through ShareLaw. You will be billed for items returned after this date.
How do you know if you have a ShareLaw book? Look for the white bookband with the word "ShareLaw"on the cover.

We hope that you have benefited from this service. However, any books that you requested through ShareLaw may also be requested through the Law Library's interlibrary loan service. The Reference and Resource Sharing librarians can help you identify and request materials you need for your research.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Amazing Business Success of West

The Twin Cities' weekly newspaper profiles the business success of West Publishing: Erin Carlyle, Westlaw rises to legal publishing fame by selling free information, City Pages, April 28, 2009. Here's some startling business data:
[West's] operating profit margin really impresses: At a whopping 32.1 percent, West outpaces that of tech giants like Google (19.4 percent), Amazon (3.4 percent), and eBay (20.8 percent).

* * *

Last year, Thomson acquired Reuters, the financial information and news firm. In its first year as a single entity, the combined company earned $11.7 billion in total revenue—more than any American-held printing and publishing company, including Gannett, McGraw Hill, and the New York Times.
The article respects the company's business acumen and points out some of West's strengths -- a niche market with growth potential, adding value to the raw material (indexing, proofreading, annotating cases and statutes), effective search capabilities.

As a customer (or the employee of a customer), I respect the company's products but can't help wishing the profit margin weren't so impressive.