Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Statistics on Contracts Cases

  • Plaintiffs win in about 66% of contracts trials.
  • The median damage award for plaintiff winners in contract trials was $35,000.
  • Trials involving business plaintiffs were more likely to be decided by a
    judge (72%) than cases involving individual plaintiffs (58%).
  • Approximately 1 out of 10 defendants appeared without legal representation in contract trials.
These and other statistics based on a 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts are reported in a new document from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Contract Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 reviews statistics from 8,917 contracts cases heard in state courts of general jurisdiction. These cases represent a third of all disposed civil trial cases based on a "nationally representative sample of urban, suburban, and rural jurisdictions."

Additional statistics deal with types of plaintiffs (individuals and businesses), median awards, punitive and compensatory damages, and types of contract issues:
  • employment discrimination and other employment disputes
  • fraud
  • mortgage foreclosure
  • partnership disputes
  • rental/lease
  • subrogation
  • tortious interference

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice

Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice says the Chronicle of Higher Education in a headline yesterday (Sept. 28, 2009). The article discusses "Justice" Prof. Sandel's wildly popular undergraduate course at Harvard ("Moral Reasoning 22" in the course catalog), and the PBS series based on the course.

Coincidentally, Prof. Sandel is speaking here at the University of Washington School of Law this Friday, Oct. 2, at 2:30 (rm 133).

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? is the book that complements the series. It's available here: JC578 .S25 2009 at Good Reads. (Well, as of this writing, it's checked out, but it will be back one day. You can request it in the catalog to be in line for it.)

The night before he speaks here Prof. Sandel is speaking and signing books at Town Hall. (See the University Book Store calendar.)

The television series has a website with supporting materials. You can even watch entire episodes.

The Law Library also has several of Prof. Sandel's earlier books:
  • The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (QH438.7 .S2634 2007 at Classified Stacks)
  • Justice: A Reader (JC578 .J868 2007 at Classified Stacks)
  • Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982) (JC578 .S26 at Classified Stacks)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gallagher's WorldCat Local

This morning, we launched a new catalog service, WorldCat Local. This is in addition to our old catalog:

You might be familiar with WorldCat Local from the University Libraries, but ours is a little different.

The UW's version ranks material in this order: things held by the University Libraries; things held by Summit libraries (including Gallagher Law Library); things held by libraries anywhere else. Gallagher's version ranks material in this order: things held by Gallagher; things held by Summit libraries (including the University Libraries); things held by 25 top law libraries; things held anywhere else. You can also choose to search which subset of the database to search.

If you search our old catalog, you retrieve just the books, journals, and other materials we have cataloged. For instance, if you look for "war on terror," you get forty-nine records:

In WorldCat Local, the display looks like this:

And you get over 6,000 records -- quite a bit different, eh?

It's not just books. WorldCat Local includes some article citations, from a few databases. You probably aren't familiar with them (I wasn't), but the two biggies are Article First and British Library Serials. So the same search that got us books also gets us articles:

If you're coming by the library, take a look at the new displays about WorldCat and Summit near the entrance. And watch the Crier and the blog for more information. In the meantime, get in the driver's seat and take WorldCat Local for a little spin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shorter Email Address Available

This summer, UW Technology improved our email addresses. Now you can send email to UW folks with either the old address ( or a new, shorter address ( An announcement explains that this makes addresses easier to use with mobile technology and reinforces the UW name. (The change is part of the UW Reputation Building Initiative and was a joint project of UW Marketing and UW Technology).

To receive mail at the new address, just tell your contacts. To have your outgoing mail show the new address, follow these instructions.

One thing to be aware of is that some systems might not know who you are if you change addresses. For example, the server at the American Association of Law Libraries knew me as whisner @, so when I tried to use a listserv after I changed my outgoing address to whisner @, I was rejected. I was able to fix it, of course -- I just want to point out that your various online identities sometimes need to match up and you can run into glitches.

I wonder how many keystrokes I would have saved by typing instead of for the last 20 years. Best estimate? A gajillion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Betty Anne Waters, Law Student with One Case in Mind

Betty Anne Waters was working in a pub when her brother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She believed he was innocent and wanted to help. So she got her GED. She put herself through college. She went to law school. And with help from the Innocence Project and her law school classmate (whom she met on the first day of orientation), she was able to exonerate him.

Sadly, Kenny Waters only had six months of freedom before he died in an accident.

This summer, the Waters family -- again with the help of the Innocence Project -- settled with the town of Ayer, Massachusetts, in a civil rights case over the police's alleged misconduct that led to the erroneous conviction.

A feature film called Betty Anne Waters, with Hilary Swank in the title role, is in post-production. Minnie Driver plays Waters's law school friend, who is now a public defender in New Haven.

Oh, and what's Waters doing now that she finished the case she went to law school to work on? She's managing a pub.

Ayer to pay $3.4m for unjust conviction, Boston Globe, July 15, 2009.

Betty Anne Waters wins $10.7M for brother's wrongful murder conviction, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 17, 2009 (you have to register to view the story).

Courtroom Drama, New Haven Advocate, Aug. 18, 2009.

Here's the real Waters at an Innocence Project event (she appears at 2:58):

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plea for Better Access to PACER

PACER is the online docketing system for federal courts. We have a subscription, and reference librarians will happily do searches and retrieve material for law faculty and law students for academic projects.

Why do we restrict it? Well, because we can't afford to have the bills pile up. Erika Wayne, a law librarian at Stanford, makes a plea for much wider, easier, and cheaper access to this important database funded by taxpayers: What public access?, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 14, 2009. If you agree with Erika, the article includes a link to a petition where you can speak out.

The graphic above is the beginning of a pleading we downloaded from a district court proceeding in United States v. Padilla. It's great to be able to get material like this. Not so long ago, we would have needed to find a courier to go to the court or pay the court (in advance) to photocopy and mail the document. The question is: should access be even better?

Celebrate Constitution Day!

Today is the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Check out the UW's Constitution Day page, which includes a list of library resources, webcasts, and even a crossword puzzle!

UW students, staff, and faculty are also invited to sign up to be part of the October 9th event, "UW Reads the US Constitution Aloud." Gallagher Law Library staff members have participated as readers and can attest to the power of reading this document out loud.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Can't Lick a Great Supreme Court Justice

but you will be able to stick a stamp bearing the likenesses of four former Justices, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

Justices Brandeis, Brennan, Frankfurter, and Story appear on a new stamp to be issued on Sept. 22d at a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court Building.

Each of the Justices served lengthy terms on the High Court and are among its most distinguished members.

For biographies and other books in the Gallagher Law Library, click on the following links:

Approved Federal Court Rules Changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States approved court rules changes recommended by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure at its Sept. 15th meeting. Amendments include:
  • Appellate Rules 1, 4, and 29 and Form 4
  • Civil Rules 8, 26, and 56 and Illustrative Form 52
  • Criminal Rules 12.3, 15, 21, and 32.1
  • Evidence Rule 804

Several Bankruptcy Rules will also be revised.

One of the most interesting changes is to Appellate Rule 29(c), which requires

an amicus curiae to disclose whether counsel for a party authored the brief in whole or in part and whether a party or a party’s counsel contributed money with the intention of funding the preparation or submission of the brief, and to identify every person (other than the amicus, its members, and its counsel) who contributed money that was intended to fund the brief’s preparation or submission. The disclosure requirement, which is modeled on Supreme Court Rule 37.6, serves to deter counsel from using an amicus brief to circumvent page limits on the parties’ brief. It also is intended to help judges assess whether the amicus itself considers the issue sufficiently important to justify the cost and effort of filing an amicus brief.

The changes to Civil Rule 26 address practical problems with discovery of all communications between counsel and expert witnesses and all draft reports from experts. Rule 56 amendments deal with improved "procedures for presenting and deciding summary-judgment motions."

The Committee's 178-page report--complete with markup versions of the affected rules--is available online.

Following the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. secs. 2071-2077, the changes will be transmitted to the Supreme Court and Congress.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Managing Your Research Notes and Citations

A student asked today whether law students commonly use one database system for managing citations -- as many students and scholars in other fields use EndNote, for instance.

Law has been slower than other fields to adopt bibliographic management software, but there are some tools you can use.

EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero

The University of Washington Libraries makes available to the UW community web versions of both EndNote and RefWorks. See this page of Citation and Writing Guides, middle column.

Both EndNote and RefWorks have output formats for legal citations (using The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation)). They work best for secondary sources -- journal articles, magazine articles, books, and so on. I have a lot of citations in a RefWorks database and it works well.

Zotero is an add-on for the Firefox browser. it enables users to organize documents from many types of sources -- newspapers, journals, websites, etc. Users can sort and take notes on the material they gather. Just last month Zotero added "Bluebook Law Review" to its list of available output styles. The examples given are for secondary sources.

I haven't used Zotero myself, but it looks pretty cool. Pablo Sandoval, who was a law library intern last year, used -- and liked -- Zotero a lot. See his posts here and here.

Easy Export?

One thing that's attractive in a citation management tool is being able to export citations from whatever database you're using directly into your own database. For instance, if you search in LegalTrac and find a list of law journal articles, you can pretty easily export them to EndNote or RefWorks without having to retype everything. Typically, you click on export format, select the one you want, and there you go. The same is true if you find books in a library catalog.

One challenge for law is that a lot of the databases we love to use don't allow easy export. Like for instance LexisNexis and Westlaw.

It's not that they couldn't do it. This morning I gave a talk to undergraduates and showed them LexisNexis Academic, the version of LexisNexis that's marketed to colleges. When we looked at a law review article online, there were options to print, email, download, or ... well, I didn't recognize that last icon. Turns out, it's an option to export the citation in RefWorks format. I later tried it out -- it didn't populate the fields exactly right, but it was still better to have most of the information plopped into my RefWorks account and clean it up than to have to start from scratch. LexisNexis Academic has that option for cases, too.

Westlaw's parent company, Thomson Reuters, also owns EndNote, but so far that hasn't led Westlaw to make it easy to export a list of citations in EndNote format. (Thomson Reuters sued Zotero's creators, claiming that they had reverse engineered EndNote. The lawsuit was dismissed in June. See this post from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Someone who wants to be able to use Zotero for legal materials has a wiki, named Zotero-for-lawyers, that has "translators" to extract citation information from a document and send it to your Zotero account. It includes HeinOnline, SSRN, the e-CFR, Cornell's Legal Information Institute, and a few other sites.

Challenges for Primary Sources

RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero all do better with secondary legal materials than with primary legal materials. Here are a few of my thoughts:

For primary materials, you need to consider who you're writing for. If you are writing for a Washington Court, you need to follow the the Washington Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions Style Sheet. If you're writing for a law review, the Bluebook says not to give parallel citations to state cases -- just use the regional reporter citations. But within the state, you do need parallel citations. If you're writing for a law review, you'll abbreviation Revised Code of Washington "Wash. Rev. Code," but if you're in Washington, you'll abbreviate it "RCW."

Citation of primary materials is often dependent on context. If you want to talk about the history of a statute -- say, what was going on when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- you cite it one way, but if you want to cite it as it's in effect today, with amendments, you'll cite it another way. Or suppose you're talking about a case that had Issues A, B, and C, and the case was reversed on Issue B. If you want to cite it for Issue A, then you'll add "rev'd on other grounds" and cite the later case. But if you want to cite it for Issue B, then you'll just say "rev'd" before the later citation. It's going to be hard for programmers to work all this into their bibliographic management systems.

In Practice . . .

I think people will find different approaches that work well for them. What you do might vary from project to project, or it might develop over time (and as developers come out with new tools to help us).

I think I'm not alone in straddling old and new technologies. Here are some of the ways I managed information for my last article (10-12 pages):
  • I emailed from Westlaw some chapters from a treatise and annotations from U.S.C.A., and then I sent them to my Kindle.
  • I read them on my Kindle and wrote down case citations on 3x5 cards. Then I used Find to retrieve them on Westlaw, emailed them, and sent them to my Kindle to skim.
  • I used HeinOnline for old Congressional Records. Looking through index entries, I jotted down page numbers on 3x5 cards.
  • I downloaded PDFs of the Congressional Record pages I used. And I downloaded PDFs of law review articles. And I kept these all in a folder on my desktop.
  • I entered citations of several of the law reviews into my RefWorks account (but I didn't use RefWorks when I was actively writing -- I looked at the citations I'd jotted on 3x5 cards).
  • I attended a panel and took notes with a pen on paper.
  • I cut and pasted excerpts from a government website into a Word document that I sent to my Kindle and saved on my computer.
  • I signed onto Westlaw and LexisNexis to check some things or look for examples as I was writing.
  • I looked at U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. in print to get publication dates for citing.
  • I typed a quotation directly from a book into a footnote in my draft, without any intermediate note-taking on it.
Is this the perfect way to manage documents, notes, and citations? No. Is it the way I'll do things in my next writing project? Maybe, maybe not.

The old technology of 3x5 cards actually still works pretty darn well for a lot of things -- for instance, quickly referring to a note or a citation and rearranging notes to figure out a good order. Having a bunch of documents together in a folder on my laptop is great too -- for long passages that I wouldn't want to have to copy onto an index card, for reading PDFs, for checking quotations. And being able to go online to search or retrieve is convenient too.

Other tools: tables in Word, spreadsheets, Microsoft OneNote (I haven't tried it, but one student told me she used it for everything).

What do you use? Click on Comment to share your thoughts and tips.

Global Terrorism Database

The recent anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center has reminded us all of the horror of such events.

But they were not the first or the last such tragedies. The Global Terrorism Database chronicles more than 80,000 terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2007. Information about domestic, international, and transnational assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings is included, with specifics as to:
  • date and location
  • weapons used
  • nature of the target
  • number of casualties
  • responsible group or individual

These same factors are fields in the advanced search.

The Global Terrorism Database is provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland,

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Legal Battle for Lawyers - Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar

A Legal Battle for Lawyers - Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar -, Sept. 13, 2009. Several incidents are reported -- bar discipline for a blog post criticizing a judge, firing for disclosing confidential information, getting called by a judge for asking for a trial delay and then posting a series of Facebook statuses about partying. The moral? Be careful what you say!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find That Lawyer

Looking for contact information for lawyers? How about biographical information? You have lots of options!


For Washington lawyers, my first stop is usually the WSBA's directory, at Since every lawyer who practices in this state has to be a member of WSBA, this directory is current and comprehensive. It's so comprehensive, it even includes deceased lawyers -- not that you'd hire them, but sometimes it's good to confirm that the person you're looking for isn't around. It also includes those on inactive status (lower dues but no right to practice).

The directory is programmed to find names that are close to what you type. So if you type "Mary" you'll also get "Maryann," and if you type "Reynolds," you'll also get "Reynoldson" and "McReynolds."

Recently, the site has added the ability to search by practice area (based on what lawyers submit), language, or access to TDD. And you can also find members of WSBA committees.

Martindale is the free, online version of the venerable Martindale-Hubbell print directories (the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory began in 1931; we also have Hubbell's Legal Directory, 1873-1930, Martindale's United States Law Directory, 1875-76, and Martindale's American Law Directory, 1897-1930).

Martindale listings generally have a lot more information than just name, address, and phone number. They'll list schools attended, areas of practice, languages, publications, and more. And you can search by all (or most of) those variables too.

So what's not to like? Well, it's not comprehensive, so you might not find the lawyer you're looking for. It has never been as strong for lawyers in government and non-profit organizations as it was for lawyers in private practice. And now a number of lawyers and firms are choosing not to pay the fee to be listed, so it is not as comprehensive as it used to be.

Martindale is changing with the times. Just yesterday, it announced a change in its rating system. Ratings Are Transforming, Blog, Sept. 10, 2009. And Martindale is hosting a social media site for lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Connected.

Martindale-Hubbell directories are also on LexisNexis, often with more search options than on the free site.


Since Martindale-Hubbell was on LexisNexis (and is now owned by LexisNexis), you won't be surprised that Westlaw came up with a competitor, West's Legal Directory (WLD on Westlaw). The free version of WLD is the Findlaw Lawyer Directory -- in fact, I usually use the URL (for West's Legal Directory) because I find it easier to remember than the (Did you know that Findlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters, Westlaw's parent company?)

Like Martindale, Findlaw allows you to search by lawyers' practice areas, locations, and other variables. You can also search by name, if you're looking for an individual. Once you get to a lawyer's listing, you can find very basic information:

or a detailed profile:


Avvo is a relatively new service (founded in June 2007 -- see this post) that combines features of traditional directories with social networking.

Avvo draws basic directory information from state bar sites. Then its researchers fill in some data based on news stories and awards given to lawyers. And then other people -- either clients or colleagues -- can rate and comment on the lawyers. Lawyers who choose to can add to their profiles with pictures, biographies, or personal statements. Depending on whose profile you're reading, you can find either a little:

or a lot:


My advice? If you just want basic contact information, go with the WSBA directory. If you want to learn as much as you can about someone, try all of these.

Another day I'll write about ways to use LinkedIn.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seattle's Female Cops

I just read Adam Eisenberg, A Different Shade of Blue: How Women Changed the Face of Police Work (HV8023 .E57 2009 at Good Reads).

The author (a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law who is now a court commissioner) got the idea for a book about female police officers when he was a prosecutor and met some women working in this field dominated by men. His book takes us back to the 1920s, when the Seattle Police Department hired its first women. It is enlivened by dozens of first-person accounts, starting with some women who were in the old Women's Bureau in the 1940s and 1950s. There are a wide range of vivid stories, starting with some by true-crime writer Ann Rule, who reminisces about her time in the Women's Bureau in the 1950s.

The interviews include a wide range of women -- different times on the force, different races, different sexual orientations.

Many of the stories concern the challenges of being among just a handful of women in a force filled with men. What uniform do you wear? Where do you shower? How do they treat you in the police academy? How do you establish trust with your coworkers? How do you deal with rumors? What do you say if your partner's wife says she doesn't feel safe with him having a female partner?

Sexual harassment has been a problem in the department for many women. And reporting it has often created worse problems, so many women have chosen to remain silent.

For more, check out Eisenberg's blog, Shades of Blue, where he posts news about women in police work, including some from around the world.

Ms. named this book one of its "Great Reads for Summer 2009." Nicely done, Adam!