Tuesday, November 25, 2008

State Dep't Intercountry Adoptions Website

The US State Department has launched a website with information for Americans seeking to adopt children from foreign countries. The Intercountry Adoption site provides a wealth of information for:
  • adopting parents
  • adoption agencies
  • attorneys and judges
  • social workers
  • adoptees
The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption is the primary legal authority governing this issue. It went into force in the US on April 1, 2008. The website provides the text of the Convention, a list of countries that are parties to it, a guide for parents, and related material.

The website also provides country-specific information, forms, news, statistics, and visa information.

NYT Tracks Obama Appointments

The New York Times is tracking potential and announced appointments for President-Elect Obama's cabinet and transition team. Find individual profiles and browse by key appointments, nominations, and name.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Library Hours Correction

The Law Library will close at 5pm on Wednesday, Nov. 26th. In an earlier post, I indicated that the Library would be open regular hours on Wednesday and that is incorrect. Sorry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New CRS Report on Midnight Rulemaking

CRS Report: Midnight Rulemaking: Considerations for Congress and a New Administration, November 18, 2008

"Summary: At the end of every recent presidential administration involving a change in the party controlling the White House, the level of rulemaking activity by federal agencies tends to increase. On May 9, 2008, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies stating that “regulations to be finalized in this Administration should be proposed no later than June 1, 2008, and final regulations should be issued no later than November 1, 2008.”

Washington's First Women Lawyers and Judges

Her Day in Court: Women and Justice in Washington State (KF372 .H47 1988) is a short (28 min.) documentary about Washington's first women lawyers and judges. It was made in 1988 by the Northwest Women's Law Center's Women Judges History Project, to mark the state's centennial in 1989.

In it, you'll see interviews with:
  • Lady Willie Forbus (1892-1993), who ran for superior court judge unsuccessfully in 1934 and 1936 but won a seat in the state senate. See Lady Willie Forbus, Latte Republic, July 2, 2008; Three Lady Lawyer Legislators Who Showed Us the Way, Wash. St. B. News, Oct. 2007; Lady Forbus Won't Lay Down the Law, Seattle P-I, Jan. 12, 1986).

  • Betty Taylor Howard (1911-1995), who in 1956 was the first woman appointed judge pro tem in superior court and served in Seattle District Court from 1973 to 1986. See Judge Betty Howard, `Warmth And Humanity' In Justice System, Seattle Times, Dec. 30, 1995.

  • Bernice Jonson (UW Law '36) who raised six children while practicing and earning the nickname "barracuda." See Bernice Jonson, tough divorce lawyer, dies at 90, Seattle Times, March 8, 2005.

  • Filis Otto (1924-2006)(UW Law '44?), a justice of the peace in Pierce County for 28 years

  • Emma Dulik, then the chief judge for the Makah tribe

  • Norma Smith Huggins, the first black woman judge in the state (Seattle Municipal Court in 1983, King County Superior Court in 1988)

  • Jo Anne Alumbaugh (1941?-2003), the first woman to practice in Kittitas County and the first woman judge in Eastern Washington. See CWU Remembers Jo Anne Alumbaugh, June 3, 2003.
An newspaper article about the video when it first came out is Women Top the Scales of Justice, Seattle P-I, March 11, 1988, at F1.

DVD on Women and AIDS in Africa

We recently acquired The Face of AIDS: The Feminization of HIV/AIDS in Malawi. This 33-minute documentary was created by Fordham's Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and was shown on Malawi TV. The Leitner Center also prepared a human rights report on the topic: We Will Still Live: Confronting Stigma and Discrimination Against Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (2007).

If you're interested in global health issues, check it out: KSS210.8 .F33 2007 at Classified Stacks.

Women Still Lag Behind in Top Law Firms

According to the Report of the Third National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (Nov. 2008):

women continue to be markedly underrepresented in the leadership ranks of firms.
A few of this year's findings:
  • Women lawyers account for fewer than 16% of equity partners.
  • Only about 6% of law firm managing partners are women.
  • In the average firm, women of color account for about 11% of associates but only 3% of non‐equity partners and only about 1.4 % of equity partners.
  • Male equity partners earn on average over $87,000 a year more than female equity artners.

The National Association of Women Lawyers began this empirical study of the 200 largest US laws firms in 2006.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Get a Jump on the Federal Register

The Office of the Federal Register has released a new site providing documents filed by federal agencies for publication in the Federal Register.

Called the Public Inspection Desk, the site provides the text of notices and proposed and adopted rules and regulations several days before their publication in the Federal Register.

Items found on the site today (Nov. 20) are scheduled for publication on Nov. 21, 24, and 25.

For more information about the Federal Register and related sources, see the Gallagher guide on U.S. Administrative Law Research.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dozens of New Databases on CCH

Where can you find dozens of new databases on topics ranging from antitrust, banking, construction law, corporate governance, energy, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, products liability, securities, and transportation law?

On the new service called the CCH Internet Research Network!

The Law Library now subscribes to the CCH service which provides more than 80 titles on a wide range of topics. UW users can access this database from the Law Library website under the Find Legal Databases heading.

A small number of these databases duplicate some print materials in the Library, but the vast majority are not currently available here. None of these items are found in LexisNexis, Westlaw, or any other commercial or free resource.

CCH (aka Commerce Clearing House) is a well-respected publisher of legal looseleaf services. In their day, looseleafs were state-of-the-art tools for keeping attorneys updated in major practice areas. They consist of 5-ring binders into which new pages are regularly filed--most on a weekly basis (loose pages = looseleaf).

Combining laws, legislative history, regulations, cases, and expert analysis, looseleaf services provide one-stop shopping for busy attorneys.

In future posts, I'll describe specific databases by topic. But I'll tease you with a few titles:
  • Aviation Law Reporter

  • Consumer Product Safety Guide

  • Copyright Law Reporter

  • Federal Securities Law Reporter

  • Guide to Computer Law

  • Mutual Funds Guide

  • US Regulation of the International Securities and Derivatives Markets, 8th ed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Library Hours for Thanksgiving

The Law Library will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Library will be open regular hours on Wednesday, Nov. 26 (8am - 11pm) and Saturday, Nov. 29 (11am - 6pm).

National Disaster Legal Aid

The National Disaster Legal Aid website is a new permanent resource designed:
  • To serve as a centralized national resource for legal aid, pro bono and criminal defender attorneys across the country on legal issues related to all types of disasters,
  • To recruit and help mobilize pro bono attorneys in the aftermath of a disaster, and
  • To provide accurate and timely information on legal issues related to disasters to the low and moderate income public.
It provides news; updates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross; and information for people who need help with employment, health, housing, insurance claims, replacing important documents, and related issues.

The site is sponsored by the American Bar Association, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and probono.net.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Find Your Spot

As you go about your job search, one key threshold question is where?

Just because you're in Seattle now doesn't mean that you need to spend your working life here, too. But what city would fit you well? San Jose? Austin? St. Paul? Missoula?

Find Your Spot is a website designed to help people find communities where they might like to settle. You start by taking a quiz that asks you a bunch of questions about your priorities -- do you like hot summers? could you live without golf? do you enjoy going to live theater? do you want your community to have parochial schools? do you like the Northeast better than the South?

After several screens of this, you click a button and the program comes back with 24 cities that match your preferences. And you can then click on any of them to get a four-page description of the city. There are over 500 cities in the database.

Other resources:
State and local bar associations are linked from this ABA page.

Thanks: Jackie Woodside.

Graphic from CIA World Factbook.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jureeka: Free law made easier?

Suppose you don't have access to Westlaw or Lexis and you're looking at a case on a webpage that doesn't have those services' convenient hyperlinks to cited material peppered all over it. Do you manually type in each and every citation of interest into Google? You could, but there's another alternative: Jureeka, a Firefox add-on that might save you time and keystrokes.

Despite its funny name, the idea behind Jureeka is serious and straightforward: to provide an interconnected, hyperlinked web of primary legal material in Westlaw/Lexis fashion, but to do so using free, readily available, web-based resources. Jureeka recognizes the legal citations on a webpage and makes hyperlinks out of them that take you to "free" law located on sites like Justia, federal agency websites, AltLaw, and Cornell's Legal Information Institute.

Here's an excerpt of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Federal Register notice that's available online and hyperlinked by Jureeka:

Suppose you're interested in the text of 6 U.S.C. 557. If you click on that link, you're taken to Cornell's free version of that code section:

The "Find by Citation" search box located in Firefox's Jureeka toolbar allows you to type in a citation like you would in Westlaw or Lexis:

The toolbar also allows you to create HTML pages from PDF pages so that Jureeka can hyperlink them (the button labeled "PDF"), and to report errors (the spider/bug button). The latest version lets users tag material (the "TAG" button) so that Jureeka's creator can amass the data and eventually release it to programmers interested in creating a recommendation/search engine.

Like most Firefox add-ons, Jureeka is far from perfect. It doesn't always hyperlink citations (even for those citation forms that it technically recognizes) and it often fails to find free material at all--and, hey, it's never difficult to type a citation or case name into Google and find what you need, right? For some webpages, though, Jureeka's hyperlinking feature may prove useful; it's not a bad program to have running in the background as you surf.

Are you a Jureeka user? How helpful is it? Feel free to comment. If you haven't tried it, install it and let us know what you think.

-- Pablo Sandoval

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zotero and Legal Research: Almost there....

A few days ago I wrote about the many virtues of Zotero, the Firefox browser extension that is now very popular among researchers across the academic spectrum. Unfortunately, as I alluded to at the end of that entry, Zotero hasn’t been a hit among legal researchers: within the legal academy, only the Harvard Law Library and the University of Wisconsin Law School are recommending it to their students and faculty. Why? Well, many within the legal community simply don’t know about the software, but it’s also the case that Zotero just doesn’t work very well with the databases that legal researchers use most often, like Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Hein Online. Have a look at the Zotero law discussion forum for a sense of what the current limitations and challenges are (among the challenges is a recent lawsuit that Thomson Reuters, Westlaw’s parent company, filed to shut down Zotero on the ground that Zotero’s creators reverse-engineered Endnote, a Thomson Reuters bibliography program).

The good news is that it does seem that all the essential elements are in place for Zotero to someday be as useful to lawyers, law professors, and law students as it has been to researchers in other fields. To begin with, legal researchers can use the Microsoft Word and Google Docs plug-ins to easily insert bibliographic information downloaded from websites that are Zotero-compatible (not all legally-relevant material comes from Westlaw and Lexis!). What’s more, Zotero users can download a Bluebook style that, when perfected, should make citation a snap. And it's probably fair to say that as more websites become Zotero-compatible, vendors like Westlaw and Lexis will feel pressure to ensure that their databases are capable of leveraging all of Zotero’s features.

So, in short, Zotero isn’t quite “there” yet as far as legal research is concerned. But it’s an ambitious venture that, when fully functional, might very well transform the way we write briefs, manage law review source cites, and write papers---it’s really just a matter of time.

Anyone out there using Zotero for legal research projects? What are the limitations you've encountered? Do the benefits of using Zotero make up for them?

-- Pablo Sandoval

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Titles on BNA

The Law Library's subscription to Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) resources now includes two new newsletters and a treatise on the labor laws of foreign countries.

The Pharmaceutical Law & Industry Report "follows major actions at the federal and state level that focus on intellectual property/patent issues, drug pricing and reimbursement, FDA oversight, and Federal Trade Commission antitrust enforcement. It is updated daily.

The Real Estate Law & Industry Report covers "finance, equity and leasing, litigation, legislation, and regulation." It is published biweekly.

The International Labor and Employment Laws treatise summarizes the laws of 40 countries.

Look for links to these and dozens of other great sources on the BNA page on the Library's website.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rain, Showers, Drizzle, Mist, Sunbreaks

October had a lot of clear days, but it appears the rains have begun.

As a native Seattleite, I can offer some predictions about weather during the rest of the school year:
  • There will be many cloudy days.
  • It will rain at some point during many of them.
  • It won't usually rain buckets -- just drips and drizzles.
  • We might get a little snow. (If so, traffic will be a mess. Think about it: we've got lots of hills and darn few snow plows.)
  • There will probably be several sunny days in February.
  • We will have cherry blossoms, crocuses, daffodils, and tulips when your friends and relatives in the East and Midwest are still looking at leafless trees and piles of dirty snow. It will still rain often, but the flowers are nice. And you don't have to shovel rain.
Of course, I have no training in meteorology. If you'd like to learn about the weather from someone who does, see Cliff Mass Weather Blog. Mass is on the faculty of the UW's Department of Atmospheric Sciences. His book, The Weather of the Pacific Northwest was just published.

For a book that combines some of the science of weather with anecdotes and quotations from historical and literary figures (Capt. Vancouver, John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, and more), see David Laskin, Rains All the Time: A Connoisseur's History of Weather in the Pacific Northwest (1997).

Laskin's book is available through Summit. Mass's is so new that it's still being processed at several Summit libraries.

Photo from the Washington State Department of Transportation camera overlooking I-5 at Lake City Way this afternoon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Zotero: The Research Tool of the Future?

Are you tired of wading through countless folders on your hard drive to find the slew of Hein downloads, BriefCheck summary reports, and emails that your latest research project generated? Do you find yourself researching and writing papers using three or four different software programs, none of which seems to cooperate with any of the others? Ever wonder why there isn’t an easier way to store and organize the information that you spend countless hours retrieving online?

Well, some rather astute folks at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University have created what they call a “next-generation research tool” that they claim solves these lingering research management problems. This tool, Zotero, is a Mozilla Firefox extension that integrates all the typical tasks that make up the research process (e.g. word-processing, web-based research, note-taking, bibliographic and citation work) into one elegant browser-based tool—and it’s spreading like wildfire. An impressive number of colleges and universities are either promoting Zotero or recommending it outright, and reviewers and researchers within all academic disciplines are raving about how well it simplifies their work. So what’s so wonderful about it? A few key features stand out:

  1. Zotero is free, easy to install, and works within your web browser: Rather than develop yet another expensive stand-alone program that adds yet another component to the research and writing process, Zotero’s developers decided to strengthen our main research tool: the web browser. What’s more, Zotero works within the free Mozilla Firefox browser (sorry, Internet Explorer users), and is perfectly functional offline as well as online. To install Zotero, simply download the latest version of Firefox (if you haven’t already), open up the browser, and download Zotero from the Zotero homepage. Here’s an easy-to-follow video that guides you through the installation process and walks you through Zotero's interface and design:
  2. Zotero actually “senses” the bibliograpic information of the document you’re looking at within your browser: Today's web-based research process leads us to many types of useful documents like library catalog records, newspaper articles, PDFs, blog entries, and videos. Zotero can "sense" the bibliographic information of most types of documents that you encounter during web-based research. Here's how:
  3. Like creating playlists with iTunes? You’ll love Zotero...: Almost all of us have experienced the frustration of managing the fruits of our research through a mystifying array of folders and subfolders that we segment into ever more discrete categories until we can’t retrieve what we’ve gathered, much less make sense of our thinking. By contrast, many of us like nothing better than to download album after album on iTunes and organize countless songs into playlists that we listen to on the go or that we burn for friends. Zotero quite deliberately seizes on this contrast by allowing you to amass an iTunes-like document library that you can then sort into playlist-like document collections. Among other things, this means that you can put a single document into more than one collection by simply dragging and dropping it. Learn more by watching this short screencast.
  4. Zotero’s note-taking and tagging features are excellent: When the time comes to sit down and write up the results of our research, many of us find ourselves facing a collection of word-processed notes, hand-written notes, sticky notes, and back-of the-envelope calculations that, even when organized into neat piles or folders, often prove very cumbersome to use. Zotero solves this problem by allowing you to tag documents using any keyword you choose, to download and use Library of Congress subject headings, to place “sticky notes” right on individual items within your library, and even to create research timelines that allow you to visualize your library items by date of publication and other time criteria. You can also link items to other items, and conduct both basic and advanced searches of your library using various fields. These features and others (like Microsoft Word and Google Docs plug-ins) allow you to manipulate your research library in a variety of ways that make analysis and writing much easier.
The upcoming new version of Zotero will provide users with a new set of great features, including synchronization of a user’s library across more than one computer, free backup of user libraries on Zotero servers, automatic detection of PDF metadata, and online browsing of a user’s library.

Is anyone out there using Zotero? What do you think of it? Are you a convert? Some of you may have heard that Zotero isn't the greatest for legal research---more on that in a future post...

-- Pablo Sandoval

Friday, November 7, 2008

Library Hours for Veterans Day

Veterans Day is observed on Tuesday, November 11th. The UW recognizes this date as a national holiday and no classes are scheduled.
The Law Library will operate on a reduced schedule: 8am - 5pm.
The Reference office will be open from 1 - 4pm.

The image is from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More information about this year's Veterans Day celebration is available at the agency's website.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CRS Report on Presidential Transitions

The Congressional Research Service has issued a 35-page report entitled Presidential Transitions: Issues Involving Outgoing and Incoming Administrations (RL 34722).

Subjects covered include:
  • "midnight" rulemaking
  • executive orders
  • agency and presidential records
  • national security
  • political appointments
CRS is a division of the Library of Congress that provides legal and policy analysis and research to members of Congress and Congressional committees. For more information on identifying and locating documents from this agency, see the Gallagher guide on Congressional Research Service Reports.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Statistics on Civil Trials in State Courts

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a study on general civil trials dealing with contracts, real property, and torts in a national sample of state courts for 2005.

Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 reports:

  • the types of plaintiffs and defendants represented in civil trials
  • plaintiffs’ win rates
  • punitive damages
  • final award amounts generated in civil trial litigation
  • trends in civil trial litigation in the nation's 75 most populous counties from 1992 to 2005

Some of the significant findings:

Plaintiffs were significantly more likely to prevail in bench trials as
opposed to jury trials.

Approximately 4% of winning plaintiffs received awards of a million dollars or more.

The number of civil actions has been declining.

Automatic Bluebooking with CiteGenie

The search for the legal writer's Holy Grail -- automatic Bluebooking -- has lead to the creation of several new products. One of them, called CiteGenie, is a Firefox extension.

Marc Hershovitz has written a review of CiteGenie for LLRX: Review of CiteGenie: Automatic Bluebook Citations When Using Westlaw. He puts Cite Genie through several tests and concludes that the product is very good, but "not quite perfect."

Read the review or test out CiteGenie for yourself. Share your experience by posting a comment on this post.

Historical Congressional Committee Hearings Digitized

The Law Library of Congress and Google are cooperating in a project to digitize some of the Library's collection of 75,000 Congressional committee hearings.

The Congressional Hearings collection currently focuses on three subjects:
  • census
  • freedom of information and privacy
  • immigration
The selected hearings are presented as PDF images. More hearings and topics will be added as the collection grows.

Congressional committee hearings contain transcripts of oral testimony as well as written material submitted for the record. They are often used by legal researchers and historians in divining legislative intent. Read more about the role of Congressional committee hearings in the Gallagher guide on Federal Legislative History.