Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Features Make it Easier to Use Google Scholar for Case Law Research

At the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting in Boston this week, I had the opportunity to see a presentation by Anurag Acharya, one of two founders of Google Scholar.

Mr. Acharya had two goals in setting up Google Scholar's case law database:

1. Everyone should be able to find the law that governs them.
2. The law should be free to search and free to read

Google Scholar contains full text published opinions from the following courts/time periods:
  • U.S. Supreme Court: 1791 to present 
  • Federal District, Appellate, Tax, and Bankruptcy Courts: 1923 to present 
  • State Appellate and Supreme Courts: 1950 to present
Google Scholar has had this case law content for quite a while but it recently changed its look and added a number of features that link together cases and make it easier to use:
  • While scrolling through a case, the case citation floats at the top of the screen, making it easier to pincite 
  • The footnotes link to their accompanying text 
  • Citations to other cases within Google Scholar are now live links to those cases, and significant attention was given to linking up short cites to the cases to which they refer 
  • Level of discussion feature allows reader to see the extent to which a citing case discusses the original case, much like Westlaw Star Treatment. The levels are three bars for most significant discussion, two bars for significant discussion, and one bar for the least significant discussion  
  • Results lists can now also be sorted by date, which could allow a thorough researcher to check the currentness of a particular case or rule of law.
The "new" Google Scholar is still not nearly as sophisticated as its commercial counterparts. It is, however, making headway in becoming a useful tool not just for the average person who needs to know what law governs but also for expert legal researchers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Happens at a Meeting of Law Librarians?

Hundreds of law librarians from around the country (and dozens from around the world) will converge on the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston for the 105th annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries.

As at other professional conventions, librarians will:
  • attend educational programs (Are e-books the Future?, Building Mobile Apps, Digging Legal History in Boston: The Case of the Boston Strangler, Guerrilla Usability Testing, Lost in Translation: Immigration Detention and Access to Legal Materials, The New Generation of Legal Research Databases, Searching Legal Opinions: The Google Scholar Approach, etc.)
  • share social events (a Boston  Red Sox game,the UW Law Librarianship Alumni and Friends Reunion)
  • participate in committee meetings
  • network with each other
  • talk with vendors in the exhibit hall.
Several Gallagher law librarians will be delivering presentations during the meeting. Penny Hazelton, Associate Dean for Library and Technology Services, will be a presenter at an all-day Workshop for Newer Academic Law Library Directors. Jonathan Franklin and Richard Jost will speak at a program on the Innovative Interfaces/SkyRiver vs. OCLC Lawsuit.

This meeting is a wonderful opportunity to learn what services other law libraries offer their users, hear about new gadgets and resources, and generally check in with our professional colleagues from all types of law libraries: academic, corporate, court, government, and law firm. We come back exhausted but invigorated and eager to incorporate what we've heard and seen to improve and enhance what we can do for the people who use the Gallagher Law Library.

Reference Office Hour Changes

While the Reference librarians are attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Boston, the Reference Office will be open on an abbreviated schedule.

Friday, July 20
Open 9-11am and 1-4pm

Monday, July 23
Open 9-11am and 1-3pm

Regular hours resume on Wednesday, July 24th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Congress and the Courts

The "Congress and the Courts" collection is now available on HeinOnline (UW Restricted).

This new library includes an impressive array of useful research materials.

East Front of the Capitol at sunset. Credit: Architect of the Capitol
A highlight of this collection includes William H. Manz's Congress and the Courts: A Legislative History 1787-2010, a compilation of congressional documents and materials concerning Article III Courts and the purpose and structure of the federal government. This work may be browsed by volume or part. Parts include: Courts of Appeals; Creation and Growth of the Federal Judiciary; Federal Courts; Judges and Judicial Conduct; Other Courts; Proposed Reforms and Emerging Issues; and the Supreme Court.

Also compiled and organized within this library is an extensive collection of Federal Judicial Center Publications, scholarly articles and periodicals, CFR Title 28 on Judicial Administration, and other related works.

To access this new library, browse to HeinOnline from the Gallagher Law Library web site,  and select "Congress and the Courts" under Subscribed Libraries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CRS Report on Health Care

The Congressional Research Service has issued a new report, "Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers." The 20-page PDF, dated July 9, can be found here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Fred Shapiro, Associate Librarian,
Yale Law Library
Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse recently collaborated to update Shapiro’s prior work examining the most cited law review articles of all time. Their article (110 Mich. L. Rev. 1483) presents an interesting question of both legal scholarship and legal research. Shapiro notes that readers of his previous two articles on the same subject, released in 1985 and 1996, had jokingly developed a name for this field of study: citology. 

The top ten most-cited law review articles, as determined by Shapiro are:
  1. R.H. Coase, The Problem of Social Cost, 3 J.L. & Econ. 1 (1960).
  2. Samuel D. Warren & Louis D. Brandeis, The Right to Privacy, 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193 (1890).
  3. O.W. Holmes, The Path of the Law, 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457 (1897).
  4. Gerald Gunther, The Supreme Court, 1971 Term—Foreword: In Search of Evolving Doctrine on a Changing Court: A Model for a Newer Equal Protection, 86 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (1972).
  5. Herbert Wechsler, Toward Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law, 73 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (1959).
  6. Guido Calabresi & A. Douglas Melamed, Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral, 85 Harv. L. Rev. 1089 (1972).
  7. Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J . 733 (1964).
  8. Charles R. Lawrence III, The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism, 39 Stan. L. Rev. 317 (1987).
  9. William J. Brennan, Jr., State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights, 90 Harv. L. Rev. 489 (1977).
  10. Robert H. Bork, Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems, 47 Ind. L.J. 1 (1971).
There are some heavy-hitters in legal scholarship on this list, including four former Supreme Court justices and at least one author who was the victim of Borking.

Since the second iteration of Shapiro’s study, new legal research resources have made tracking the most cited articles much easier. In particular, HeinOnline has an immense collection of law journals, titled the Law Journal Library, that enables users to sort all articles in the database by number of citations to them, further sortable by author, article, and journal. While Shapiro incorporated citations in the Social Sciences Index in his study, thus allowing R. Coase’s The Problem of Social Cost to rise to the top of the most-cited list, HeinOnline itself provides an easy way to visualize citations from strictly legal journals.  

HeinOnline is, of course, accessible from the list of databases on the right side of the Law Library’s homepage. Browsing by “Most-Cited,” you can see that Cass Sunstein, whom Shapiro calls a “citation superstar,” leads the pack among most-cited authors of law review articles, and that articles in the Harvard Law Review have been cited the most number of times. From this list, a researcher can find and access all the articles that cite these famous pieces of legal scholarship, as well as search among the most-cited articles for particular keywords or dates. The cool thing about HeinOnline’s list is that it is updated every month, allowing you to keep current on all your citological needs!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Kentish Story of Brookland Steeple

Brookland Parish Church, with grounded steeple.
The Gallagher Law Library has a fascinating assortment of historical legal materials in its Rare Books Collection.

Perhaps unique among the items in the collection, The Religion of a Lawyer is a poem. The work’s full title reveals more about the book’s contents: The Religion of a Lawyer: A Crazy Tale (in four Cantos), Analytical of the Kentish Story of Brookland Steeple. Written in 1786 by an anonymous author, the work relates how the steeple of the church in Brookland Parish, Kent, England, came to be situated not on top of the church building but right next to it as a separate structure. 

The poem’s explanation, that the steeple jumped from the top of the church to the ground because a religious attorney got married there, is much more fantastic than the real reason: the steeple was built next to the building by design, as the steeple would have caused the church to sink into the marshy, Kentish grounds

The poem’s explanation is a jumping off point for the author to spin a wry anecdote about attorneys and their place in the social fabric. 
"Your Honor, I pray for relief."

Although the poem is an anonymous publication, there are numerous clues as to the book’s publication history and its prior owners. A handwritten title page indicates the publisher was “J. Walker in Paternoster Row,” who is likely John Walker, a bookseller located in Paternoster Row in London from the early 1780s to around 1820. At some point, the text was rebound, and many unusual extratextual materials were bound along with the poemt. Whoever commissioned the poem to be rebound surely had an eye for legal humor, as the rebound book includes
  • a bawdy proverb relating to the Inns of Court
  • a handwritten poem about an attorney reaching the pearly gates titled “The Lawyer”
  • an engraving from The Oxford Magazine lampooning judges’ behavior, and 
  • a newspaper clipping from The Standard about a Mr. Chamberlain’s roast of attorneys at a dinner in Birmingham, England. These materials appear to be from the 1880s, and it is likely the owner rebound the work shortly thereafter.

While not much is known about the work, besides that it is exceedingly rare -- only five libraries in the world list the poem in their holdings -- I envision the poem’s author as a clever, irreverent attorney with sufficient skill to craft an 80-page comedic poem. Hints about the book’s recent provenance, including a bookplate, indicate that Gallagher received the poem from Fred T. Darvill in September 1974. Mr. Darvill owned and ran Darvill’s Rare Print Shop on Orcas Island, north of Seattle in San Juan County, from 1942 to 1971, when he retired at the age of 90. Although the story of how an anonymous poem came to Washington State is likely unrecorded, we can still enjoy this work for its rarity and unusually funny look at the important role attorneys play in society!

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Faculty Book: Andrews & Aronson on the Law of Lawyering in Washington

UW Law Professors Tom Andrews and Rob Aronson are the lead authors in the just-published Law of Lawyering in Washington.

This new Washington State Bar Association deskbook is a mammoth accomplishment, logging in at 800 pages.

It compares Washington's Rules of Professional Conduct with the American Bar Association's Model Rules. The volume is full of references to the rules, court opinions, and secondary sources.

Chapters cover:

  1. Authority to Regulate the Practice of Law
  2. Admission to Practice and Unauthorized Practice
  3. An Introduction to the Rules of Professional Conduct: Their Purpose and Limits
  4. Defining the Attorney-Client Relationship
  5. Competence, Diligence, and Communication: The Essential Three
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Conflicts of Interest
  8. The Rules of Advocacy
  9. Fees and Trust Accounts
  10. Candor
  11. Law-Firm Marketing
  12. Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession
  13. Lawyer’s Responsibilities for Assisting in Access to Justice
  14. Law-Practice Organization, Management, and Sales
  15. Legal Malpractice and Other Theories of Lawyer Liability
  16. Disciplinary System
The back of the volume includes and index and table of cases.

Congratulations to Tom and Rob for creating such a substantial and useful resource!