Friday, December 27, 2013

U.S. Chamber Targets "Lawsuit Abuse"

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the strongest voices decrying what it says is Americans' overreliance on litigation, operating in part through its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). ILR describes its work:
The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is the most effective and comprehensive campaign committed to improving the lawsuit climate in America and around the globe.

ILR’s mission is to restore balance, ensure justice, and maintain integrity within the civil legal system. We do this by creating broad awareness of the impact of litigation on society and by championing common sense legal reforms at the state, federal, and global levels.

ILR’s approach is highly aggressive and pragmatic, focused on achieving real change in real time while laying the groundwork for long-term legal reform. ILR’s hallmarks are the execution of cutting-edge strategies and a track record of visible success.
ILR has just released its list of the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2013, with a lighthearted YouTube video mocking them.

Of course, the plaintiffs and their attorneys in those suits don't necessarily agree with the Chamber's assessment; a few are quoted in this National Law Journal story.

For a different perspective on civil litigation, see the American Association for Justice's Fighting for Justice pages.

You can also find scholarly assessments of the "litigation explosion," the "malpractice crisis," "tort reform," and so on. Here is a sampling of papers from SSRN:
  • Thornburg, Elizabeth G., Judicial Hellholes, Lawsuit Climates, and Bad Social Science: Lessons from West Virginia (2008). West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 110, No. 3, 2008. Available at SSRN:
  • Eisenberg, Theodore, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Liability Survey: Inaccurate, Unfair, and Bad for Business (September 9, 2009). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-029. Available at SSRN: 
  • La Fetra, Deborah, Freedom, Responsibility and Risk: Fundamental Principles Supporting Tort Reform. Indiana Law Review, Vol. 36, p. 645, 2003. Available at SSRN:
  • Hyman, David A. and Silver, Charles, Medical Malpractice Litigation and Tort Reform: It's the Incentives, Stupid. Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 59, p. 1085, 2006. Available at SSRN:
  • Eisenberg, Theodore, The Empirical Effects of Tort Reform (April 1, 2012). Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts, Forthcoming; Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-26. Available at SSRN:

Law Librarian Blogs Win a Blawggie Award

In the 10th year of Dennis Kennedy's Blawggie Awards, Law Librarian Blogs got the award in the Best Law-Related Blog Category.
I use this category annually to highlight the blogs written by law librarians, a category that I don’t think gets enough attention. These blogs are places to find great information, help for finding information, links to great resources and just plain interesting insights into topics like knowledge management and our changing world of information. If you want to try just one, Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific Blog provides a steady stream of links to great US government and other information. The Law Librarian Blog is a great starting place and there’s a great list of law library blogs here.
On behalf of all of the law librarian bloggers out there, thanks for the shout-out Dennis!

In addition to Gallagher Blogs, here are some other great, local law librarian blogs:

  • Legal Scholarship Blog, a collaboration between the Ohio State, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Washington law libraries. A great source for learning about calls for papers, conferences, and symposia. Gallagher reference librarian Mary Whisner is a major contributor to this blog.
  • Seattle University Law Library blog features information about new books, databases, legal research guides,  and Today in Legal History information.
  • Trial Advocacy Notes. Mary Whisner created this blog to support the Trial Advocacy Program at UW Law.
For more links see the list of Law Library Blogs maintained by the Computing Services Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Stateline Compares States on Poverty, Commuting, and More

Are you on the road during the break? Visiting family, catching some sun in Hawaii, skiing in Utah? Whether or not you actually go to another state, Stateline (from the Pew Charitable Trusts) can help you get an idea about what's going on. In How Does Your State Stack Up? the editors give links to "some of our most popular interactive features from 2013. From the impact of food stamp cuts to the shrinking number of school districts nationwide, these features resonated with readers and helped us illuminate state politics and policy in a creative way."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Library Scanning/Printing Outage 9AM-2PM on Sunday, December 15

The scanning/printing system in the library will be down this Sunday between 9am and 2pm.

 According to Creative Communications, “Dawg Prints services will be down periodically during this time as we perform maintenance. All services will be up by 2 PM, and most are expected to be up well before 2 PM.”

If you have any specific questions please contact

Bill of Rights Day

On November 27, 1941, one hundred and fifty years after the Bill of Rights was ratified, President Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2524, declaring December 15th “Bill of Rights Day.”  Last year President Obama calledupon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities” to celebrate our civil liberties, honor those who have worked toward civil rights, and “rededicate ourselves to driving a new century of American progress.”

Time Magazine created a series of videos on the Bill of Rights.  Below is the video on the First Amendment.  If you enjoy it, you can explore the other nine.

There's also a fun cartoon about the Bill of Rights. 

The original draft of the Constitution didn’t include a formal commitment to individual rights.  In fact, George Mason’s last minute motion to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution was unanimously defeated. Some years earlier Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, served as part of a Commission charged with developing a bill of rights for the Virginia Constitution. He considered this omission in the US Constitution so egregious that he refused to sign.

The Master Bill Draft recommended by a committee helping to develop the US Constitution, drew heavily from Mason’s work, releasing a nearly identical copy as their first proposal. In a 1788 letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson Madison described his thoughts on a bill of rights:

“I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others.  I have favored it because I suppose it might be of use, and if properly executed could not be of disservice.”

Yet, following this letter, James Madison introduced seventeen possible amendments, which formed the basis of our current Bill of Rights.

Groups celebrating Bill of Rights Day include an ACLU chapter and a coalition of gun-rights groups.  Yet, despite some efforts to celebrate and educate, it was noted that Bill of Rights Day is not regarded with the same degree of importance as other holidays that garner national attention, such as Independence Day.

Here are some ways you can mark Bill of Rights Day:

  • Read the Bill of Rights, and the documents that inspired it (Virginia Declaration of Rights, Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights 1689)
  • Pick up one of the recent books in our collection:
    • Patrick M Garry, Limited Government and the Bill of Rights (2012) [Classified Stacks KF4749.G37 2012].
    • Jeff Broadwater, James Madison a Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation (2012).
    • Eric T. Kasper, To Secure the Liberty of the People: James Madison’s Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s Interpretation (2010) [Classified Stacks KF4749.K36 2010]. 
  • Want a break?  Play a Bill of Right Day game! iCivics created a game where you manage your own law firm specializing in Constitutional Law, called Do I have A Right?. See if you can get your firm’s name in “the Daily Prestige.”

Have a happy Bill of Rights Day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Do finals have you stressed?

If finals have you stressing, be sure to take a break. Get some fresh air, eat some Doritos and catch up on celebrity gossip. If you're still feeling overwhelmed, take a minute (or 3 minutes and 14 seconds) to laugh at this cute YouTube compilation video of dogs too scared to walk past cats: The video is aptly titled, "You Shall Not Pass, Dog." While not all the dogs pass their cats, we have every confidence that you WILL pass your exams! Good luck!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Return or Renew Your Library Books

Before you leave town on your holiday adventures, don’t forget to return your library books. Books may be returned at one of four book drop locations:

·       The Circulation Desk book drop inside the Law Library
·       The book drop at the northeast entrance of Gates Hall near Memorial Way
·       The book drop at the northwest corner of Gates Hall near 15th Avenue NE
·       The book drop next to the Supreme Cup cafĂ© on the first floor in Gates Hall

Perhaps you want to hold onto that law classic for some holiday reading? Or perhaps you can’t make it to school one last time after your final exam. Don’t worry! Extending a loan period for library books is simple.  
Borrowed materials from the Classified Stacks and the Compact Stacks may be renewed if there are no holds and if the materials are less than 2 weeks overdue.

To renew, use the "My Library Account" link found on the Library homepage, beneath the catalog search box and login with your UW NetID.

After you login, select the books you want to renew from the “Your Library Account” tab and then click “renew selected.” An updated due date will then appear next to the selected books.

Questions? Please visit the Circulation Desk (or call 206-543-4086) to inquire about Circulation Services.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ravel Law - A New Visual Search Engine

A new website is changing the way we can research and visualize court cases throughout history.  Still in its Beta form, Ravel Law is a newly released website developed by two Stanford Law School students that not only allows you to search for cases, but lets you see just how these cases are connected and ranked by influence.

The Ravel Law homepage resembles Google with its clean and easy-to-navigate interface.  The database allows you to search for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases in much the same way as you would use Google with Boolean searches and the option of filtering by jurisdiction.  

However, the fascinating part of Ravel Law is in the presentation of its search results. Those who are more visual will be especially interested in the graphical analysis of the search results. 

Seventy-five of the most relevant cases from your search list are represented by a circle along an x-axis representing the year. The larger the circle, the more important the case is based on citations.   

Hovering over the circle will show you the case as well as which other cases have cited to it. A line is drawn between the circles, creating a visual web of inter-related cases. Your search results may still be viewed in list form on the right side of the page.
There are four different filters you can select to change the graph:

  • relevance
  • court
  • as a cluster
  • narrowed to a certain time period 

Ravel Law gives you free access to all Supreme Court cases and Court of Appeals cases to 1925. To get the more benefits of the site, sign up for a free account! An added benefit with an account is that you can highlight and annotate cases yourself. A premium account is available which, in addition to the basic sources, gives you access to District Court cases and all state cases to 1950 (except the Dakotas), the CaseNA Page Guide, and Judges’ Threads Analytics which provides statistics on the justices’ opinions.  There is much to explore with this site, so check it out!

Monday, December 2, 2013

ABA’s Seventh Annual Blawg 100 Contest

The ABA Journal currently has its polls open to vote for your favorite legal blog. With the thousands of legal blogs out there in the blogosphere, it seems to be an honor just to make the top 100 list.  Nominees use their intellect, creativity, and wit to further advance the legal profession. Not only are some of these blogs fun, but many also provide thorough and educated explanations of current legal events.

Check out this list and vote for your favorites here.

Polls opened Nov. 25 and will close Dec. 20.

There are already a few front runners in each of the 13 categories, which range from criminal justice to legal technology.

Some of my favorites include:
·       Defrosting Cold Cases
o   “A mixture of interviews with true-crime authors and profiles of real cold cases, Defrosting Cold Cases is both fascinating and heartbreaking.”
·       Abnormal Use
o   “If you're suing because your yoga pants are see-through, or because hoisting up the back end of a running snowmobile left you short one leg, chances are your case could end up analyzed by the bloggers at Abnormal Use. Strictly speaking, Abnormal Use is a product-liability blog, but the writers are also interested in technology issues like social media discovery.”
·       Lady(Legal) Write
o   “Tips on legal writing are always fantastic, but this blog by Megan E. Boyd also includes real-life cautionary tales of the pitfalls of poor legal writing. Polish your punctuation with her guidance.”
·       LegallyWeird
o   “Run by FindLaw, Legally Weird's mission is to hunt out the strangest and most ridiculous current events with a legal angle. If you find yourself with some free time and an over-elevated regard for the intelligence of the criminal underworld, click on the ‘Dumb Crime’ category and prepare to laugh and wince in equal measure.”
o   “This microblog, born in March, has caught fire and spawned imitators. ‘With nothing but Tumblr and impeccable taste in celebrity GIFs,’ this blog ‘transports readers directly into the id of public defenders everywhere,’ writes Litigation & Trial's Max Kennerly. ‘You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll want a drink.’”

Check out the list of all 100 nominees and vote! At the very least, you may add some new bookmarks to your browser.