Sunday, May 25, 2014

150th Anniversary of Mercer Girls' Arrival in Seattle

If you know anything about Asa S. Mercer, it is probably that he was the first President of the Territorial University of Washington.  While that is an interesting factoid, perhaps more interesting is his so-called "Mercer Girls" or "Mercer's Belles" project. 
Asa Mercer, First President of the Territorial University of Washington
Asa Mercer, First President of the Territorial University of Washington. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Because of the ravages of the U.S. Civil War, in the mid-1860's the East Coast was left with a gender imbalance where women outnumbered men.  And because the Pacific Northwest was still being settled primarily by loggers and fishermen during that time, there was a gender imbalance where men far outnumbered women.  Asa Mercer decided to do something about this, and undertook a project to bring eligible women to Seattle.  The men of Seattle would pay Mercer a fee, and the women of the East Coast would get a free ride through the Panama Canal and to the great Northwest (and a husband, for whatever that's worth).  Whether this was the 1860's equivalent of mail-order brides or a practically-minded attempt at population planning is still a topic for debate.

Mercer made two trips, and the first batch of "Mercer Girls" arrived in Seattle 150 years ago this month, on May 16, 1864, to a grand welcome on the grounds of the University.  Mercer even married one of the Mercer Girls himself!  You can learn more by checking out Mercer's Belles: The Journal of a Reporter from Suzzallo Library or an article entitled "The Story of the Mercer Expeditions" from the Washington Historical Quarterly.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's World Goth Day!

Thanks to John Richards over at KEXP, this morning I learned that today is World Goth Day!  Time to cue up some Siouxsie and the Banshees (fun fact: Cities in the Dust was the first song I purchased from iTunes many moons ago). 

Although we don’t seem to have any goth-related materials in the law library, now’s your chance to hone your catalog searching skills and find out what’s available on the subject in other libraries on campus.  A quick search for “goth” turns up these interesting titles:

Goth : identity, style, and subculture by Paul Hodkinson
by Paul Hodkinson


Goth culture : gender, sexuality and style by Dunja Brill
by Dunja Brill


Goths : a guide to an American subculture by Micah L Issitt
by Micah L Issitt

You could also pick up a gothic novel and spend some time with the undead and possibly a fainting heroine.  Are you confused by this blog post because it has nothing to do with the law library and you don’t know what a gothic novel is?  In that case, consider consulting the Guardian’s handy infographic about how to tell if you’re reading a gothic novel (hat tip to Mary Whisner for spotting this).   

And although it’s an amazing coincidence, three of your friendly reference librarians are wearing black today.  We’ll be back to smiling tomorrow.










Advice for Summer Associates (and Externs Too)

Elizabeth (Betsy) Munnell, a lawyer who provides "business development coaching" for law firms and lawyers has distilled a lot of advice for summer associates into three charts, each addressing the three important areas of Assignments, Citizenship, and Professionalism
  • basic tips
  • examples of typical mess-ups
  • ways to stand out
Her blog post: Best Practices for Summer Associates: In Three Simple Charts, The Uncommon Sensei, May 21, 2014.

She writes about summer associates in law firms, but almost all the advice is equally applicable to summer jobs or externships with government agencies, judicial chambers, and public interest groups—even working as a research assistant for a professor. All employers appreciate law students who meet deadlines, turn in excellent work, and show courtesy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Writing on to a Journal

Yesterday the four journals at UW Law and Prof. Kaltsounis offered an information session about the Melissa S. Landers 1L Write-on Competition. Whether or not you made it there, you might have some lingering questions about writing on. How can you figure out the material and write a good comment in a week? What's the best way to attack the problem? Is there anything you can do to prepare before the competition starts? What's a comment supposed to look like anyway?

Here to help you is Patrick Eoghan Murray, a 2013 UCLA Law grad who has posted Write on! A Guide to Getting on Law Review on SSRN.
Many law reviews select their members using a competition known as a "write on". Every year, many first year law students who have little to no experience with legal academic writing struggle to make sense of the basic principles necessary to do well in this endeavor. This Comment guides these students by presenting a strategy to succeed in this competition. By understanding some key information, a prospective applicant can increase her chances of getting on law review and improve her writing and editing abilities. It is my hope that this Comment will not only provide a benefit for individual applicants to law reviews, but will also have the downstream effect of boosting the quality of legal scholarship published by student-run law journals.

drawing of hand holding pen

Graphic: image from "Bouquinistes et Bouquineurs. Physiologie des Quais de Paris du Pont Royal au Pont Sully ... Illustrations d'E. Mas," available in the British Library's photostream on Flickr

400,000 Public Domain Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met recently announced that 400,000 images of art and objects in its collections may be used for scholarly and noncommercial use. These images may be downloaded and used without requesting permission or paying a fee.

Images labeled as OASC - Open Access for Scholarly Content - are included in this initiative. Examples:

After the Earthquake, San Francisco
Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1906

Cuneiform tablet, record of a judicial decision
Neo-Babylonian, clay

John La Farge, ca 1880
Leaded opalescent glass

Allegory of Government: Wisdom Defeating Discord
Jacob de Witt (1695-1754)
Oil on canvas

Perceptions of Justice in Washington State

The Washington State Minority and Justice Commission presents a half-day program, Perceptions of Justice, reviewing a report on Washingtonians' perceptions of how they are treated by the police and the courts.
June 9, 2014, 8:45 a.m.-noon
OB2 Auditorium DSHS, 115 Washington Street SE, Olympia
Registration is free and lunch is provided.
Email cynthia.delostrinos[at] with "Perceptions of Justice" in the subject line.
3 CLE credits
Speakers are:
  • Don Stemen, from Measures for Justice, a national organization working on ways to measure how well or poorly justice systems are performing basic legal services and then advocating to use the data to improve systems. Stemen is also on the faculty of the Dept. of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Loyola Chicago. His profile includes a list of recent publications.

  • Mark Peffley, Jon Hurwitz, and Jeffery Mondak, researchers for Justice in Washington report, which was commissioned by the Minority and Justice Commission.

    • An advance copy of the report is available on the Washington Defender Association's website: Part 1 (General Descriptive Report on the "Justice in Washington State Survey, 2012") (Oct. 1, 2012), Part 2 (Justice in Washington State Survey, 2012: Analysis of Results, 2nd Report) (rev. March 24, 2014)
    Justice in America cover

Library Hours for Memorial Day

The University of Washington observes Memorial Day, May 26.

The Law Library will be open from 8am - 5pm and the Reference Office will be open from 1 - 4pm.

Regular hours resume on Tuesday, May 27.

Visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs' website for more information on Memorial Day.

Seattle Pipeline links to Memorial Day and weekend events.

[Image credit:]

Monday, May 19, 2014

Using SSRN for Research

SSRN (the Social Science Research Network) can be very useful for legal researchers. Even better: you can use most of it free!

SSRN logo

SSRN is a huge repository for scholarly papers. Law, economics, and business dominate, but other disciplines, from Anthropology to Sustainability, are also represented. You can search it free. And you can download hundreds of thousands of papers free. (Did I mention? Much of SSRN is free!)

Check out UW Law's page on SSRN to see some of the recent (and not so recent) papers by our faculty, staff, and students.

UW Law's page on SSRN

To help you get started, we've posted a guide explaining some of the ways you can use SSRN.

60 Years Since Brown v. Board

Saturday marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), Google Scholar link.
After six decades, many students of color are in schools with few white students. In the Northeast, over half (51.4%) of black students are in schools whose student bodies are 90-100% minority. See

For lots more statistics and analysis, see:
Segregation by race is not the only issue. Communities are increasingly segregated by income too:
For historical materials, see
And to look at the issues locally, see Segregated Seattle, a collection of materials from the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project at the UW.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Playing Your Way Through Bar Prep

With bar exam prep on the horizon many students are probably wondering what is in store for them as they prepare for the July bar. As you might remember, a few months ago, I wrote a post advocating the use of video games in legal education.  It seems that some bar prep companies also see the usefulness of gaming. 

If you enjoy educational video games, you might find it comforting to know that games will be a part of your bar prep, especially if you take a prep class from Barbri. As a student in one of Barbri’s first classes to use Barbri AMP, I had the opportunity to see game theory put into action. Barbri AMP is a platform that uses game theory in order to keep students motivated while preparing for the bar exam. Barbri’s advertising material states that “Barbri AMP applies software techniques used by video game developers to help keep [students] motivated, engaged and focused.”

Check out the Barbri Amp Interface:

Advertising Material that Shows the Interface for Barbri Amp

One of the most interesting features of Barbri AMP is the ability to mine data about how people are working through the game. Then, Barbri can analyze that data both in regards to the group as a whole but also in regards to individual students. This data-mining allows for targeted updates and adjustments to the game both for the group as a whole as well as for individual students struggling in certain areas. In AMP, questions that a player got incorrect would come up more frequently as the game moved forward so that the student would be exposed to it more often and eventually get it correct.  My classmates seemed to have mixed reviews when it came to AMP, noting that it was time consuming working through the modules.  Personally, I found it to be a very useful tool for when I was tired and needed the additional motivation of "keeping score" to push through to the end of a unit.

Barbri is not the only company using game theory to prepare students for the bar. Filament Games created Simulawyer a game aimed at helping law students to achieve their academic goals and prepare for the bar exam. By placing the player in a semi-clinical setting the game seeks to instill “[d]octrinal knowledge and comprehension, [l]egal skills application and analysis, [and i]ntegration of legal ethics and professionalism.” It was acquired by InfiLaw, a consortium of independent law schools, in August of 2012. Unfortunately, Simulawyer is not available for download or play at this time. But take a look at what a game like this might be like: 

While bar prep will undoubtedly prove challenging, you might find it helpful to try introducing a little play into your schedule.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

British Pathé Uploads 85,000 Historic Film Footage to YouTube

Yes, you read that right, recently 85,000 videos from British Pathé’s collection of historic film footage has been uploaded to their YouTube account. British Pathé, known for its historic newsreels had digitized its collection back in 2002 and, earlier this month, has made its entire collection freely available for viewing on its four YouTube channels.

Regarding the decision to release the footage, Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé explains “Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” and “this archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

A Study in Copyright: Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Public Domain

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Good news Sherlock Holmes fans! A judge ruled earlier this year that Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories of the famous detective have entered the public domain here in the United States.  However, there’s a slight catch.  Character specifics from the last ten stories in the Sherlock Holmes series are still protected at least for the next eight years.

Conan Doyle’s novels and short stories of Sherlock Holmes were published in the United States prior to 1923.  According to copyright law, works published prior to January 1, 1923 in the U.S. are considered to be in the public domain.   However, the argument made by the Conan Doyle estate is that the characters did not enter into the public domain because there were ten short stories which were published after the January 1, 1923 cutoff date.   

Monday, May 12, 2014

Shiny Silver Sculpture

During last week's fire drill, many evacuees gathered by the shiny silver sculpture on Parrington Lawn, south of Gates Hall.
The Department of Forensic Morphology Annex is its name. You can read more about it to gather trivia that will amaze and entertain your friends and family.

[Photo credit: Kurt Kiefer, UW News from Across the Campus and Across the World, Columns, Mar. 2004.]

Legal Research Tune-Up for Summer Employment

The Seattle University law library is offering a legal research workshop to help prepare students for summer employment or to brush up on their legal research skills. The workshop will cover state and federal legislative history, regulations, and practice materials using a problem-based approach. Students will have hands-on practice working through research scenarios. Please bring your laptop.
UW law students are invited.  The workshop is free and will be held on Wednesday May 21st from 9:30 – 11:30 am in Sullivan Hall room 109. Coffee and snacks will be provided.
Please RSVP by May 19th.
If you have any questions please contact Barbara Swatt Engstrom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

International Response to Syrian Conflict

If you're interested in the international legal issues raised by the Syrian conflict, a great place to start is: International Responses to Syrian Conflict, Military Intervention, and Chemical Weapons. This research guide from Florida State University's law library includes arguments for and against intervention, information about the UN and international law, and information about the responses from the US and other nations.
Syrian flag, from CIA World Factbook

The guide's author just won the law library publications award, nonprint division, from the American Association of Law Libraries. Congratulations, Margaret Clark!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Updated Education Law Research Guides

A symphony in three parts, the updated Education Law Research Guide covers:
  • Primary Sources (federal and state laws and regulations)
  • Secondary Sources (treatises, legal encyclopedias, journals, newsletters, and other content on Lexis Advance and Westlaw Next
  • Additional Sources (government publications, nonlaw databases, statistics, and organizational websites)
This guide was updated for use by students in A584, American Public School Law, taught by Sherrie Brown.

Photo credit:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Updated Korean Legal Research Guide

Korean Legal Research Guide | Online Journals | EALD

The Gallagher Law Library's Korean Legal Research Guide was extensively updated recently. Originally created by Bill McCloy in 2006, Kelly Kang and Rob Britt have collaborated on bringing it up-to-date. Ms. Kang holds an LLM degree from Indiana University's Maurer School of Law.

Gallagher Law Library Korean Legal Research Guide

The KLR Guide (see link above) includes information about and access to a wide variety of Korean legal resources, both print and online. One highlight is "Online Journals," which lists the many online full-text Korean legal periodicals in English and Korean available to University of Washington researchers through subscription services such as DBPIA and KISS. The KLR Guide also includes links to the online collection of English translations of Korean law, KLRI Statutes of the Republic of Korea, and to the comprehensive Korean language legal database, Law&b.

For more information about the KLR Guide, or questions about East Asian legal research, contact Rob Britt of the Gallagher Law Library's East Asian Law Department (EALD),