Thursday, August 28, 2014

Free Advice: Succeeding in Law School

Who doesn't want to do well in law school? No one! But there's a lot to figure out, from how to manage your time to how to tackle exams. Law School Materials for Success, by Barbara Glesner Fines, is a short (89 pages in PDF) book that is packed with tips and advice. Even better: it's free, from CALI! (It's free in various ebook formats. You can buy a paperback copy for $5.14.)

Law School Materials for Success cover
The first year of law school is, for many people, one of the most significant transitions of their adult life. Law school demands a lot as it helps you make the transition from your prior identity as student (or as some other occupational role) to your new identity as an attorney. To meet the demands of law school, it is often helpful to have the big picture before you begin – a sense of what it is you are trying to do as you prepare for classes, participate in those classes, review and prepare for exams, take exams, and then begin the cycle once again.

Law School Materials for Success is designed to give you the essentials of that process. It is purposefully brief – most law students do not have the time for an extensive examination of the study of law school. Rather, they need a source for some basic, critical advice and some pointers on where to go for more if necessary. That is what this book and the accompanying podcasts are designed to provide. 
The podcasts are available from

Monday, August 25, 2014

Reference Office Closures

Although the Law Library will be open Tuesday, August. 26, the Reference Office will be closed.

The Reference Office will re-open at 9am on Wednesday, August 27.

And one more reminder, in observance of the Labor Day holiday, the Law Library and Reference Office will be closed Friday, August. 29 through Monday, September 1st.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Legality of Prisoner-for-Hostage Swap

Congressional Republican leaders asked the Government Accountability Office to review the Department of Defense's actions in releasing five prisoners from Guantanamo to Qatar in exchange for the Taliban releasing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

In a report released yesterday, the GAO concluded that the actions violated a section of the Defense Appropriations Act and the Antideficiency Act. News coverage:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Environmental Rights in Constitutions

A lot of countries have constitutional provisions establishing a right to a clean and healthy environment. Which ones? And what language do they use?

A political science and public policy professor has put together information from several sources to create Envirorights Map, an interactive page that answers these questions.

Map of Africa shows which countries have environmental provisions
in their constitutions. Blue marker indicates Kenya,
and pop-up quotes the beginning of relevant provision in
the Constitution of Kenya (2010) with a link for more.
The map has nothing for the United States, since our federal constitution does not have such a provision. Montana's state constitution, though, devotes an entire article to Environment and Natural Resources. And other states also have environmental provisions in their constitutions. See James May & William Romanowicz, Environmental Rights in State Constitutions, in Principles of Constitutional Environmental Law 305 (James R. May ed., 2011). (The link is to the chapter on SSRN. The book is at Classified Stacks (KF3775 .P748 2011). The catalog record lists the chapters, most discussing federal constitutional law.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Conflicts Among Wash. Court of Appeals Divisions

Unlike the federal circuits, the Washington Court of Appeals is a "unitary system"—one court that sits in three divisions, not three separate courts. But sometimes panels from two divisions disagree with each other, so there can be conflicting precedent. What's a trial judge to do? And how should counsel frame their arguments to the trial court?

Learn more about the problem and possible solutions in: Mark DeForrest, In the Groove or in a Rut? Resolving Conflicts Between the Divisions of the Washington State Court of Appeals at the Trial Court Level, 48 Gonz. L. Rev. 431 (2013).

Map of Washington Court of Appeals divisions from Washington Courts website
For practical help on working with precedent in Washington, see Kelly Kunsch, Stare Decisis—Everything You Never Realized You Need to Know, 52 Wash. St. B. News, Oct. 1998, at 31, HeinOnline

Monday, August 4, 2014

Upcoming Library Hours Changes

When School of Law summer quarter exams end this Friday, August 8th, the Law Library and the Reference Office will begin interim hours of operation.

The Library will be open weekdays, Monday through Friday, 8am - 5pm.
The Reference Office will be open weekdays, 9am - 12noon and 1 - 5pm.

The Library and the Reference Office will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

In addition, the Library and Reference Office will be closed on Monday, August 11th, and from Friday through Monday, August 29th through September 1st, for Labor Day.

These hours will be continue from Saturday, August 9th, through Sunday, September 21st.

Reference librarians will respond to questions submitted through the Ask Us link on the Law Library website when the Reference Office is open.