Tax Havens and Income Inequality

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for November 11, 2015 has 88 items with 65 print volumes and 23 e-books. The entries cover a wide range of subjects from Lotteries (American Sweepstakes: How One Small State Bucked the Church, the Feds, and the Mob to Usher in the Lottery Age) to Discrimination in Criminal Justice (Crime, Inequality and Power) to Prostitution (Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law) to Freedom of Expression (Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights) to Race Relations (Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State).

Hidden WealthAlso included is The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (Call # HJ2336 .Z8313 2015) by Gabriel Zucman (translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan from the French original Richesse Cachée des Nations and with a foreword by noted economist Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century). This slim 129 page book claims to be the “the first serious economic research” into tax haven activity and an important work that anyone interested in tax havens, social justice, defeating inequality and delivering tax reform should read. The author is a French economist based at the University of California, Berkeley, and part of a network of doing valuable work on inequality, wealth, tax and the difficulties caused by the uneven distribution of capital resources in society. Although the book fails to define what a tax haven is, it does set out a campaign on tax havens in the second half of this book which makes a lot of sense. The book recommends the creation of a global register of financial asset wealth holding. This suggestion could be a practical and necessary step in the assembly of the data needed for the global wealth tax proposed in his book.

Whether country-by-country reporting can be an effective foundation for a taxation of multinational corporations is an open question. Country-by-country reporting may well permit tax authorities to determine what proportion of the sales, employees and assets of a multinational corporation are located in its jurisdiction. Similarly, if a global register of wealth could be established, the data needed to tax global wealth would have been created. The book is worth reading of its vision of an activist committed to promoting a new and radical solution that he has identified. Not many academics take on the role of the public intellectual who demands action to address a problem that they have identified. This one does.

Price We PayReaders interested on this topic may want to view The Price We Pay, a documentary inspired by another French book La Crise Fiscale qui Vient. Director Harold Crooks looks at the dirty world of corporate malfeasance and the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harboring profits in offshore havens. Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world’s stock of money beyond reach of public treasuries. Nation states are being reshaped by this offshoring of the world’s wealth. Tax avoidance by big corporations and the wealthy is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the  trends carrying the Western world to an unsustainable future.

Thanksgiving Weekend Hours

TRDThanksgivingThe Library will be open the following hours during the Thanksgiving break:

Wednesday, November 25th:  9:00am – 10:00pm

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26th:  CLOSED

Friday & Saturday, November 27th-28th;  9:00am – 10:00pm

Sunday, November 29th:  10:00am – 12:00am

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!

Privacy and Data Security

securityThe Brooklyn Law School Library has long provided access to Bloomberg Law to the law school community. BLS users now have access to a new legal intelligence platform: the Privacy & Data Security through the Practice Centers tab where users can click on Intellectual Property. At the top left corner of the page is a purple banner that reads “Looking for Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security >> Access Now.” There, users will find analysis and news in an increasingly critical area for legal professionals.

Announced late last month, this newest Bloomberg Law tool was launched to address the need many legal practitioners have to quickly educate themselves on privacy and data security trends shaping legal practice, compliance and business operations. Data security runs the gamut from maintaining the integrity of simple personal information such as names, social security numbers and other private information to more complex business issues like those last month in the European Court of Justices’ invalidation of the long standing U.S. “safe harbor” agreement in the case of Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner. Privacy and data security laws can change overnight and the Privacy & Security Data Resource Center helps explain them.

In addition to aggregating news and information in this area of law, the platform features tools to help users develop perspective on the items most likely to impact specific industries or business units. For example, the platform’s “chart builder” allows practitioners to compare laws on breach notification, privacy and data security laws across regional jurisdictions. It also has “heat maps” that highlight areas of developing case law and legislation, and provide direction to applicable documentation for easy review.

Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security has a collection of portfolios offering insight and guidance from leading privacy and data security authorities. Written by expert practitioners, titles include Cybersecurity and Privacy in Business Transactions: Managing Data Risk in Deals and Cross-Border Data Transfers. There are also treatises with expert practitioner insights and guidance to help make sound decisions and plan with confidence. Titles include Practical Guide to the Red Flag Rules: Identifying and Addressing Identity Theft Risks and Cyber Liability in the Age of the New Data Security Laws.

GoliathThe BLS Library has many titles in its collection on the subject of data security. One of the latest is Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier (Call # HM846 .S362 2015). The publisher of the 383 page NY Times bestseller says “Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.

“The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.

“Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.”

Looking for a Reliable Source of Global Legal News? Try the Law Library of Congress Global Legal Monitor


The Law Library of Congress produces many excellent legal research tools – including the Guide to Law Online.  The Guide to Law Online provides links for web-based sources of federal law, state law, and for the laws of hundreds of foreign countries

Another great Law Library of Congress research tool is the Global Legal Monitor  The Global Legal Monitor offers coverage of legal news and developments worldwide.  Global Legal Monitor is produced by a team of Law Library of Congress editors, it is updated frequently, and its content is drawn from news stories found in official national legal publications and reliable press sources. Browse news stories from the Global Legal Monitor homepage or search for older news stories by text, topic, jurisdiction, author, or date.

Oyez, Oyez, Happy Halloween

HalloweenOn October 31, 2005, during oral arguments in the case of Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356 (2006), a light bulb blew out and made a gunshot-like sound. A lively exchange among the Justices ensued, according to the transcript of the oral arguments on Oyez, Chicago-Kent’s free law project that makes the US Supreme Court accessible to everyone. Oyez, which is available in Brooklyn Law School’s SARA Catalog, has transcript-synchronized and searchable audio, plain-English case summaries, illustrated decision information, and opinions. It also provides detailed information on every justice throughout history and offers a panoramic tour of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of several justices.

The spirited exchange that afternoon was the only time a sitting US Supreme Court Justice said “Happy Halloween” from the bench. The comments from the transcript are below:

A light bulb exploded.
I think we’re… I think it’s safe.
A light bulb went out.
It’s a trick they play on new Chief Justices all the time.
Happy Halloween.
John G. Roberts, Jr.
We’re even… yeah, we’re even more in the dark now than before.

Hat Tip to Victoria Sutton author of Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum.

National Pro Bono Week Oct. 25 – Oct. 31

Pro Bono Celebration Week, sponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee Volunteering-SVGon Pro Bono and Public Service, is a national event that takes place every year in late October with events all over the country.  It is an opportunity to spotlight the difference lawyers can make in their communities, to recruit and train more pro bono volunteers and to acknowledge the partnerships that form the basis for many successful pro bono efforts.

Although national in breadth, the Celebration provides an opportunity for local legal associations across the country to take the next step in their efforts to provide high quality legal services to those living on the social margins.

The need for legal services among the poor is overwhelming. According to an American Bar Association study, at least 40% of low and moderate-income households experience a legal problem each year. Yet studies show that the collective civil legal aid effort is meeting only about 20% of the legal needs of low-income people.

Interested in volunteering and want to find out more about what opportunities are available?  Check out the NYS Pro Bono Opportunities Guide.  The Guide is a database of organizations that lawyers, law students and paralegals can search in order to find volunteer opportunities.

The New York State Pro Bono Opportunities Guide is a joint project of The City Bar Justice Center, the New York State Bar Association, Pro Bono Net and Volunteers of Legal Service.



Reinventing the Library

libraryReinventing the Library, a NY Times Op-Ed by Argentine-born Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor Alberto Manguel is worth reading for anyone interested in the future of libraries. Recognizing that the dismantling of libraries occurs in periods of economic crisis when cutting funds to culture seems so easy to some, the author envisions a future as more than a simple matter of economics. He states:

Libraries are resilient. Intent on surviving in an age where the intellectual act has lost almost all prestige, libraries have become largely social centers. Most libraries today are used less to borrow books than to seek protection from harsh weather and to find jobs online, and it is admirable that librarians have lent themselves to these very necessary services that don’t traditionally belong to their job description. A new definition of the role of librarians could be drafted by diversifying their mandate, but such restructuring must also ensure that the librarians’ primary purpose is not forgotten: to guide readers to their books.

Libraries have always been more than a place where readers come to read. The librarians of Alexandria no doubt collected things other than books: maps, art, instruments, and readers probably came there not only to consult books but also to attend public lectures, converse with one another, teach and learn. And yet the library remained principally a place where books, in all their various forms, were stored for consultation and preservation.

The Op-Ed article notes that libraries are forced to take on functions that society is too miserly  to fulfill, and meeting those obligations diminishes funds for buying new books and argues that in changing the role of libraries without preserving the centrality of the book, we risk losing something irretrievable. But libraries deal with more than Books. They also offer Information. A bibliocentric view of libraries stresses the importance of printed texts and ignores the expanding nature of library services. Such a view may contribute to library image problems. Increasingly, libraries offer information services not just printed books. Brooklyn Law School Library provides both. Recently, BLS Library hosted its Fourth Annual Library Databases Research Fair. This week and next, BLS Library Director Janet Sinder scheduled Bluebooking for Success workshops on using the Blue Book geared to first year students and others. Where possible, BLS Library purchases books in eBook format. This means users can access books online through home computers, library computers and mobile devices. It is not just printed books that “show us our responsibilities toward one another, help us question our values and undermine our prejudices, lend us courage and ingenuity to continue to live together, and give us illuminating words that might allow us to imagine better times.”

With libraries changing from print to digital repositories and information centers, consider two recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals decisions:  Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google and Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, 755 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2014). Both decisions expand access to collections available in libraries, making material accessible in new ways to researchers and readers and providing access for print-disabled persons. Court opinions validating book scanning shows how libraries are changing. They must now deal in information that it is used and produced in diverse new ways. All libraries, both public and private, are adjusting. Libraries remain as important as ever to information literacy and the preservation and of culture and learning.

NYC Landmarks Law at 50

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Landmarks Law of New York City, which was enacted on April 19, 1965 when Mayor Robert F. Wagner signed it beginning an era of historic preservation. Since then, almost 1,400 individual landmarks, 115 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, 109 historic districts, and 10 historic district extensions located throughout all five boroughs have been designated. The Landmarks Law established the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the mayoral agency responsible for identifying, designating, preserving, and regulating New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites. The Landmarks Law is found in Chapter 74 of the New York City Charter.

On Wednesday, October 21 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, a panel of land use experts in a session called Preserving our Architectural History: The Business Case for Landmarks Preservation will discuss the economic impact of historic preservation in New York City. Another event marking the anniversary of the Landmarks Law is scheduled on  Monday, October 26, 2015 at the New York City Bar Association. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design will host History in the Making: The New York City Landmarks Law at 50, a full-day conference at the Bar Association offices at 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY.

landmarkOn the subject of historic sites, the Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection Landmarks Preservation and the Property Tax: Assessing Landmark Buildings for Real for Real Taxation Purposes by David Lisotkin (Call #KF6535 .L58 2012). The book examines the growing importance of historic preservation. Communities across the country have established designation programs whereby individual buildings or districts of historical-architectural significance are accorded landmark status. It focuses on New York City in considering the effects of historic status on property value and in evaluating assessment practices. Its findings are transferrable to other communities because the base conditions are similar. Many other cities have designation programs modeled on New York City’s. In addition, New York’s property-tax system and administrative processes resemble those found in communities across the nation. To enhance the transferability of this study’s findings, Listokin refers to the national experience and literature, typically on a side-by-side basis with the New York City counterpart.

Supreme Court To Decide If and When RICO Reaches Extraterritorially

On October 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to the Second Circuit decision in European Community v. RJR Nabisco, 764 F.3d 129 (2d Cir. 2014). In granting review, the Court will determine whether or not RICO has extraterritorial reach. In examining this issue, the Court may also rule on how to decide whether RICO claims involving multinational parties are domestic ones, and how to determine whether it is an improper or proper extraterritorial claim.

If you would like to learn more about the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), check out the library resources below.

Research & Citation Review Workshops

In anticipation of the first year Research and Citation Quiz, the Library will offer two review workshops.

180px-The_Bluebook_18th_ed_CoverThe workshop on Bluebooking with Success will be offered twice; you may attend either session.  Please bring your Bluebook!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 4:00pm – 5:00pm, Room 601

Thursday, October 22, 2015, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, Room 503


ContentImage-6275-95126-shutterstock_108141146You may bring your research questions to this Question & Answer Workshop.  We will also go over some sample quiz questions.

Monday, October 26, 2015, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, 7th floor Moot Court Room


Looking forward to seeing you at these timely and helpful research & citation review sessions.