Researching Women’s Rights

Women's Rights | ACLU of Michigan
Photo credit: https://www.aclumich.org/en/issues/womens-rights

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision allowing SB8, Texas’s restrictive abortion legislation which effectively bans all abortion after 6 weeks (and undermines nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent established by Roe v. Wade) to go into effect, some students may be interested in researching the laws addressing women’s rights nationally and internationally. This post will focus on some international sources of law regarding women’s reproductive rights and right to safe legal abortions.

UN Treaty Bodies

The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights published an information pamphlet on abortion summarizing the opinions and comments of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies. The pamphlet contains several helpful endnotes to primary source documents issued by UNHR bodies addressing abortion.

OHCHR: Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council Working Group on discrimination against women and girls issued a 2016 report on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice on its mission to the United States of America in which it expressed regret that American women have “seen their rights to sexual and reproductive health significantly eroded…” (para. 28) and noted that “ever-increasing barriers are being created to prevent their access to abortion procedures.” (para. 68)

CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination of United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted 18 December 1979, entered into force 3 September 1981, 1249 UNTS 13 provides that there should be equal political, economic, social, cultural and civil rights for women regardless of their marital status and requires States to enact national legislation banning discrimination. As of the date of this post, 189 countries have ratified the Convention. Though the Carter administration signed CEDAW in 1980, the Bush and Reagan administrations opposed it and despite repeated hearings and recommendations from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its ratification, the United States is still not a party to the Convention. On the issue of reproductive rights and abortion, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has stated that “it is discriminatory for a State party to refuse to legally provide for the performance of certain reproductive health services for women.” (para. 11)

ICESCR

Nor has the United States ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 3 January 1976, 993 UNTS 3 , despite signing in 1977. As noted in the OHCHR’s pamphlet on abortion. the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has explained that as part of the obligation to eliminate discrimination, States should address “criminalization of abortion or restrictive
abortion laws.”
(para. 34)

Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on a gender-sensitive approach to arbitrary killings

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on a gender-sensitive approach to arbitrary killings has also noted that the “death of a woman, where it can be medically linked to a deliberate denial of access to life-saving medical care because of an absolute legal ban on abortion, would not only constitute a violation of the right to life and an arbitrary deprivation of life, but would also amount to a gender-based arbitrary killing…” (para.94)

Council of Europe

European human rights law also mandates access to safe abortion and reproductive health services to protect the health of women and girls.  The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men has stated that it “considers that a ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous.” Most recently, the Council issued an interim resolution calling on Poland to adopt clear and effective procedures on steps women need to take to access lawful abortion.

Remember, if you have any questions about legal research to stop by the reference desk or reach out to askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu. Happy researching!

Free Resources Alert! Law Library of Congress

If you need to do any type of foreign or international law research, the Law Library of Congress (law.gov) offers a trove of (free!) resources that will be invaluable to your research.  Recently, the Law Library redid their website, making it easier to navigate.  Below is a summary of the resources available on law.gov.

The Researcher Resources tab takes you to a page with links to the Library’s Research Guides, Guide to Law Online, the Legal Research Institute, Congress.gov, the Library’s blog, In Custodia Legis, databases, and story maps which are interactive web applications that describe the Library’s collections  through narrative, multimedia, and interactive maps. 

Research Guides

The Law Library has published dozens of research guides, including research guides on the laws of the 50 states and U.S. territories (e.g. Guide to Law Online: Puerto Rico); various topic areas (Nonprofit Organizations Law: A Beginner’s Guide,  U.S. Federal Appellate Courts: Records and Briefs, Public International Law: A Beginner’s Guide); and guides for foreign law (e.g. Guide to Law Online – Australia). Each guide contains links to additional free sources for caselaw, legislation, and other resources and guides to assist in your research.

Legal Reports
The Law Library of Congress produces reports on foreign, comparative, and international law in response to requests from Members of Congress, Congressional staff and committees, the federal courts, executive branch agencies, and others. Selected reports are provided for the public for reference purposes. This can be a great brainstorming resource if you are looking for a foreign, international, or comparative topic to write on.  Some recent reports include: Citizenship through international adoption; Children’s online privacy and data protection in selected European countries; and Legal provisions on gender equality. You can browse these reports or search for reports on a specific topic using the search feature on top of the page.

Reference Librarians at the Law Library of Congress
If you have any questions about a resource or obtaining a source of foreign or international law (or any law), you can ask the reference librarians at the Library using the Ask the Library feature.  The Law Library of Congress employs experts in different areas of the law and countries and is thus well-equipped to provide guidance on finding sources on a wide variety of topic areas and jurisdictions.

Need To Track Recent Changes in Laws, Regulations & Guidance re. COVID-19?

See:

Bloomberg Law, Health: In Focus: Coronavirus (COVID-19)   

Bloomberg Law also allows subscribers to receive alerts from its legal newsletter: Coronavirus Outbreak

Health Affairs, click link: ACCESS ONLINE VERSION > Topic: COVID-19

Lexis+, Complimentary Coronavirus Resources

Westlaw, Covid-19 Legal Materials & News

The New York Times, The Covid-19 Pandemic

Also, members of the BLS community who choose to create FT.com accounts can receive FT Coronavirus Business Update.

Summer Fun in New York City

In honor of National Library Week and all the exciting adventures that books take us on, the library is highlighting a few resources that explore the adventures to be had in New York City. So, now that the weather is warming up, you can have some socially distant fun.

Compilations of New York City Events and Places to Explore:

Arts in New York City:

Outdoor Events and Adventures in New York City:

Stay in the Know: Current Awareness Resources

Whether for a class, a note topic, or just for the sake of staying informed, you no doubt want to keep up with today’s current events. The BLS Library offers a wide variety of subscription news sources to the BLS community. Explore just some of the resources we have below and if you have any questions about accessing any of these sources or others, just ask a librarian at askthelibrary@brooklyn.edu. Happy newsing!!

NEW YORK TIMES

Students and members of the BLS community are entitled to a free subscription to the NY Times. To register, go to https://nytimesineducation.com/access-nyt/, choose Brooklyn Law School from the drop-down, and then follow the instructions to register.  For your initial registration, you must either be on campus or go through Brooklyn Law School’s proxy server (see Proxy Server Instructions) AND you must use your brooklaw.edu email account to register.  Once you have registered, you can use your login name and password to access the site from anywhere.  Each year you will need to login from on-campus or using the proxy server in order to keep your access active. 

FINANCIAL TIMES

…and students and the BLS community also have access to the Financial Times! To create your FT.com account, follow the instructions at this link: https://join.ft.com/63059ceb-a0f6-4354-9471-4154de1e50da . Next, you will be sent an email with password creation info. (NOTE, there might be a delay before receiving the email). Once you have created your account, go to www.ft.com and sign in with your account details to access unlimited content and tools.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

While we do not have student subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal, you can access the Wall Street Journal on ProQuest and Lexis+.

Wall Street Journal: access via ProQuest (Proxy Server required) or via Lexis+ (login required).

LEGAL NEWS

Finally, for legal news, check out these sources below:

Law360: (access via Proxy Server) www.law360.com

Law.com: (access via Proxy Server) includes national and local news sources: www.law.com

Bloomberg Law News: (login via Bloomberg Law here

And that’s not all! For even more resources check out our News Access Research Guide!

Summer & Alumni Access

You automatically have summer access to Lexis. You can use your account for both school work and your internship. Check the Lexis for Law School homepage for information on upcoming trainings and workshops. Graduating students have access to their accounts until February 28, 2022.

For Bloomberg Law, you can continue to use your account over the summer without interruption. This access is granted automatically. Graduating students will have access to their account until June 21, 2022.

You can continue to use your Westlaw account for summer research. If you are interning at a firm, be sure to check with them first. You may need to use a different account for billing purposes.

To help you begin your career as a practicing attorney, the Brooklyn Law School Library’s “Practice-Ready” program from Westlaw provides you with continued access to Westlaw and other practice tools for 18 months after graduation, for up to 60 hours each month, including use for work-related research.

To access these products, all you have to do is enroll in Westlaw’s “Grad Elite” program. Simply log in to your existing Westlaw account and you will receive a pop-up message to confirm your enrollment.

In addition to Westlaw and Practical Law, you also have access to these practice tools: 

Drafting Assistant Essential
Westlaw Doc & Form Builder
Practical Law Connect

Learn more about these products and others, including how to access and support, by visiting the Practice Ready Landing Page

Recent grads should check out our Affordable Legal Resources research guide.

Ten Tips for Summer Research

  1. This summer, Brooklyn Law School’s continuing students will have access to their Bloomberg Law, Lexis+ and Westlaw Edge accounts.  But a summer employer might want student workers to use one of the employer’s accounts for billing purposes—check with your employer.  For continuing students, Thomson Reuters imposes a Westlaw Edge usage limit of 180 hours per month for an active (non-extended access) account.  Brooklyn Law School’s graduating students will have access to Bloomberg Law and Lexis+ (excluding public records) for 6 months after graduation. Graduating students who plan to engage in “verifiable 501(c)(3) public interest work” can apply to access selected Lexis+ content for 12 months. All graduating students can enroll in Thomson Reuters’ Grad Elite program to obtain 18 months of access (with a cap of 60 hours per month) to Westlaw Edge, Practical Law, Westlaw China, Thomson Reuters ProView eBooks and drafting tools.
  2. A legal database might have a practice-focused page of sources for the area of law you need to research.  These practice pages often provide: legal news, practice notes, checklists, sample forms, tools to build forms and model clauses.  Explore these pages through: Westlaw Edge pull-down menu option: Practical Law, Lexis+ icon: Practical Guidance and Bloomberg Law home page link: Practical Guidance.
  3. If you need to update someone else’s draft legal brief/opinion, or if you wish to try to find additional citations to support your own brief, try using one of the brief analysis tools that are supported by highly-regarded citators, such as Lexis+: Brief Analysis and Westlaw Edge: Quick Check.  Note: When using a Safe Harbor Project memo as a test, Lexis+: Brief Analysis provided Shepard’s treatment for both cases and BIA Decisions cited in the memo.  (Be aware of any citations in your brief analysis results that a brief analysis tool states it cannot verify.  You will need to Shepardize or KeyCite these citations.)
  4. If you might need to write legal briefs, consider downloading Lexis For Microsoft Office for Law Schools.  After downloading Lexis for Microsoft Office: When you open your Word document and click tab: LexisNexis, you will be able to Shepardize citations in your document, to check the Bluebook format of citations in your document, to check the accuracy of quotes in your document (if Lexis+ recognizes the quoted sources) and to create a table of authorities.  Feel free to direct questions about this product to Brooklyn Law School’s Lexis+ Practice Area Consultant, Mary Beth Drain (marybeth.drain@lexisnexis.com). 
  5. If you want to find data about the types of cases a judge has heard, how a judge has ruled on motions, or the outcome of appeals from a judge’s decisions, try using a litigation analytics tool. In Westlaw Edge, Lexis+ and Bloomberg Law, these tools are called: Litigation Analytics. Westlaw Edge: Litigation Analytics covers U.S. federal and selected state courts and includes the ability to view damages awarded in U.S. federal district courts.
  6. If you need to compare laws and/or regulations in multiple states, check: Bloomberg Law: State Law Chart Builders, Cheetah: choose a practice area, like: Tax: State & Local > link to Smart Charts or Quick Answer Charts, HeinOnline: National Survey of State Laws, Lexis+: Practical Guidance> Tools & Resources: State Law Comparison Tool, State Law Surveys and Westlaw Edge: 50 State Statutory Surveys, 50 State Regulatory Surveys, Jurisdictional Surveys. An additional free tool is National Conference of State Legislatures: Research > Topics.  (Always check the dates of information provided by these tools.)  
  7. Create a free account at SSRN to search for current legal working papers and pre-prints of legal articles and book chapters.  Tip: if you retrieve a lengthy list of SSRN results, try sorting the results by: Date Posted, Descending.     
  8. If you do not live in Feil Hall, implement Brooklyn Law School’s proxy server instructions for one web browser.  Then, when you use that browser to search Google Scholar for articles, you will be able to link to the full text of more articles.  (Your Google Scholar search results likely will include articles from Brooklyn Law School’s subscription databases.) Use of the proxy server also allows you to search for/link to articles from Brooklyn Law School Library’s home page. (Tip: change the search pull down menu option to: I’d like to search: Articles.)
  9. If you wish to identify/access Brooklyn Law School Library’s subscription e-books off campus, use a web browser that communicates with Brooklyn Law School’s proxy server and search SARA catalog.  If you are a New York State resident, you also can apply online for a New York Public Library (NYPL) digital library card. This will provide access to NYPL’s ebooks and selected databases.
  10. Feel free to email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or to use the the chat feature (“Need Help?”) on this page to ask whether there might be a useful research tool to support your summer work.  For example, those seeking New York civil trial practice aids or evidence treatises might wish to consult Brooklyn Law School Library’s New York Civil Practice research guide.  New registrants in the Safe Harbor Project might wish to review U.S. Immigration Law Research Starting Points (which describes a new library subscription to AILALink database) and to apply for FREE membership in American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).   

Good luck with your summer research! BLS librarians are here to help.

Getting Ready for Exam Time? – Check Out the Study Guides Available from BLS Library

Exam Resources

It’s that time of year! As exam season approaches, there are several resources that the library offers to assist you in your studying. The library’s 1L Resources, Tips and Tools: Library Information Guide has links to study aids and other resources to help you succeed on your law school exams. Both 1L and upper-class students may want to check out the Nutshell series of study guides or the Examples & Explanations study guides.

If you are not on campus, you can access several digital resources such as the Lexis Digital Library which includes the Understanding study aid series.  As you can see below, this series contains study aids for both first year and upper-level courses. 

Keep in mind, that if you want to access digital resources off-campus, you will need to install the proxy server. If you would like to study in the library, you will need to reserve a seat beforehand. Remember that you will need to submit a negative COVID test and abide by the law school’s safety procedures in order to enter and use the library.

Finally, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or use the chat feature on the library’s homepage.

Stay safe and good luck on your exams!

Keeping Up with Legal Publications through SmartCILP

If you are writing a note, seminar paper, or you are interested in a particular area of law, you will want to be apprised of the latest publications on that topic.  An easy way to stay up-to-date on new journal articles is to set up an alert that will inform you of any new publications in the topic areas of your choice.  


HeinOnline recently introduced SmartCILP, a weekly publication that alerts you to the latest articles indexed in the Current Index of Legal Periodicals, also known as CILP.  CILP indexes by subject heading, the most recent issues of primarily American law journals and includes more than 650 legal publications organized within 104 relevant subject headings. The University of Washington Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library has maintained CILP and sent out weekly updates to subscribers for nearly 90 years.  Now users can subscribe directly to these updates through HeinOnline. 

To set up your SmartCILP alerts, and customize the topic areas for which you would like to receive updates, go to: https://heinonline.org/HOL/CILPDownloads?collection=cilp and click on “Create New SmartCILP User.”

Then, enter a BLS email address, and choose the topics, subjects and/or specific legal journals of interest.  Remember that if you are off-campus, you will need to have the proxy installed (https://www.brooklaw.edu/Library/Proxy-Server).

Note that you likely would receive your first SmartCILP email on a Monday.  This email could be caught in Mimecast, so please check Mimecast and click “Permit” to allow future SmartCILP notifications to appear in your “Inbox.”If you have any problems or questions, email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu