In Honor of Women’s History Month – BLS Alumna and Suffragette, “General” Rosalie Jones

rosaliejonesRosalie Gardiner Jones was born in 1883 to Mary and Oliver Livingston Jones, wealthy Oyster Bay socialites.  She graduated from Adelphi College, then a women’s school, in Brooklyn and later from Brooklyn Law School.

When she was 28, Rosalie entered the suffrage movement and led two “suffrage hikes”, one from NYC to Albany, and the second from NYC to Washington DC, to bring attention to the women’s right to vote movement.

The NYC to Albany hike took thirteen days. Rosalie along with other women, walked (in skirts), through bad weather and difficult roads, a distance of 150 miles to reach their destination. They made speeches, sang songs to keep morale up, and gave interviews to the press along the way. The press dubbed her and her followers, “General Jones” and the “suffragette pilgrims”.

The NYC to Washington, DC hike covered more than 200 miles and took 20 days to finish.  When the arrived in DC they joined over 5,000 of their fellow suffragists in the National Woman Suffrage Parade procession, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue toward Constitution Hall.

Brooklyn’s Eastern District Federal Court: 150 Years

This Monday in the courthouse on Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn, two Justices of the US Supreme Court, the Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor, both of whom hold honorary degrees from Brooklyn Law School (Ginsburg receiving hers in 1987 and Sotomayor being awarded her Degree of Juris Doctor Honoris Causa in 2001), attended a ceremony celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). The actual date of the first EDNY court session was March 22, 1865 after President Abraham Lincoln, on Feb. 25, 1865, signed the bill creating the Eastern District. Monday’s celebration looked back at the humble beginnings of the court, noting the progress towards diversity and the application of justice over the years. It also looked at a district that has become one of the most respected and revered federal courts in the country.

The courthouse for the Eastern District has occupied several sites over the years: its first session convened in a room at Brooklyn City Court; it then moved to two separate locations on Montague Street and in 1891 settled in the backyard of 40 Clinton St. At one point the court rented space in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle Building …for overflow Chambers and offices,” noted a History of the United States Court for the Eastern District of New York, prepared by the Federal Bar Association of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In her remarks, Justice Ginsburg, Brooklyn-born and an alumna of James Madison High School, said “The birth of this court, 150 years ago, is cause for celebration…In its early years…the court only had one judge.” For the first 46 years of the district’s existence, one judge handled all of the court’s business, and in 1910, a second judge was added to assist with the caseload. It was not until a high rate of litigation during and after World War I when more judgeships were created for the Eastern District.

The second female to sit as a justice in the highest court of the land, Ginsburg remarked on the diversity of the Eastern District bench, mentioning the first “woman to break that barrier in the Eastern District, Reena Raggi, in 1987.” Raggi now sits on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ginsburg stated “For me, it is an incredible dream come true that the majority of the [EDNY] court’s active judges are women and that the composition of this bench mirrors the diversity of the communities the court serves.” There are currently 12 female district judges serving the Eastern District of New York,  all in active and not in senior status. Justice Sotomayor did not speak at Monday’s event but will officiate a naturalization ceremony in October to commemorate the court’s anniversary.Providing hope for another 150 years of the Eastern District, Ginsburg concluded, “May the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York continue to flourish, serving all of the people … [and] to serve and [provide] justice that is equal and accessible to all…We can’t let our history die with those who know it.”

Monday’s ceremonies included remarks by Former Chief Judge Jack B. Weinstein, who recalled sitting on his parents’ shoulders as they watched Civil War veterans ride down Grand Central Parkway in the 1920s. He said: “Over the years, our judges and magistrate judges, despite a huge increase in number, have continued to share a deep affection—and an unwavering desire to provide the rule of law to all our people in this district.”

For a history of the Eastern District, see in the BLS Library the short 95 page book titled To Administer Justice on Behalf of All the People: The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York 1965-1990 by Jeffrey B. Morris (Call # KF8755.N49 M67 1992).

Legal Research Beyond Westlaw & Lexis

data baseWhile in law school, you may find the vast majority of the sources you need through the two main online legal platforms, Westlaw and Lexis. There is a reason why they are the leaders of the pack. They provide you with a comprehensive set of primary and secondary sources of law. But Westlaw and Lexis do not necessarily have every resource you may need. Listed below are three other key legal online platforms with a brief description of each platform’s unique content. Before you graduate, make sure to utilize and become familiar with these tools. If you have any questions about accessing or using them, please contact a reference librarian. (

Bloomberg BNA:

For legal news, Bloomberg BNA Law Reports are the industry standard. There are over 100 different law reports, which cover a range of topics including: securities, patent, trademark, copyright, white collar, health care, environmental law, labor and employment, etc. Besides BNA Law Reports, Bloomberg BNA provides access to Bloomberg News which monitors the latest legal, regulatory, and industry developments. One of my favorite features of Bloomberg BNA is the dockets database. Only Bloomberg BNA searches both the text of the docket sheets as well as the retrieved underlying court documents. The dockets database is a great way to monitor litigation of interest and to identify sample court documents.

CCH Intelliconnect:

CCH is a platform that focuses on highly regulated areas of law. The database contains related cases, statutes, agency regulations, agency decisions, agency handbooks and guidance documents, editorial commentary, and legal news. Areas of law covered include securities, banking, antitrust and trade, corporate governance, products liability, secured transactions, and tax. If you end up practicing in one of these areas, this is a key platform for research and keeping current on the law.


Heinonine has cornered the market for legal history platforms. Compared with Lexis and Westlaw, whose coverage for many sources begins in the late 80s or early 90s, Heinonline contains volumes which often date back to the publications’ inception. For example, Heinonline contains every volume of the Congressional Record, the entire Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations, volumes of the United States Reports that date back to 1754, as well as classic legal treatises from the 16th to 20th century. Unlike Westlaw and Lexis, Heinonline also carries the complete run of law review and law journals.

March is Women’s History Month: Women & the Law

images_106The month of March every year is Women’s History Month.  Each year the Library celebrates March with a book display in the first floor display case opposite the elevator.  These books will be back on the shelves and available for loan on April 1st. If you have an interest in any of them now, just go to the first floor reference desk and we’ll retrieve the book for you immediately.

During this month the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society are highlighted with professional conferences and social activities throughout the country.

Each year the President issues a proclamation reminding us of the contributions American women have made to American society.  See this year’s proclamation from President Obama here.

Also see the American Bar Association’s report entitled A Current Glance at Women in the Law, published in July 2014, which gives statistics on the number of women in the legal profession, the number of women in the judiciary, the number of women in law schools, the number of women on law reviews, etc.  The report can be found here.  Great strides have been made, but more progress is needed.

To read about how far women have come in the legal profession and some of the issues that they still encounter, see the selected titles below about women and the law in the Library.

Pioneering Women Lawyers: From Kate Stoneman to the Present

The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women

Women and the Law Stories

Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law

Women Attorneys Speak Out! How Practicing Law is Different for Women than for Men

Women on Top—The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms

Sisters-in-Law: An Uncensored Guide for Women Practicing Law in the Real World

It’s Harder in Heels: Essays by Women Lawyers Achieving Work-Life Balance

Legally Mom: Real Women’s Stories of Balancing Motherhood & Law Practice

And finally, there is a quarterly publication from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Professions:  Perspectives – A Magazine For and About Women Lawyers.




Bestlaw: Chrome Extension for WestlawNext

Earlier this week, BLAWg IN Bloom, the Indiana Law Library Blog, had an interesting post that could be of great help to Brooklyn Law School faculty and students who use WestlawNext. Titled Legal Research Tech Tool: Bestlaw, the post discusses how cost-effective research is one of the toughest skills to master. Law students have the luxury of using legal databases without any fiscal consequences. In the practice of law, when paying for subscriptions to legal research platforms (with clients are being billed for research time on these platforms), users need to think more carefully. Now a new tool called Bestlaw, developed to encourage cost-effective in subscription platforms, will change things.

BestlawJoe Mornin, a third year law student at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, built Bestlaw, that adds useful features to WestlawNext:

  • Perfect Bluebook citations with one click
  • Clean, readable view
  • Automatically-generated tables of contents
  • Quick links to jump to footnotes
  • One-click copying for citations, titles, and full text
  • Collapsing and expanding statutory sections
  • Finding documents on free sources like CourtListener, Cornell LII, Casetext, and Google Scholar
  • Preventing automatic sign offs
  • Sharing documents by email or on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

WestlawNext users can download the Bestlaw browser add-on for Chrome (support for Firefox is coming soon too) and get help conducting research in WestlawNext more cost-effectively Morin is working on support for Lexis Advance that is coming soon). After installing Bestlaw, its tools appear for searches on WestlawNext. The add-on allows a view of documents in free sites like Casetext, Cornell LII, Court Listener, Findlaw, Google, Google Scholar, Ravel Law, or Wikipedia before viewing (and paying to view) them in WestlawNext. For secondary sources, like law review articles, users have the option under Display to show an automatically-generated Table of Contents for documents. While many law review articles come with these already, some do not, and many other secondary sources do not either, so this can be a handy tool for quick skimming to find the parts of the document that are most germane to the research task.

Staying Current Using Legal Blogs and More – A Good Practice for Both Lawyers and Law Students

In order to adequately represent their clients, lawyers have an ethical obligation to “stay current.”  In short, this means lawyers should be aware of the current state of the law in both their specialty practice areas and also in the general practice of law.  Staying current also allows a lawyer to contact existing clients when the law changes – this type of contact often results in additional business.  Similarly, when competing for new business, a lawyer who is current in the potential client’s industry and regulatory environment is more likely to impress that client and to be awarded the new business.

Law students – it is never too early to begin the practice of staying current – ideally you should perfect this skill while still in law school.  Not only will you appear more knowledgeable on job interviews, you will also be better prepared to hit the ground running in your practice area when you land your first legal job.

There are a number of ways to stay current.  You can set up alerts in research databases such as Westlaw and Lexis.  You can also monitor legal news sources such as New York Law Journal and Law360 (both available on Lexis).  For the most recent “breaking news,” though, you should consider following at least a few legal blogs or “blawgs.”

Legal blogs are a great way to stay current and you can search for blogs in both your specialty area and on more general legal topics.  If you want to get started finding legal blogs in your area(s) of interest, try:, or

.  Each of these websites is a legal blog aggregator – you can search for blogs by practice area, by keyword, by subject area, or by most popular posts.

Finally, take a look at ABA Hall of Fame.  This is ABA Journal’s picks of the best legal blogs in 2014.  You are sure to find a legal blog of interest on this list – the blogs are generally of very high quality and the subjects are wide-ranging – from legal humor, to foreign law, to the use of technology in a law practice.


Spring Break Hours

winter-into-springThe Library hours for the BLS spring recess are:

Saturday, March 7:  9am – 10pm

Sunday, March 8:  10am – 10pm

Monday, March 9 – Saturday, March 14:  9am – 10pm

Sunday, March 15:  10am – 12am

For future Library hours, be sure to check out our new daily calendar which can be found on the Library homepage, in the lower right corner.

After a long, cold, snowy winter, enjoy your spring break!

Prepare to Practice…in 30 Minutes

During the month of March the Library will be offering “Prepare to Practice” workshops on various topics to prepare for summer legal jobs and internships.

Each “session” will last for 30 minutes and will be held in Room 113M of the Library at 1:15 pm on the dates indicated below.

No reservations are required to attend any of the sessions.  Librarians  will be conducting all workshops.  Drop by and check them out.

  • Tuesday, March 3:  Kathy Darvil – Dockets and Court Documents
  • Thursday, March 5:  Loreen Peritz – Transactional Resources

                              Spring Break

  •  Tuesday, March 17:  Rosemary Campagna – Federal Legislative History
  •  Thursday, March 19:  Linda Holmes – New York State Legislative History
  •  Tuesday, March 24:  Harold O’Grady – Administrative Research ,


February New Books List

The Brooklyn Law School Library February 2015 New Books List is out with 98 new titles in both print and e-book versions. The items cover a wide range of subjects including copyright law (Cultures of Copyright, Call #KF2996 .C85 2015), legal composition (How to Write Law Essays & Exams, Call #KD404 .S77 2014 and Putting Skills into Practice: Legal Problem Solving and Writing for New Lawyers, Call #KF250 .B375 2014), freedom of speech (Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law, Call #BJ1421 .S554 2014 and Whistleblowers, Leaks, and the Media: The First Amendment and National Security, Call #KF3471 .W49 2014), and others.

Article VOn the subject of what seems to be the nation’s broken politics and government, two books on the list are Too Weak to Govern: Majority Party Power and Appropriations in the U.S. Senate (Call #KF4987.A67 H36 2014) and The Article V Amendatory Constitutional Convention: Keeping the Republic in the Twenty-First Century (Call #KF4555 .B69 2014) by former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court Thomas E. Brennan, founder of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and of Convention USA, a citizens’ initiative to promote an Article V convention. The latter book describes how a number of citizens groups are trying to get an Article V convention, coming to several conclusions:

  • Congress will never voluntarily call a convention no matter how many petitions are received, because a convention might propose amendments which would decrease the powers or prerogatives of Congress.
  • States have the right to call an Article V convention without the concurrence of the Congress whenever two-thirds of the states wish to participate.
  • Citizens of the several states have the constitutional right to organize a convention for proposing amendments, without the call of Congress or the approval of the state legislatures.
  • No amendment proposed by a convention, of any kind, will become a part of the federal constitution unless it is ratified by three quarters of the states, as required by Article V.

On this subject, BLS Professor of Law Nelson Tebbe and former BLS Professor Frederic Bloom have written and posted on SSRN a paper called Countersupermajoritarianism. The abstract for the 24 page paper, due for publication in an upcoming edition of the Michigan Law Review, reads:

How should the Constitution change? In Originalism and the Good Constitution, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport argue that it ought to change in only one way: through the formal mechanisms set out in the Constitution’s own Article V. This is so, they claim, because provisions adopted by supermajority vote are more likely to be substantively good. The original Constitution was ratified in just that way, they say, and subsequent changes should be implemented similarly. McGinnis and Rappaport also contend that this substantive goodness is preserved best by a mode of originalist interpretation.

In this Review, we press two main arguments. First, we contend that McGinnis and Rappaport’s core thesis sidesteps critical problems with elevated voting rules. We also explain how at a crucial point in the book — concerning Reconstruction — the authors trade their commitments to supermajoritarianism and formalism away. Second, we broaden the analysis and suggest that constitutional change can and should occur not just through formal amendment, but also by means of social movements, political mobilizations, media campaigns, legislative agendas, regulatory movement, and much more. Changing the Constitution has always been a variegated process that engages the citizenry through many institutions, by way of many voting thresholds, and using many modes of argument. And that variety helps to make the Constitution good.

Writing a paper this semester?

This week Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil held their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper. Topics discussed include sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and how to effectively organize and write your paper. If you were unable to attend the workshop, you can access an online research guide which contains a recording of the workshop, links to and descriptions of all the research sources, and the writing and research presentations. The online guide is available at From the guide’s landing page, you will be able to access a recording of this year’s presentation, Professor Fajans’ slideshow on how to write your seminar paper, and Kathy Darvil’s online presentation on how to research your seminar paper. If you should need further help selecting or researching your topic, please stop by the reference desk for assistance.