Author Archives: Linda Holmes

Fastcase: Another Tool in the Legal Research Toolbox

Fastcase, along with Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw, is another electronic tool in the legal research toolbox.  Fastcase is a legal research service that began in 2008, and gives users access to primary legal authority covering cases, statutes and regulations for most state and federal jurisdictions, as well as court rules and bar association publications.

A benefit of Fastcase is that access to law review articles is provided through the library’s subscription to Hein Online.

Brooklyn Law School students may access Fastcase from the SARA catalog.

The library recently added to its collection the book Fastcase: The Definitive Guide by Brian Huddleston, call number:  KF 242 .A1 H833 2018.  This book has twelve chapters covering everything you need to know about Fastcase.

Members of the New York State Bar Association have free access to the Fastcase New York Library.  For further information see:  Fastcase bar associations.

Summer Access (& Beyond) to Bloomberg, Lexis & Westlaw

The three legal research databases, Bloomberg Law, Lexis & Westlaw, are available to Brooklyn Law School students this summer.   There is also continuing access for May 2018 graduates.  See the details below:

Bloomberg Law:  Provides unlimited and unrestricted access over the summer.  Student accounts will remain active and available all summer.  Graduating students have continued access for six months after graduation.

For questions, contact Julia Perdue, Client Success Manager, jperdue@bloomberglaw.com, 646-701-3831

Lexis Advance:  Students will have continuing access during the summer for all legal and news content on Lexis.  During the summer months of May, June and July, the permissible uses of your Lexis educational ID are expanded to include use at any law firm, government agency, court or other legal position, internship, externship or clerkship.

May 2018 graduates have continuing access to Lexis for six months after graduation to study for the bar exam, prepare for employment, improve research skills, etc.

For questions, contact Mary Beth Drain, Research Consultant, marybeth.drain@lexisnexis.com, 845-598-3203.

WestlawNext:  Students can use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw, Practical Law, and the Practice Ready solutions over the summer for non-commercial research.  You can turn to these resources to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills, but you cannot use them in situations where you are billing a client.  Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following:

  • Summer coursework
  • Research assistant assignments
  • Law review or journal research
  • Moot court research
  • Non-profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship sponsored by the school

You do not have to do anything to gain access to these tools over the summer.

Students who are graduating can use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, for eighteen months after graduation.  Your “Grad Elite” access gives you sixty hours of usage per month, with no restrictions against using them for professional purposes.

Extend access by logging into http://www.lawschool.westlaw.com, where a pop-up window will appear once you sign on.

For questions, contact Stefanie Efrati, Academic Account Manager, stefanie.efrati@thomsonreuters.com, 646-223-4918.

 

BLS Library Special Collections: Rare Books & Archives

The BLS Library has a rare book collection located on the second floor, second mezzanine and third floor levels.  While the books on all three floors are in locked cabinets, students may go to the first floor circulation desk and ask for assistance in retrieving these books.  The rare books may not be charged out, but they may be used in the library for as long as needed.  All rare books are cataloged and available through the SARA online catalog.

The rare books on the second mezzanine are a gift of the estate of Judge Nathan R. Sobel, 1906 -1997, and the collection is named in his honor.  Judge Sobel was a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, class of 1927, and a Justice of the New York Supreme Court for over twenty years; for nine years he served as Brooklyn Surrogate.

The books cover a wide variety of topics on all floors:  treatises, yearbooks, statutes, reporters, histories, biographies, etc.  To give you a sampling:

Room 107M on the first mezzanine contains the Brooklyn Law School archives.  This collection contains a wealth of information about the law school.  While the room is kept locked, for access to it, please go to the first floor reference desk.  Some of the titles that are located in the archives are:

  • Bulletins:  While the school no longer published a print bulletin or catalog, the archives contains the bulletins published from 1903 to 2006.
  • Class pictures:  Pictures of the graduating classes from 1901 – 1969; however, there is not a class picture for every year during this period.
  • Commencement programs:  Programs for the graduation exercises from 1903 to date.
  • The Justinian & BLS News:  The Justinian was the school newspaper, written by students for the BLS community, published from 1938 to 1998.  After an interval of four years, the student newspaper was re-named BLS News and published from 2002 – 2006.
  • Photo Profiles:  Print copies of pictures of the BLS entering classes from 1984 – 2001.
  • Yearbooks:  The BLS Yearbooks from 1982 – 2012.  (An earlier yearbook, called The Chancellor, was published in the following years:  1930, 1932 – 1935, 1948 and 1954.)

For a comprehensive listing of the material in the archives, see the BLS LibGuide: Brooklyn Law School Archives Collection.

Library Adds Collection on Academic Freedom

The Library was recently the recipient of a gift in honor of Joan Wexler, Dean and President Emerita of Brooklyn Law School.  The funds received from the gift were used to purchase books in an area of particular interest to President Wexler.  She chose the area “academic freedom,” and Library Director Janet Sinder selected the books that have been cataloged and added to our collection, and are now available on the shelves in the cellar’s main collection area for loan.  While Professor Sinder ordered over twenty books on this topic, a few of these new books are briefly described below.

Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge.

This book, written by Joanna Williams, gives the history and analysis of the rise and recent fall of academic freedom, including a discussion of the restrictions that some governments are imposing on academic freedom.

While academic freedom might seem to be a “largely academic proposition disconnected from the pursuit of knowledge,” Ms. Williams enumerates academic freedom in the areas of science, social science, sociology, literature, etc.  She also discusses how the fight for academic freedom has    become a campaign for “academic justice” in recent years.

Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech in the University


This work is a collection of essays edited by James L. Turk.  The many contributors to this book document the areas in which academic freedom is in jeopardy, including in religious institutions, in academic-corporate settings, etc.  Also discussed are the “managed university” and demonstrations on campuses.

A practical area for discussion regarding academic freedom is given an entire chapter entitled “Giving and taking offence: civility, respect, ad academic freedom.”  While this book was published in Canada, the information conveyed has implications for those interested in academic freedom in the U.S.

Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Student Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to be Reclaimed

The author, Bruce Macfarlane, argues for student choice, or real academic freedom, in the areas of attendance requirements, class participation, assessments, etc., in other words, student-centered learning.  He advocates certain rights for students, such as the right to non-discrimination, the right to reticence in the classroom, the right to choose how to learn, etc.

 

Why Academic Freedom Matters:  A Response to Current Challenges

This book, edited by Cheryl Hudson and Joanna Williams, is written by several contributors from the British perspective, and gives a history of academic freedom, defines it as it is currently viewed, discusses the university in the 21st century, and explores the current threats to academic freedom.

Thomson Reuters ProView eBooks Now Available

BLS students, faculty, and staff now have access to the Thomson Reuters Proview eBook Reader.  Proview makes traditional books in the Library’s collection available on a desktop through Westlaw, or on a laptop or tablet after downloading the Thomson Reuters ProView app., giving users the flexibility to work wherever they are, whenever they want.

After logging on to Westlaw, follow these steps:

  • Click or tap on “Practice Ready”
  • Scroll to “Law eBook Access”
  • Click on “Access Now”

You will then get an alphabetical listing of the covers of the titles that are available through the BLS Library.  Then go to the title you are interested in; on the left you will see an icon to access the table of contents to aid in your research.  There is also a search icon that allows you to search within the book.  Additional features that make for ease of use are:

  • Create bookmarks, highlight text, and write annotations
  • Create PDFs and share sections of a text or links to specific sections
  • Tap or click on a case, statute or regulation to link to the full text of a document in your Westlaw account
  • Content automatically updates on your browser or via prompts on downloaded content in a digital device

You can also access a ProView eBook from SARA, the library catalog, by entering a title and then clicking on the link to the ProView version.  You may also do a keyword search using the phrase “proview ebook” to obtain a list of all titles available at BLS as a ProView eBook.

Library Hours for Winter Break & Winter Session

The Library will be closed Saturday, December 23rd, 2017 through Monday, January 1st, 2018 for Winter Break.

Winter Session hours are:

Tuesday, January 2 – Saturday, January 6:  9:00am – 10:00pm

Sunday, January 7:  10:00am – 10:00pm

Monday, January 8 – Saturday, January 13:  9:00am – 10:00pm

Sunday, January 14:  10:00am – 10:00pm

Monday, January 15:  9:00am – 10:00pm (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

 

Thanksgiving Holiday Hours

 

 

 

The BLS Library Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

Wednesday, November 22:                                 9:00am – 10:00pm

Thursday, November 23, Thanksgiving Day:   CLOSED

Friday, November 24:                                          9:00am – 10:00pm

Saturday, November 25:                                     9:00am – 10:00pm

Sunday, November 26:                                       10:00am – 12Midnight

 

 

 

 

 

Your Librarians On the Go, To Keep You In the Know

The librarians on the BLS Library staff are members of several professional organizations that meet annually for professional development, information sharing, networking, etc.  The most important aspect of these meetings is to learn about new developments and resources from legal technology and and legal research vendors, and to bring that information back to our constituents: Brooklyn Law School students and faculty. This has been a particularly active year, and below is a summary of the organizations we belong to on behalf of Brooklyn Law School, and the meetings we attended or will attend in 2017.

Association of American Law Schools has a membership of 179 law schools.  Their mission is “to uphold excellence in legal education and improve the profession.”  Its annual meeting presents programs, offers mentoring for new faculty, and is a resource for discussions on legal issues.

Library Director and Professor Janet Sinder attended the AALS meeting in San Francisco in January 2017.  The theme was “Why Law Matters,” featuring over 250 sessions with hundreds of speakers covering a wide range of legal topics.

American Association of Law Libraries has over 5,000 members who work in law school libraries, law firms, corporations, and government libraries at all levels.  The goal of AALL is “to share knowledge of legal resources, promote the profession, and provide leadership in the legal arena.”  This year’s annual meeting was held in Austin, TX in July and the theme was “Forego the Status Quo.”  Topics ranged from “Attorney Research Skills: Continuing the Conversation Between Law Firm and Academic Law Librarians” to “How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform the Delivery of Legal Services.”  Reference Librarians Kathy Darvil, Loreen Peritz, and Eric Yap attended, along with Cataloging Librarian Judy Baptiste-Joseph, and Library Director Janet Sinder.

Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction is a consortium of U.S. law schools that provides legal educational resources to help law students succeed.  CALI has produced over 1,000 interactive tutorials covering 40 subject areas that are available to students in all member schools.  Their annual conference was held in Phoenix, AZ in June with Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady attending.  The topics offered ranged from artificial intelligence to video technology.

 

KOHA is the open-sources software the Library uses for acquisitions, serials control, and cataloging.  This year’s conference of the KOHA Users Group was held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in August and attended by Acquisitions Librarian Jeff Gabel.  One of the many programs offered was “KOHA Toolkit: Enhancing the User Experience.

 

North American Serials Interest Group is an organization that works “to facilitate and improve the acquisition and accessibility of information resources in all formats.”  This year’s conference, with the theme “Racing to the Crossroads,” was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in June and attended by Cataloging Librarian Judy Baptiste-Joseph. One of their many programs addressed the issue of “Accessibility of Library Collections.”

 

 

Federal Depository Library Program is a government program created to make U.S. government information available to the public through a network of designated libraries.  These libraries are called Federal Depository Libraries, and the BLS Library has been a Federal Depository Library since 1974,  The FDLP program is administered by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, and there are over 1100 depository libraries; 127 of them are law schools.  Linda Holmes, Associate Law Librarian, will attend the annual depository library conference in Arlington, VA in October. The keynote presentation at this conference will be given by Jane Sanchez, the Law Librarian of Congress.

 

International Association of Law Libraries “provides an international forum for networking and information sharing among legal professionals worldwide.”  IALL publishes the International Journal of Legal Information and offers an annual conference.  Jean Davis, Associate Librarian for International Law, will attend this year’s conference in Atlanta, GA in October.

 

As you can see from this brief survey of 2017 law-related library conferences, a very important element in these programs is the education and training of law students, and our goal by attending these conferences, is to assist them in learning both the breath and depth of legal resources.

BLS Library Databases Research Fair: September 28, 2017

The Sixth Annual Library Databases Research Fair will be held on Thursday, September 28th, 2017.  The Fair will be held in the Library’s new 3rd floor Collaboration/Reading Room from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

Representatives from the following legal research companies will be here to demonstrate their databases:

  • Bloomberg Law
  • Ebsco
  • Fastcase
  • Lexis Digital
  • Lexis Nexis
    • Westlaw
      • Wolters Kluwer
      • Brochures/Pens/Post-Its provided by Hein Online

There will be handouts, light refreshments, and a raffle drawing for gift cards.

Come and learn how these databases will help you with your legal research.

Save the date:  Thursday, September 28, 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm,

3rd floor Library, New Collaboration/Reading Room.

 

Law Professors: An Overview from William Blackstone to Barack Obama

As students prepare to resume their legal studies and begin their scholarship for another semester under the tutelage of their BLS professors, I want to recommend a new book that discusses the contributions to the legal profession of a group of selected scholars and professors over three centuries.

The book is: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law by Stephen B. Presser, West Academic Publishing, St. Paul, MN, 2017.

The author says that he hopes this volume will serve as an “introduction to the law for prospective lawyers and beginning students in J.D. and LL.M. programs.”

The book is composed of short biographical essays covering a representative number of legal scholars who have also been law professors.  The work explores the nature of the American legal system, and how American law professors have had a profound effect on American law and life.

While the author covers law professors from William Blackstone to Barack Obama, here are a few of the giants of those that are included:

  • William Blackstone –  It has been written that the groundwork for U.S. jurisprudence can be found in the multi-volume work of Sir William Blackstone, a noted English judge, scholar and politician of the 18th century.  The work, entitled Commentaries on the Laws of England...in four books, provided a systematic analysis of English common law.  These commentaries were based on Blackstone’s lectures at Oxford University.
  • Christopher Columbus Langdell was Dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895 and is often called the “father of American legal education” because it was he who established the case method of instruction where students read and studied appellate court decisions while teaching at Harvard, incorporating it with the Socratic method where students were asked questions about the cases and they were to draw conclusions in order to engage in a dialogue between faculty and students.
  • Joseph Story served on the United States Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845, taught at Harvard Law School while serving on the Court, and wrote a comprehensive treatise on the U.S. Constitution entitled Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
  • Karl Llewellyn was a distinguished legal scholar, who was called one of the most important legal thinkers of the early twentieth century and whose works have been cited many times. He was a proponent of legal realism who felt that legal opinions should be examined to see how judges were influenced by outside factors.  He wrote a book which served as an introduction to the study of law for first year students entitled:  The Bramble Bush; Some Lectures on Law and Its Study . 
  • John Henry Wigmore was an important legal scholar and professor, who while attending Harvard Law School, helped found the Harvard Law Review.  He taught for many years at Northwestern University Law School and his most important contribution to legal scholarship was his Treatise on the Anglo-American System of Evidence in Trials at Common Law.
  • Barack Obama, law professor at the University of Chicago, United States Senator from Illinois and President of the United States.