Category Archives: BLS Students

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.

2017 AALL Annual Conference: A few thoughts from a first-time attendee

Last week, I attended the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) annual conference, which was held July 15-18 in Austin, Texas. The biggest takeaway for me, as a first time conference attendee, was how legal technology continues to shape the legal profession, and how the role of law librarians must continually evolve to meet technological challenges. 

Susan Nevelow Mart, Univ of Colorado Law School Library, “Understanding the Human Element in Search Algorithms”

Legal technology was the focus of many of the programs at the conference:

Understanding the Human Element in Search Algorithms

Teaching and Implementing Emerging Technologies in Legal Practice 

Case Law as Data: Making It, Sharing It, Using It

The Law Library as Technology Laboratory  and

Deep Dive: How Artificial Intelligence will Transform the Delivery of Legal Services

were just some of the programs addressing the subject.  In the exhibit hall, established and new tech vendors lured attendees to their booths with cute stuffed toy bats and other swag so they could sell you on their products.

Caselaw as Data, Harvard Law School Library Innovation Lab

Legal tech was also a constant subject offsite: vendors might gently push their services over a friendly game of shuffleboard at an evening social event; meanwhile in the Fastcase house, legal tech blogger Bob Ambrogi would be chatting in one room while Itai Gurari demonstrated Judicata’s new features in another.  In a recent blog post about the conference, Ambrogi described how legal information professionals increasingly wear the hat of “legal technologist,” stating that the AALL conference should be considered one of the top legal tech conferences.  

What does this mean for academic law librarians?  For me, attending AALL reinforced issues discussed by my BLS colleague Harold O’Grady in his entry in this blog about the new class, Tech Tools for Law Practice, that he taught this summer. If we are to ensure that our students graduate from law school with technology competency, legal tech classes should be integrated into the curriculum. We can learn from the digital initiatives and legal technology curricula at other law schools, and from our own initial experiences in teaching technology courses designed for law students. BLS Library has some legal tech resources in our collection, such as the ABA Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, and can continue to build on them. 

While there is much to consider going forward, meeting and learning from the many talented and inspiring legal information professionals at the conference was a great experience.  One highlight: learning about the random limerick generator at Harvard’s Caselaw Access Project, where each line of the limerick is derived from a case — just one small illustration of the potential use of caselaw data.

Janet honored at reception for winning Law Library Journal Article of the Year Award

Finally, I should mention that at the AALL conference, BLS Library Director Janet Sinder received the Law Library Journal Article of the Year Award for her article, The Effects of Demand-Driven Acquisitions on Law Library Collection Development, 108 Law Library Journal 155 (2016). Kudos to Janet!

Teaching Legal Technology in Law School

techBrooklyn Law School, during the Summer 2017 semester, has taken a first step with its Externship Seminar – Tech Tools For Law Practice, in teaching technology to law students. As more and more states take note of ABA Standard RPC 1.1 Comment [8] and add state level rules which require that lawyers have basic technology competency, more law schools are responding and adding technology courses to their course offerings.

A session at CALI Con 2017, Teaching Law Practice Tech to Law Students – State of the Art, discussed three major themes aimed at teaching a new technology course. Michael Robak offered a walkthrough of the approval process for proposing a new technology course and provided tips for getting faculty and administrative officials onboard. A recent comment, Winning the Battle to Teach Legal Technology and Innovation at Law Schools by Christy Burke, states that many law schools are not yet convinced that this kind of practical non-theoretical education is their responsibility. However, she notes several examples, such as Stanford Law School’s Legal Design Lab, Vanderbilt Law School’s Technology in Legal Practice and Oklahoma University Law’s Digital Initiative, that offer a counterweight to that resistance.

Nichelle “Nikki” Perry discussed methods and options for choosing course content. Knowing where and how your students will practice can make a difference in class coverage. Stacey Rowland gave an overview of a recently taught course at the University of North Carolina discussing technology for new lawyers. This course covered topics such as Advanced Legal Research through Ravel and Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics, using Word Styles as a foundation for document automation, asking students to construct a mock law firm website, litigation support services as well as hands on experience with CLIO and kCura’s Relativity.

In Brooklyn Law School’s Tech Tools for Law Practice seminar, the first assignment was to have the students complete a Legal Technology Assessment to determine how fluent they were with the basic technology tools of their trade: Word, Excel, and PDF. The website Procertas helped us to answer the question of what are the tech skills we should be teaching law students to better prepare them for working in the “real world?” See Tech Comes Naturally to ‘Digital Native’ Millennials? That’s A Myth by Darth Vaughn and Casey Flaherty which relates that testing of hundreds of law school students resulted in scores as low as 33 percent when asked to complete some simple Word tasks such as:

  • Accept/Turn-off track changes
  • Cut & Paste
  • Replace text
  • Format font and paragraph
  • Fix footers
  • Insert hyperlink
  • Apply/Modify style
  • Insert/Update cross-references
  • Insert page break
  • Insert non-breaking space
  • Clean document properties
  • Create comparison document (i.e., a redline)

Hopefully, as more law schools incorporate teaching law technology into the curriculum, those scores will improve.

Russia, Russia, Russia – Everywhere, All the Time: A Brief Introduction to Legal Resources of the Russian Federation

Since last fall we have been inundated with a constant bombardment of stories in cable news, on the Internet, and in newspapers about the possibility of the Russians colluding in our presidential election, hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails, and influencing members of the Trump administration, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

I recently came across a cartoon in The Daily Signal by Michael Ramirez to illustrate the point.

The cartoon was entitled “The Russian Investigation,” and pictured Attorney General Jeff Sessions seated at a Congressional hearing, being asked the following questions:

Do you know where Russia is on a map?

Do you like Russian dressing?

Have you ever been to the Russian Tea Room?

Ever played Russian roulette?

Ever drink Russian vodka?

Have you seen “From Russia with Love?”

Have you ever been to an event where a Russian was attending?

You get the idea!

Since all things Russian are now in our consciousness, I decided to extend the Russian theme to legal research.  What follows is a brief introductory guide to Russian legal resources.

Electronic Sources:

Books:

For additional resources, access WorldCat, the world’s most comprehensive database, giving users access to millions of books and other resources available from thousands of libraries throughout the world.  Brooklyn Law School students and faculty may make interlibrary loan requests for items not owned by BLS.

What’s Going on Here? Renovations Have Begun!

Library renovations have begun.  To the left is a photo of the old Law Review Room.  Once the renovations are finished in mid-August this room will contain offices for four reference librarians, and tables, chairs and soft seating for students.  The room will have a mid-century decor.

 

 

 

 

This is the old Lexis lab on the second mezzanine looking into study room 206M.  Both rooms were demolished this week to make space for the offices of the four BLS Journals which will occupy space on both the second floor and the second mezzanine.

 

 

 

 

While there is no longer printing on the 2nd mezzanine, release stations and printers are available on the second floor opposite the library elevator.  A Lexis printer and the Bloomberg terminal have been relocated to the cellar.

We’ll keep you posted as renovations progress.  In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

Summer Hours & Summer Renovations

The Library’s summer hours May 13th – August 20th are as follows:

Saturday & Sunday, May 13 & 14  (Writing Competition Weekend):  9am – 12am

 

May 15 – May 31:

Monday – Saturday:  9am-10pm; Sunday: 10am-10pm;  Memorial Day, Monday, May 29:  Closed.

June 1 – July 4:

Monday – Thursday:  9am-12am;  Friday & Saturday:  9am-10pm;  Sunday:  10am-10pm; Independence Day, Tuesday, July 4:  9am-5pm.

July 5 – July 24:

Monday – Saturday:  9am-12am;   Sunday: 10am-12am.

July 25 – August 20:

Monday – Thursday:  9am-10pm; Friday & Saturday: 9am-5pm;  Sunday:  10am-6pm.

What’s Going on Here?

This summer the library will be undergoing renovations on the 3rd floor, 2nd mezzanine and 2nd floor.

The 3rd floor will be closed while the library administrative and technical services area, containing the offices of the Library Director, and the staff who orders, processes and catalogs all library materials, are moved temporarily into the Subin Reading Room.  Their office space, as well as the law review room, pictured at left, and currently containing no law reviews, undergoes asbestos abatement and the installation of sprinklers.  The 3rd floor computer lab will also be closed for the summer.

The law review room will then be transformed into office space for several reference librarians on one side of the room and study/lounge space on the other side for students.  There will be new carpeting, tables, chairs, soft seating, etc. — all in a new mid-century decor.

The 2nd floor statutory collection and the 2nd mezzanine computer labs will become the offices of the Brooklyn Law Review, the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, the Journal of Law and Policy and the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial and Commercial Law.  The computers and printers currently in the two labs will be relocated to other locations throughout the library.

All the renovations are scheduled to be completed by mid-August. Graduating students who will be studying for the bar exam over the summer may use another local law school library if they like since there will be some contraction of available study space during these renovations.  The school will reimburse graduating students the fee they have to pay to use one other law school library.  If there are questions about which law school libraries are available for bar exam study, please inquire at the reference desk.

TechCo Lab: The BLS Library’s Technology and Collaboration Space

With the summer quickly approaching, some of you may be thinking about your summer internships or associateships.  Your summer positions will require you to practice and hone your lawyering skills, such as interviewing clients or preparing for trial or a negotiation.   If you are looking for a space to practice these skills, look no further than Library room 111.  Room 111, otherwise known as the TechCo (Technology Collaboration) Lab, is designed specifically for these types of simulations.  In the Tech CoLab, students can connect a laptop to a projector system with a wall-mounted screen, allowing them to work together on online projects, Skype with people in other locations, and record their own presentations for later review.  The lab is located on the first floor of the library by the copiers and scanners.

If you are interested in using the lab, you should email carol.ragab@brooklaw.edu.  At the time of your reservation, ask someone at the circulation or reference desk for access to the room.   (It needs to be unlocked for use.) An instruction sheet for using the equipment is available in the room.

Study Room Reservations & Library Hours: April 28 – May 12

During the reading and exam period students must make a reservation to use a library study room.  Mandatory room reservations begin on Friday, April 28th at 8:00am; at that time, all study rooms will be locked and students must go to the first-floor circulation desk to charge out the key to the room at the time of their reservation.  The link to the study room reservations is available here.

Study Room Policies:

  • Study rooms are for the use of groups of two or more students.
  • Study rooms may be reserved for the current day and three days ahead.
  • Study room reservations may be made in time slots of 60 minutes.
  • Students may book up to 4 time slots per day.

 Hours for the Reading & Exam Period:

  • Friday, April 28th – Thursday, May 11th:  8:00am – 2:00am
  • The circulation desk will close at 12:00am: April 28 – May 11
  • Friday, May 12:  8:00am – 10:00pm

Good Luck on Your Exams!

Summer and Graduate Access to Bloomberg, Lexis & Westlaw

The three legal research databases:  Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, and WestlawNext are available to Brooklyn Law School students this summer.  May 2017 graduates will also have access to these databases for six months after graduation.  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 Maxwell Sivin, Client Success Manager, msivin@bna.com, 646-494-5244.

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

May 2017 graduates have continuing access to Lexis for six months after graduation to study for the bar exam, prepare for employment, improve research skills, etc.   No extra steps needed.

Graduates engaged in public service work may be eligible for the Lexis ASPIRE program which provides twelve months of free access to Lexis resources for those working at non-profit organizations.  To apply for an ASPIRE ID, use the form at:  http://lexisnexis.com/grad-access

For questions, contact Mary Beth Drain, LexisNexis Account Executive, marybeth.drain@lexisnexis.com, 845-598-3203.

WestlawNext:  Students can use Westlaw during the summer for non-commercial research.  Students do not have to do anything to access Westlaw over the summer.  Access to Westlaw will automatically continue; no registration needed.  Examples of permissible uses for the student 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

Students have access to Westlaw for six months after graduation.  The “Grad Elite” access gives students 60 hours of usage per month on Westlaw to build research skills.  In addition, students get access to job searching databases on Westlaw and TWEN for 18 months after graduation for one hour per month.

Access:  A pop-up will appear when you log into www.lawschool.westlaw.com starting three months before the students’ set graduation date.  Students can extend access by logging into www.lawschool.westlaw.com.

For questions, contact Stefanie Efrati, Thomson Reuters Academic Account Manager, stefanie.efrati@thomsonreuters.com, 212-548-7432.

 


CRS Reports on the Supreme Court Appointment Process

Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in today as the Supreme Court’s 113th justice.  If you are interested in learning more about the Supreme Court appointment process, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has several good reports.  A recent report, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee, includes information on the criteria for selecting a nominee, the advice and consent role of the Senate, the political aspects of the process, and the use of recess appointments to temporarily bypass Senate confirmation.  For a more detailed account of the Senate’s role, the following CRS reports may also be of interest:

For more information on finding CRS reports online, see this blog post from the University of Houston’s O’Quinn Law Library.