Category Archives: E-Resource

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!

July New Books List and Impeachment

Brooklyn Law School Library’s New Books List for July 1, 2017 has 59 print titles and 30 eBook titles. Many of the titles deal with racial discrimination in the criminal justice administration and elsewhere, for example, He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S Jonathan Bass (Call No. E185.93. A3 B37 2017); Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics by Marie Gottschalk (Call No. HV9471. G667 2016); Homicide Justified: The Legality of Killing Slaves in the United States and the Atlantic World by Andrew T. Fede (E-Book); Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts (Call No. HV6533.L8 M37 2017); and Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law by Sandra F. Sperino and Suja A. Thomas (Call No. KF4755 .S965 2017).

ImpeachmentMore controversial is The Case for Impeachment by Allan J. Lichtman (Call No. KF5076.T78 L53 2017). Lichtman made headlines when he predicted that Donald J. Trump would defeat the heavily favored Democrat, Hillary Clinton, to win the presidential election. His latest book lays out the reasons Congress could remove Trump from the Oval Office: his ties to Russia before and after the election, the complicated financial conflicts of interest at home and abroad, and his abuse of executive authority. The book offers a fascinating look at presidential impeachments throughout American history, including the often-overlooked story of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, details about Richard Nixon’s resignation, and Bill Clinton’s hearings. Lichtman shows how Trump exhibits many of the flaws (and more) that have doomed past presidents. As the Nixon Administration dismissed the reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as “character assassination” and “a vicious abuse of the journalistic process,” Trump has attacked the “dishonest media,” claiming, “the press should be ashamed of themselves.” Historians, legal scholars, and politicians alike agree: we are in politically uncharted waters—the durability of our institutions is being undermined and the public’s confidence in them is eroding, threatening American democracy itself. Most citizens—politics aside—want to know where the country is headed. Lichtman argues, with clarity and power, that for Donald Trump’s presidency, smoke has become fire.

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.

History and Future of NAFTA

The history of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began in 1980 when candidate Ronald Reagan proposed a North American common market in his presidential campaign. The first move in creating NAFTA came when President Reagan made good on his campaign pledge and declared a North American common market as a future goal. During the early 1980s, with Mexico remaining aloof, Canada and the US signed a series of agreements that culminated in the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement in 1988. At this crucial juncture, Mexico signaled its willingness to join the negotiations and NAFTA talks began. On August 12, 1992, before the summer GOP convention, President George H.W. Bush initialed the deal. After losing the general election to William J. Clinton, Bush formally signed the treaty on December 17, 1992, saying during his Remarks on Signing the North American Free Trade Agreement “I’ve been privileged as Vice President and President over the past 12 years to be here on quite a few occasions, and I am so thrilled that this, the final one, is to sign the NAFTA agreement.”

As negotiated, the agreement was signed by the US, Canada, and Mexico, aiming to eliminate trade barriers among the three nations. Essentially, NAFTA was an extension of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States. Several other considerations beyond free trade under the scope of the NAFTA include intellectual property, telecommunications, and environmental protection. The treaty was to take effect on January 1, 1994, but ratification faced obstacles in the US Congress, especially from members of the Democratic Party. At the time of its ratification in Congress, more Republicans than Democrats supported NAFTA. With strong opposition by labor unions, a key ally for President Clinton was then-House Minority Whip (and later House Speaker) Newt Gingrich (R-Ga). Since NAFTA went into effect, bilateral trade between the US and Mexico amounts to more than $500 billion per year. The US is Mexico’s largest trading partner in merchandise (about 80% of its goods exports go to the US) while Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China).

NAFTA at 20Readers interested in learning more about NAFTA can review the Brooklyn Law School Library volume NAFTA at 20: The North American Free Trade Agreement’s Achievements and Challenges edited by Michael J. Boskin (Call No. HF1746 .N3326 2014), a Professor of Economics and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. As chairman of the president’s council of economic advisers from 1989 to 1993, he helped initiate NAFTA. He writes that NAFTA was bold and controversial from the start. When first conceived, it was far from obvious that it would be possible given the circumstances of the times. Drawing from a December 2013 Hoover Institution conference on “NAFTA at 20,” his book brings together distinguished academics who have studied the effects of NAFTA with high-level policy makers to present a comprehensive view of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It looks at the conception, creation, outcomes so far, and the future of NAFTA from the perspective of economists, historians, and the policy makers in the words of those who participated in the negotiations and research. In the context of the fundamental economic and political transformation of North America, they discuss the trade, real wage, and welfare gains that NAFTA has produced for the United States, Mexico, and Canada, along with a review of the major energy markets within and among the three countries. The book has lessons from NAFTA for the future, both for NAFTA itself (if there is one) and for other trade agreements. The author stresses the importance of political leadership and providing information on the benefits of trade liberalization to voters and ill-informed politicians who cater to the fears of free trade opponents.

NAFTAThe BLS Library  has in its collection a related title, an e-book NAFTA and Sustainable Development: History, Experience, and Prospects for Reform (Treaty Implementation for Sustainable Development), edited by Hoi L. Kong and L. Kinvin Wroth. On the twentieth anniversary of NAFTA’s ratification, the book outlines the scope of NAFTA and its impact on environmental issues and paths to reform. Analyzing the impact of the NAFTA on bio-engineered crops in Mexico, marine environmental effects, climate change, and indigenous rights, the book is an important contribution to the global conversation on international trade agreements and sustainable development.

Equal Pay

On April 4, 2017, as part of the Legal Lunches series, BLS professors Liz Schneider and Susan Hazeldean led a lively townhall discussion on the impact of the Trump administration on women’s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights.  

President Kennedy signs Equal Pay Act into law in 1963

One of the topics discussed was equal pay. When the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women received 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Despite progress over the years, women who work full-time currently earn only about 80% of what their male counterparts earn. Among other efforts, President Obama had issued Executive Order 13673 (Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces) on July 31, 2014, which was aimed, in part, at narrowing that gap.

Trump’s revocation of the Obama executive order on March 27, 2017 nullifies rules that required paycheck transparency, and that barred federal contractors from imposing mandatory arbitration when their workers raised claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment.  The revocation is particularly harmful to women workers. Prof. Schneider also pointed out that the Trump administration has deleted the White House webpage on equal pay. Where the Obama White House once had information about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Equal Pay Pledge, all that remains is a landing page with the terse “Thank you for your interest in this subject. Stay tuned as we continue to update whitehouse.gov

April 4, 2017 also happened to be Equal Pay Day.  This is the day that symbolizes how far into the next year a woman has to work, in order to earn what a man did during the preceding year. Equal Pay Day is always commemorated on a Tuesday, to further represent how far into the following work week women have to work, to reach the level earned by men the previous week.

BLS Library has various print and digital resources on the subject of equal pay.  Our collection includes the following:

Omilian & Kamp, Sex-Based Employment Discrimination

Susan Omilian & Jean Kamp, Sex-Based Employment Discrimination (updated through Sept 2016)This treatise is available electronically through Westlaw. It includes comprehensive treatment of claims brought under the Equal Pay Act, including making a prima facie case, defenses, enforcement, and remedies. Citations are kept current, with the most recent update in September 2016. The library also has the looseleaf version of the title in print, updated through June 2014.

Nyla Jo Hubbard, The rape of the American working woman: How the law and attitude violate your paycheck (2016).   Hubbard, a non-lawyer, combines anecdotes from her personal experience with analysis of how women are placed at a systematic disadvantage under our laws. She discusses a wide range of laws and policies, ranging from Social Security, to healthcare, to childcare subsidies, in order to explain the causes of pay inequality. This title is available as an e-book through ProQuest.  

Susan Bisom-Rapp & Malcolm Sargeant. Lifetime disadvantage, discrimination, and the gendered workforce (2016).  The authors, who are law professors in the U.S. and U.K. respectively, examine the disadvantages faced by women at work, including equal pay issues, in light of inadequacies in the law in both countries. They contend that the piecemeal, incremental approaches built into the legal systems of the U.S. and U.K. do not work and that a more holistic solution is required. This title is available as an e-book through ProQuest.

Christianne Corbett & Catherine Hill, Graduating to a pay gap: The earnings of women and men one year after college graduation (2012). The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has long been engaged in studying, analyzing, and providing policy direction on equal pay issues. In this publication, they explain how pay inequality among college graduates begins immediately after graduation. While discrimination is an important factor, the AAUW study recognizes that gender differences in willingness and ability to negotiate salary contribute to the pay gap, recommending that this issue also be addressed.

Chen, Compliance and Compromise

Cher Weixia Chen, Compliance and compromise: The jurisprudence of gender pay equity (2011).  In this book, Chen, a legally-trained professor of international studies, approaches the topic of pay equality from an international law perspective. She focuses in particular on International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration, and how ratifying states have complied or failed to comply with its mandate. This is an interesting read on pay equality laws in countries other than the U.S.: while 173 of the 187 ILO members have ratified ILO Convention No. 100 to date, the U.S. is not one of them.

Deconstruction of the Administrative State?

The new administration in Washington vows to reduce federal regulations and Steve Bannon, the chief White House strategist, argues for a “deconstruction of the administrative state” and the possible dismantling of the New Deal. The argument for this retrenchment of regulatory law is that regulations are unnecessary and costly, detrimental to business and a hindrance to the growth of jobs in the economy. Recently C-SPAN aired the 1982 PBS documentary The Regulators: Our Invisible Government which focused on regulation of air pollution in the national parks. Although dated, the film has current relevance as a teaching tool for law students and others interested in regulatory law as it details the process of turning general language in a 1977 amendment to the Clean Air Act into specific regulations. The 50 minute video tells the behind-the-scenes negotiations and debates between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators and environmental and industry interests. See video (also available at this link) below.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection two books with very differing views of the administrative state. The latest, Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State by Adrian Vermeule (available in print at Call No. KF5425.V47 2016 and electronically via ProQuest Ebook Central), is a theoretically informed and lawyerly interpretation of the law of the modern administrative state. The author demonstrates how legal doctrine really works by using cases familiar to most administrative lawyers. Law’s Abnegation can be read with and compared to Is Administrative Law Unlawful? by Philip Hamburger (Call No. K3400.H253 2014). The two books represent extreme views on the status of administrative law in America. Hamburger answers the title question of his book with a strong affirmative. Vermeule, who reviewed Hamburger’s book in his terse one-word title, No, 93 Texas Law Review 1547 (2015), follows up and expands on his views in his book.

Law and the English Language

Lawyer'sLast year, the Brooklyn Law Library added to its collection The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well (3d ed.) by Tom Goldstein and Jethro K. Lieberman (Call No. KF250. G65 2016). This critically acclaimed book “should be in the office of every lawyer” says William Safire of the New York Times. In its 286 pages, the authors demystify legal writing, outline the causes and consequences of poor writing, and prescribe easy-to-apply remedies to improve it. Reflecting changes in law practice over the past decade, this revised edition includes new sections around communicating digitally, getting to the point, and writing persuasively. It also provides an editing checklist, editing exercises with a suggested revision key, usage notes that address common errors, and reference works to further aid your writing. This guide is an invaluable tool for practicing lawyers and law students.

Chapters are: Why Lawyers Write Poorly — Does bad writing really matter? — Don’t make it like it was — The Practice of Writing — Ten steps to writing it down — Of dawdlers and scrawlers, pacers and plungers: getting started and overcoming blocks — The technology of getting it down: from quill pens to computers — Lawyers as publishers: words are your product — Getting to the Point — Writing persuasively for your audience: tell your audience the point — Writing the lead — Revising for Clarity and Luster — Form, structure, and organization — Wrong words, long sentences, and other mister meaners — Revising your prose — Making your writing memorable.

AnimalBooks and essays about the art of writing well go back a long time. In 1947, English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair 1903 – 1950) and author of Animal Farm: A Fairy Story and Nineteen Eighty-Four, his most famous works, wrote an essay titled Politics and the English Language. Although the essay addresses the decline of language in political and economic contexts, Orwell, in the closing paragraphs, offers rules that cover effective legal writing as well. They are:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Service Pets, the ADA and the Supreme Court

On Monday, October 31, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, an appeal by a 12-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who was not allowed to bring her service dog to school. The Court will consider whether Ehlena Fry’s family can sue the school district for violations of federal disability laws. Fry’s family obtained a goldendoodle, Wonder, to help her open doors and retrieve items. Her school district initially refused to allow Wonder at school. Officials relented a bit in 2010, but they placed many restrictions on Wonder. Ehlena and her dog later transferred to another school.

The family sued the school district in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. In January 2014, the court in EF ex rel. Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, 2014 WL 106624 (subscription required) granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint ruling that the plaintiffs first had to seek an administrative hearing. In June 2015, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, 788 F. 3d 622 upheld that decision 2-1. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the family. School districts around the country have repeatedly denied children with disabilities their right to bring service dogs to school often claiming the service animals are not necessary and that the schools can help the children through other means. The ACLU wants the justices to declare that children prevented from using service animals at school can proceed directly to court without having to go through administrative hearings that can be costly, time consuming and burdensome. The ACLU Petition for Certiorari is available here.  See also Ehlena and Wonder the Service Dog’s Incredible Journey to the Supreme Court and the video that the ACLU posted about her.

The school argues that exhausting administrative remedies encourages parents and schools to work together to determine the best plan for each child and are a cheaper way to resolve educational disputes. The Obama administration has backed the Fry family, saying the appeals court’s decision was wrong and “leads to unsound results.” The government said when the lawsuit was filed, Ehlena had already moved to a new school district and there was no ongoing dispute to compromise. Requiring her to go through administrative proceedings “would waste time and resources without offering any chance of resolving their actual dispute,” the Justice Department said in a brief to the court.

On the subject of service pets, SARA, the Brooklyn Law School Library catalog links to an online resource by the Office of the New York State Attorney General Civil Rights Bureau titled Freedom on Four Legs: Service Animals, Individuals with Disabilities, and the Law.

UPDATE: LexisNexis Digital Library Training Webinar & Live Session

lexisnexis-digital-libraryThe BLS Library is offering a webinar and a live training session to introduce students & faculty to the LexisNexis Digital Library.  As described in Reference Librarian Rosemary Campagna’s blog of October 15, 2016, the Library recently acquired a subscription to the LexisNexis Digital Library which gives students access to treatises, practice guides, and study aids in eBook format.

In order to formally introduce students and faculty to this important new resource, the Library is offering both a webinar and a live training session for the LexisNexis Digital Library.  Both sessions will cover the following topics:

  • How to access (both on-campus and off-campus)
  • Our library’s collection
  • Tools and functionality
  • Locating a title/volumes
  • Borrowing volumes
  • Bookmarks/highlights/annotations
  • Archives
  • Linking on-line research with “print” research
  • Recent and forthcoming enhancements

These sixty minute sessions will be offered on the following dates/times:

UPDATE:  THE PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED WEBINAR FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3rd WILL BE REPLACED BY A LIVE TRAINING SESSION ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016, 11AM-12NOON IN LIBRARY ROOM 113M.  SPACE IS LIMITED.  EMAIL to: linda.holmes@brooklaw.edu, if you would like to attend.

WEBINAR:  Monday, November 7, 2016, 4:00PM-5:00PM.

The instructor for both training sessions is Damian A. Burns, LexisNexis Digital & Print Sales Engineer, Damian.A.Burns@LexisNexis.com

Please follow this link at the time of the November 7th webinar to participate:

www.LexisNexisNow.com/Damian

 

 

LexisNexis Digital Library Now Available at Brooklyn Law School Library

lexisdigitalCurrent law students and faculty can access the Law Library’s new subscription to the LexisNexis Digital Library.  This new subscription gives provides access to primary law, code books, treatises as well as study aids, such as the Understanding and Questions and Answers series.  Just sign in with your BLS user name and password for access.

The LexisNexis Digital Library provides eBook lending capabilities, much like lending a physical book.  The books are accessible via computer, smartphone and tablets.  They are compatible with all major devices  (Apple® products, Android, Amazon® Kindle®, etc.).  You can access them 24/7.

Borrowing times vary depending on the format, ranging from 7 days for a study aid and 30 days for a treatise.  We also have multiple copies of titles, so several users may access them at once.

Check out the Lexis/Nexis Digital Library and see what it has to offer.