Category Archives: Research

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.

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.

Do you need to write a seminar paper, but don’t know where to start? Get answers at the Seminar Paper Workshop

On Thursday January 30, Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil are holding their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper in Room 700. The workshop is from 4-5:30 PM.

Topics covered include sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and strategies for effectively organizing and writing your paper.  If you are 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 discussed, and the writing and research presentations.  The online guide is available at guides.brooklaw.edu/seminarpaper.  From the guide’s main page, you can access the recording of the 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.

Mueller Report: Available On Reserve

“Over 400 pages of reading bliss, this is one you don’t want to miss” ~Anonymous


Now that we are into the thicket of law school exams, the library has provided some welcome diversions: puzzles, origami, and a Kindness Wall where students can leave encouraging notes for their peers. But what better way to destress than to play the “guess the redacted content” game?

Fresh off the press, the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, better known as the Mueller Report, is now in the library’s Reserve Collection (Call No. JF1083 .M84 2019)   

So take a break from deciphering the Rule Against Perpetuities and stop by the Circulation Desk. Flip through the Mueller Report and let your imagination run wild. Who are the subjects of the redacted ongoing investigations? Which classified secrets have been withheld from the eager public? What tasty tidbits in the grand jury materials were deemed verboten?

Maybe, just maybe, the Mueller Report will inspire you because of what it is: an impeccably researched and drafted legal document. It’s the stuff lawyers do. Someday, perhaps, you too will get to work on a legal project so monumental that it will have redactions galore when released to the public. One can only dream (but don’t dream for too long, IRAC awaits.)  

Government Shutdown Resources: CRS Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a non-partisan agency within the Library of Congress that provides confidential and authoritative analysis on policy issues for Members of Congress and their staff.  The CRS has a staff of about 600 employees including policy analysts, economists, scientists, lawyers, and librarians.  Following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, CRS reports have been made publicly available. Currently, the official public website provides access to the in-depth “R-series” reports though the full inventory is not slated for full migration to the website until spring 2019, and there is no specified timeline for access to the agency’s shorter written products (Insight, In Focus, Legal Sidebar, etc.).  Some publications in the R-series, as well as in the other CRS product series, can also be found on non-official sites including Every CRS Report, and the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) CRS Portal.

crsreports.congress.gov

As the government shutdown continues to drag on, CRS reports can provide valuable analysis and insight. Some relevant reports include:

Economic Effects of the FY2019 Government Shutdown (January 2019) This CRS Insight, written by an Macroeconomic Policy Specialist,  provides a brief analysis of the potential economic effects of the current FY2019 shutdown.

How a Government Shutdown Affects Government Contracts (January 2019) Written by a legislative attorney, this CRS Legal Sidebar examines “possible effects that a government shutdown could have on new and existing federal contracts.”

Past Government Shutdowns: Key Resources (updated January 2019). The report provides an “annotated list of historical documents and other resources related to several past government shutdowns. Sources for these documents and resources include the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Government Accountability Office (GAO), House and Senate Committees, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Executive Office of the President.”

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effect  (updated December 2018) This in-depth report covers “causes of shutdowns, including the legal framework under which they may occur; processes related to how agencies may plan for the contingency of a shutdown; effects of shutdowns, focusing especially on federal personnel and government operations; and issues related to shutdowns that may be of interest to Congress.” In case you were wondering, because of their responsibilities under the Constitution and a permanent appropriation covering congressional pay, “Members of Congress are not subject to furlough.”

Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview  (updated March 2018)  Provides an overview and analysis of federal funding gaps, which is not synonymous with a government shutdown. “The interval during the fiscal year when appropriations for a particular project or activity are not enacted into law, either in the form of a regular appropriations act or a continuing resolution (CR), is referred to as a funding gap. Although funding gaps may occur at the start of the fiscal year, they may also occur any time a CR expires and another CR (or the regular appropriations bill) is not enacted immediately thereafter. Multiple funding gaps may occur within a fiscal year.”

Welcome Back! A Few Resources to Help You This Spring

As you begin your Spring 2019 classes, keep in mind all of the resources available to you while you are a student at BLS:

Developing and Researching a Paper Topic:

Research Guides: If you are researching a particular subject area and don’t know where to start, or if you are trying to come up with a paper topic, check out the BLS Research Guides at http://guides.brooklaw.edu/. These guides cover a wide variety of topics such as EU Legal Research, Federal Securities Law, NY Civil Practice, and many others.

Finding Journal Articles and Cite Checking:

HeinOnline: Westlaw and Lexis have an excellent collection of journal articles. But especially if you are cite checking for a journal, you should also check out HeinOnline (https://www.heinonline.org/HOL/Welcome) which posts PDF versions of journal articles so you can view them exactly as they appear in the print copies.

Foreign and International Legal Resources:

HeinOnline: If you are researching foreign and international law, once again HeinOnline may be a great resource for you. HeinOnline has several databases devoted to foreign and international law including the Foreign and International Law Resources Database, United Nations Law Collection, and World Treaty Library.

Justis:  If you need to find caselaw or legislation from the UK, Ireland or EU, check out Justis, an online library of UK, Irish, EU, and international caselaw and legislation.

For more foreign and international legal resources check out the International and Foreign Law Databases in the A-Z database guide.

Corporate, Securities, Bankruptcy, Tax:

Bloomberg Law Practice Centers: Bloomberg Law is an excellent source for news and updates in specific practice areas such as corporate law, securities, tax, and bankruptcy. To access these resources, log into Bloomberg Law and click on the “Browse” icon on the upper left corner. Then click on “Practice Centers” on the left and choose the area of law you want to research.

If you don’t have a Bloomberg Law account, you can set one up by going to https://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate.

Westlaw and Lexis also have a wealth of information including cases, statutes, regulations, and secondary materials organized by practice area. On Westlaw, click on the “Practice Areas” tab on the homepage, and on Lexis, click on the “Practice Area or Industry” tab on the homepage. There you will find several areas of law such as Tax, Copyright, or Immigration which if you click on will bring you to primary and secondary source materials including statutes, regulations, caselaw, practice guides, and treatises for that topic.

And for your other research needs….

Check out the library’s A-Z Research Guide for a list of all of the databases available at BLS organized by subject area. And don’t forget about OneSearch (for searching articles and materials across all databases), SARA (for searching books & e-books), and Find A Source (for finding out whether BLS has access to specific journal titles).

Lastly, whenever you’re stuck, contact a librarian! Come find us at the reference desk or email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or use the “chat” feature on the library homepage.

Good luck!!!

Seventh Annual Databases Research Fair Recap

The library held its Seventh Annual Databases Research Fair on October 3, 2018, in the third floor Phyllis & Bernard Nash Reading Room.  Representatives from Bloomberg Law, EBSCO, Fastcase, Lexis, Westlaw, and Wolters Kluwer came to showcase their legal research platforms to students.  BLS librarians were also on hand to demonstrate HeinOnline and research tools available on the BLS Library website.

The mix of 1Ls and upperclass students enjoyed stopping by vendor tables, learning about the latest database features while picking up swag like portable wireless speakers, coffee mugs, tote bags, and pens.  Students who had visited at least 5 vendors also qualified to enter the raffle. For the prizes, BLS Library and the vendors contributed gift cards ranging from $10 to $100, with a total value of $385. Congratulations to the nine lucky students who won the raffle gift cards!

Finally, it must be noted that the research fair was organized, as always, by Associate Librarian Linda Holmes.  After 37 years with the library, Linda’s last day at BLS was today, October 5. We wish her a very happy retirement!  It speaks to the success of the event, and to Linda’s superb organization, that on the day of the research fair a 3L student told us “The day of the research fair is my favorite day of the school year.” And the next day, after she received an email from Linda notifying her that she had won a raffle prize: “I was so happy, I did a little dance.”  

 

Need Help with Your Seminar Paper? Come to the Seminar Paper Workshop

On Thursday September 20th, Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil are holding their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper in Room 402.  The workshop is from 4-5:30 PM. Topics covered include sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and strategies for effectively organizing and writing your paper.  If you are 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 discussed, and the writing and research presentations.  The online guide is available at guides.brooklaw.edu/seminarpaper.  From the guide’s main page, you can access the recording of the 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.