Category Archives: Research

Preparing for Remote Work During the BLS Winter Recess  

If you need to conduct remote research during the BLS Winter Recess (Dec. 23–Jan. 3), these are our suggestions:

  • NOW is the time to email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or to text (718) 734-2432 and state: “My [professor/journal editor] encouraged me to find additional articles and treatises to support [assertion X].  Can you help me?”  A reference librarian can recommend searches in our SARA library catalog to find e/books and “advanced searches” in our OneSearch discovery platform to find articles.
  • NOW is the time to implement the BLS proxy server instructions for off-campus access to many ebooks, ejournals and databases.  Prior to Winter Recess, you can still troubleshoot implementation problems with our library tech staff, accessible through: library.lab@brooklaw.edu  Librarians recommend either the Firefox (Mac) Proxy Instructions or the Firefox (Windows) Proxy Instructions
  • Check out needed print sources in BLS Library by Dec. 22.
  • If you find cites to articles or books unavailable through BLS Library, as of Dec. 15, 2022, you still have time to place requests for scans of articles and book chapters through the BLS interlibrary loan process. 
    • To place an ILL request, access SARA library catalog and click tab: ILL, enter your BLS username [format: firstname.lastname] & password, then click: Create Request
      • Fill out the appropriate template: Article, Book or Other (choose Other to request a scan of a single book chapter).
    • Feel free to email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or to text (718) 734-2432 to learn more about making an ILL request. 
    • If you place an ILL request, please monitor both your BLS “In” box and “Clutter” folder for replies from lenders. 
    • Note: ILL requests will not be processed from Dec. 23-Jan. 3. 
  • For further information, BLS patrons can access the Canvas page: Librarians’ Research Presentations > under heading: Materials from Librarians’ “Alcove Academy” Presentations, click: PowerPoint: “Effective Remote Research.”

We hope our tips will improve your research during Winter Break.  Remember: Right now, we are here to help! 

Finding Casebooks & Study Aids in BLS Library

Questions & Answers, Torts
by Prof. Anita Bernstein

In its first-floor Reserve collection, BLS Library provides current editions of casebooks/textbooks that are required for classes.  There also are current editions of many treatises, hornbooks and other study aids in the Reserve collection.  Note: Study aids are only supplements to required course readings.  These print books circulate for two hours.  You can search for a specific source by title, author or keywords in SARA catalog.  Feel free to email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or to text (718) 734-2432 if you have questions about finding or accessing specific sources.

BLS Library’s guide 1L Resources, Tips and Tools highlights 1L casebooks and study aids available through BLS Library in both print and digital formats.  The top-level guide tab: 1L Course Study Aids provides a pull-down menu of subjects.  Click a subject, like: Civil Procedure.  There are “quick links” to boxes highlighting:

  • Selected CALI Lessons (online lessons on specific legal topics created by law professors/librarians – these lessons include review questions)
  • Casebooks
  • Treatises & Hornbooks
  • Study Aids Containing Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Additional Study Aids

In the 1L guide, sources in a box appear in reverse chronological order (“newest first”).  Guide pages also include a search feature (top right).  Recently, vendor EBSCO began supporting BLS Library’s desire to circulate Reserve copies of ebooks for two hours.  So, EBSCO ebooks like Mastering Multiple Choice for Federal Civil Procedure and A Short & Happy Guide to Torts circulate for two hours.  BLS Library’s e-copies of study aids in the Q&A, Understanding and Gilbert Law Summaries series (available through Lexis Digital Library) circulate for three days. 

Additionally, the 1L guide identifies print sources and online tools to support legal research and writing.  Top-level guide tab: Research, Writing & Citation provides a pull-down menu of resource pages on:

  • Legal Research
  • Legal Writing & Analysis
  • Legal Citation

Please reload the 1L guide’s web page when you visit this guide – BLS Library frequently adds new sources.  Reference librarians are happy to help you identify BLS Library’s sources!   

Need to find and research a paper or presentation topic? BLS librarians (and their guides) can help!

BLS librarians have created 40+ publicly-accessible legal research guides. Tips: A BLS student can email askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu, text (718) 734-2432 or chat with us for help determining whether there is a guide to support research on a specific topic. Off-campus use of many subscription databases described in BLS research guides requires implementation of the BLS proxy server instructions.

Also, your librarians serve as liaisons to the BLS full-time faculty–we can tell you which librarian works most closely with a particular professor. A librarian liaison might have created research links in the Canvas page for a paper-writing course or other material to support students’ research. Note: BLS librarians can highlight resources to support any type of law student paper, article or presentation.

A useful starting point for many types of paper research is the guide: Selecting & Developing Your Seminar Paper Topic. This guide’s home page includes videos on: selecting/researching a topic; developing a thesis for a seminar paper topic; and avoiding plagiarism. Guide tab: Selecting a Topic links to: indexes of legal blogs; legal news sources; and selected legal journals and newsletters. All of these sources highlight new and developing legal topics. Guide tab: Developing an Argument through Commentary links to both full-text sources of articles and indexes of articles. Guide tab: Developing an Argument through Grey Literature includes sources to find material published by think tanks, NGOs and interested organizations.

Moreover, there are BLS guides to international law research. The broadest two guides are: Paper Topic Selection: International (highlights news/legal news sources) and Paper Topic Development: International (highlights sources of articles and primary law). If you need to find a topic for a “Rule of Law/Law of War” seminar, you could access the Paper Topic Selection guide > tab: Pull-down Menu of News: Specific Topics and choose sub-tab: Law of War. The English Legal Sources guide includes links to newly available resources in Westlaw Edge UK.

Additionally, there are many subject-focused BLS research guides. If you need to develop a topic in the “Art Law” seminar, the Art Law guide > tab: Other Resources links to websites of organizations and the searchable ArThemis database of news/case notes on art and cultural property disputes. If you need to conduct research for the “Topics in White Collar Crime” seminar, you could link to many resources through guide: White Collar Crime Research. If you are writing in the “Civil Practice Workshop,” the New York Civil Practice guide might be helpful. (This is a guide BLS librarians like to highlight to all BLS students who might wish to become litigators.) If you are writing on a tax topic, see: Federal Tax Research Guide and International Tax Research Guide. These guides include instructions to access BLS subscription databases to support tax research.

COMING IN EARLY OCTOBER: A presentation for students on selecting a paper topic and avoiding plagiarism. We will provide the date/time soon!

New & Updated Tools for UK Legal Research

Feel free to ask BLS librarians for help (contact: askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu) in using these tools!

BLS Library has updated its publicly accessible research guide: English Legal Sources Available Through BLS Library.

Guide tab: Legal Books describes how to find many Sweet & Maxwell sources in: Westlaw Edge UK. In this database, BLS researchers now can access a number of additional treatises (example: Dicey, Morris & Collins on the Conflict of Laws).

Guide tab: Dictionaries includes a link to: Westlaw Edge UK: Index of Legal Terms. Westlaw Edge UK will search for a term like: demurrer in Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law, Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases and Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary. Westlaw Edge UK also states: “In addition to the dictionaries, the index includes definitions that form part of Westlaw UK’s Case, Legislation and Journal documents.”

Guide tab: Cases now includes a box titled: Easy Ways To Find and Print Cases in Westlaw Edge UK. Also, researchers might appreciate the way Judicial Treatment appears so clearly in Westlaw Edge UK > tab: Cases.

Guide tab: News explains: At subscription Law360 UK, it appears that BLS researchers can only access “Top Stories.” Tip: Use Lexis+ Legal News Hub > All sections > UK to obtain the text of additional Law360 UK legal news stories/analysis.

New York Family Law Research Guide

For those interested in practicing or researching in the field of family law, the library recently published a

research guide for family law resources. The guide focuses on the law of New York State. It includes links to practice aids, treatises, and blogs and news sources for researching New York family law. There are also quick links to the relevant titles in the New York state statutory code and to case law databases focusing on family law. This summer, if you are interning with a family law organization, it would be useful for you to become familiar with both the news sources and the secondary sources listed.

Researching Reproductive Rights in International Law

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 reproductive rights nationally and internationally. This post will focus on some international sources of law regarding 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.