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Beautiful Libraries

The librarians from Brooklyn Law School are attending the 2018 conference of the American Association of Law Libraries in Baltimore, Maryland. We are honored to be part of an incredible profession with so many dedicated people willing to help law students, lawyers and legal professionals. Go to your library, speak with your librarians, educate yourself and don’t ignore the advantages that your librarians offer.

Take a look at some of the wonderful libraries listed in a new book from Taschen, Massimo Listri: The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, withimages taken of the oldest libraries around the world, from medieval to 19th-Century institutions and private to monastic collections. It claims to be ‘a bibliophile beauty pageant’.

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (The Vatican Library), Rome, Italy
The Vatican Library has its roots in the 4th Century CE, although in its current form it was established in the 15th Century. In the 16th Century Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to create new buildings to house the Vatican collections, and these are still used today. The decoration is so dizzyingly luxurious that it suggests a sort of fractal geometry. Like most of the vast Vatican complex, the library is a display of the spiritual and temporal influence that has allowed the Vatican to constitute itself as a sovereign state. In addition to documents spanning much of human history, the library possesses the oldest known manuscript of the Bible. When the librarian shushes you, you might want to listen: he has the rank of cardinal.

Stiftsbibliothek Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster Abbey Library), Austria
Kremsmünster Abbey was founded in 777 CE and its library holdings include the Codex Millenarius, a famous 8th-Century manuscript of the Christian Gospels that depicts Saint Luke as a flying ox (Matthew, Mark, and John are a winged man, lion, and eagle respectively). Except for a raid in the 10th Century, after which repairs were made by Emperor Henry II, Kremsmünster for the most part escaped sacking, dissolution, and aristocratic expropriation; little wonder, since it sits on a hill like an intimidating fortress. Like many continental libraries, it was (re)built in the popular Baroque style in the 17th Century, according to which most surfaces (luckily not including the floor) are subjected to exuberant carving, gilding, and frescoes – although this library is positively restrained in comparison to some. Books as intellectual and cultural capital were once considered as valuable as jewels, and it made sense for them to be stored and displayed in gorgeous jewel boxes.

Biblioteca Statale Oratoriana dei Girolamini (The Girolamini Library), Naples, Italy The Girolamini library is part of a large complex founded by the Oratorian religious order. The library hall is an imposing space that rises through three elegant stories: two levels of carved wood shelves, topped with late baroque plasterwork and frescoes. The sheer volume of books on display leaves one in no doubt that this is a place of higher study and research, as well as a warehouse of knowledge. Although it is wide ranging, the collection is particularly strong in music: the Oratorians believe in the importance of music and song in religious contemplation. This was the 18th-Century philosopher Giambattista Vico’s favourite library. It is also, sadly, an instance of a historic library being ransacked in the 21st Century: in 2012 it was discovered that a crime ring had been systematically looting and selling its valuable antique texts on the open market, although many of them have now been recovered. This episode is a valuable reminder, if one were needed, that humanity’s written heritage – the ‘memory of the world’, as Unesco calls it – remains under constant threat of attack.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (Sainte-Geneviève Library), Paris, France
Although we know it is probably older, documentary information about this library first appears in 1148. It was founded as a monastic library, survived the calamitous years of the Revolution intact (although the abbey it was a part of was dissolved and turned into a school), and now serves as the Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne university library. The library’s holdings expanded with the dissolution of other religious institutions and from confiscation of aristocratic collections. The new abbey church, built in the 18th Century, has been turned into the famous Panthéon, the national hall of fame. The current library building was created by the architect Henri Labrouste and opened in 1851. The majestic reading room is like an Industrial Age cathedral; the iron-frame construction brings to mind the other great public cathedrals of the period, the railway stations. In a modern arrangement, desks for readers are at centre stage, with the book stacks standing in graceful attendance. Gas lighting was employed in a monumental hall for the first time.

Klosterbibliothek Metten (Metten Abbey Library), Germany
The Benedictine Abbey at Metten was founded in 766 but was buffeted by the Reformation, war, social unrest, secularisation, and the realpolitik swirling around it. This reached a crescendo in 1803, when the abbey’s property, including its library holdings, were confiscated and auctioned off. However, under King Ludwig I of Bavaria the abbey was reopened and a new library was established; the site once more became a redoubt of knowledge and education. Under Abbot Märkl the monastery was transformed into a prelate’s palace, more in keeping with the prestige it commanded. Among its breathtaking official reception rooms are the library, which is designed along a sophisticated theological scheme. The result is a densely saturated and surprisingly playful palate of beautiful materials. The sculptor Franz Josef Holzinger was commissioned to create the ‘atlantes’ on the central columns to hold up the ceiling (because an ordinary marble column would never do). Christian heroes such as Thomas Aquinas are captured in scenes from their lives in the ceiling frescoes. If there is a problem with this Rococo approach to constructing a ‘temple of knowledge’, it is perhaps that one sometimes has to squint to find the books.

The Premonstratensian Strahov monastery was founded in 1143 and has survived fire, wars, and plundering. Fortunately the holes torn in its collection have been more than made up for over the years by acquisitions and bequests. The library is home to the usual array of religious books, including the exquisite Strahov Evangeliary from the 9th Century, with semi-precious stones embedded in the binding, but its holdings cover a broad range of topics. In design, the library has two monumental halls. The Theological Hall was commissioned by the Abbot of Strahov in 1671; its riotous stucco work and many paintings and inscriptions (illustrating the principles of faith, study, knowledge, and divine providence) place it firmly in the Bohemian Baroque tradition. The fact that its codices are uniformly bound in white give the hall a pleasingly well-ordered feel. The Philosophical Hall (shown here) was built starting in 1783, is more neoclassical in design, and is characterised by its magnificent walnut book cabinets, which were salvaged from the dissolved abbey of Louka, in Moravia. After the Communist coup, the monastery was appropriated by the Czechoslovakian State in 1950 to become part of the Museum of Czech Literature. But after the fall of Communism, the collections were given back to the Premonstratensians, who have been working since to repair decades of neglect.

Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen (Saint Gall Abbey Library), St Gallen, Switzerland For a long time, St Gall Abbey was one of the most important
intellectual centers in Western Europe, and it incorporates one of the largest medieval libraries in the world. The abbey was founded in the 7th Century by the Irish monk Gallus, and followed the Rule of St Benedict – the most bookish of saints, who required of his order the disciplined contemplation of religious texts – for more than a thousand years. A Greek inscription above the library’s entrance calls it a ‘sanctuary for the soul’. Today’s library arose during the Baroque remodelling of the abbey in the 18th Century by the architect Peter Thumb. The decoration befits a place of great cultural capital. There is rich, Rococo ornamentation everywhere, and especially in the stucco work. The carved wooden bookcases completely cover the walls on two levels, while the ceiling paintings depict ecumenical councils and church fathers. The abbey was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1983.

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland PIf you still have your sunglasses on, you can take them off now, because the Long Room at Trinity College Library is pleasingly low on ornamentation, and soothingly high on Enlightenment symmetries. Elizabeth I of England founded Trinity College in 1592 as a centre of Protestant scholarship, the idea being to break with the monastic tradition of learning and establish a new framework within the University of Dublin. Because the university outgrew its first library, a new building was planned by Thomas Burgh. Known as the Old Library, it was begun in 1712 and finished in 1732. It includes a spectacular 65m (215 ft)-long central space known as the Long Room; the original flat roof of the single-storey room was raised in 1858 and replaced with the oak barrel-vaulting that exists today. The Long Room’s oak shelves hold 200,000 of the university’s most valuable books. Among the intellectual worthies whose busts are ranked along the bookshelves are Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, both of whom once used the library. (There are no women.) The library’s treasures include illuminated masterpieces such as the Book of Durrow (c 650–700) and the Book of Kells (c 800).

RBG

Her fans refer to her as the “Notorious R.B.G.” a reference to the legendary rapper “The Notorious B.I.G.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg jokes in an interview that they have a lot in common. They both come from Brooklyn. Through Ginsburg’s history you can track the women’s movement in the United States:  her fight for legal equality (for women and men), her position on an increasingly conservative court. It gives access to Ginsburg, who is interviewed, along with her children, her granddaughter, and her friends.

Starting with various right-wing figures calling Ginsburg “witch,” “very wicked,” “zombie,” the documentary takes us on a tour through Ginsburg’s life: her 1993 confirmation hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee, recent interviews at Harvard Law School or the Virginia Military Institute, all of which help fill in the blanks of her lengthy career, as a lawyer working on women’s rights issues to her eventual nomination to the highest court in the land. There is information of personal details: her love of opera, her friendship with Antonin Scalia, the diverse collars she wears to court, her lengthy marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. Once we reach the present day, the memes take over, showing how Ginsburg has captured the hearts of a younger generation. Seeing a class full of high school students as they listen to Ginsburg’s during a visit to their class is especially endearing.

Her husband, “Marty,” was by all accounts a well-liked and gregarious man, and not threatened by his wife’s ambitions. Gloria Steinem refers to her as a “superhero,” but Ginsburg did not spend the 1970s walking in protest marches. Instead, she went about trying to establish legal precedent for gender equality. She did so in a couple of groundbreaking cases, like Frontiero v. Richardson, her first case before the Supreme Court. “RBG” profiles those early cases, where Ginsburg took the opportunity in her arguments not only to plead for her client, but also to teach the existing Supreme Court justices that inequality is real, and why it was wrong to treat women as second-class citizens. In one of her arguments, she quoted 19th century abolitionist and attorney Sarah Grimké,: “I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks.” The Supreme Court listened. Ginsburg won 5 out of 6 of her cases.

We get to hear a brief sequence dealing with her controversial 2016 comments about then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, a serious break with the tradition of Supreme Court Justices maintaining poker faces, regardless of who is in power. One of the regular interview subjects is Senator Orrin Hatch, who may disagree with her politics but also admires her, expressing no doubt that she belongs on the Supreme Court. In the film, his is a measured presence, exuding an acceptance of disagreement and the need for compromise. His comments come from an earlier, more civilized world. Ginsburg is now queen of the dissenting opinion, but unfortunately the filmmakers stay far, far away from any “dissenting opinions” themselves.

Memorial Day 2018

Memorial Day festivities are now 150 years old. At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.

In the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual. The practice of decorating graves which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day did not start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

The ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past. Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery.

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.” The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Hat tip: David W. Blight, NY Times

 

 

2018 Commencement Speakers at NY Area Law Schools

Graduation season is here and Brooklyn Law School holds its 117th Commencement Ceremony today at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. The commencement speaker was Hon. Dora L. Irizarry, Chief United States District Judge, Eastern District of New York. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004, Dora L. Irizarry is the first Hispanic District Judge to serve in the Eastern District of New York. On April 23, 2016, she became the first Hispanic Chief Judge of the Eastern District of New York, and the first Hispanic woman Chief Judge within the Second Circuit. Born in Puerto Rico, and raised in the South Bronx, she attended public schools, and graduated cum laude with honors and distinction in the major of Political Sociology from Yale University in 1976. In 1979, she graduated from Columbia Law School, where she was a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow, and joined the Bronx District Attorney’s Office Appeals Bureau. Assigned to the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, she investigated and prosecuted some of the City’s largest complex narcotics cases. She also served in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, and as a special prosecutor in the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Commencement speakers at other area law schools this year are:

New York

  • Albany Law School – Hon.  Michael J. Garcia, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
  • Buffalo Law School – Terrence M. Connors of Connors LLP
  • Cardozo School of Law — Hon. Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Columbia Law School — Jeh Johnson, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
  • CUNY School of Law — Paul Butler, former prosecutor and law professor of Georgetown University
  • Fordham University School of Law —Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Hofstra School of Law — Ronan Farrow, Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist
  • New York Law School — Hon. Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court
  • New York University School of Law — Bryan Stevenson, NYU Law Professor and Equal Justice Initiative Executive Director
  • Pace University School of Law — Eric Gonzalez, Kings County District Attorney
  • St. John’s University School of Law — Hon. Preet Bharara, Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Syracuse University College of Law — Hon. Preet Bharara, Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Touro Law Center — Hon. Joseph Crowley, U.S. Representative, 14th District of New York
New Jersey
  • Rutgers University School of Law at Newark — Hon. Gurbir S. Grewal, New Jersey Attorney General
  • Seton Hall Law School — Hon. Jovita Carranza, U.S. Treasurer

Stuck in the Muck? Use BLS’s Research Guides to Succeed in Your Summer Internships

This Summer many of you will be challenged to research and write on unfamiliar legal issues. You want to impress your supervisors, but you do not know where to begin or how to best approach the problem.  The Brooklyn Law School Library’s research guides are a good place to start.  The resources in the guides are curated by librarians to specifically support the subject surveyed.   Listed below are a few guides that can help you tackle your assignments.  For the complete list of the 49 research guides, go to the url: guides.brooklaw.edu.

Also, do not forget to reach out to BLS librarians for additional help.  You can email us at askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu, call us at 718-780-7567, text us at 718-734-2432, or chat with us using a widget on the Library’s home page.  We are here all summer.

New York State Legislative History Research: This guide is intended to help researchers locate print and online sources for New York State Legislative History Research.

New York Civil Litigation Research Guide: This guide’s purpose is to aid practitioners and law students in researching New York civil practice.  The guide identifies key civil practice resources, and provides search tips and strategies.

New York Criminal Procedure Research Guide: This research guide is intended to provide users with links to a variety of resources on New York State and Federal Criminal Procedure.  These sources cover a wide range of topics.

Federal Legislative History Research Guide: This research guide is intended to help researchers locate print and online sources for Federal Legislative History.

Form Books: In print and online: This is a guide to form books in print and online in the BLS Library collection. Legal forms are templates that attorneys use in drafting documents specific to the needs of their clients or are forms required to be used by a court or governmental agency.  Forms are found online in various databases, and in print in collections of form books.

Intellectual Property Law Primer: This guide will help you research Intellectual Property law which includes Patents, Trademarks and Copyright.  It will focus on materials available in the Brooklyn Law School library, including books, journals, and databases, in print and electronic format.  Access to some of these materials may require your BLS user name and password, as well as Lexis or Westlaw ID and passwords.

Springtime comes to BLS

Tulips in front of the law school

Officially, the first day of spring fell on March 20 this year. This was news to those of us living in New York City. According to Accuweather, the high temperature in downtown Brooklyn on that day was a whopping 37° F (time perhaps for a pop quiz on de jure versus de facto?).

Enjoying coffee in the BLS Courtyard

 

 

 

It has taken a while, but spring has finally arrived in Brooklyn. Though we are in the midst of our exam period, BLS students are taking advantage of the good weather. Many of them can be seen out in the courtyard, discussing the intricacies of the UCC (the code, not the coffee) or regulatory takings and the Penn Central test.  Students may be grappling with the fruit of the poisonous tree, but at least they can enjoy the blooming flowers and greenery all around the law school. 

Downtown Brooklyn – Columbus Park

(Photographs courtesy of Jean Davis)

Greek May Day Celebrations

May 1st is International Labour Day and in Greece it is called ‘Protomagia’ (literally meaning the first day of May). It is an urban holiday when people traditionally go to the countryside for picnics, to fly kites and to gather wild flowers. On this day there many parades and other festivities throughout the country. It is a national holiday which means that everything is closed, with the exception of cafes and food venues.

The custom of Protomagia has its roots in ancient Greece as a celebration of spring, nature, and flowers. Flower wreaths, typically made from hand picked wild flowers, are hung on the doors of many homes in a way to welcome nature and all things good. Maios (May) the last month of Spring took its name from the Goddess Maja, a goddess who took her name from the ancient word Maia, the nurse and mother. May, according to Greek folklore, has two meanings: The good and the bad, rebirth and death. The custom celebrates the final victory of the summer against winter as the victory of the life against death go back to the ancient years and culminate at the first day of May. This day was also dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Dimitra and her daughter Persephone, who on this day emerges from the under world and comes to earth. Her coming to earth from Hades marks the blooming of nature and the birth of summer.

May 1st is International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists and occurs every year on the 1st of May. The date was chosen as International Workers’ Day by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in many countries, but in only some of those countries is it celebrated specifically as “Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day”. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held April 27 during the Roman Republic era.

BLS Professor on Israel Supreme Court

Brooklyn Law School’s Professor Alex Stein gained appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court. Stein, a foremost expert on torts, medical malpractice, evidence, and general legal theory, was appointed along with Israeli District Court Judge Ofer Grosskopf to fill two open Supreme Court positions that were vacated by retiring justices. Stein’s nomination was unanimously approved by the Judicial Appointments Committee. There are 15 justices on the Israeli Supreme Court.

“Professor Stein is one of the world’s brilliant legal minds,” said Nick Allard, President and Dean of Brooklyn Law School. “In the short time he has been with us, he has made an enormous positive impact on the Brooklyn Law School community—as a teacher, a scholar, and a wonderfully energetic and engaged colleague and friend. We could not be prouder of his well-deserved appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court, where we know he will make important and lasting contributions as a jurist—as he has as a law professor and practicing lawyer.”

Born and raised in the former Soviet Union, Stein immigrated with his parents to Israel, where he finished high school, served in the military, and studied law. Following his marriage, he has lived in the United States for the last 14 years and joined the Law School faculty in 2016. While in the United States, he continued his involvement in the Israeli legal academy and practice. Stein has been recognized as one of the most highly cited scholars in the field of Evidence. His books include An Analytical Approach to Evidence: Text, Cases and Problems, (Call Number KF8935 .A83 2016). The book is a problem-based Evidence casebook that presents the Federal Rules of Evidence in context, illuminates the rules, and provides a fully updated and systematic account of the law. Lively discussion and interesting problems (rather than numerous appellate case excerpts) engage students in understanding the principles, policies, and debates that surround evidence law. He received his law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his Ph.D. from the University of London.

Valentine’s Day Quiz

Can you name the U.S. Supreme Court Justice?

1.  It must have brought a Flood of emotions: his clerks wrote him a card on Valentine’s Day, 1985, that read “Respondents are red, petitioners are blue. We’re very lucky to have a Justice like you.”

2.  “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”  It’s no mystery that this passage comes from the closing paragraph of the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), authored by this Justice.

3. Rush Limbaugh’s wedding to the “Jacksonville Jaguar” Marta Fitzgerald, was held at this Justice’s home in 1994.  As the officiant, the Justice may have been required to ask a question or two.  Alas, the couple ending up splitting a decade later.

4. Toxic love triangle: Carol Anne Bond was excited when her closest friend announced she was pregnant. Excitement turned to rage when Bond learned that her husband was the child’s father. Bond went to the former BFF’s home at least 24 times in order to spread toxic chemicals on surfaces her nemesis would touch; she was prosecuted under federal law for her actions. In ruling that the Chemical Weapons Convention did not apply, this Justice explained why he was not upholding the mandate in this case: “The global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the Federal Government to reach into the kitchen cupboard.”  Bond v. United States (2014).

5. This notorious Justice penned the majority opinion in Sole v. Wyner (2007).  The case involved a rebuffed attempt by Wyner to assemble nude individuals into a peace sign on a Florida beach, on Valentine’s Day, 2003.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mindfulness and Meditation for the Legal Professional

Now that we are in the reading period at BLS (aka Hell Week at some institutions) and exams are just around the corner, stress levels are running high. Throughout the library, anxious faces are buried in casebooks and class notes, an ample caffeine supply on hand to fuel the late night cram sessions. Sadly, the stress doesn’t end upon graduation. Being a lawyer requires you to deal with conflict, unreasonable client demands, tight deadlines, and long hours. These can be especially unforgiving for someone newly entering the profession, and can lead to unhealthy habits — there’s a reason why some state bar associations require members to take continuing legal education classes on substance abuse.

So what is a stressed out law student or lawyer to do?

The answer, according to Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford, is mindfulness and meditation. In their book, The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-week Guide to Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation (2016) [Call number: KF298.C47 2016], lawyers Cho and Gifford have crafted a meditation program targeted to fellow members of the legal profession.  The program is aimed at those new to meditation and includes a variety of exercise and practices, covering such topics as mindfulness, compassion towards others and self, mantra repetition, heartfulness, and gratitude. By following this initial eight week program, readers hopefully will see a change, for the better, in their habits and perspectives. They would be able to build on these changes and continue their meditation practices going forward, including developing meditation styles that best suit their own needs.

Law students and attorneys will relate to the many examples drawn from the authors’ experiences from law practice, and how they personally benefited from meditation. For example, in the chapter on mindfulness, Cho and Gifford discuss mindful client interviews, and the importance of setting boundaries with clients. They broach topics such as working with difficult opposing counsel, and the challenges of “toxic mentoring.”

Cho and Gifford don’t sugarcoat the fact that it may not be easy for lawyers to start or to stick with a meditation practice. Our perspectives on our lives and profession get ossified and habits are hard to break. The authors’ approach provides a road map to get started with meditation and mindfulness, with plenty of room for the individual to adapt what best works for him- or herself. In addition to the guidance provided in The Anxious Lawyer, Jeena Cho’s podcasts cover related topics and are worth checking out.

For members of the BLS community who wish to engage in meditation, BLS Library has a Contemplation Room, Room 105M on the first floor mezzanine. This space is provided for students, staff and faculty to engage in contemplation, meditation, or quiet spiritual awareness. If you have any questions about the Contemplation Room, stop by the reference desk and we would be happy to help.