Friday, February 13, 2009

Short list of pros and cons of online legal research

This post comes from our good buddies at the Law Librarian Blog - a short outline of the pros and cons of online legal research tools.

Here 'tis:

There are many advantages to having high technology at your disposal as a legal researcher.  In many universities around the country, law databases are growing at an increasingly faster pace than ever before.  Something is lost in translation; however, to the thousands of law students seeking to learn about the myriad of cases they will be responsible for knowing down the line.

Easy Searching. Cross-referencing capabilities have made legal documents easier to peruse than ever before and students placing specific search parameters will have no trouble finding what they are looking for when it comes to finding cases that match their search criteria.  This method of searching makes it easy to find cases and study for examinations, but does little to build the knowledge base of these lawyers-to-be.

Technological Dependence. While using a sophisticated database system for examining and researching cases will come in handy for practicing attorneys, the fact of the matter is that these advances have caused a technological dependence with law students at universities around the country.  No longer are students fully versed in case law, but rather they look to find the answers the easy way.  Law school is about creating experts, not just people who can plug in search terms.  There are nuances to the written law that don’t translate well in digital format.

Old Fashioned Way Works Better. There is no better way to build a true knowledge base of cases and legal precedents other than actually reading the documents of the cases themselves.  While making documents available electronically has its merits, students are less likely to build up and develop a solid information base of legal knowledge as the students of years past have.

Ultimately, legal education is all about learning cases.  Studying is of the utmost importance when attending law school and nothing replaces the act of reading and learning about legal precedents through hands-on studying of the material.  Online resources should be used as just that—resources. 

Hat tip to Holly McCarthy.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

why law school library directors should be tenured

Spencersimons Of natural interest to legal writing professors,  Spencer Simons, at the University of Houston, has written an article explaining "What Interests are Served When Academic Law Library Directors are Tenured Law Faculty? An Analysis and Proposal".  Here's his abstract: 

"A question of increasing concern is whether academic law library directors should be tenured law faculty. ABA standard 603(d) provides that directors should hold faculty appointments with security of faculty position, and not in the administrative position of director. Nonetheless, some directors are not tenured or tenure-track law faculty. Many believe the number of directors hired on other than tenure-track appointments is increasing. The article discusses the anomalous position of directors, presents original research results on scholarly productivity and teaching of directors, explores whether the traditional rationales for academic tenure apply to directors, evaluates directors' stated reasons for seeking tenure, and analyzes the functional benefits and disadvantages of director tenure for directors, faculty, and administrations. A form of employment providing the functional benefits of the tenure process, while ameliorating the problems of tenure, is proposed."


February 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

kudos, Chris!

CoughlcnChris Coughlin, legal writing professor extraordinaire at Wake Forest University, has received the 2008 Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award.  This is a university-wide award, and Chris will be recognized for her teaching at a university-wide convocation.  Congratulations! 
hat tip:  Prof. Miki Felsenburg

February 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ABA Midyear Meeting in Boston

Aba For the first time, proceedings of the ABA House of Delegates will be available by webcast.  The House of Delegates will meet Monday, February 16, 2009 beginning at 8:00 am ET.  At 1:45 pm ET, the House will consider Report Nos. 109 and 110 which seek to amend the Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10.  Other presentations of interest include remarks by Walter E. Dellinger, III, former U.S. Solicitor General on "America's Greatest Lawyer - Abraham Lincoln in Private Practice and Public Life" at 11:00 am, and remarks by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, President of the Conference of Chief Justices and 23rd Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court at 11:45 a.m. To view the complete list of Reports with Recommendations to be considered by the House of Delegates, click here. And on Monday click here to view the webcast.


February 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

200th Anniversary of the Birth of President (and Lawyer) Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln_lawyer_stamp_3Today marks the 200th anniversary of one of our country's greatest legal writers, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. 


February 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

call for proposals: Lone Star LRW conference


The Lone Star Regional Legal Research and Writing Conference will be held at Texas Tech University School of Law on May 29-30, 2009.  We invite proposals for presentations at this conference and welcome proposals from anyone involved in legal education, including LRW profs, academic support professionals, other-than-skills profs, and law librarians.

While we anticipate and welcome proposals on a broad range of topics, we hope to have sufficient proposals to establish a separate track for those involved in moot court programs, including those who advise moot court programs and do not teach LRW.  In addition, we encourage proposals on program assessment and teaching methods.

A complete proposal will contain the following information:

1.       The presenter’s name and complete contact information.

2.       A paragraph or thereabouts describing the program.

3.       A description of the session’s planned structure and teaching approach.

4.       The preferred length of the program:  25 minutes, 55 minutes, or 80 minutes.  (We hope to have more of the shorter programs and fewer of the longer, but we’re flexible.)

5.       Any other information that you think would be helpful for us to know in making selections and planning the program.

The deadline for submissions is March 16, 2009.  We hope to have the program complete before the end of March.

Thank you.  We look forward to seeing your proposals and putting together a great program.

The Lone Star Program Committee

Nancy Soonpaa

Beth Youngdale

Lori Roberts

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One large firm requires attorneys to use Loislaw rather than Westlaw/Lexis to save costs

Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell now requires its attorneys to use Loislaw for certain legal research tasks instead of Westlaw or Lexis in order to save money.  According to a firm memo posted on, LLB & L favors Loislaw for non-billable and some billable research tasks because the firm pays a reasonable, flat fee for unlimited use.  The firm memo mandates the following electronic legal research practices, effective immediately:

* All non-billable legal research involving case law, statutes or regulations at both the state and federal level should first be performed using Loislaw.
* Loislaw should also be used for billable research where appropriate, resulting in a much lower cost to the client.
* If additional research is required on Lexis or Westlaw that research must be billed to a client/matter.

Yet another example of a continuing trend among law firms to seek low cost or open source alternatives to expensive legal research services.

Hat tip to the AboveTheLaw Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


February 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

a fun website about new words

Word Spy introduces and defines new words.  I knew the meaning of "lactation room," but "yarn bombing" is new to me!


February 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 9, 2009

This is SO Cute -- A Law Student's "Save the Date" Video for the Barrister's Ball in Utah

Here's a link to a short video made by a law student at the S.J. Quinney College of Law in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He made a series of earlier videos explaining his experiences during the first year of law school, including some dealing with legal writing.   This video (a "Save the Date" for the Barrister's Ball) has NOTHING to do with legal writing (you COULD ask YOUR students whether it should be "Barrister's Ball" or "Barristers' Ball.")   But don't be fooled -- we're posting this here purely for its entertainment value.

Hat tip to Jesse for his videos!


February 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Central Region call for proposals

Call for Proposals for the Central Region Conference on the Teaching of Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing

The sixth biennial conference will be held October 9-10, 2009, at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Theme: Climate Change: Alternative Sources of Energy in Legal Writing

Metaphorically, the “climate” of legal writing has been changing for many years; no doubt, it will continue to change even more rapidly in the future.  Many legal writing professionals have discovered the substantial benefit of working with new pedagogies, other people, different technologies, and alternate ideas—all as a part of our fundamental efforts to teach legal writing.

The conference committee is seeking proposals for conference presentations on topics related to the teaching of legal research, writing, and analysis to first-year and upper-level students.  They are particularly interested in proposals that share ideas for benefitting from other “sources of energy” (such as librarians, academic support professionals, and doctrinal professors) as we teach legal research and writing.  The presentations should take a practical, “hands on” approach to the topic.

You may submit a proposal for a 15-minute speed round, a 25-minute presentation, or a 45-minute panel presentation.  Possible panel ideas might include different viewpoints on collaborating with doctrinal faculty, producing joint scholarship, or teaching research.  Your proposal should include a brief description of the topic, the preferred format, any technological requirements you may have, and how much time you desire.  Submit your proposal by e-mail by March 6 to John Mollenkamp.


February 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)