Statutes in Print Certification Class Next Week

Perhaps you’ve heard about the value of researching statutes in print from an older and wiser attorney.  In this class, we will talk about the relationship between session laws and codified statutes, the value of an annotated code (spoiler alert: Notes of Decision), and how to use some of the fabulous print finding tools, including the table of contents, index, and popular names table.  Not only will you learn about statutory research, but you’ll have the opportunity to explore the state statutes in the lower level of the library.  We will meet in the Tax Library on Monday (3/4) and Wednesday (3/6) at 1PM.  Hope to see you there!


Certification class (Keeping Up with the Law) on Thursday AND Friday

Due to the large number of registrations, a third offering of the session on Keeping Up with the Law has been scheduled for Friday (March 1) at 1pm, in Room 334. The Thursday session will go on as scheduled: 1pm in Room 334.

To those who responded to the email request to switch to Friday, thank you for your flexibility!

If everyone who is still registered for Thursday’s session comes then, there will not be enough workstations in the computer classroom for everyone, but there should be adequate seating. Please bring a laptop if you can on Thursday, or consider attending the (less crowded) Friday session, if that is an option for you.

The class page is here.


Roll-Call Votes and the Hagel Nomination

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate confirmed the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. The vote on the confirmation was 58-41. With all Senate Democrats on record supporting the nomination–and Democrats in the majority–the nomination was not in doubt, once it came to an up-or-down vote. The key vote was the one to invoke cloture, or end the filibuster of Hagel’s nomination. There, the vote was 71-27.

A comparison of the roll-call votes in the Senate (numbers 23 and 24 of the 113th session) reveals who made the difference.  Altogether, there were 15 Republicans who split their votes. While ultimately voting to oppose Hagel’s confirmation, these Senators allowed the nomination to go forward: Alexander (TN), Ayotte (NH), Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), Chambliss (GA), Coburn (OK),  Collins (ME), Corker (TN), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), Hatch (UT),  McCain (AZ), Murkowski (AK), Sessions (AL) and Thune (ND). Just four Republican Senators were pro-Hagel in both votes: Cochran (MS), Johanns (NE), Paul (KY) and Shelby (AL).

For ordinary citizens, this kind of analysis used to be difficult because roll-call vote information could be hard to locate. The more obscure the issue, the more difficult it was to find the voting records. The New York Times provided tables to show how members voted, but only on selected, major votes. The Congressional Record was a source for those who could visit a library that had CR in print. Beyond those, interested citizens may have had to consult  Congressional Quarterly (CQ) publications, Roll Call (the Capitol Hill newspaper), or possibly political, business or labor organizations that had a stake in the issue. In some cases, it may have been necessary for a constituent to contact the office of the Congressman or Senator directly.

Now, with Congressional and other government web sites providing House and Senate voting information, anyone with Internet access can learn how members of Congress voted on issues that matter to them–provided they know where to look.


Lexis Social Studies

Despite the name of this app, it has nothing to do with a 4th grade class where you learned the history of whatever state you grew up in.  Lexis Social Studies attempts to bring you the best of Facebook, Google Drive, and LexisAdvance to help you organize your study group in one place.

How does it work?  After signing away your Facebook rights (allowing Lexis to post statuses and go into your notifications), you are asked to provide your Google identifier to match up with your Google Drive account.  From there, you can create your group: make it public or private, invite friends, etc.  Once you have your group set up, you can create documents that are stored on Google Drive (and have all of that functionality).  Additional features include the ability to create polls to determine the best time to meet and the ability to make comments on your group page.

Journals, think this would be a great place to put your source coordination documents?  It may be in the future, but not just yet.  PDF uploads are currently not supported.  Right now, you are limited to files that can be reformatted as Google Docs.

One thing I could not figure out is how to delete a file after uploading it.  I tried to delete it from Google Drive in my “Shared with Me” folder, but when you upload documents to the app, Lexis Social Studies is considered the author on Google Docs, not you, so that doesn’t work.  There is an arrow at the end of the file on the group page, implying there should be a dropdown (and maybe that’s where delete is hiding), but right now it is not functioning.

Want to learn more about Lexis Social Studies?  Check out the promotional video or get started creating your own group here.


Staying Current with the Supreme Court

As we move toward Spring, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is issuing an increasing number of decisions; there were nine decisions this week alone. This Term, important cases will be decided over the next four months, including the Monsanto seed patent case, argued earlier this week, and the marriage cases (Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor), to be argued in late March.

A variety of sources are available to keep track of new developments: some through subscription services, and some free to all.

Commercial updates include United States Law Week (among the suite of Bloomberg BNA titles), which provides extensive coverage of the Supreme Court, from news coverage to docket information to publication of full opinions. Users can create alerts on Lexis and Westlaw, to be notified of news or new opinions, whatever your preferences.

Among the free services for tracking new SCOTUS decisions are daily opinion summaries from Justia (just log in and click the box next to the court for which you want daily summaries of new opinions) and the Supreme Court Bulletin (subscribe to receive an email with the syllabus of each new SCOTUS decision) from Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII). Then there is SCOTUSblog, which provides exhaustive coverage of all things SCOTUS, including easy access to briefs and other informaton on pending cases in its Merits Cases section. Likewise, the ABA’s Previews pages offer background on each case to be argued before the Court.

Other tools? Consider following the Twitter feeds of journalists who cover the Court, including The New York Times’ Adam Liptak and Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick; or SCOTUSblog; or such other feeds as @SCOTUSOpinions, which posts only links to new opinions.

To survey other sources of SCOTUS information, consult the library’s portal or (more generally) our links to legal news and blogs.

Students, for more tips and strategies for staying current, register for the Keeping Up with the Law certification class next week.


Certification Class: Keeping Up with the Law

Today, law students and lawyers have access to a remarkable range of newer current awareness tools–such as commercial and free updates, blogs, Twitter feeds, and database alerts–while traditional sources such as legal newspapers, bar magazines and topical newsletters are generated now in multiple formats. And there are many tools that you can use to access these resources more conveniently, among them newsreaders and smartphone apps.

The class page is here.

What sources–national, state, or local, topical or general–would best meet your need to keep up? Offered twice next week, this class will present some alternatives and suggest some strategies.

Keeping Up with the Law
February 26 or 28 @ 1 p.m. in Room 334
Instructor: David Bachman –


Finding the Best Way Certification Class

Join us starting tomorrow for the Finding the Best Way certification class.

Finding the Best Way
Instructor: Steve Donweber •
Feb. 20 & 22 at 1PM

The partner just walked into your office; the pressure is on. When you get an assignment, whether it’s a citation, fifty-state survey, memo, or oral advice, what are the best tools to do the task you’ve been assigned quickly and efficiently? Learn how to approach different research tasks and choose the appropriate strategy.