Some Tips for Using Hein Online

We often recommend Hein Online (HO) as a great source for locating a wide range of materials–from historical U.S. legal materials to international treaties to articles in hundreds of law reviews. Journal staff members and others discover it can be an especially rich source for locating documents during source coordination. That everything is accessible in PDFs, preferred by editors concerned with following print-based Bluebook citation guidelines, makes HO the single best choice for many projects.

But those who have not used HO very much may be unfamiliar with the tools it provides to locate documents that might otherwise be hard to find. Search techniques vary with content type, but usually they include citation navigators, field searching and proximity searches.

In many cases, a researcher may simply need to retrieve a known document by citation–for example, the article by Robert Bork, Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems, 47 Ind. L.J. 1 (1971). You could do this by browsing the library: select Indiana Law Journal under “I”; then open volume 47 and select the article beginning at page 1. But that’s the hard way: the Law Journal Library provides a Citation Navigator tool, allowing a user to type or paste the citation in a search box; or to begin typing in the abbreviated journal name into the form, and then adding volume and page numbers. Or you can use a simple or advanced search in such fields at article title or author name, as well as searching the full-text of the law journal library.



HO frequently provides a form-based finding aid to facilitate easy retrieval of documents by citation. For example, in treaty research, the first step can be locating a citation; the second, accessing the treaty text. Suppose you were seeking the text of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1967), published at 999 U.N.T.S. 171. HO’s United Nations Law Collection includes a finding tool, “Enter a United Nations Treaty Series Citation,” requiring only that the user enter the volume and page numbers to retrieve the treaty.

Comparable tools can be used to retrieve primary federal documents. For example, to access the original text of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 from HO’s U.S. Statutes at Large Library, you could use either its Public Law number, Pub. L. 93-205, or its Statutes at Large citation, 87 Stat. 884, to access the Act. Similarly, to retrieve Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) within the U.S. Supreme Court Library, the volume and page numbers in U.S. Reports can be added to the Citation Navigator; or the U.S. citation can be pasted in the form; or a search can be run, e.g., for party names in the Case Title field.

More advanced search techniques are also available on HO. While not comparable to searching on Lexis and Westlaw, HO’s search engine can be very effective. Suppose you were seeking statements by President Obama that addressed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy related to gay and lesbian military personnel. One of HO’s libraries is the U.S. Presidential Library, which includes dozens of sources, both historical and contemporary. Using the Advanced Search option after selecting a library, HO allows a user to run a proximity search like this: “sexual orientation military” ~50. The quotation remarks enclose the terms to be searched, and the number following the tilda symbol (~) indicates the size of the block of text within which the terms must be found for a document to be retrieved. That search of the presidential library, restricted to the years 2009-2013, retrieves six documents–including news conferences and campaign speeches–that might have been difficult to retrieve by searching news databases using Lexis, Westlaw or Google.


See HO’s Quick Reference Guide for more techniques, examples and details.


“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Oliver_Wendell_Holmes,_1902Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famously unique way of phrasing just about everything is just one reason why you should consider browsing through the newly added electronic database ” Proquest History Vault: Law and Society since the Civil War: American Legal Manuscripts from the Harvard Law Library” by clicking HERE.

This database features 11 modules from the Harvard Law School Library including these notable selections: The papers of Supreme Court Justices Felix Frankfurter, Louis D. Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The papersof legal theorists’ Albert Levitt and Livingston Hall,  Richard H. Field and Roscoe Pound and Sheldon Glueck as well as those of William H. Hastie (America’s first black Federal judge) and Zechariah Chafee Jr, the “dean of civil liberties scholarship” in the U.S.


The History of BUSL Buildings

When the law school was first founded it was housed in the Wesleyan Building at 36 Bromfield St. in the bustling Downtown Crossing area.  It moved in 1885 to 10 Ashburton Place right next to the State House.  It remained at Ashburton Place until 1964 when the new Law Tower was completed on the main BU campus.  The law school had hired a famous Catalan architect named Jose Lluis Sert to design the building.  He is one of the most distinguished practitioners of the brutalist school of architecture, which privileged function over form. The architects of the Sumner M. Redstone Building, Brunner/Cott & Associates, are interested in renovating and preserving these buildings as an important period in urban design.



vLex is a fantastic new tool for performing foreign law research…

It has a certain, je ne sais quoi, and is a powerful new online tool to consult when researching the laws of foreign jurisdictions….. The site allows searching across multiple countries and includes materials pulled from government websites as well as primary and secondary materials. There are even newspapers from many countries available.

Best feature? Everything can be translated out of the original source language into another language of your choosing and the translations, while not official, are enhanced by vLex to provide better legal translations than otherwise available with online translation sources.

vlex(We do ask you to please close out of your session after using vLex to allow others to sign onto the database as our subscription is limited to a select number of open sessions. Thanks!)


Foreign Law Research: Part 2

When conducting research on a foreign jurisdiction (Part 1 of this post here), it is important to consult different tools and databases than when conducting U.S. legal research.

In addition to specific resources linked from our Foreign Law guide, explore the materials available through the World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII). A collaborative project of legal information institutes throughout the world, WorldLII provides access to legal materials from over 120 countries, with the scope of materials varying among jurisdictions.

Among available subscription resources available through the Law Library, consider these:

Much foreign legal information is available via topical databases, including: Continue reading “Foreign Law Research: Part 2”


Technology Thursdays: The SCOTUS edition

The feds have reopened for business, the courts are assured of having sufficient funds to keep their doors open, it’s time to turn our attention to important matters like whether or not you’re a Supreme Court Ninja and how you’d vote on the cases this October Term.

Our first app, Law Dojo, is multi-purpose. Illustrated with cartoons of a legal ninja, Law Dojo encourages you to “build your legal muscles” by taking taking quizzes on legal topics like Evidence, Torts, and Fed Tax. Answering questions correctly earns you points and makes your animated ninja character grow. On the SCOTUS front, Law Dojo offers “the Supreme Court Dojo” which tests how well you know the holdings of the most important Supreme Court cases. The app’s creator frequently releases new games, and plans to offer “Which SCOTUS Justice Are You?” in the future, along with legal jeopardy and crossword puzzles. Download the app for free at the iTunes app store, and play the in-app smorgashboard game, or download topical quizzes for $2.99 each. (The app’s creator, Margaret Hagan, also has a great series of illustrated flowcharts  that breakdown tricky concepts like hearsay exceptions and the dormant commerce clause.)

WestlawNext & the Harlan Law Institute have once again teamed up to offer Fantasy SCOTUS. Predict how each justice will vote in 13 preselected cases and win WestlawNext points while competing against other students from your law school as well as nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the cases pending this term and see how well you know each SCOTUS justice!


The Debt Ceiling

Want to really understand the debt ceiling? Read this Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that came out two weeks ago “The Debt Ceiling: History and Recent Increases.”  The CRS is the research department of Congress and produces very useful and concise reports about issues facing Congress.  Many of these are not available to the public because the CRS sees itself as working for Congress, not the public, however, the library subscribes to the CRS reports on Proquest Congressional – probably the most comprehensive source of CRS reports.


Researching Foreign Law: Part 1

A frequent question law school librarians get from law students is: where to start when researching the law of a foreign jurisdiction?

One good starting place for BU Law students is the library’s Foreign Law research guide, which provides links to primary legal sources from most nations. This can be a quick way to locate government web sites and other free Internet resources, and some links to commercial databases.

For those who want to go beyond the links in our guide, one indispensable source is Brill’s Foreign Law Guide (formerly called “Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World”). This resource devotes separate chapters to each non-U.S. jurisdiction–including a background essay on that state’s legal system and history–and provides detailed information on the publications for primary sources of law, such as court reports, legislative codes and official gazettes. It also provides links to Internet sources and helpful information about available English translations, as well as references to major laws in dozens of subject areas for each nation. Whether the jurisdiction is large country with long-standing, consistent publication of legal materials or a developing nation that publishes its laws more sporadically, this database is an important starting place.

Once you’ve identified a publication title, you can check library catalogs to see where that publication may be available in print. You can search the BU Libraries catalog from the law library’s home page. Note: The Pappas Library’s print collection of foreign primary sources is mostly limited to English-language jurisdictions, such as Canada and the UK. However, Harvard Law Library’s international legal studies collection has an extensive collection of foreign legal materials. A search of Harvard’s HOLLIS catalog (particularly using the Title field) is a helpful tool to identify specific materials. For BU Law students who seek to consult specific materials that are available at HLL but not in BU libraries, our reference librarians can provide a letter of introduction, to request admission to consult those materials. Items may also be retrievable from non-BU libraries through interlibrary loan (ILL).

One of the challenges facing students who are selecting foreign jurisdiction(s) for a Note or seminar paper topic is coping with other languages. Without a reading knowledge of the principal language in which a nation’s laws are published (e.g., Hebrew for Israeli materials or Portuguese for Brazilian law), it may be very difficult to conduct in-depth research in that nation’s laws. Thus, it is a good idea to check Brill’s guide and other research guides before making a final decision about foreign jurisdictions.

Other research guides to foreign law include those from GlobaLex, the Law Library of Congress and

Next week: More information on databases and finding tools to assist with foreign law research.


Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Today, I’m posting a roundup of suggested readings on personal cybersecurity, including browers, social media apps, and your devices, whether they’re mobile, laptop, or tablet. These bloggers said it far more concisely and probably explained it better than I could, so take a look at the following to secure both your devices and your identity in our increasingly online world.

From setting a password for your mobile devices to turning on two-step authentication, Kash Hill explains 10 Incredibly Simple Things You Should Be Doing to Protect Your Privacy.

Facebook privacy settings changed again? Lifehacker’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy will help you sort through the settings and lock down (or open up!) your account.

For a more in-depth focus on the most recent changes, see Findlaw’s Facebook Graph Update Gets Creepier; Tweak Your Privacy Settings.

Stop. Think. Connect. has a great list of safety tips for mobile devices.

Wondering what the NSA doesn’t track? All Private Everything: PRISM-Free Phones and Operating Systems and All Private Everything (Else): Apps, Services & Social Networking has recommendations for services and devices to protect your privacy without completely disengaging from the digital world.

Findlaw’s Technologist recommends 4 Changes You Should Make to Ensure Secure & Speedy Web Browsing.

Stay Safe Online has a list of vendors that will provide a free security check-up for your computer.

One of the best ways to keep your information private is to delete old accounts you no longer use. Just Delete.Me is a directory of links to remove your accounts from a long list of web services. Even better, the author has ranked and color-coded the difficulty of removing your account from Easy to Impossible, so you can see at a glance what it will take.

We’re also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the open web! For some real fun, install the Line Mode Browser bookmarklet to convert any site to line mode, an all-text internet experience based on the first-ever cross-platform browser, developed in 1992.