Archive for the 'Law Library' Category

Feb 12 2014

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Power Searching

Filed under Law Library

With every search engine, be it Google, WestlawNext or LexisAdvance, they have built in ways to control your search.  Most of us are content to let the algorithm do the searching most of the time.  But sometimes there are situations where that is not enough.  In the two classes this week we will be looking at controlling your search:

Wednesday @ 1pm in Rm 334 and Thursday @ 1pm in Rm 334

The most common ways to control your search are using Boolean connectors, using wildcards, using field searching and doing proximity searching.  Boolean connectors let you control the universe of your search using AND, OR and NOT.  Wildcards allow you to search for words that might be spelled differently or have different endings: super*ede or bully!.  Most documents in a database have been tagged so that you can identify different sections of them – these are fields.  By searching them you can look just of the author by indicating that is the part of the document you want to search.  This probably varies the most over different databases.  I find the most useful way of controlling to be proximity searching.  This allows the author of the search to say “I only want to find a document that has this sentence” (more or less).  So I can write: warrantless /s search /p stop /p trunk.  This will allow me to get cases (if I am searching in a case database) involving warrantless searches that involve a stop (by the police) and the trunk being searched.  If I ran this search without the proximity connectors I would be far too many results.

Here are some tip sheets for WestlawNext, LexisAdvance and Google.

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Feb 07 2014

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Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw Training coming soon!

With the Spring semester well and truly in full -swing, it is time to get your research skills in top gear and get certified.  (Employers want to know that you have these skills from day one.)

In addition to the Library’s Research Skills for Practice Certification program already underway—click here for full details and to enroll— our three full-service subscription vendors, Bloomberg BNA, Lexis Nexis and Westlaw all  provide certification on their platforms and additional training for all skill levels.

Don’t delay! Get started now.

Visit your BUSL  lawschool pages at:


Lexis Nexis:


Look for the training links to register.



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Feb 04 2014

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Statutes in Print

Filed under Law Library

Print statutory sets are available in most legal workplaces.  Many attorney’s prefer to use the statutes in print.  Become comfortable with the print so that you can be a more cost effective researcher:

Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 1pm in the Tax Library

Wednesday, Feb. 5 @ 1pm in the Tax Library

Thursday, Feb. 6 @ 1pm in the Tax Library

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Feb 02 2014

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Resources for Free Legal Research

The convenience of the major commercial legal databases has made them so popular that many law students rely on them almost exclusively for legal research. This session will highlight free tools available via Internet that are increasingly important for lawyers who need to do cost-effective research in the current economic environment. In some cases, these resources are as good as (or better than) anything provided by commercial publishers. In this class, offered next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll consider resources for both primary and secondary legal sources, including: federal and state government web sites, Google Scholar (and tips for using Google) and  current awareness tools.

Class page:

Free Legal Research
Feb. 3, 4, 5 | 1 p.m. (Room 334)
David Bachman, instructor;

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Jan 31 2014

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What would I do without Lexis and Westlaw?

Filed under Law Library

Once you graduate you are cast out into the cold world of life without Lexis or Westlaw.  You might end up working in a place that has one of those databases, or you might strike out on your own.  Here are some tips on how to survive:

  • Most state bar associations have a free low-cost legal research database that they offer with bar membership.  In Massachusetts that is Casemaker.  You can sign-up for a Casemaker account as a law student to get familiar with this database.
  • Most states have a well-developed trial court library system that is open to bar members. In Massachusetts the Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries offer access to HeinOnline, Nolo Books, online newspapers and a variety of other online databases with remote access to their members.
  • Some libraries have stand-alone Lexis or Westlaw terminals that you can use in the library.  In Massachusetts that is true of the Social Law Library and the Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries.
  • State Practice Guides and CLE publications can be crucial to getting the answer to a legal question quickly .  In Massachusetts most legal libraries will have the Massachusetts Practice Series.  MCLEs, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education publications, are available on Bloomberg Law and LoisLaw, both relatively low cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw.  Both Bloomberg Law and LoisLaw are available through the library for you to practice.
  • There are four main low-cost legal platforms that might appeal to a solo lawyer: Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, Fastcase and Loislaw.  Of these, Bloomberg Law is the biggest with all the primary source material you need plus MCLEs, real-time dockets and Bloomberg news.  They currently offer a flat rate of $450/lawyer/month.  This is comparable to Casemaker and Fastcase, with Loislaw being a little more expensive.  Casemaker is probably the most favorably reviewed of the three others, and 27 states offer it with bar membership.  The others generally offer Fastcase.  Loislaw has been encountered by students in government workplaces.  The main drawback of these low-cost alternatives is they don’t offer well developed updating tools like Keycite and Shepards.  The other drawback is that with the exception of Bloomberg (and Loislaw for a price) they don’t offer secondary source materials.
  • Finally, Westlaw and Lexis will negotiate with solos, but it seems advisable to take a negotiating class before trying that because there are no fixed prices in Lexis and Westlaw land.

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Jan 30 2014

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“That’s all Greek to me!” Or, Foreign Legal Research.

Researching a foreign jurisdiction—-and no I don’t mean California—can be a daunting task. Issues of language, availability of materials and or course legal regime can pose seemingly insurmountable hurdles.  Luckily the Law Library has a robust suite of databases and research guides to get you started and provide direction.  Additionally, we will offer two sessions of “Library Skills for Practice” training entitled, Foreign Legal Research” on February 6th and 7th at 1 pm in room 332. Click HERE for details.

Here are some useful resources to consider when approaching a research task in a foreign jurisdiction:

The Foreign Law Guide is a fantastic starting place of introduction. It offers “relevant information on sources of foreign law, including complete bibliographic citations to legislation, English translations and selected references to secondary sources.”

Each country has a home landing page that looks like this— note that in addition to the main title headings there is the ability to search laws by subject:

FLG image

vLex Global has collected legal documents (statutes and cases) from many government websites and added some secondary source materials to create a single database.  It allows searching across various countries and there is a customized Google translate overlay.

The Constitute Project discussed on this blog recently is a fantastic way to search foreign Constitutions for free and, uniquely, by topic.

We have three International Encyclopaedia of Laws: Constitutional Law, Cyber Law and Intellectual Property which provide comprehensive secondary source material and anaylsis in their respective focus areas.

Constitutions of Countries of the World by Oxford  provides access to current and historical constitutions for countries around the globe.

and our own Foreign Law Research Guide provides insight into the research process and the myriad of other sources available to you.

Good luck and feel free to ask any of the Reference Librarians for assistance!

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Jan 28 2014

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Keeping Current with Legal Developments

One of the most challenging things when you are in  a busy practice is keeping current with key developments in your practice area.  The library subscribes to two services that are heavily used in the practice community: BNA and Law360.

BNA – this is the oldest service with the widest coverage.  It tracks decided cases, regulatory developments and practice news generally.  You can have an e-mail delivered to your account either daily or weekly depending on the topic.

Law360 – this is a more recent service that is heavily used by litigators.  It tracks current litigation and decided cases in a number of legal practice areas.

Lexis and Westlaw also offer numerous newsletters in various practice areas that you can create an alert for and have sent to your e-mail.

Another way to keep up with legal developments for free is to create a Google Alert for a blog search.  Google allows you to search only blogs and these are probably the easiest way to keep current in obscure areas that only one lawyer might be interested in.

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Jan 28 2014

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Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw

Filed under Law Library

Lexis and Westlaw subscriptions usually become inactive over the summer and end upon graduation.  What are your research options once you are out of school and thinking of practicing.  What if you don’t have access to BigLaw resources?  This Wednesday, Thursday and Friday join Stefanie in Rm 334 at 1pm to talk about what alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw there are in the legal marketplace right now.


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Jan 14 2014

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Welcome Back!

Filed under Law Library


As we move into Spring 2014, just a note on library services.  We are here as a resource for you.  The reference librarians are happy to answer any question you have: from where do I look for Chinese laws to how do I cite to a book.  We are available for appointments away from the hustle and bustle of the reference desk.  Come and see us with your questions and SAVE TIME.  Have a great semester.

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Dec 04 2013

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The ABA Journal’s Blawg 100

The ABA Journal recently posted its 7th annual “Blawg 100,” a selection of the top 100 law-related blogs. The ABA site lists the winners by topic and alphabetically.


Along with many blogs that have been selected before, new picks include:

  • Center for Law and Religion Forum (hosted by St. John’s University, this blog highlights news related to law and religion, “taking seriously varied religious traditions rather than mocking them or treating them in a lowest-common-denominator fashion”)
  • JD Careers Out There (hosted by legal recruiter Marc Luber, the blog focuses on alternative career paths for lawyers, with text and video content from numerous JDs and tips and advice on law school and career topics)
  • Legally Weird (this site defines its mission as locating “the strangest and most ridiculous current events with a legal angle”; from FindLaw)
  • Ponzitracker (as the name suggests, this blog tracks news on Ponzi schemes; it also provides links, suggested readings and more)

You may notice that some familiar titles, maybe some of your favorites, are not on this year’s list. That could be because those blogs are among the select group–such as Above the Law and the Volokh Conspiracy–that  have been added (in 2012 or 2013) to the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame.

To find other law blogs, consult the ABAJ’s Blawg Directory, the legal blog archive from the Law Library of Congress, or Justia’s BlawgSearch feature.

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