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: http://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool
Look for the training links to register.
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
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: http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/cert_2014-free
Free Legal Research
Feb. 3, 4, 5 | 1 p.m. (Room 334)
David Bachman, instructor; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today the US Senate voted 52-48 to end what has of late become the routine practice of filibustering high-level Presidential appointments.
Despite the hyperbole—the Huffington Post ran an article with a nuclear cloud detonation under the headlines, “Senate Detonation: Reid Nukes Filibuster“— this move has been considered for a few years now. Clearly, as the chart highlights, the use of the filibuster to block high-level executive appointments has accelerated under a Republican minority in the Senate.
Opinion is, of course, all over the proverbial map on this issue. Here are some recent articles to peruse so you can impress the folks back home with your legal prowess at the Holiday table next week: