Oct 06 2014

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Technology and the Law

Filed under Apps,CALI,Cloud,Law Library

Increasingly programs are being built that are designed to aid lawyers in answering routine client questions.  Services have arisen that say they will answer your legal questions online.  How does these developments play into traditional legal careers, and is there something out there for the law student technology wiz?  Here is a panel from a recent conference attended by some of the innovators in legal technology which discusses how technology could fundamentally change lawyers, law firms, and the practice of law itself.

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Oct 04 2014

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Bestlaw – a companion to Westlaw

Filed under Apps,Law Library,Westlaw

Joe, a law student a Berkeley (who happens to be a programmer), decided there were things he wanted Westlaw to do better.  So he designed a Chrome extension he calls Bestlaw.  It allows you to do some of the things Westlaw already does – like copy with citation and highlight terms, much more easily.  And it allows you to do other things that Westlaw does not do, like toggle to a readable version of the text and unhighlight search terms.


9-26-2014 2-57-02 PM

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Oct 03 2014

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Pro Bono Work

Filed under Career

Last night marked the annual Boston University School of Law Pro Bono Program Kick-Off. If you would like to find out more about pro bono work, consider checking out some of these resources:




-Building Your Practice with Pro Bono For Lawyers – Law Library Annex, KF336 .M55 2012

This book discusses both national and international pro bono work.  It is organized by topic, such as working with children or aiding in foreclosures, and includes sample forms.


-Thorns and Roses: Lawyers Tell Their Pro Bono Stories – Law Library Annex, KF336 .S36 2010

In this book, Deborah A. Schmedemann has collected a series of narratives from lawyers who have had pro bono experiences. Schmedemann concludes each chapter with some “questions to consider.” 


Electronic Directory:


-Directory of Pro Bono Programs – http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/directory.html

Created by ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono, this website enables individuals to find pro bono programs by state.


Massachusetts Specific Sources:


-The Statewide Pro Bono Opportunities Guide – Pappas Law Library, KFM2484.5.P6 S73

Created by the Massachusetts Bar Association.


-MassProBono – http://massprobono.org/

A website that helps attorneys, paralegals, and law school students find pro bono opportunities in Massachusetts.


-Pro Bono Opportunities Guide – http://www.massbar.org/for-attorneys/volunteer-opportunities/pro-bono-opportunities/pro-bono-opportunities-guide

Compiled by the Massachusetts Bar Association, this website includes a list of agencies that are seeking pro bono assistance.



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Oct 01 2014

Profile Image of david

Same-Sex Marriage at the Supreme Court

Supreme Court watchers are eagerly anticipating word whether the Court will decide to take up the issue whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married. In recent weeks, SCOTUSblog and other news sources reported on the Court’s “long conference” on September 29, where petitions for writs of certiorari in several marriage cases were scheduled for consideration.

If the court declines to address the issue in this Term, the chief consequence would be freedom to marry in 11 states. Federal District Court and Circuit Court of Appeals rulings have struck down marriage bans, but those rulings have been stayed (see here, here and here) pending action by the Supreme Court. Once the stays are lifted, the rulings take effect.

Reports of the oral argument in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in August suggested the panel in that case appeared more inclined to uphold the state marriage bans than judges in other Circuit Courts. In an appearance at the University of Minnesota Law School, Justice Ginsburg commented that unless the 6th Circuit upheld a same-sex marriage ban, thus creating a split among the circuits, there would be “no urgency” for the Court to take up the issue in the short term.

To date, there is no word whether the Court will grant certiorari on any of the cases discussed at Monday’s conference. When those decisions have been made, they will be announced in the Court’s Order lists. And there will be extensive coverage in the news outlets that cover the Court. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: On October 2, NPR’s Nina Totenberg noted that the Court had declined, in releasing an Order list in pending cases, to take up any of the pending marriage cases on the merits. She concluded, “sometime in the next few weeks, the high court very likely — though not certainly — will announce which gay-marriage cases it has chosen as test cases for review.”

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Sep 29 2014

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Keeping up with the Law

Whether you are interested in a certain legal topic or trying to find a subject for your paper, legal news sources can be incredibly helpful.  Most practicing lawyers rely on a legal news source to keep up with their practice area.  Two of the major publishers in the area of legal news are Law360 and BNA.

Law360, which is now associated with Lexis, focuses on current litigation and other developments in a variety of areas of the law and jurisdictions.  If I was interested in environmental law I could see that on Sept. 25th Hawaii County appealed to the 9th circuit a ruling that struck down a local ordinance restricting the cultivation of GMO crops.



BNA, which is now associated with Bloomberg, has a more regulatory focus and highlights litigation mostly when a decision has been issued by a court.  If I were interested in privacy law, I could find out that on Sept. 25th the EU announced its recommendations for how Google can comply with the court order that it allow individuals to be forgotten.


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Sep 26 2014

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The Office of the Reporter of Decisions

Filed under Massachusetts

Looking for an opinion from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or the Massachusetts Appeals Court? Try checking out the website of the Office of the Reporter of Decisions at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/about/reporter-of-decisions/. This website is freely available to the public, and includes the text of opinions that have been published by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court since 2001. It also includes unpublished opinions of the Massachusetts Appeals Court that have been written since 2008.

When searching this website, you can browse through a list of recently published opinions.

Office of the Reporter 1

Searching for something more specific? Just click on the link to the Archives of Published Opinions and Unpublished Decisions. From this link, you can narrow your search by adding in terms, a citation, party name, judge, court or dates.

Office of the Reporter 2


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Sep 25 2014

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The Training Season begins.

Filed under Lexis

Lexis Advance refreshed its look and platform as the new semester got underway this year. Many user-requested enhancements were added and Lexis is offering on-campus trainings and one-on-one sessions as well. To see all the upcoming dates available and to register, go to the Lexis Law school homepage and click on “Training at My School.”



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Sep 24 2014

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Supreme Court’s 2014 Term Starting Soon

In each annual Term, the first oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court take place on the first Monday in October.

SCOTUS calendar


There are very many sources of information to track cases pending before the Court. Some that you may find helpful:

  • The Supreme Court Bulletin, a publication of Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, is regular e-newsletter that provides previews of pending cases and reports the syllabus of each new decision on the day it is released
  • United States Law Week includes an extensive array of Supreme Court information, including detailed news coverage at all stages of cases, such as the filing of writs of certiorari, oral arguments and analyses of new opinions
  • SCOTUSblog provides extensive news about Court developments, including a Merits Briefs section that provides access to briefs filed in pending and recent cases
  • Justia’s Opinion Summaries include summaries of new opinions from many courts, including SCOTUS, and weekly topical newsletters with summaries from various courts

You may also find legal blogs, such as Constitutional Law Prof blog, The Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization, to be excellent sources for commentary and analysis on cases before SCOTUS and recent decisions.

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Sep 19 2014

Profile Image of Steve

Mobile Apps for Law

Filed under Apps

Check out this cool, totally updated database on Mobile Apps for Law.

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Sep 18 2014

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Harvard Law School Exams

Filed under Fun!

What an interesting thing to do!  Harvard Law School has posted all of the law school exams given at Harvard from 1871 to 1998.

Here are the first 10 questions from an 1871 exam in Real Property.

Thanks to the Volokh Conspiracy for the link.

Examination, 1871.

I. What is real as distinguished from personal property? and what are sometimes one and at times the other? What is meant by estate as applied to land? What are the different kinds of estate ? Give examples of each.

II. From what source is the law of Real Property derived? Can a freehold, except as a remainder, be created in futuro? If not for what reason ?

III. What is an estate in Fee Simple? What word is essential to create such an estate at common law ? What are the incidents of such estate?

IV. What is meant by leases? and to what estates are they usually applied? Were leasehold estates known to and in use under the Feudal law? What is the usual form of leases? by what name are the parties to them called? and what do they usually provide for and contain?

V. How are covenants distinguished from conditions in leases, and what are the purposes of each? What is a lessor’s remedy for breach of covenant if there be no condition in the lease ? What is the form of his remedy if there be a condition?

VI. What is an estate at will? How distinguished from estates from, year to year, and what are such estates? How may they be determined, and when determined what do they become?

VII. Define a tenancy in severalty, a joint tenancy, and a tenancy in common. What are the incidents of joint tenancies and tenancies in common? How may they be severed by act of the parties or by act of law?

VIII. What are the nature and incidents of an estate belonging to a husband and wife? What are the rights of a surviving copartner in the lands held by tbe partnership for partnership purposes? Ist, if there are no creditors ; 2d, if needed for payment of partnership creditors?

IX. To what estates may conditions be annexed, in creating them? and by what words may this be done? What is the effect of a condition subsequent upon the descendible or alienable qualities of the estate? How ere conditions enforced, and by whom? When will equity relieve against forfeiture for breach of condition at common law?

X. What is a mortgage of lands, and how may it be created? What are the rights of the mortgagor and mortgagee in respect to the land, at law, after a breach of the conditions? What, after such breach, are the rights, in equity, of the mortgagor? What is such right called? and in what court is his remedy under the same?

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