Friday, July 16, 2021

Law Review Submission Season

Earlier this week, University of Missouri at Kansas City Law professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit updated their long-running guide, Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals, available as a free download on SSRN. The popular document provides links and guidance on submitting articles to the 196 flagship law journals in the U.S.

One recent development for this fall's law review submission cycle is the closure of the former online submission portal ExpressO, announced last year and finalized on June 30. That leaves Scholastica's Law Review Author Submissions Center and email as the main points of contact for manuscript submission and tracking, although some individual journals have developed their own submission portals.

Law review submissions are highly competitive, and if using Scholastica there is also a cost per submission involved. (Law faculty at Duke may join the Law School's group account with Scholastica by registering with their email address; faculty members may also sponsor student manuscripts for coverage of up to 20 submissions for JD and LLM students, or 40 submissions for SJD students.) It's important for submitters to pay careful attention to requirements like formatting and length to avoid a quick rejection; for student authors, it's equally important to ensure that the journal accepts submissions from students who do not belong to the journal and/or attend the school where the journal is published. The Rostron and Levit SSRN guide includes a column of formatting requirements that describes basic formatting, but student authors will need to visit individual journal websites to determine policies about student authors.

Writing competitions present another avenue for law students who wish to pursue academic legal publication. Prizes often include publication as well as a monetary award. The AccessLex Writing Competitions Databank allows users to search and sort by various factors including topic, length requirements, application deadline, and even award amount.

For assistance with turning academic papers into publication-quality manuscripts, try a search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject "Academic writing" with a focus on the Law Library's collection to find various guides to the academic writing process. A title that is particularly relevant to legal writers is Eugene Volokh's text Academic Legal Writing, whose companion website for the 4th edition includes Volokh’s sample Word template for formatting law review articles. Again, though, authors will want to pay close attention to the formatting requirements of their target publications when submitting a manuscript.

Whether you're submitting to law reviews or student writing competitions, good luck with this submission season!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Extra OT

The end of June usually marks the conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court's October Term, when the Court issues the last of its opinions in cases argued since the start of the term in the previous fall. Last term, with disruptions to Court operations and argument sittings in the spring of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Court's final ten opinions of OT19 were issued in July.

This week, the Court has five opinions left to issue from the 2020 October Term. Will they successfully conclude the term before the end of the month, or push into July for the second year in a row? Court-watchers will be following the activities at One First Street closely this week. To join them, you can visit SCOTUSblog, which live-blogs order and opinion release days at the Court beginning at 9:30 am Eastern time.

SCOTUSblog's FAQ page on Announcements of Orders and Opinions provides some additional detail about the process. Although the Court highlights opinion release days on its public calendar, the Court does not announce ahead of time which opinions will be released, or even how many opinions will be released on that particular day. Because opinions are announced in reverse seniority order (meaning the opinions drafted by newer justices are released first, working up to the opinion written by the most senior justice on the Court for that day's release), Court-watchers can deduce which opinion will be the last for a particular day by the appearance of a number that indicates the release day's opinion order for the published U.S. Reports volume.

Once released, the latest slip opinions are posted to the Court website and, of course, made available on the various legal research services like Westlaw and Lexis. Commentary and analysis of the latest opinions can be found on SCOTUSblog, in The United States Law Week (on Bloomberg Law), the ABA Journal and mainstream news outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The American Bar Association also publishes the Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases, whose eighth issue in each volume reviews the entire previous year's Court term.

For additional information and resources about researching the Court, check out the library’s research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Resources and Services for Law Alumni

Congratulations to the class of 2021! As new Duke Law alumni, you are eligible for continuing access to a number of library resources. As we shared in our post from March 26, recent Law School graduates can access Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw following graduation, with different restrictions set by each research service.

There are many other campus library resources available to all alumni, not just recent graduates. An important first step is to register for a Duke OneLink Account. Any campus resource available to alumni will have a Duke OneLink login in addition to a NetID login.


Screenshot of Duke remote database login showing NetID and OneLink options

Alumni with OneLink accounts can access research databases like ProQuest, JSTOR, and several e-book platforms via the Duke Alumni Library Online Access page. While alumni are welcome to use the online catalog to determine whether Duke has access to a resource, online databases are only available to alumni via the special alumni access portal. Alumni can also create a RefWorks account to use this citation management software.

While Law School access is still restricted, 2021 graduates who registered through the Office of Academic Affairs have building access through the end of July. The Law School reservation system has been updated to allow 2021 graduates to book study spaces in the library, and classroom space can be reserved by contacting the Events Office. The scanner on the third floor of the library is available by reservation as well. Information about printing is available via Academic Technologies.

Borrowing of library materials and GoodScan/interlibrary loan services are available only to current Law School students, faculty, and staff. Alumni may be able to obtain interlibrary loan service for books, articles, and chapters through their local public library, which will generally offer similar interlibrary loan service to community residents with a library card.

Our team of research librarians is also available to help all our alumni with questions about database access, library resources, and general legal research guidance at

--Rachel Gordon, Associate Director for Public Services

Friday, May 28, 2021

PowerNotes Research Organization Tool Now Available

The Law School community now has institutional access to PowerNotes, a research organization and outlining tool that uses a browser extension to capture, organize, and track sources from other databases and websites. Current Law School community members may sign up under an institutional account allowing unlimited projects with their email address. (Anyone may sign up for a free individual account that includes the creation of one project.)

PowerNotes provides a helpful "Quick Start" guide to using its system. Users must install a browser extension for Chrome (also works with Microsoft Edge) or Firefox, and create an account with the system. The browser extension allows researchers to capture highlighted text on a website and add it to a project outline with notes. Outlines can be easily organized and also exported into various formats, including Microsoft Word and Excel or Google Docs and Sheets.

PowerNotes can be used with free websites as well as subscription databases like Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, and HeinOnline (which includes a guide to using PowerNotes with Hein libraries on its help pages). Tutorials on various aspects of using the system are available at the PowerNotes website. 

Duke University users have access to other research and reference management tools, such as the citation managers EndNote and RefWorks (both available for free download through OIT’s Software page). Each of these tools works a bit differently, as PowerNotes describes on its own comparison document. Researchers may wish to experiment with these tools as well as alternatives like Zotero and Mendeley in order to determine the research and reference management processes that work the best for their preferences. The Duke University Libraries offer a comparison chart to these citation management tools that can help sort through the differences. In the end, the "best" research organization system is the one that works the best for your personal preferences!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Summer Reading

With the 2021 Law School Convocation now behind us, it's time to put summer plans in action. Whether that involves bar exam preparation, a summer associate job, or a fun post-vaccination trip or two, you may want to unwind with a good book occasionally. But with free time at a premium, how can you find a title that you’ll be sure to enjoy?

E-book enthusiasts can filter the Duke Libraries Catalog to items "Available Online," or use the separate E-Books Search to locate titles available via Duke. This page also links to the Duke Libraries' eBook FAQ, which provides guidance on using the various electronic publishers' platforms, such as OverDrive, ProQuest, and EBSCO.

If you're looking for specific suggestions on what to read next, try NoveList Plus. This database provides reading recommendations and reviews, and is available to current Duke University students, faculty and staff members. (Recent alumni who have a public library card in North Carolina may also access this database via the NC Live consortium.) Enter search keywords to identify some promising leads, or type the title of a recent favorite to find "read-alike" suggestions based on either the specific title or the author.

The website GoodReads offers similar reading suggestions and book lists, with added social features for members, such as the ability to share reviews and recommendations with a friend list. The site includes the annual "GoodReads Choice Awards," which can connect you to recommended titles in various categories.

Of course, personal recommendations are also a good way to find new titles to read. Here are a few titles that research librarians at the Goodson Law Library have either personally recommended or are looking forward to reading this summer, along with links to print, ebook, or audiobook access via Duke:

  • Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (available in ebook and print)
  • Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things that Last by Wright Thompson (available in ebook, print, and audiobook)
  • While Justice Sleeps: A Novel by Stacey Abrams (available in print)
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein (available in ebook and print)
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (available in print and audiobook)

We hope these resources will help you find your perfect summer reading list! For help with searching the libraries’ catalog or using the NoveList database, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Date Calculator Tools & Rules

In law practice (and life), sometimes you'll need to calculate a future date, especially for filing deadlines. While it may seem like a quick and simple task, any miscalculation could result in at least an embarrassing conversation, if not more severe consequences like a barred claim or even formal discipline. Some law practice management systems have this feature built in (like Thomson Reuters Firm Central Deadline Assistant), but others do not (for example, Clio's help page notes that while this feature is not yet available, users can request it). What should you do if your employer doesn't have such a tool built into its practice management system? As it turns out, there are a lot of options.

On social media last week, Chicago attorney Brad Romance went viral for his "Next Level Lawyer Pro Tip" video of the future date calculation feature in Microsoft Outlook Calendar, in which users can type "today+45" (or any other number) in the date field of an event to determine the date that many days into the future. The Court Deadlines website describes this process in more detail with screenshots in a post from 2018.

Microsoft's help pages also note that the built-in Windows Calculator includes a date calculation feature, by clicking on the navigation button in the top left corner. Select "Date calculation" from the menu of options (which includes a number of other calculator and converter tools that you may be more accustomed to web-searching) in order to calculate the date x days in the future.

In replies to Romance's Twitter tip, other lawyers chimed in with their own recommended approaches to date calculation. Many voted for the website, a popular calculation and conversion web resource; Clio recommends its users try this site on its help page about date calculation. Other attorneys admitted that they still calculate the dates by counting on a paper calendar, whether as their primary method or as a backup to electronic calculation; still more expressed eternal gratitude to their firm paralegals who already knew the Outlook calendaring trick.

Other replies flagged the important considerations of excluding official holidays, or whether the needed calculations should count calendar days or business days. It's critical to know the specific applicable rules for computing time (such as Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or more specific instructions in local rules or court orders). Since non-legal calculator tools will not account for those additional specifications, a free legal deadline tool like Casefleet's Legal Deadline Calculator may also be a useful bookmark. This site includes options to include or exclude the "trigger" date, clarify whether to count calendar days or only weekdays, and determine how to handle rolling over in the event the future date falls on a weekend or holiday.

In short, lawyers have many tools at their disposal to calculate future dates with confidence. For more tips on handy features within Microsoft Office products, check out Lawyerist's overview of Microsoft Office for Lawyers, which includes an in-depth review of Microsoft Word for Lawyers.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Online Almanac of the Federal Judiciary Now Available

Users of the popular judicial biographical directory Almanac of the Federal Judiciary recently discovered that Westlaw no longer carried the full text of this resource as of March 2021. The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary is now available campus-wide online through Wolters Kluwer.

The Almanac (a.k.a. AFJ) is a biographical database for all active federal district and appellate court judges. In addition to the standard biographical data, entries for judges will include information about their noteworthy rulings, media coverage, a list of publications, lawyers' comments on the judge's behavior and demeanor, and links to financial disclosure reports.

This online version also preserves former AFJ entries for inactive federal judges, which can be especially helpful in times of judicial transition. For newly appointed federal judges, the profiles can take some time to be developed, especially for the lawyers' evaluation section. (For example, newest U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett does not have a SCOTUS entry yet, but her inactive profile from the Seventh Circuit remains accessible.)

The "Advanced Search" feature allows you to limit your search terms to a particular subsection of the biographical entries, such as identifying which judges attended a particular school. Unfortunately, the search function in either basic or advanced mode doesn't allow for terms & connectors style searching, although exact phrases can be enclosed in quotation marks. So you may have to run several separate searches to identify how many active federal judges have been described in AFJ lawyer evaluations as a "genius" (18) versus a "jerk" (9) and conduct your own name analysis to see if there is any overlap between the two groups (no).

Despite the limited search functionality, AFJ remains an essential tool for researching federal judges, both present and past. The lawyers' evaluation comments are a particularly unique window into judicial personalities and practices.

Other resources for researching judges include Westlaw's Profiler, Lexis+'s Litigation Profile Suite, and the Leadership Connect "Courts" section. For help with using these judicial research sources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.