Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lexis and Westlaw LLM Classes

Beginning Tuesday, September 2, representatives from LexisNexis & Westlaw will be offering training sessions in the Fite Room (level 2 of the Library) for LLMs as part of the LARWINT class. LLMs should sign up for one Lexis session & one Westlaw session.

Tuesday, September 2: 10:00-10:45, 11:00-11:45 and 1:30-2:15
Wednesday, September 3: 11:00-11:45 and 1:00-1:45
Friday, September 5: 10:00-10:45, 11:00-11:45 and 12:15-1 :00
Wednesday, September 10: 12:15-1:00

Sign up in the Law Library at the Reference Desk in the Lexis notebook.
If you have any questions about Lexis training, contact

Thursday, September 4: 9:00-9:45 and 10:00-10:45
Monday, September 8: 9:00-9:45 and 10:00-10:45
Thursday, September 11: 9-9:45 and 11-11:45
Friday, September 12: 1:00-1:45 and 2:00-2:45

Sign up in the Law Library at the Reference Desk in the Westlaw notebook or online by following
this link:
If you have any questions about Westlaw training, contact

Please remember to register your passwords before the sessions, and to bring them with you! If your passwords are not registered before the classes, you will take up valuable class time doing so. If you did not receive a password, please contact the Reference Desk.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lexis and Westlaw Passwords

The start of a new school year brings the frequently-asked question: When do I receive my Lexis and Westlaw passwords?

LexisNexis and Westlaw are the leading electronic legal research services used in modern law practice. Individual passwords to both are provided free of charge to members of the Duke Law community. However, the distribution of passwords takes place at different times for different groups within Duke Law:
  • LLM students will receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords on their first day of LARWINT class.
  • New JD students will receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords on the first day of the research portion of LARW, during the week of September 8.
  • Law School faculty and staff may receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords at any time, although new hires must be confirmed with the Dean’s office before passwords can be issued. Inquire at the Reference Desk ( or 613-7121).

Please note that the terms of the library’s contract with Lexis and Westlaw require that academic passwords are used only for educational, non-profit purposes. The library is likewise restricted from distributing individual passwords to anyone who is not a current member of the Law School community. (Researchers outside the Law School are encouraged to use LexisNexis Academic, a campus-wide alternative to Lexis which offers much of the same content.)

If you already have a Lexis/Westlaw password, but have forgotten, misplaced, or are experiencing any technical trouble with them, contact the Reference Desk for assistance.

NOTE: The Law School community has access to other low-cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw, including Loislaw and CasemakerX. For details and the Loislaw registration code, contact the Reference Desk.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Cite-Checker's Toolkit

Even before the renovated Law Library had reopened, Duke’s nine student-edited journals had already begun the process of cite-checking their selected articles. A number of electronic resources make this job easier, and should be useful to cite-checkers as well as any other legal researchers.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations: There are several abbreviation dictionaries available in the Law Library’s Reference Collection, but this site (from the University of Cardiff in Wales) can be accessed anywhere at any time. Search by title or by abbreviation to decipher those mysterious citations--always the first step to locating an item.

Finding Legal Materials in PDF: This research guide was created in response to the library’s renovation, since 95% of the print collection was moved into inaccessible off-site storage. It remains a useful guide to locating the full text of many common legal materials, including primary (cases, statutes, legislative history materials) and secondary (law reviews, newspapers, and books) sources.

Electronic Bluebook: Multiple copies of the Bluebook are available in the library’s Reserve collection, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it always at your fingertips? The makers of the Bluebook launched an online subscription version in the spring of 2008. It allows users to keyword search the text of the Bluebook and create highlighted annotations for future reference. Prices range from $25 for a one-year subscription to $55 for the entire three years of law school.

Zotero may be more useful for writing that student note than for cite-checking, but merits a mention here. This free Firefox extension allows you to save, organize, and search your online research bookmarks, and even provides citations to saved articles in Bluebook format (with a free word processor integration add-on).

NOTE: A commercial citation management software called EndNote also supports Bluebook citation style. EndNote is available free to current members of the Duke University community, and can be downloaded at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Library Services During LEAD Week

The Law Library is scheduled to reopen on Friday, August 22. As we transition to the new building, the service desk telephones in the Law Library Annex have been transferred to the new library service desk. During LEAD Week, library staff may be reached via telephone or email during regular summer library hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Service desks in the Library Annex and the renovated library will not be staffed during LEAD Week, although help is available remotely. For reference assistance, please call (919) 613-7121 or email Reference librarians will monitor email and voicemail throughout the day; please be patient for a response as we prepare to reopen our spectacular new library!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Social Networking Gets Legal

Did you suffer through Facebook withdrawal at your summer associate job? Law firms who block popular social-networking sites in an effort to decrease employee distractions may need to revisit this policy soon, as some familiar legal sites begin to incorporate social components.

Fresh from an announcement last month that its powerful legal directory will now feature contact information from professional networking juggernaut LinkedIn as part of its search results, parent company LexisNexis is also testing a separate service called Martindale-Hubbell Connected. Similar to LinkedIn, with a focus on the legal community, Martindale-Hubbell Connected has the potential to increase an attorney’s visibility and professional network exponentially. Read a review from an early visitor, and register to test this beta service yourself.

Additionally, the research system Casemaker (an alternative to Lexis and Westlaw which is included in the membership of 28 selected state bar associations) recently unveiled CasemakerX: The Social Network for Law Students. CasemakerX is now available-- and free-- to Duke Law students, who may register with both “” and “” addresses. Registration includes full access to the Casemaker research resources, as well as a MySpace-like profile for networking, both professional and social.

As with any other web site in which you provide personal information, always consider the impact that your postings can have upon your professional reputation. For further reading on professionalism online, see the Duke University Career Center’s guide to Considerations for Blogs and Social Networks like MySpace and Facebook.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Public Records See Even More Light

The August 3 New York Times reported the release of a new web site, The free site (supported by advertising) compiles criminal record databases from all 50 states and several thousand counties. The site allows an informal "background check" of individual names, as well as a sex-offender search by neighborhoods.

The original version of the site, in late July, included a controversial "Neighborhood Watch" section, compiling results for all known offenders--down to traffic violations-- living near a specific address; this has since been revised to include only registered sex offenders. (Durham city residents can generate a similar "neighborhood watch" map-- albeit only for reported incidents of specific crimes, not for addresses of offenders-- at the Durham Crime Mapper.) represents a growing trend of making public records even more freely accessible online, raising concerns from privacy advocates. In the past, "public" records were frequently available only at the government office which collected and maintained them, and could be inspected only on-site during business hours. As the Internet grew in size and audience, public records search sites like Accurint and Intelius began to emerge, but generally required registration and payment, in part to deter casual snooping (or even stalking). Now, it's common to find online databases of state employee salaries, how much your neighbor paid for her house, or whether your children's school cafeteria is as clean as it should be.

But is increased transparency always a good thing? Don't ask us; we're too busy figuring out how our friends really spent their vacation in Las Vegas.