Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Superheroes, Under Government Contract

Our Government Documents collection on level 1 contains a variety of federal government publications, including agency decisions, research reports, and even a set of citizenship test flash cards. But we definitely don’t have most of the titles in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new Government Comics Collection.

We’ve previously written about online repositories of government films, which covered everything from 1950s nuclear-disaster preparedness to dramatic reenactments of historic Supreme Court trials. The digitized comics (which can be downloaded with a click of any of the book cover images) feature an equally expansive topic list, and some include familiar characters working overtime for the government:
But the real historical gems are the comics without famous characters, like UNESCO’s 1987 cartoon history of apartheid in South Africa, or the U.S. military’s World War II-era Pocket Guides to Australia, New Zealand, and China, which were intended to teach soldiers a bit about the culture, history, and languages of where they were stationed. Although the content and depictions are now outdated and sometimes downright offensive (particularly the Pocket Guide to China, which closes with 10 pages of instruction in discerning a Chinese ally from a Japanese enemy), these comics all provide an interesting perspective on world history, by illustrating the limited types of information which was available to soldiers of the era. (If you'd like to see them up close, the Perkins library has print Pocket Guides to both China and Australia in its Rare Documents collection, but you’ll need to view them in person at the Special Collections Library.)

As the Goodson Blogson prepares for the holiday break (the library will close from Thursday, 12/24 through Sunday, 1/3), one last comic seems especially appropriate. The US Postal Service’s 1987 Working Together…for a Safer Winter! contains injury prevention tips for postal carriers who encounter icy conditions. Given last weekend's snowy weather in North Carolina, the advice in this short brochure might come in handy as our readers brave slippery sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. (For the record, the USPS advises its falling carriers to “relax, and fall as limply as possible! Let your satchel or heavy clothing cushion the impact. Roll as you land, like an acrobatic tumbler…don’t stiff-arm! Fold your arms across your chest.” But it’s more fun with the illustrations.) See you in 2010!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last-Minute Law Gifts

What do you get the legal eagle who has everything? Just like any other law-related question: “It depends.” When cash seems too impersonal and disaster kits seem too depressing, turn to the Goodson Blogson for legal-themed gift ideas.

The Billable Hour is probably the largest collection of gifts aimed squarely at the legal profession. They offer board games like LAWSUIT!, office accessories, and “survival kits” for all stages of law careers, including law school and the bar exam.

Constitutional law fans and other SCOTUS geeks will find something to love at the Supreme Court Gift Shop, including its popular annual holiday ornament series. There seems no limit to what the Court will lend its official seal, including a ruler, guest room soap, and drinkware. (For the lawyers and judges of tomorrow, also consider the ABA’s Supreme Court Coloring Book, which comes complete with its own crayons.)

If money is no object, try some of the gifts and fine art at LawGallery. The most affordable item on the site is a $35 set of law-themed wine charms, but even window-shopping is a treat at this classy clearinghouse. Art prints include reproductions of vintage courtroom scenes, turn-of-the-century Vanity Fair illustrations, and works by the 19th-century caricaturist Honore Daumier.

For more art options, check out the New Yorker store. The magazine's cartoons about lawyers can be framed as artwork or imprinted on coffee mugs, t-shirts, or note cards. (The Goodson Blogson’s favorite: “What are you, some kind of justice freak?”).

Still more comics await you at the LawComix Store, where your favorite strips from LawComix.com can also be purchased as t-shirts or coffee mugs. This site also features a variety of legal calendars.

More ideas, at all price points (although not all strictly law-themed), are available at blogger Reid Trautz's fifth annual Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers. Reid also points to the Gift Guide roundup at Legal Blog Watch.

Finally, a reward for procrastination: Thursday, December 17 will be Free Shipping Day for nearly 700 online retailers. Visit the site on December 17 for coupon codes offering free shipping for any purchases, with delivery guaranteed by the 24th.

The Goodson Blogson wishes you a happy and safe holiday season. Do you have any legal gift ideas to share? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Services for Reading/Exam Period & Winter Break

The end of fall classes will bring some changes to the Goodson Law Library’s service hours and building access.

Effective today, Reference Services will be available from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Circulation/Reserve Desk will maintain regular hours during the reading and examination period, and will begin operating under winter break hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 18.

The Academic Technologies Help Desk will remain fully staffed during reading and exam period, as well.

Regular service hours will resume at the beginning of the Spring 2010 semester. As always, current members of the Duke Law community will retain 24-hour access to the Law School and Law Library with a valid DukeCard. For the latest updates, see the Library's Hours & Directions page.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Slave Law & the 13th Amendment

December 6 marks exactly 144 years since the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. This shameful chapter of American history began in pre-colonial days, and resulted in the development of a surprisingly detailed body of law concerning the rights of slaves, the penal code as it applied to slaves, and the separate “slave court” systems which developed in many U.S. states. Although the contents of the relevant legal treatises and court opinions are appallingly inhumane to a modern reader, they do cast an interesting perspective on a portion of legal practice in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Each slave-holding state (and, previously, colony) maintained its own slave code, which defined the status of slaves, the powers of slave owners, and related legal issues (such as handling claims of emancipation or punishing crimes committed by/against slaves). For example, browse a hand-written copy of the District of Columbia’s 1860 slave code at the Library of Congress’s digital collection Slaves and the Courts (a typeset edition from 1862 is also available to browse).

Lawyers of the day were assisted by legal treatises, which like their modern counterparts provided an overview of the law related to a particular topic. Many slave law treatises and reprints can be found in the Goodson Law Library collection with a subject keyword search for “Slavery—Law and Legislation—United States”. A sample of titles, with links to electronic copies where available:
  • Goodell, The American Slave Code in Theory and Practice: Its Distinctive Features Shown by its Statutes, Judicial Decisions and Illustrative Facts, 1853 (HeinOnline & MoML)
  • Stroud, A Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery in the Several States of the United States of America, 2d ed. 1856 (HeinOnline & MoML)
  • Bassett, Slavery in the State of North Carolina
    (For additional North Carolina-specific resources, check out the digitized titles from UNC’s North Carolina Experience collection).
The slave system also impacted courts. The above treatises, as well as Catteral’s Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro (KF4545 S5 J83 1998; reprint of the 1926 edition), provide digest access to many court cases involving slaves and emancipated slaves. Countless other docket records and court petitions remain in local archives. UNC-Greensboro recently launched the Digital Library of American Slavery, which summarizes thousands of county court and legislative petitions (1775-1867) from fifteen states and the District of Columbia. Users may search the records by name, subject, and/or keyword; although the full text of the petitions is not provided, the database includes source information to allow researchers to track down a copy through the appropriate archive.

For additional resources on the Thirteenth Amendment, check out the libraries’ catalog with a subject keyword search for “constitution and 13th”. Harper’s Weekly maintains a fascinating interactive timeline at http://13thamendment.harpweek.com/default.asp, including the official proclamation from Secretary of State William H. Seward: "the amendment aforesaid has become valid to all intents and purposes as a part of the Constitution of the United States.". (For the serious legal researcher, this proclamation was officially printed at 13 Stat. 774-75 (1866).)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Life's a Beach (So Read the Fine Print)

Over the holiday weekend, a CNN affiliate investigated growing consumer complaints about At The Beach, Inc., an area tanning salon chain with some pretty stringent member agreements. Customers claim that they were duped into signing virtually-unbreakable two-year contracts, and then burned by the fine print when attempting to cancel their accounts. Although most—including the news station’s undercover reporter—were assured by friendly employees that the contracts could be canceled “at any time,” consumers say they were not informed of the requirement to either “buy out” 50% of the remaining time on their contracts, or to prove that they had moved at least 25 miles away from the closest location in order to stop the automatic monthly billing.

Is your inner lawyer feeling a distinct lack of sympathy for those who signed without reading? As the news video (5:49) shows, even seasoned attorneys can get caught in a contract trap: interview subject Kevin Lanoha is corporate counsel at Qwest, and received a J.D. from Cornell in 1994.

So, how can consumers better protect themselves, especially during the holiday shopping season? The Goodson Blogson has compiled some tips.
  1. Always read the fine print. Of course it sounds obvious, but it could have saved many At The Beach customers a major financial headache. Whether it’s a tanning membership, cell phone plan, apartment lease, or mortgage, take the time to ensure that you understand what you’re signing. Beware the distractingly chatty employee who attempts to summarize the contract for you—as the tanning salon customers learned the hard way, contradictory verbal promises will likely not help in a later dispute over the contract terms.
  2. Investigate before you buy. Customers who check out businesses and charities with their local Better Business Bureau can get a sense of potential problems with the organization. (For example, regional Better Business Bureaus graded At The Beach locations anywhere from D-minus to F.) For products, comparison-shop at Consumer Reports for objective discussions of particular brands and models.
  3. Make credit your plastic of choice. While debt gurus like Suze Orman would prefer that you always pay in cash (to ensure you are buying only what you can afford), most shoppers will put at least some purchases on plastic. Debit cards are tempting since, in theory, fear of hefty overdraft fees should prevent shoppers from spending more than they can actually afford. But Consumer Reports notes that in the event of disputed transactions, consumers have far more protection when using credit than debit.
  4. Bone up on online security. The Monday after Thanksgiving is known as “Cyber Monday” for the dramatic spike in online shopping. OnGuard Online, a multi-agency federal government site devoted to Internet security, provides tips for safe online shopping.
  5. Complain like a pro. Even the best of us get burned occasionally. If you have a negative experience, follow the steps outlined in the American Bar Association’s SafeShopping.org site: After attempting to work out the issue directly with the merchant, contact your local Better Business Bureau and/or the state Attorney General’s office for further investigation.
Do you have a consumer horror story to share? Sound off in the comments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pardon That Turkey

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will grant a “pardon” to two otherwise-doomed Thanksgiving turkeys, Courage and Carolina (official video preview). These Princeton, NC natives (story at WRAL) will be honored in a ceremony on the White House lawn before boarding a plane to California, where Courage will serve as honorary grand marshal for Disney’s Thanksgiving Parade. (Carolina, as the Alternate National Turkey, will be ready to step in should Courage be unable to perform his duties.) Following the parade, the pair will settle into a stuffing-free life at Disneyland’s Frontierland theme park.

The WRAL article and many other news sources credit the annual Thanksgiving tradition as originating with President Harry Truman in 1947. However, the popular myth-busting website Snopes.com provides a detailed analysis of the annual turkey pardon, tracing the tradition back only to President George H.W. Bush in 1989. (Anecdotal stories involving Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan do not pass muster as the “official” source of the annual tradition.)

For information on non-poultry presidential pardons, try the Duke Libraries’ catalog with a subject keyword search for “Pardon—United States”. You’ll find recent works like Jeffrey Crouch’s The Presidential Pardon Power (KF9695 .C76 2009) and historical publications like 1941’s The Pardoning Power of the President (KF5053 .H84). In addition, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which assists the President in reviewing pardons in federal criminal cases, includes clemency statistics back to 1900 as well as recipient details organized by administration since 1989. (And no, the turkeys are not included.)

The Goodson Blogson wishes its readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving break!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Google Scholar Adds Free Legal Content

The blogosphere was abuzz this morning about Google Scholar’s quiet addition of federal case law, state case law, and legal journal articles to its already-large full-text index of academic journal literature. Official details remain sketchy, but it appears that the legal content includes Supreme Court case law back to volume 1 of the U.S. Reports, federal appellate cases back to the 1920s, and state cases back to the 1950s. Law journal literature is also included.

So you think Lexis and Westlaw are now yesterday’s news? Well, not so fast. Gone is the precision searching of Terms & Connectors-- search results are closer to Natural Language, and in some cases maybe not even that sophisticated. There also seems little opportunity to refine search results which are too broad, making Google Scholar perhaps better suited to retrieving known citations than attempting to retrieve a useful list of all the relevant cases on a particular topic.

Like much of the social science literature indexed through Google Scholar, researchers may hit a “pay wall” when trying to retrieve the full text of articles. Let’s say you were searching for Brandeis and Warren’s seminal 1890 Harvard Law Review article, “The Right to Privacy.” Your search results present a few options. The first result links to “heinonlinebackup.com”—part of the HeinOnline database to which Duke subscribes. If you are searching Google Scholar on a university computer, no problem—the database will recognize you as a HeinOnline subscriber and give you a PDF of the article straight from the pages of the law review. But if you are researching from off-campus, you will most likely see a screen asking for a password, since HeinOnline (and other pay databases) will not recognize your computer as being affiliated with Duke University. Other Scholar results link to free versions of the Brandeis article posted around the web, but they are not page-image scans like HeinOnline’s, and may not provide accurate star paging. Caveat lector.

(Side note: if you ever receive prompts to pay for any article through a database, try retrieving the journal title through the libraries’ Online Full-Text Journals list; you might also check the libraries' catalog to see if print copies are available. Linking to databases through the libraries’ website ensures that you will be recognized as a Duke user, and you should receive access to any content to which the university subscribes.)

What seems most useful about the legal journal index, then, is the “Cited By” feature, a cruder version of Shepard’s and KeyCite which links articles and cases to later articles/cases which cited the earlier publications. However, the “Cited By” results appear to be displayed only by the later documents’ own influence (i.e., the most-cited results themselves appear at the top). This makes sorting through subsequent citations difficult for influential documents like Brandeis (cited nearly 4000 times).

Case law results include “star paging”, hyperlinks to other cases which are cited in the opinion, and a “How Cited” tab which works similarly to the “Cited by” feature for articles. Attempting to retrieve cases on a particular topic can get overwhelming—use the Advanced Scholar Search to narrow your jurisdictions if you are only interested in a particular state.

Google is undoubtedly working to refine the search process, so comparison-shop your searches as the new feature develops. For additional sources of free case law, check out the library's guide to Legal Research on the Web, which will be updated to include Google Scholar once the scope of the content becomes clearer.

For extensive discussion of Google Scholar’s new legal search features and content, check out these blog posts:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Belly Up to the Bar Journals

Cite-checkers, rejoice: HeinOnline has added an online archive of more than 50 state and regional bar association journals. The library receives many of these titles in print, but maintains the archive in microfiche rather than print (meaning that generally only the current year is available in the Periodicals collection, and researchers must access older issues in the Microforms Room).

To access the bar journals, choose “Bar Journal Library” from the HeinOnline start page (a link to HeinOnline will also be included in the library’s catalog and e-journal records for an individual journal title). All bar journals date back to volume 1, and are available in PDF. The title list includes ABA Journal as well as state bar association publications (Alaska Bar Rag, New York State Bar Association Journal), city bar journals (Boston Bar Journal, Los Angeles Lawyer), and even international publications (International Bar Journal).

Also of interest is the addition of the Duke Bar Association Journal, which was published at the Law School from 1933-1942. HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library has long included the archive of the current Duke Law Journal (1959-present) and its previous title, the Duke Bar Journal (1951-1958), but had omitted the earlier DBA publication. Want to see Richard Nixon’s 1936 student note, “Application of the Inherent Danger Doctrine to Servants of Negligent Independent Contractors”? (If you're on a campus computer, click here; off-campus: log in to HeinOnline and retrieve the citation 4 Duke Bar Ass’n J. 115.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Finding Political Cartoons

Political cartoons do more than amuse (and occasionally confuse)—they can express, as well as shape, public opinion. Most American high school students learn of the medium’s historical influence through the story of William "Boss" Tweed, a 19th-century New York City politician who was assailed for corruption in a series of Harper’s Weekly cartoons (in addition to a number of articles). Furious over the cartoons’ persuasive power, Tweed reportedly said, “I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don't know how to read. But they can't help seeing them damned pictures!”

There are a variety of reasons why you might search for a particular political cartoon—from as complex as exploring the development of public opinion on a particular topic over time, to as simple as jazzing up a presentation. But where do you go when search engines fail? The Goodson Blogson has some ideas.

Published collections of cartoons from a particular time period or by a particular artist may be available. In the Duke University Libraries catalog, try a subject keyword search for [topic] and cartoons, e.g. civil war and cartoons.

Collections by a particular artist may also be available in the libraries’ catalog or on the web. For example, the Library of Congress maintains an online archive of former Washington Post cartoonist Herblock. The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum provides exquisite digital exhibitions and a searchable database of selected images.

Many modern political cartoonists are included in Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonist Index, which offers a searchable database from 1998-present. Search results include excellent indexing information (i.e., when and where a cartoon originally appeared). Other web sources for more recent cartoons include Cartoon Stock and the Creators Syndicate Editorial Cartoons section.

For historical political cartoons from the major US newspapers, try searching ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Dates vary by individual newspaper, but generally PDFs are available from the mid-1800s to the late 1980s. In the Advanced Search, choose "Document Type" from one of the drop-down boxes and select "Editorial Cartoon" from the browseable list linked to the right. The subject indexing is minimal, so use search terms sparingly! (Most terms will appear in the cartoon captions.) ProQuest provides excellent indexing of when/where the cartoons appeared, and PDF copies for most (some appear as "blocked by copyright" and must be retrieved on the microfilm edition).

The library may also have access to historical full text of other publications; Ask a Librarian if you aren’t sure how to access the archives of a particular publication. For example, Duke researchers can access the famous Boss Tweed cartoons from Harper’s Weekly at http://library.duke.edu/metasearch/db/id/DUK00692. (Interesting postscript: As it turned out, Boss Tweed’s concern about the power of the Harper’s Weekly cartoons was well-warranted. After escaping from a New York debtor’s prison following two corruption trials, Tweed fled the country for Spain, where he was eventually apprehended by Spanish authorities and returned to the United States. Allegedly, Tweed was recognized in Spain from his depiction in “them damned pictures.”)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Book Doctors

Has a library book ever fallen apart in your hands? Or have you ever found an unpleasant surprise stuck between some pages? Recently, the Goodson Law Library was visited by Beth Doyle of the Preservation Department at Perkins Library, which repairs damaged library materials and helps to prevent future damage by educating staff and users about the proper handling of materials. Beth’s presentation to our staff was a valuable reminder of three simple things everyone can do to help maintain the Law Library’s excellent collection for many years to come.

First, food and drink should stay far away from library materials. Of course, the Goodson Law Library’s official policy prohibits any food as well as drinks in uncovered containers, but our trash cans tell a different story. For a cautionary tale on why food and books don’t mix, check out the Preservation Department’s infamous Banana Book (click to enlarge). The unexpected enclosure is now permanently fused into the pages of this thesis on marriage and the family (you can see a portion of the stem protruding from the center of the page), along with irreparable mold damage.

Second, resist the temptation to yank a book off the shelf by pulling on the top of its spine. Over time, this will cause the pages of the book to pull away from the binding, and eventually will result in lost pages. Instead, Beth recommends pushing the two adjacent books inward, and retrieving the book in the middle by gripping its center. (see illustration)

Finally, be sure to report any damaged materials to the library staff, so that items may be sent to our Technical Services department for repair or possible replacement. Signs of trouble include: spots of mold or mildew on book covers; missing, loose, or torn pages; and broken or weak binding (where the pages are falling away from the spine).

If you’d like to learn more about fixing up your own personal library, check out Dartmouth College’s free Book Repair Manual, which offers MacGyver-esque tricks for drying wet books, tightening book spines, and re-assembling torn pages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is Your Password 123456?

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that more than 10,000 Hotmail email accounts had been compromised, and their passwords posted to underground hacking websites. An analysis of the posted account information revealed that the majority of the affected accounts used weak passwords which could be easily guessed. The most popular password was 123456 (with 123456789 a close second).

As we reported in the spring, weak passwords are commonplace in cyberspace. A 2007 list of the most frequently-used online passwords included 123456 as well as perennial favorites password, qwerty, and abc123. But the Hotmail story underscores the dangers of ignoring online security. As a result, many websites are getting tough on wimpy passwords, and requiring users to create strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols) which are harder for hackers to decipher.

One such site is Westlaw, which will begin encouraging the creation of OnePass usernames and passwords in November 2009. By January 2010, all Westlaw users will be required to access the system with a OnePass username and password. The alphanumeric code will serve as a registration code only; it will no longer be available as an alternative login method. Watch Westlaw.com for messages about the upcoming change.

Need help thinking up stronger passwords for Westlaw (or anywhere else)? Review the Duke Office of Information Technology’s Password Security FAQ. OIT has compiled helpful advice for choosing a good password and avoiding weak ones. (To OIT’s tips, the Goodson Blogson would like to add that savvy Internet users should perhaps avoid posting a sticky note filled with those super-strong passwords on the side of their monitors.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Complete Nudity Is Never Permitted"

Hollywood has always had a strange relationship with the law. Throughout history, the film industry has used self-regulation as a way to avoid excessive government interference. This summer marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the notorious Hays Code, a set of internal moral guidelines for the film industry whose brevity belied its nearly four-decade impact.

The Hays Code was inspired by public outrage over several sex- and drug-related scandals involving 1920s film stars, the most famous being the death of actress Virginia Rappe at the hands of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. In response, Congress entertained the idea of creating a Federal Motion Picture Commission, whose members would have reviewed and banned films which were “obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, or […] of such a character that [their] exhibition would tend to corrupt morals and incite to crime.” (Source: Proposed Federal Motion Picture Commission: Hearings before the Committee on Education, House of Representatives, 69th Cong. (1926) at 2. Full-text link will work on campus.)

Hollywood studios scrambled to write their own moral guidelines, to be enforced by the already-established Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association, helmed by former U.S. Postmaster General William Hays. The result was a 1927 short list of ‘Don’ts’ and ‘Be Carefuls’ (beginning with a total ban on profanity and ending with a caution on the use of “excessive and lustful kissing”). In 1930, the list was expanded into a formal “Code to Govern the Making of Motion and Talking Pictures”, but it was not until the 1934 edition that the “Hays Code” truly began impacting American cinema.

In addition to the ban on nudity which lent the Goodson Blogson a title for this post, the Hays Code stressed that films should avoid glamorizing criminal activity, could never use the word “abortion,” should depict “hangings and electrocutions […] with discretion and restraint within the careful limits of good taste,” and could show all religions and religious figures in only a positive light. Read the rest of the 1934 Hays Code and its supporting documentation reprinted in Gerald C. Gardner’s The Censorship Papers: Movie Censorship Letters from the Hays Office, 1934-1968 (Cox Collection PN1995.62 .G37 1987), a fascinating collection of correspondence and commentary from the files of the film censors. (The 1927 studio “‘Don’ts’ and ‘Be Carefuls’” are also reproduced in Appendix II of the Gardner book. Researchers wishing to compare the 1930 and 1934 codes can read the 1930 edition reprinted in Investigation of Communist Propaganda: Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States of the House of Representatives, 71st Cong. (1930) at 280-81. Full-text link will work on campus.)

The Hays Code continued long after the MPPDA became the Motion Picture Association of America in 1945. The guidelines were revised several times in the ensuing years-- Duke’s Special Collections Library even owns a 1955 edition of the Hays Code, although you’ll need to visit Perkins Library in person to view it. This version of the Code touched our own Legal DVD collection, during a battle with the Hays Office over the making of Inherit the Wind, an adaptation of the Broadway play about the Scopes “monkey trial”. In 1955, the Office informed a studio executive: “we regret to inform you that this basic story is unacceptable…and that a picture based on this material could not be approved by this office.” After several years of compromise over the depiction of fervently religious townspeople who consider the teaching of evolution to be a crime, the now-classic film was released in 1960 and earned four Oscar nominations.

The Hays Code was finally abandoned in 1968, when the MPAA adopted its now-familiar theatrical rating system (PG, R, etc.). Given the reactive history of the Code’s development, it should surprise no one to hear that this voluntary rating system was created at the same time that Congress was investigating the possibility of a federal film classification system. (Source: The Committee on Film Classification: Hearing Before the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, 90th Cong. (1968). Full-text link will work on campus.)

For further reading:

• Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940, 3 FILM HISTORY 167 (1989) (full-text link will work on campus)
• Catalog search: Motion pictures—Censorship—United States

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

National & International Law Yearbooks

When researching the law of other countries, yearbooks are frequently helpful. The articles in law yearbooks provide an annual survey of a particular country or region’s activities in the last year, and often reprint cases, legislation or other important documents. International law researchers often consult yearbooks to gain an understanding of state practice.

Duke’s International Legal Research Tutorial contains a section on the major international law yearbook titles and strategies for locating them in a library. In the Duke Libraries catalog, the best approach is to perform a title keyword search for [country name] and yearbook; e.g. new zealand and yearbook. Most law yearbooks will be available in the Periodicals collection on Level 4 of the library.

Electronic versions of yearbooks, where available, will be linked in the catalog search results. For example, HeinOnline offers a variety of yearbooks in its Foreign & International Law Resources library. Although most are focused on international law, national and specialized yearbooks are also included (such as the Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence and the European Yearbook of Minority Issues.) Note that in some cases, HeinOnline may not provide the most current volume of a particular title; check the libraries’ catalog to see if the most recent yearbooks are available in print at the library.

Country-specific databases may also offer certain yearbook titles. For example, LawInfoChina recently added the English translation of the Law Yearbook of China for 2002-2006 to its online offerings. (There is no print equivalent available in the Goodson Law Library, although a similar title, China Legal Development Yearbook, is available from 2008-present in the Periodicals collection.)

For more help locating law yearbooks for a specific country or region, Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrating Open Access Week

Last year, the Goodson Law Library celebrated Open Access Day, the first-ever international celebration of the Open Access (OA) movement, which encourages the use of the Internet to freely distribute scholarship which is normally locked behind online subscription databases or published in costly print resources. Although the Open Access movement is rooted in the hard sciences, as a reaction to publicly-funded scientific research results being published in prohibitively expensive journals, the principles of Open Access have spread to other disciplines, including the social sciences.

This year, the success of 2008’s Open Access Day has resulted in 2009’s Open Access Week (October 19-23). Duke University will celebrate with several events, including a panel on Friday, October 23 about open access to health information around the world. For a complete listing of Duke events, see Open Access Week at Duke. For a fuller listing of events beyond Duke, check out http://www.openaccessweek.org/list-of-participants-growing-daily/.

The Duke Law School has long been a leader in the Open Access movement for legal scholarship. The full text of Duke Law journals is provided free on our website back to 1997, and our Faculty Scholarship Repository provides a permanent online archive of Law School faculty publications. In November 2008, a meeting of prominent law library directors at the Goodson Law Library resulted in the development of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, which urges law schools to cease print publication of law reviews in favor of free, permanent, online publication archives. Learn more about these efforts during Open Access Week at the library’s service desk.

It seems that even traditional content providers may have caught Open Access fever. SAGE Journals Online, a major database for scientific and social science journals, is providing free access (with registration) to all of its journals from 1999-present during the entire month of October. Although the Duke University Libraries already have electronic access to most, if not all, of the available journals, this is a welcome gesture for members of the public and alumni who previously could only access Duke’s subscriptions by visiting the library in person. To research other journals which have long adhered to the Open Access principle (and will not re-lock in November), visit the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Preparing for the MPRE

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a multiple-choice test of legal ethics, which is required for admission to the bars of most U.S. jurisdictions. (Feel like skipping it? You’ll be limited to practicing law in Maryland, Washington, Wisconsin, or Puerto Rico. See 2009 Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements for more information.) The good news is that the MPRE can be taken at any time during law school, giving students a chance to get it out of the way long before the rest of the bar exam. The test is offered three times per year (March, August, and November). Judging by the increasing amount of questions at the Goodson Law Library about resources to study for the MPRE, we could tell that the next test is quickly approaching.

A search of the libraries’ online catalog for mpre reveals only one title, Kimm Walton’s Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE 2009 edition. The catalog record notes that the title is still “On Order”, and not yet published. Aspen is expected to release this title in November, although we can’t promise that it will arrive in time to assist takers of the November 7 exam. However, you may use the “Get this Title” link to place a hold on the title now, and you will be notified by email after it arrives and is processed by the library.

In the meantime, a few other resources may assist takers of the next exam. The MPRE 2009 Information Booklet offers 24 sample questions as well as a full listing of subjects to be tested on the exam. A 2002 past exam is also available for free, although the website cautions that “in many instances questions do not reflect the current MPRE style and format.” (A more recent past exam is available for purchase through the website.)

Simulated exam questions are also available through Patrick Longan’s book Questions & Answers: Professional Responsibility (Reserve KF306.Z9 L66 2003), a multiple-choice format study guide for legal ethics questions. Although the same caveats apply to this as to the outdated past exams on the MPRE site, some students may find the simulated questions helpful. Additional study aids on the subject of legal ethics, including Professional Responsibility in a Nutshell and Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics, may be found in the Goodson Law Library research guide to Legal Ethics. Although these resources do not provide sample MPRE questions, they may help clarify the subjects tested on the MPRE.

Finally, don’t forget about commercial bar review services, some of which include a free MPRE review booklet and/or lecture. PMBR Kaplan currently offers a free online MPRE review course which includes a study guide with sample questions. Bar/Bri also offers a review course for the MPRE, which will take place at Duke Law on Saturday, October 24. If you have already signed up for Bar/Bri’s bar review course, the MPRE session is included; separate registration is also available for $250.

Good luck to all November test-takers!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Monday: Supreme Court OT2009

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. Or at least they will be at 10:00 a.m. today, which marks the official beginning of the Supreme Court’s October Term 2009-2010 ("OT2009").

Of course, Court-watchers will be most eager to analyze the new dynamic that new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who replaced retiring Justice David Souter over the summer, might bring to oral arguments and to voting. (They had a head start last month, when the Court heard re-arguments in an OT2008 case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: transcript.)

The first case on today’s calendar involves a dispute between South Carolina and North Carolina over the equitable use of the Catawba River (briefs at ABA Merits Briefs page). This “water war” has dragged on for several years; today the High Court will consider whether the city of Charlotte, Duke Energy Corporation, and the Catawba River Water Supply Project should remain intervening parties in the dispute. Additional materials on this case are posted on the South Carolina Attorney General’s website. [UPDATE: the NC/SC arguments were postponed shortly before their scheduled start time, due to a family emergency for one of the counsel. Story at Charlotte Observer.]

To preview the rest of the Court’s upcoming cases, or to read subsequent analysis, check out the following resources:
To research other Supreme Court information (including biographies of current and past Justices, caseload statistics, and more) check out the Goodson Law Library’s research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Colonel Sanders Collection

During library tours, there's usually a collective chuckle on Level 2 when groups pass by the call numbers beginning with KFC—the prefix for library materials about the law of California, Connecticut and Colorado. Blame the Library of Congress, whose classification system has forever linked the law of these states with the popular fast-food restaurant. But as the Goodson Blogson recently discovered, there’s another KFC connection buried in the Archives on Level 1—a mysterious box full of files about Kentucky Fried Chicken trademarks and service marks (click for enlarged image).

As the catalog record suggests, these folders contain copies of file wrappers, the contents of files at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office related to a particular patent, trademark or service mark. The file wrappers contain the original application, as well as any subsequent correspondence about the application. Although some of these same documents are available online through the USPTO (search TESS and select the TDR button to view portions of the file wrapper), the box contains more correspondence than is reflected in the online search. (However, the files do not actually disclose the Colonel’s secret recipe—the application refers only to “an herb and spice blend,” of which the contents are a protected trade secret.)

No one is entirely sure why this box ended up at the Goodson Law Library. But the evidence suggests that the contents may have previously been in the files of area restaurateur Pete Rinaldi, the son of two prominent Durham restaurant owners (Pete Sr. and “Mama” Arline operated Rinaldi’s Grill, a beloved eatery among Duke students). In 1963, the younger Pete branched out on his own, paying $23,000 for the city’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise (see the former Ninth Street location). In just a few years, his business had grown to seven KFC franchises, which he sold to a competitor in 1969. A decade later, he opened his own eatery, Pete Rinaldi’s Fried Chicken, on Guess Road; that location closed in the 1980s, but the restaurant resurfaced in the Northgate Mall food court in 1989.

One might naturally suspect that the files are related to litigation between KFC and its former franchise operator over misappropriation of the famous secret recipe. However, Rinaldi and Colonel Sanders remained personal friends long after the 1969 sale of the Durham franchises—the Colonel even visited the grand opening of Rinaldi’s Guess Road location, and the pair frequently traveled together (with the Colonel in his trademark white suits, and Rinaldi in contrasting black suits). Perhaps Rinaldi was modeling his own trademark applications after his famous friend's, or perhaps he was preemptively trying to avoid infringement of the famous “eleven herbs and spices.” (For what it’s worth, long-time members of the Goodson Law Library staff maintain that Rinaldi’s fried chicken recipe was superior. Sadly, you cannot taste for yourself: the Northgate Mall location closed in 1990, less than a year before Rinaldi died of cancer.)

If you’d like to peruse the file wrappers, you’ll need to ask at the service desk for assistance—they’re in a locked area on Level 1. You might also wish to peruse biographies of the Colonel for further evidence of this Durham connection. The Duke University Libraries’ print collection is woefully small, but a catalog search for the subject keywords harland sanders and biography does return a 1982 bio, The Colonel: The Captivating Biography of the Dynamic Founder of a Fast-Food Empire (Perkins/Bostock TX910.5.S25 P4 1982). Regrettably, our collection does not include some additional promising titles in WorldCat, such as The Colonel’s Secret: Eleven Herbs and a Spicy Daughter or the 1981 KFC corporate biography, It Wasn’t All Gravy. But that’s why we have interlibrary loan service.

Additional sources:
  • David Newton, Rinaldi, 59, Bounces Back with Another Fried Chicken Shop, Durham Morning Herald, Oct. 22, 1989, at B1.
  • Rocky Rosen, Col. Sanders Protégé Dies at 61, Durham Herald-Sun, Nov. 20, 1991, at C1.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Working Stiffs"

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a fascinating segment about Mark Roesler, an intellectual property lawyer who made his career by representing dead celebrities (or as correspondent Steve Kroft rather tastelessly calls them, "working stiffs"). Roesler’s Indianapolis-based company CMG Worldwide manages and licenses the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Bettie Page, and Babe Ruth, to name just a few.

(read transcript)

Roesler’s work falls under a section of intellectual property law called the postmortem right of publicity. It’s an area of law that can elicit strong emotions from fans, particularly when dead celebrities’ images are used to endorse products that the celebrity would likely have not endorsed during life. (Sure, manly-man Steve McQueen might not mind starring in a postmortem ad for Ford Mustangs, but would he really have wanted his face adorning a $200 t-shirt from Dolce & Gabbana?) There has been a wealth of interesting case law on the topic, involving such celebs as Bela Lugosi, Elvis Presley, the Marx Brothers, and Marilyn Monroe. To learn more, check out chapter 9 of the “bible” on this topic, J. Thomas McCarthy’s The Rights of Publicity and Privacy (KF1262 .M42; also available on Westlaw as the RTPUBPRIV database).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A New Twist in Government Transparency

Earlier this month, the White House announced that for the first time in history, its visitor log will be made available to the public on a rolling 90-day delay. The automatic publication will begin with visits after September 15, which will be published by December 31, 2009; records of visits dating from the Obama inauguration to September 15 may now be requested on a case-by-case basis at http://www.whitehouse.gov/RequestVisitorRecords/.

The reversal comes after several lawsuits from advocacy groups, which sought information on visits by a number of health care industry executives. The Obama administration agreed to the “voluntary” disclosure policy in order to settle the lawsuits, but maintains the historical White House position that release of the visitor logs is not actually required under the Freedom of Information Act. (Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also resisted the release of visitor records during their time in office, and both relented only after legal pressures mounted. Story.)

Although the names of purely personal and “exceptionally sensitive” visitors will still be withheld from disclosure, the policy represents an important step toward greater government transparency. Researchers have long used publicly-available campaign contribution data as a tool for measuring the potential influence of particular special interests on an administration; it’s not hard to imagine incorporating data on White House visitors into such an assessment. Expect interesting mash-up projects from government watchdog groups like the Sunlight Foundation, OpenSecrets.org, and the Center for Public Integrity.

In the meantime, if you’d like to research similar lobbying and campaign finance data at the state politics level, check out Follow the Money, Unfluence, and the official sites of the election commissions in a particular state. (Unsurprisingly, most governors' visitor logs appear not to be posted online, although they may be subject to state FOIA requests. Check out WikiFOIA for tips on using a particular state’s open records laws.) Any other lobbying/campaign data sites that you like? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Did the Facebook Page Say to the Bar Examiner?

What did the Facebook page say to the bar examiner? Maybe more than you intended. Earlier this month, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners made waves by announcing that it will investigate the social networking profiles of applicants on a case-by-case basis. (This policy replaced a previous recommendation, which would have required all Florida bar applicants to submit a list of their social networking pages for review.) Will this policy lead other state bar examiners to follow suit? Only time will tell; for now, set those photo albums and status updates to "private".

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security after the character & fitness review is complete. Yesterday the New York Times ran a fascinating story about practicing attorneys who have been disciplined for the content of their Facebook profiles and blog posts, including a Florida attorney who was sanctioned for referring to the judge in his case as an "Evil, Unfair Witch." Another attorney in Texas, who had requested a trial delay to attend a funeral, was denied an extension after the judge noticed a distinct lack of grieving on the attorney's Facebook page. Cases like these have prompted many law firms to create guidelines for attorney social networking; this is something to keep in mind during interview season (and beyond).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Robot Law: Tomorrow's Trendy LLM?

Without a doubt, the most eye-catching title to arrive at the Goodson Law Library this summer was Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons (UG479 .K75 2009). Author Armin Krishnan assures us in his introduction that autonomous killing machines imagined by films like the Terminator franchise do not exist. For the next six chapters, though, he explores what would happen if they did. Far-fetched? Perhaps-- but as a result of the astonishing growth in remote-controlled military robots over the last decade, some researchers suggest that truly autonomous weapons could be developed by as early as 2025. Krishnan’s text focuses mostly on the historical development of robotics in the military and the ethical implications of using autonomous weaponry. Chapter 4, however, examines “The Legality of Autonomous Weapons,” considering possible implications on the field of international law.

Although Killer Robots looks a bit lonely on the Goodson Law Library’s shelf, it turns out to be just the latest entry in “robot scholarship”. Additional titles in the Duke Libraries’ catalog can be found with a subject keyword search for military robots; additional titles might be located under artificial intelligence or autonomous robots. Article searching for keywords like robots and law may turn up additional results, including the British Society for Computers and Law’s October/November 2008 Computers & Law cover story on the legal implications of autonomous weapons. (Unfortunately, the Duke Libraries do not subscribe to this title, so the truly curious will need to submit an interlibrary loan request.)

The Goodson Blogson can only hope that the current academic interest in military robots will usher in a sweeping new era of robot legal studies, in which every area of law must be examined through the prism of its robotic implications. For example, no debate on health care reform could be complete without considering Saturday Night Live’s 1995 dystopian vision of the impact of killer robots on insurance coverage:

But perhaps we will need to wait until 2025 for our dreams to become reality.

Monday, September 7, 2009

로앤비법률정보서비스 : Researching Korean Law

If you can read the title of this blog post, you can research on LAWnB Legal Information Service, a Korean-language portal to legal information which is now available to the Duke University community. LAWnB indexes more than 50 law-related topics, including statutes, precedents, administrative documents, and legal articles. For assistance using LAWnB, contact Miree Ku, Korean Studies Librarian at Perkins/Bostock Library (miree.ku@duke.edu).

If you require your Korean law in translation, though, you’re still in luck. Translated, historical versions of the constitutions for both the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) can be found in Constitutions of the Countries and Territories of the World, while other sources can be found in print in the Goodson Law Library.

Statutes of the Republic of Korea, a 20-volume set kept up to date by looseleaf pages, is available on Level 1 at the call number KPA13 1997. Historical statutes as well as treatises about South Korean law can be found nearby, in the call number range KPA1-KPA4990. (North Korean law books are classified under KPC1-KPC4990, although the Goodson Law Library’s collection will be much smaller.)

Keep in mind that there may be additional books about Korea located at other call numbers, particularly in interdisciplinary subjects (e.g., An Economic Approach to Korean Corporate Structure and Corporate Law, at HG4247 .K6 2007). To retrieve a complete listing of the available books on a particular topic, search the Duke University Libraries catalog. The catalog search will retrieve materials available in the Law Library as well as the other campus libraries, including the East Asian collection at Perkins/Bostock library.

The catalog will also display several Korean law journals, including Journal of Korean Judicature and Korea University Law Review. These journals can be found in the Law Library’s Periodicals collection on Level 4, organized alphabetically by title. Many provide English tables of contents, and some provide articles in English as well as Korean. vLex Global also contains a set of “Korea (South) Law Articles in English”, mostly on business and securities law topics. To access these, choose “See More” under “Contents by Country” and scroll down to Korea.

For assistance with researching legal materials from Korea (or any other country), just Ask a Librarian.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Legal Writing Competitions: Put Your Research Papers to Work

We recently blogged about the UMKC Law Review 1L Story contest, which offers one lucky law student or recent grad a $500 prize and publication, simply for recounting a true story about your 1L experience. Interested students still have until October 23 to submit an entry (details), but perhaps autobiography doesn’t appeal to everyone. Would you rather put some of your law school research papers to work double-duty, and earn prizes including cash, publication, and/or bragging rights?

Legal writing competitions are plentiful, and offer law students many opportunities to sharpen research and writing skills. Many students already have worthy entries left over from law school classes—the trick is discovering the contests themselves. Fortunately, there are a number of useful resources which compile contest announcements. Here are some of the Goodson Blogson’s favorites:
For help polishing those contest entries, check out some of the many legal writing titles in the Goodson Law Library, including Volokh’s Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (KF250 .V65 2005) and Fajans’ Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition Papers (Reserves KF250 .F35 2005).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Goin' Back to CALI

If you’ve visited the Goodson Law Library recently, you may have noticed a mysterious box of DVDs on the service desk. These discs contain more than 800 interactive legal tutorials from CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (http://www.cali.org).

First-year students will use CALI later this semester to complete a Bluebook exercise in LARW class. However, your experience with CALI shouldn’t stop there. CALI lessons are available for all of the major areas of law school study, and range from 10-minute reviews of a single concept (Defenses) to multi-part tutorials to be completed over several days (a sprawling Contracts review). Most tutorials will take between 30-60 minutes, and their target completion time is clearly indicated before you begin. Each lesson is authored by a law school instructor or librarian, and is carefully reviewed before publication in order to ensure clarity and helpfulness.

For the most current versions of the tutorials on the CALI DVD (or for those who don't wish to load the DVD on their computers), Duke Law students may use the law school’s authorization code to register with the CALI website and take tutorials online. You’ll use the authorization code once to register an account at CALI.org, and will need to create a username and password for future visits. CALI has prepared a helpful 2-minute video to explain the registration process.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Law in Plain English

Legal terminology is full of confusing Latin phrases; even everyday English words can take on a different meaning in the legal context (such as willful or consideration). Legal dictionaries such as Black’s Law Dictionary (Ref KF156 .B53 and on Westlaw) provide some help, but often the definitions themselves contain more confusing terms to be looked up.

When you just need a quick, simple translation from legalese to English, there are a few web-based resources that can help.

The Goodson Law Library owns many of the Nolo legal self-help book series, which provide basic, general explanations of various areas of law. A similar series of books by Oceana Press, “Law for the Layperson”, is also available in the library’s Reference collection. Many of these titles and call numbers can be found in our research guide to “Legal Research for Non-Lawyers” (http://www.law.duke.edu/lib/researchguides/nonlaw).

Additional titles, such as How the Courts Work: A Plain English Explanation of the American Legal System (KF387 .E54 2008), can be found in the libraries’ online catalog with a subject keyword search for Law -- United States -- Popular works.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is Your 1L Story Worth $500?

“Legal storytelling” has become an increasingly popular method for discussing legal cases and concepts. Since 2003, Foundation Press has published a series of popular “Law Stories” books, in which contributors flesh out major cases on a particular topic with biographical and historical context. (Check out a list of the titles in the Goodson Law Library.)

Undoubtedly buoyed by the success of the “Law Stories” books, the UMKC Law Review introduced its own “Law Stories” series in 2007. For the last few years the review has devoted an entire issue to real-life “tales from legal practice, experience and education.”

The UMKC Law Review is preparing its next “Law Stories” issue (scheduled for Spring 2010) and is offering a $500 prize and publication to one lucky law student or recent grad! Submit your true story about the 1L experience by October 23, and you might find yourself published with the likes of Scott Turow (One-L) and Saira Rao (Chambermaid: A Novel).

Full contest details are available at http://www1.law.umkc.edu/Lawreview/symposium.htm. Good luck to all entrants!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Make the Connection: From CCH to IntelliConnect

Recent users of the CCH Business & Finance Library, Medicare and Medicaid Guide, and Tax Research Network may have noticed a message prompting them to register with a new database called IntelliConnect.

On August 17, IntelliConnect will replace all prior CCH databases, combining the various topical libraries into one comprehensive research system. You can already get a head start on using IntelliConnect by setting up your username and password in order to access the new system. The site offers a number of Flash tutorials for first-time users (although these will not pop up automatically after the second login, they are always accessible from the “Help/Getting Started” link on the left-hand column).

IntelliConnect offers the ability to search content across the various topical libraries, or to browse available content by type (such as “news” or “treatises”). The search box allows you to limit your search words to “citations”, making it easy to quickly retrieve cites such as IRS Revenue Rulings and SEC releases. (The “Citations” tool on the QuickBar also offers fill-in-the-blank forms for a wide variety of citation types.)

The Goodson Law Library’s subscription to IntelliConnect includes access to content in the following Practice Areas:
  • Business Compliance
  • CCH Wall Street
  • Health Care
  • Legal Professionals
  • Tax & Accounting
Note that registration to IntelliConnect is available to all current Duke University students, faculty and staff; however, users connecting from off-campus must access the database via a proxy link on the library webpage, even after registered with a username and password. Off-campus users will need to authenticate with a Duke NetID and password before logging into the system; attempts to access IntelliConnect’s direct URL from off-campus will result in an error message. You can access the proxy link to IntelliConnect (http://library.duke.edu/metasearch/db/id/DUK03667) via the Law Library’s Legal Databases & Links page, or via the Duke University Libraries A-Z database list.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Changes to Lexis and Westlaw

Summertime usually brings a facelift to both LexisNexis and Westlaw, and this year is no exception. Here are some important changes to note about both services.

Changes to Westlaw are immediately apparent from the sign-on screen. Although they are mostly cosmetic in nature, there is one substantial upcoming change: beginning in the fall, Westlaw users will be prompted to create a custom “OnePass” username and password for additional account security. Previously, users had the choice to create a username or to log in only with the numeric password on the original Westlaw registration card.

LexisNexis has required a customized username and password for several years, and its overall design remains the same (for now). But the makers of Lexis have been working on interesting new features: effective August 1, Lexis presents a new enhancement to case law research called “Related Content”. Similar to the “ResultsPlus” feature on Westlaw, the “Related Content” sidebar offers quick links to various secondary sources which interpret a particular case, making it easy for researchers to locate additional materials on point.

Westlaw is likewise no slouch in developing interesting tools, and researchers might enjoy the new “Sticky Notes” feature now available on the Law School tab. It’s a quick way to leave reminders to yourself about research tasks to be done the next time you sign into Westlaw. Sticky Notes are part of the company’s “Customizable Westlaw” initiative, which allows users to create customized research tabs based on frequently-researched subjects, as well as share those tabs (and notes) with collaborators via email.

Do you have a favorite feature or timesaving tip in Lexis or Westlaw? Share it in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seek Professional Help (with Online Tutorials)

You read all the assigned chapters of Legal Research in a Nutshell during LARW. You collected thousands of reward points at Lexis and Westlaw trainings. You even attended the library’s annual “Research Refresher” classes to help prepare for your summer job. So why can this research stuff still be so hard sometimes?

The landscape of legal information is constantly changing—materials may be available online in some sources but not others; or they may not be online at all. Different online sources offer different search technologies, from the simple keyword approach of Google Scholar to the algebraic field and connector searching in Lexis and Westlaw. As a result, successful search strategies in one database may not work in another…assuming that you are able to access a particular database at all!

Fortunately, the Goodson Law Library has prepared a list of recommended Research Tutorials (http://www.law.duke.edu/lib/tutorials/index) to help you resolve common research issues, including: selecting an appropriate resource to begin research; searching for journal articles in databases; retrieving the full text of journal articles; locating a variety of U.S. federal primary legal materials; and conducting international law research.

Several of the video tutorials on the list were created this spring by Jane Bahnson, a student at the UNC School of Information and Library Science who worked at the Goodson Law Library as a Reference Services intern. Others were created by other law school and university libraries, but are recommended by Goodson Law Library staff. The page also contains quick links to LexisNexis tutorials, Westlaw quizzes, and CALI lessons.

More tutorials will be added in the future, and the Goodson Law Library welcomes your input on potential topics. If you have an idea for a tutorial topic, you can email Lauren Collins, Head of Reference Services (collins@law.duke.edu), or leave an anonymous idea in the Library Suggestion Box.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Learning the Law in Perfect Harmony

As most bar exam takers already know, songs can be effective ways to reinforce and retain important legal concepts. (BAR/BRI’s property instructor Paula Franzese, in particular, is well-known for her musical interludes during video lectures.)

We’ve previously blogged about AudioCaseFiles, a source for auditory learners to hear, rather than read, the text of their casebooks. We’ve also recently covered the text-to-speech feature of Index to Legal Periodicals, which allows users to convert legal journal and newspaper articles into downloadable MP3 format. But the Goodson Blogson has never covered a legal source that sings to you— until now.

The Law School Academic Support Blog recently pointed to Law Lessongs, a project of UConn Law School professor/musician/obvious They Might Be Giants fan Mark DeAngelis. DeAngelis has put some of the most fundamental legal concepts to the tune of adult contemporary hits, folk songs, and some original compositions. Check out the bouncy ode to “Due Process” as an example.

The site organizes available songs by legal topic, and also provides lyrics and commentary. While the songs are mainly intended for other law school professors to use as a supplement to class discussion, tunes like “The Business Organization Song” (outlining the differences between partnerships, limited partnerships, and LLCs) can certainly be understood without further explanation. And if you just can’t get enough, DeAngelis links to law songs in popular culture as well as those created by other academics.