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 ( 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 (, 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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WTO Reporter Available Online

Researchers of international trade have a new resource at hand. The Duke Law community may now access WTO Reporter, a daily digest of the activities of the World Trade Organization and its member countries. The Reporter covers such subjects as accession to WTO, antidumping regulations, and taxation; a “topic index” provides quick access to articles on desired topics or geographic regions. The publication also includes regular analysis of domestic and international case law on trade issues.

Access the WTO Reporter’s current issues and article archive (back to 2000) through the BNA Publications Library ( You can view issues on-site or sign up for e-mail delivery of upcoming issues.

For more sources on the WTO and international trade, check out our recently-updated GATT/WTO research guide (

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Cure for Lonely Research: Talk to ILP

When searching for law review and legal journal articles, researchers often make the choice between LegalTrac ( and Index to Legal Periodicals ( out of necessity: LegalTrac is available to off-campus users with a NetID, while Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP) must be accessed from a computer on the Law School network.

However, a new feature of ILP may be worth the trip to the Law School. For articles in ILP where full text is provided, the database’s ReadSpeaker tool converts the full text into a downloadable audio MP3. Like AudioCaseFiles (previous blog post), this is a great service for auditory learners or students for whom English is a second language, such as foreign LL.M candidates.

How does it work? If you’re on the Law School network, view an article in ILP, such as this 2006 interview with recent Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor (from that link, click the option to view full text via Index to Legal Periodicals; once you’ve entered the ILP database, select the “Full Text (HTML)” view option to read the article). The link to “Listen” will be at the top of the page. If you’re off-campus (or still confused), check out WilsonWeb’s video demonstration of the new service at

What if your iPod is full, or audio isn’t your thing? ILP also offers an option to translate every full-text article into ten languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. The Goodson Blogson can’t vouch for the accuracy of the translations, so tell us your impressions in the comments.