Thursday, March 28, 2013

Summer Legal Research Access

It may be hard to believe now, but in just a few weeks your final exams and papers will be a distant memory as you begin your summer job. Starting in May, many commonly-used legal research resources restrict student access over the summer, to help avoid the use of nonprofit educational passwords at paid summer employment. However, each service treats summer access a little bit differently, and there may be further variations for continuing vs. graduating students. Here’s your guide to summer database access.
  • Bloomberg Law accounts are valid between school terms and for 6 months after you graduate. Your Law School Bloomberg account may be used for both academic and employment-related purposes, including full access to federal court filings from PACER (see our research guide). If you do not already have a Bloomberg Law account, you may Request A Law School Account with your Duke email address.
  • LexisNexis will provide unlimited access this summer to Lexis Advance, its next-generation research interface. Beginning in May, Lexis Advance will be available for use over the summer for both academic and employment-related purposes. The interface will be available for academic (non-commercial) use only until July. 2013 graduates will have full access to Lexis Advance through July 31; continuing students will have unlimited access until August 31. [Update: Lexis announced in May that graduated students may complete a registration for a new Advance ID which will provide access through December 31 for "educational, bar review and job search purposes only."]
  • Westlaw offers extensions of your Law School password for academic work, including: summer classes, journal work, projects for faculty, moot court, unpaid/non-profit public interest internships or externships, or a pro bono project that is required for graduation. Commercial use of your Law School password (such as at a law firm summer job) is strictly prohibited. Recent graduates can also extend their Westlaw passwords to obtain 10 free hours of research time for bar exam study [update: Westlaw announced in May that graduated students can continue to use their extended student passwords through November 30]. If you qualify for a summer extension of your Westlaw password, log in to the extension page and follow the instructions.
  • Other Duke Library Databases: Access to Duke University databases for continuing students is still available over the summer with a NetID and password. Recent graduates will find that their off-campus, NetID-based access to other subscription databases (such as HeinOnline and LegalTrac) expires very quickly after graduation. Alumni may access many University and Law School subscription databases on-site via the reading room computer terminals.
For more information about access to library resources for the graduating class of 2013, bookmark our guide to Services for Law Alumni. If you have questions over the summer about access to particular resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian. Effective Monday, April 15, reference services will be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Evening and weekend services at the Circulation/Reserve desk and the Academic Technologies Help Desk will continue through the end of final exams.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Digging the Deal Pipeline

The Goodson Law Library is pleased to offer campus-wide access to The Deal Pipeline, a source for news about recent corporate deals and transactions around the world. Current University students, faculty and staff may access the site with a NetID and password.

The Deal Pipeline provides valuable news and insight about private companies, which can be elusive compared to the more accessible information about publicly-traded companies in their required government filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The site includes data back to 1989; the latest news stories can be searched or browsed by topic of deal, date, industry, deal amount, and global region. Available topics include bankruptcy, initial public offerings, mergers & acquisitions, private equity, technology, and venture capital. There are also options to browse a Company Finder or a People Finder.

For additional Duke resources containing corporate news and information about deals, visit the Databases by Subject page at the Fuqua School of Business's Ford Library. The list explains any usage limitations; for example, recommended investment database Thomson One requires the use of the Internet Explorer browser, while venture capital resource VentureXPert must be used on-site at the Ford Library on special workstations.

For more help with business and company research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The (Legislative) Life of Pi

March 14 is known in some circles as "Pi Day," for the correspondence of 3/14 to the first three digits of the mathematical constant π. The number π represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It is most commonly rounded to 3.14159, although its decimal string is technically infinite. (The Pi Day website has the first million calculated.)

Most math within a legislature involves budget issues, but one day in 1897 the value of π came up for debate by Indiana lawmakers. Indiana House Bill 246 (1897) was introduced on January 18 by Rep. Taylor I. Record. The bill would have exempted Indiana schools from paying royalties on the use of a copyrighted "new mathematical truth" that, in part, recalculated the value of π as 3.2. The bill passed the state House unanimously, but was postponed indefinitely in the Senate once cooler heads prevailed. As noted in More Amazing Tales from Indiana (2003), the recalculated value would drastically skew any formulae which rely on precise values of π (for example, the return trajectory of a space shuttle would miss Earth entirely under the recalculated value).

To read more about this odd intersection between the laws of mathematics and man, visit Purdue University's "Indiana Pi Bill" website for the text of the bill, a history of the mathematician who recalculated π, and commentary from various news sources. A 1977 article on the subject by Valparaiso mathematics professor Arthur E. Hallerberg is also accessible to Duke University community members via the JSTOR database. Still more recountings of the tale can be found in Legislating Pi: Indiana's Squared Circle, which was reprinted in Is Mathematics Inevitable?: A Miscellany (2008), available at Perkins/Bostock library; and Pi: A Sourcebook (1997), available through the Triangle Research Libraries Network.

A century after the Indiana bill died in the state Senate, an Internet hoax claimed that the Alabama legislature had similarly attempted to redefine the value of π (this time to a nice, round, and allegedly "more Biblical" 3); this urban legend was debunked at In fact, no legislature appears to have considered π much until the U.S. Congress recognized Pi Day in 2009 with H. Res. 224, which encouraged American schools to observe the holiday by engaging students in mathematical study. Showing some academic prowess of its own, the 2009 House also carefully noted in its resolution that π is an "irrational number, which will continue infinitely without repeating"…and one that, presumably, will never be "rounded" by a legislature again.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Checking Your IP Watch

The Duke Law School now has access to Intellectual Property Watch (IP Watch), a source for the latest news and developments in copyright, trademark, and patent law around the world. Current Law School students, faculty and staff may access the website anywhere in the Law School building or from off-campus with a NetID and password.

IP Watch provides frequent updates about international and domestic intellectual property law. A unique feature for subscribers is its annual series "The Year Ahead in IP Policy,"  which explores current trends like 2013's focus on public health and genetically-modified food. An RSS feed is available to keep up with the latest stories, and the site also offers categories to help readers find stories on particular aspects of IP, including human rights, indigenous knowledge, and innovation policy.

IP Watch joins several other available sources at the Law School for IP news. Bloomberg BNA provides the IP Law Resource Center & World Intellectual Property Report, both of which can be accessed by the Duke Law community at Additional recommended IP news resources which are available to the entire University community or free on the web can be found in the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law. For help locating more IP law resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.