Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Summer Legal Research: Access & Guidance

At the end of each spring semester, law students often have questions about translating their academic research experiences into real-world work environments. On Monday, March 31 at 12:15 pm, join Goodson Law Library staff and research instructors in Room 4047 for a Legal Research Refresher: What to Know Before You Go. Part of the 2L Summer Success Series sponsored by the Career & Professional Development Center, this session will offer tips and tricks to get background in unfamiliar legal topics, use low-cost research database alternatives, and conduct business and transactional law-related research at your summer jobs. Lunch and a "swag bag" will be provided to attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early!

A common question as students prepare for summer employment is the availability of online research services. Some access to educational databases, like Westlaw and Lexis.com, will be restricted over the summer unless users qualify for an extension:
  • Westlaw offers summer password extensions for limited academic and non-profit purposes, including summer classes, work as a research assistant, participation in law school journals or moot court, or unpaid internships/externships. 1Ls and 2Ls can request an extension online. Graduating students will receive extension information via email soon.
  • Lexis will provide unlimited access this summer to the Lexis Advance platform, for both non-profit and for-profit usage. However, the company encourages students to check with their employers for guidance on using educational accounts during summer jobs, as some employers may prohibit this practice. May 2014 graduates will have access to Lexis Advance until August.
  • Bloomberg Law accounts are valid between school terms and for 6 months after graduation. Bloomberg Law allows use of its passwords for both non-profit and for-profit purposes (again, check with your employer). If you do not have a Bloomberg Law account, register with your Duke Law email at https://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate.
Representatives from all three legal research services will be in the library's Fite Room throughout the month of April to provide additional "Prepare to Practice" training for law students. Training calendars for all three services can be found on the Goodson Law Library home page, under Research Help. Take advantage of the training opportunities and arrive at your summer job ready to research!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunshine Week: Shining a Light on Government

March 16-22, 2014 is Sunshine Week, an annual event to promote the importance of government transparency. Sunshine Week highlights such issues as increased access to public records, the importance of Freedom of Information Acts at the state and federal levels, and other government accountability concerns.

One new participant this year is the Coalition for Court Transparency, which calls upon the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the video broadcast of oral arguments. The Coalition's website includes a petition to Chief Justice John Roberts, and an advertisement calling for "a more open judiciary". (Supreme Court justices have long resisted efforts to allow televised oral arguments. Last month, a political activist posted hidden camera footage taken during oral argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, a pending high-profile case from this term which has been dubbed "Citizens United II".)

Freedom of information and enhanced access to public records are both frequent subjects of discussion during Sunshine Week. The federal government and all 50 states have enacted statutes ensuring that citizens may request public records related to the functions of government (see a summary of state laws by the National Freedom of Information Center). However, as the Raleigh News & Observer pointed out in a recent story, governments often do not respond to such requests in a timely manner. FOIA.gov, the federal government's Freedom of Information Act portal page, allows users to create interactive reports which display the processing time for various agencies, including an option to view the ten oldest pending requests for each agency.

To learn more about the federal Freedom of Information Act, check out titles in the Goodson Law Library collection like Guidebook to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts (KF5753 .B682 2013) or The Federal Information Manual: How the Government Collects, Manages, and Discloses Information Under FOIA and Other Statutes (KF5753 .G53 2013). To find additional titles on freedom of information or government transparency, search the Duke Libraries Catalog or Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keeping Up With Kiev

Confused about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine? The global community is watching closely, as the next steps by the parliament of Crimea and the Russian Federation could have far-reaching consequences. Since November, anti-government demonstrations in Kiev were met with escalating violence by special police forces; more than 88 people were killed over just one three-day period in February. Former President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed shortly thereafter, and fled Ukraine along with many of his political supporters. Ukraine's newly-formed parliament has led to uncertainties about separatism in the Crimean peninsula, an autonomous republic within Ukraine which heavily supported former President Yanukovych in the country's last presidential election.

Although jurisdiction of Crimea was legally transferred to Ukraine in 1954, the region was previously controlled by Russia for more than 150 years, and remains home to a majority ethnic-Russian population. As political tensions continued to escalate, the Russian government sparked international outrage by sending thousands of troops to Crimea and publicly supporting the local legislature's steps toward secession. A referendum is scheduled for March 16 which would bring Crimea back under Moscow’s control. International leaders and organizations have denounced the referendum as illegitimate under international law, saying that any steps by Russia to re-annex Crimea would be a "clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia's commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994."

University College London maintains the outstanding resource Ukrainian Crisis 2014, which is updated daily with links to the latest news, NGO and IGO materials, and interview transcripts related to the conflict. The guide includes links to such helpful backgrounders as the February 26 Congressional Research Service report, Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy. (Additional resources for locating CRS reports, often a good source for background information on current events, can be found in our Federal Legislative History research guide.)

Interested in learning more about the international law documents at issue? Our research guides to International Law and Treaties will help you get started with the basics. The Duke Libraries Catalog contains hundreds of titles on the subjects of Sovereignty and International Law. For assistance with locating any of these titles, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Sporting Life

It's that time of year again – the NCAA basketball season is drawing to a close. The ACC Women's and Men's Basketball Tournaments will continue into spring break, followed close behind by the NCAA tournaments. The Duke University Archives recently shared some basketball-themed historical photos from its collection (including a championship bracket filled out by former U.S. Senator Terry Sanford). The Goodson Law Library's collection may be comparatively light on Blue Devil memorabilia, but we have plenty of resources on the fascinating and complex topic of sports law.

First, there's The Little Book of Basketball Law (2013). Part of an American Bar Association series of pocket-sized casebooks on entertaining topics, this recent publication describes more than twenty basketball-themed legal battles in American history, such as compensation for student athletes, copyright and trademark disputes, and even whether a drawing for Final Four tickets could be considered an illegal lottery. There's also Legal Issues in Professional Basketball (2011), which explores several of the same legal concepts as the ABA title in more detail.

More general works on sports law can be found in the library's online catalog with a subject heading search for "Sports – Law and legislation – United States". Only interested in the legal issues surrounding collegiate athletics? Try a search for "College sports – Law and legislation – United States" to find titles like The Supreme Court and the NCAA: The Case for Less Commercialism and More Due Process in College Sports.

The Law School community can also locate the full text of sports law treatises on the legal research services Westlaw and Lexis. On WestlawNext, follow the path Secondary Sources > Texts & Treatises > Art, Entertainment & Sports Law Texts & Treatises to locate Fundamentals of Sports Law. On Lexis Advance, Browse Sources and search for "sports" to locate the treatise Sports Law Practice and sports law-related journals.

For help with locating these or other legal resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.