Thursday, November 30, 2017

Free & Low-Cost Legal Research Options

It's about that time of year when May graduates lose their extended access to Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law. Both services allow recent Law School graduates to continue using their academic passwords for 6 months. (Westlaw's post-graduation access lasts a little longer; see Library Services for Recent Grads/Alumni for an overview.) No need to despair, though – several legal research options are available for no cost or low-cost.
  • First, check with your state or local bar association, which may offer free access to the low-cost legal research services Fastcase or Casemaker. Currently, the bar associations in 49 states and the District of Columbia include at least one of these research services as a membership benefit (California, the only holdout, contains many county and local bar associations which provide members with access to one or the other). The Goodson Law Library's map of Legal Research via State Bar Associations has been updated to reflect the latest changes in bar offerings at the state level. (Since the last update earlier in 2017, Delaware became the 29th state to offer Fastcase to its bar association members.) The Duke University community can check out Fastcase before heading into law practice; law students can also create an account on CasemakerX (an educational version of Casemaker).
  • Google Scholar is another starting place for research which is commonly used by practicing attorneys. The "Case law" radio button includes state appellate opinions since 1950, federal lower court opinions since 1923, and U.S. Supreme Court opinions since 1791. "Articles" includes scholarly and commercial law reviews, legal journals, and journals in other disciplines as well. (Users currently affiliated with Duke can add "Duke University Libraries – Get It @ Duke" to Settings > Library Links, in order to access restricted articles with a current NetID and password.)
  • In You're a Researcher without a Library: What Do You Do?, Jake Orlowitz at Medium recently outlined a number of options for scholars who encounter paywalls and affiliation requirements. Orlowitz's article contains helpful reminders of resources available through your public library, such as the databases and e-books available to all North Carolina residents via the NC LIVE consortium. Orlowitz also covers resources like the Unpaywall browser extension, the Internet Archive's massive library of public domain works, and WorldCat, all of which can help you locate the full text of a needed book or article.
Additional free and low-cost legal research options are listed in the library's guide to Legal Research on the Web. These include Cornell's Legal Information Institute and the free law website Justia. For additional help with locating free or low-cost research resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Federal Tax Guide Updated

The Goodson Law Library's research guide to Federal Tax law has recently been updated. Tax is a complex area of the law, with frequent changes and unique sources. For new researchers, it may be beneficial to begin with one of the research guidebooks listed in section VI, such as the BNA Tax Management Portfolio Legal Authorities in U.S. Federal Tax Matters - Research and Interpretation (online in Bloomberg BNA & Bloomberg Law), for more guidance about specific sources and their authoritative weight.

Although the legal research services Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law contain valuable tax research primary and secondary sources, specialized resources like Thomson Reuters Checkpoint  are commonly used by tax practitioners. Checkpoint contains Federal Tax Coordinator 2d and United States Tax Reporter, both of which provide detailed guidance on all aspects of federal tax practice. Checkpoint also includes Citator 2nd, which connects researchers to subsequent case law which has cited or discussed a particular opinion.

The titles above in Checkpoint can also be found in print in the library's Gann Tax Alcove on level 2. The research guide lists these as well as other recommended treatises on income tax, corporate tax, and other specialized tax topics. Additional treatises can be found with a search of the Duke University Libraries catalog.

The research guide also includes a detailed overview of tax authorities and the various places that they can be found. Also included are links to popular tax policy think tanks, and other sources for tax-related legislative policy information.

For help with locating information about federal tax law, consult the updated research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Financial Times Group Subscription for Law Community

The Goodson Law Library has created a group subscription to Financial Times ( for the Law School. Current Law students, faculty, and staff may use their Duke Law email address to register for an account, which will allow access to the full text of unlimited articles.

To take advantage of this group subscription, you will first need to visit on a networked Law School computer (e.g., library workstations or office computers). When you attempt to access a desired article from a networked computer, the following message should appear:
Duke Law Library purchased a group subscription to
Current Law School students, faculty, and staff may join the group subscription using their school email address, which includes unlimited access to FT content on your desktop and mobile.
Scroll down to the "Join Now" button and follow the steps to register an account with If you had previously created an account using your Duke Law email, in order to access free articles each month, the system should recognize your prior use of the email address and connect the old account to this group subscription. Once created, your account will work on from non-networked computers, including on mobile devices. FT also offers mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Not a member of the Duke Law community? Financial Times currently allows registered users to read 3 free articles per month. In addition, readers may be able to access the full text of some stories through social media links, such as via Twitter, without counting toward that total.

For help with setting up a Law School account, or locating other sources for financial news, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Art of Diplomacy

The Goodson Law Library recently received the centenary 7th edition of Satow's Diplomatic Practice, a classic text on diplomacy first published in 1917. (The original edition, then called Guide to Diplomatic Practice by Ernest Satow, can be accessed online through the Making of Modern Law database.) Over the years, Satow's Diplomatic Practice has expanded by hundreds of pages, as the fields of international law and foreign relations have similarly grown and evolved. The current edition begins with "a short introduction" to the history of diplomacy, as well as a separate chapter on the development of international law. Subsequent sections detail the functions of diplomats and consulates, unpack such concepts as diplomatic immunity, and describe the roles of international organizations and agreements in facilitating diplomatic relations. The final chapter, "Advice to Diplomats," provides practical guidance to diplomatic staff about negotiation strategies and handling errors in protocol.

This new edition of Satow's Diplomatic Practice arrives at a time when the U.S. Department of State is experiencing dramatic attrition in diplomatic staff since the start of the Trump administration. Nearly 75 high-level State Department posts are vacant without current nominees, and many career diplomats have departed. Barbara Johnson, former U.S. ambassador to Panama, recently penned a letter in the Foreign Service Journal which expressed concern that more than half of the career diplomats on staff have left the State Department since January. Johnson noted that recruitment of new foreign service staff is also lower than in the previous administration, leaving some experts concerned about the void in advancing American interests abroad.

To learn more about the important work of diplomats around the world, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the word diplomatic. You'll find fascinating practice guides for diplomatic staff, as well as discussion of historical foreign policy crises and academic treatments of diplomatic privileges. The State Department also offers some publications directly on its website, including the handbook Protocol for the Modern Diplomat, last updated in 2013, which provides ambassadors with guidance for understanding the host country's culture and avoiding social faux pas.

For help finding more information about diplomatic practice or the U.S. State Department, be sure to Ask a Librarian.