Thursday, February 21, 2019

PLI Plus Database Now Available

The Duke University community now has access to PLI Plus, a full-text database of publications from the Practising Law Institute. PLI is a leading provider of legal education programs, and their online library includes full-text access to more than 1,500 PLI course handbooks, answer books, form publications, and treatises. (The Duke Law community may recall that PLI titles were previously available electronically via Bloomberg Law, but PLI Plus is now the exclusive online source for these publications.)

Some notable PLI titles include the treatises Sack on Defamation: Libel, Slander & Related Problems and Soderquist on the Securities Laws, The Pocket MBA: Everything an Attorney Needs to Know About Finance, and the textbook Working with Contracts: What Law School Doesn't Teach You. Titles can be searched or browsed at the PLI Plus site, and chapters are available for online viewing or for download as PDFs.

In the coming weeks, records will be added to the Duke Libraries Catalog to provide quick access to individual titles that are now available within PLI Plus. In the meantime, you can access the full PLI online library through the Law Library's Legal Databases & Links page. For help with locating PLI titles of interest, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

State Bar Association Benefits 2019

Earlier this month, the Washington State Bar Association became the second state bar organization in the U.S. to offer its members free access to both Fastcase and Casemaker, two low-cost research services that are frequently offered as a membership benefit by bar associations. Since 2013, the Goodson Law Library has maintained a map of state bar association legal research benefits, which has been updated to reflect this recent change.

The landscape has changed dramatically since the first such map was created by 3 Geeks and a Law Blog in 2010 (sadly, their IBM ManyEyes map no longer displays). In those days, New York State Bar Association members had access to a legal research service called Loislaw (acquired by Fastcase in 2015), Pennsylvania used a customized Lexis product called InCite (PA switched to Casemaker in 2014), and several state bar associations offered no legal research service benefit at all. Over the years, Fastcase and Casemaker gained shares of a market that now covers bar associations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Today, access to Casemaker is offered by 21 state bar associations, and Fastcase by 31; Washington joins Texas in offering members access to both services. (Each service also has deals in place with county and local bar associations, but the Duke Law map tracks only state-level associations.)

Want to learn more about these research services before heading out into law practice? Members of the Duke community have access to a campus-wide version of Fastcase that includes federal and state primary law, as well as selected treatise publications. Duke Law students and faculty can also register for an educational version of Casemaker called CasemakerX. For help with using these services, or additional options for legal research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Treatise Yourself

"I've been searching case law for a while, and I'm not finding anything helpful!" If that sounds familiar, consider picking up a treatise instead. Secondary sources often provide a better starting place for legal research than searching in case law databases, since they will provide a bigger-picture overview of the legal concepts and terminology, along with footnotes to selected primary law like court opinions and statutes.

But how do you decide which treatise to consult? Simply searching the campus libraries' online catalog can present a dizzying array of results, and it isn't obvious there which ones are also available online in Law School-only databases like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, or Bloomberg Law. Below are some recommended resources to find the right treatise for your research topic.
  • Appendix B of Olson's textbook Legal Research in a Nutshell (on Course Reserve) contains a brief list of selected legal treatises by subject, with information about online availability.
  • Have a question about anything related to federal practice? Two excellent starting places are Moore's Federal Practice (Ref. KF8840 .M663 & online in Lexis Advance) and Federal Practice & Procedure (Ref. KF9619 .W7 & online in Westlaw). These authoritative, multi-volume sets provide a detailed overview of federal law practice topics, with substantial primary law references in their footnotes.
  • Duke Law's own Research Guides include treatise recommendations for more than two dozen topics.
  • Do Duke's research guides not cover the topic you need? Georgetown Law maintains online Treatise Finders for more than 60 legal topics. Each page in the alphabetical topic listing includes a list of selected treatises, with brief descriptions, and information about online availability in Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, or other sources.
  • On the hunt for even more treatises on a topic? Consult Legal Information Buyer's Guide and Reference Manual, an annual guide to legal publications which contains useful reviews of print and electronic legal resources. Although the three most recent editions are not available in full text online, even the slightly older 2015 edition in HeinOnline can provide helpful recommendations for subject treatises (Chapter 27) and state-specific materials (Chapter 28). Those two chapters provide more than 500 pages of reviews and recommendations for legal treatises and other publications.
You can also ask to see last year’s edition of the Legal Information Buyer's Guide at the library Reference Desk, which is, of course, a good place to visit if you have other questions about locating good secondary sources on a topic.