Friday, October 15, 2021

Workers of the World

On Monday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees expects more than 60,000 of its members to begin a labor strike. The move would shut down film and television production across the country, unless and until an agreement is reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. They'll join several other labor union strikes that have made headlines in recent weeks, inspiring the hashtag #Striketober on social media. Currently, more than 10,000 workers at John Deere plants are on strike, following an overwhelming rejection of a new contract proposal. Another 1,400 employees of Kellogg cereal plants are also in their second week of a strike over labor negotiations.

With unemployment rates continuing to trend toward pre-pandemic levels, and a record number of employees quitting jobs in what is now termed "The Great Resignation", labor conditions and labor markets will likely be hot topics of conversation for the indefinite future. If you're interested in learning more about these topics, the U.S. Department of Labor offers helpful free topic pages on Major Laws, Labor Relations, and common worker questions like workplace safety, wage and hour laws, and whistleblower protections.

For more detailed treatment of labor law topics, try some of these legal resources:

  • Labor Law in a Nutshell, 5th ed 2008 (online in West Academic Library Study Aids): provides a quick overview with concise discussion of key laws and procedures, including topics like organizational picketing, antitrust considerations, and collective bargaining agreements.
  • Higgins, The Developing Labor Law: The Board, the Courts, and the National Labor Relations Act, 7th ed. 2017 (online in Bloomberg Law): this expansive treatise, updated in 2020, provides an overview of the NLRA’s history and discussion of topics like protected employee activity, the collective bargaining process, and a section on "economic action" describing strike practices.
  • Lareau et al, Labor and Employment Law (available on Lexis). This treatise is recognized as a leading authority on the topic of labor law, with chapters on major topics like the NLRA, Wages and Hours, and Labor and Employment Arbitration. Lexis's Practice Area page for Labor and Employment Law includes other titles like National Labor Relations Act: Law and Practice and Wages & Hours: Law and Practice.

To locate additional titles in print or online about these topics, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for "Labor laws and legislation -- United States" or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, September 27, 2021

First Monday in October

Monday, October 4 marks the annual opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new argument term, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2. "First Monday in October" hasn't always been the start of a new Court term, however: as noted in the treatise Supreme Court Practice § 1.2(f) (Reserves KF9057 .S8 2019 & online in Bloomberg Law), the opening day of the Court's term (and even the total number of regular terms per year) has changed over time…although not since 1916.

This year, the Court will return to oral arguments inside the courtroom, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to schedule remote arguments for the end of the 2019-2020 term, and for the entirety of October Term 2020. However, the Court's building will remain closed to the public, limiting in-person access during arguments to the justices, the attorneys, and to a limited number of media representatives. The Court anticipates live audio streaming of oral arguments to continue through at least December, a practice that began during the pandemic after many years of institutional resistance.

Last week, the Court announced another update to its argument format, inspired by the changes made during remote arguments. The remote argument format allotted each justice dedicated questioning time in order of seniority, rather than the more freewheeling, interruption-prone in-person oral arguments. Upon returning to the courtroom, the Court will take a hybrid approach: first, the traditional open questioning during an attorney's argument time, followed by a more structured question-and-answer portion in order of seniority. The Court's Guide for Counsel in Cases to be Argued before the Supreme Court of the United States has already been updated with this change.

This new term begins at a time when polling firm Gallup reports that U.S. public opinion of the Supreme Court is at an historic low, with only 40% of Americans approving of the Court's recent activities. The Court has come under increased scrutiny for its "shadow docket" rulings on emergency petitions, which can have sweeping impacts without the processes of oral argument, deliberation, or lengthy opinion drafting. Most recently, the Court's unsigned 5-4 ruling that declined to block Texas's restrictive new abortion law from taking effect pending constitutional challenges has sparked new debate, with dissenting Justice Elena Kagan observing, "Today's ruling illustrates just how far the Court's 'shadow-docket' decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process." 

 This Court term is likely to generate more controversy, with a petition already pending before SCOTUS on the Texas abortion law as well as oral argument on the constitutionality of a Mississippi abortion ban scheduled for December. Detailed descriptions of cases already on the Court’s upcoming docket can be found at SCOTUSblog and the Court's own argument calendar.

For more information on the history and practices of the U.S. Supreme Court, check out the resources linked in the library's research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Resources for Legal News

Legal matters seem to generate an avalanche of headlines every day, in both mainstream and specialized publications. How can a reader possibly keep up with the latest news? A few well-chosen RSS feeds and/or browser bookmarks may help, such as from the recommended legal news resources below.

  • The ABA Journal website provides recent news stories from the American Bar Association, as well as articles and issues of its monthly print and digital magazine. (Back issues and articles can also be found in a number of third-party databases.)
  • State and local bar association journals are another good source to keep up with legal developments in a particular jurisdiction. Many titles are available online, though often only to association members; the Duke community can access many titles through HeinOnline's Bar Journal Library.
  • Law.com and Law360.com are two popular legal news sources. The full text of articles on their websites can be accessed directly from within the Law School's IP range; current members of the Duke Law community can also access content from both sources on Lexis under the Legal News content type (ALM Media for Law.com and Law360, respectively).
  • Bloomberg Law News includes analysis and commentary on a variety of topics, including the popular U.S. Law Week. To access available topics and titles, follow the path News & Analysis > Bloomberg Law News.
  • Legal blogs are another source for the latest law-related news. The Goodson Law Library's Legal Blogs page rounds up some links to search engines and directories, including Justia BlawgSearch. Westlaw includes the full text of selected law blogs under News > Blogs.

The Duke Law community has access to several general news group subscriptions as well, including NYTimes.com, FT.com, and the Wall Street Journal. For sign-up instructions, visit Legal Databases & Links and review the information underneath each title. Electronic access to other legal and non-legal news publications will be linked in the E-Journals Search for a particular title. For help with accessing any of the resources listed here, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Tips for Law School Success

This week, we welcome our new JD and LLM students to the Law School! As mentioned in the library orientation sessions, the Goodson Law Library provides access to a number of print and electronic resources that are designed to help you succeed. Some key highlights for our newest students:

Both online study aid libraries also include general guides to law school success and exam preparation, including:

You can find print copies of these items in the library collection, as well as links to the online versions, by searching the online catalog. For help with using the resources listed here or with finding items in the library collection, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Ethical Lawyering

Last week, a federal magistrate judge in Colorado sanctioned two attorneys for their filing in an election dispute lawsuit, citing "a woeful lack of investigation into the law" and "patently frivolous arguments." The judge's order directed the attorneys to pay opposing counsels' fees for filing motions in the suit. Other attorneys who filed challenges to the 2020 election results have experienced similar professional consequences: Rudolph Giuliani currently faces a D.C. bar ethics investigation, following the June suspension of his law license in New York, and earlier this summer former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood weathered a high-profile hearing over potential sanctions in Michigan.

These cases have been a very public reminder of the importance of attorneys keeping up to date with their ethical duties and obligations. Every day, lawyers across the country face sanctions or other disciplinary action for failures to uphold the rules of their respective state bars – while most incidents may not be as sensational as the examples above, smaller-scale ethical infractions can still have major consequences for attorneys, including suspensions and permanent disbarment from practice.

The Goodson Law Library recently updated its research guide to Legal Ethics, which can help navigate the unique research universe of primary and secondary resources related to professional responsibility in the law, including model and enacted codes, ethics opinions, and helpful treatises. Some highlighted resources include:

  • The Law of Lawyering, full-text online in Fastcase & Cheetah Litigation Library: this treatise covers professional responsibility topics in extensive detail.
  • ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct (online in Bloomberg Law: Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility Practice Center) includes recent legal ethics news stories, the full text of ABA ethics opinions as well as a digest of state ethics opinions, and links to additional ethics resources by state. The site also provides the full text of the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct as well as a link to the ABA's comparison chart between the ABA Model Rules and the adopted rules of each jurisdiction.
  • Individual jurisdiction codes and ethics opinions can often be found freely on the web, and also in the commercial legal research services available in the Law School.
    • On Westlaw, ethics opinions can be found by using the path Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Ethics & Disciplinary Opinions. ABA rules are available at Secondary Sources > By Topic > Ethics & Professional Responsibility. State bar rules are included in the Statutes & Court Rules databases for the jurisdiction, generally at the end of the court rules for that state.
    • On Lexis, follow the path Practice Area > Legal Ethics to view available sources.
    • On Bloomberg, visit the Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility Practice center to view available sources.

For help with accessing resources described in the guide, or for additional sources related to legal ethics, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Law Review Submission Season

Earlier this week, University of Missouri at Kansas City Law professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit updated their long-running guide, Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals, available as a free download on SSRN. The popular document provides links and guidance on submitting articles to the 196 flagship law journals in the U.S.

One recent development for this fall's law review submission cycle is the closure of the former online submission portal ExpressO, announced last year and finalized on June 30. That leaves Scholastica's Law Review Author Submissions Center and email as the main points of contact for manuscript submission and tracking, although some individual journals have developed their own submission portals.

Law review submissions are highly competitive, and if using Scholastica there is also a cost per submission involved. (Law faculty at Duke may join the Law School's group account with Scholastica by registering with their law.duke.edu email address; faculty members may also sponsor student manuscripts for coverage of up to 20 submissions for JD and LLM students, or 40 submissions for SJD students.) It's important for submitters to pay careful attention to requirements like formatting and length to avoid a quick rejection; for student authors, it's equally important to ensure that the journal accepts submissions from students who do not belong to the journal and/or attend the school where the journal is published. The Rostron and Levit SSRN guide includes a column of formatting requirements that describes basic formatting, but student authors will need to visit individual journal websites to determine policies about student authors.

Writing competitions present another avenue for law students who wish to pursue academic legal publication. Prizes often include publication as well as a monetary award. The AccessLex Writing Competitions Databank allows users to search and sort by various factors including topic, length requirements, application deadline, and even award amount.

For assistance with turning academic papers into publication-quality manuscripts, try a search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject "Academic writing" with a focus on the Law Library's collection to find various guides to the academic writing process. A title that is particularly relevant to legal writers is Eugene Volokh's text Academic Legal Writing, whose companion website for the 4th edition includes Volokh’s sample Word template for formatting law review articles. Again, though, authors will want to pay close attention to the formatting requirements of their target publications when submitting a manuscript.

Whether you're submitting to law reviews or student writing competitions, good luck with this submission season!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Extra OT

The end of June usually marks the conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court's October Term, when the Court issues the last of its opinions in cases argued since the start of the term in the previous fall. Last term, with disruptions to Court operations and argument sittings in the spring of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Court's final ten opinions of OT19 were issued in July.

This week, the Court has five opinions left to issue from the 2020 October Term. Will they successfully conclude the term before the end of the month, or push into July for the second year in a row? Court-watchers will be following the activities at One First Street closely this week. To join them, you can visit SCOTUSblog, which live-blogs order and opinion release days at the Court beginning at 9:30 am Eastern time.

SCOTUSblog's FAQ page on Announcements of Orders and Opinions provides some additional detail about the process. Although the Court highlights opinion release days on its public calendar, the Court does not announce ahead of time which opinions will be released, or even how many opinions will be released on that particular day. Because opinions are announced in reverse seniority order (meaning the opinions drafted by newer justices are released first, working up to the opinion written by the most senior justice on the Court for that day's release), Court-watchers can deduce which opinion will be the last for a particular day by the appearance of a number that indicates the release day's opinion order for the published U.S. Reports volume.

Once released, the latest slip opinions are posted to the Court website and, of course, made available on the various legal research services like Westlaw and Lexis. Commentary and analysis of the latest opinions can be found on SCOTUSblog, in The United States Law Week (on Bloomberg Law), the ABA Journal and mainstream news outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The American Bar Association also publishes the Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases, whose eighth issue in each volume reviews the entire previous year's Court term.

For additional information and resources about researching the Court, check out the library’s research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court or Ask a Librarian.