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Changes in Legal Research

There are several changes in the legal research world, either taking place now or on the horizon.  Maybe the biggest is that Westlaw is now touting a new interface, WestlawNext.  It hasn’t been released to law schools yet, but there is talk that next school year students will have access to it.  It claims to be more “Google-like,” with one search box to do everything.  You can even do combinations of terms and connectors and natural language searches in the same box. 

Lexis is also making some changes.  LexisNexis Academic already looks pretty different, and there is word that Lexis is teaming with Microsoft to add legal research functionality to Microsoft products like your word processor, browser, etc.  There are also rumors that Lexis is revamping its main interface.

In addition to these changes in the major products, there have been changes to several smaller products, and according to the ABA Journal we can also look forward to the entrance of Bloomberg on the scene, and Google offering more legal research oriented tools.  The world of legal research is changing rapidly!  The Law Library will, of course, be on top of all these changes, and we will be happy to tell you what we know about proposed changes, or to help you navigate new interfaces.

It’s Not Just Us

We’re pushing the Jumpstart classes pretty hard, we know, but there is a reason for that.  As you embark on your legal career, or your first summer job there is a lot out there that you will need to know.  A refresher is a good idea.  The Law Librarian Blog recently directed us to an article by Patrick Meyer entitled Law Firm Legal Research Requirements for New Attorneys.  In the article Meyer looks at several surveys on what law firms expect in their new hires.  You might want to take a look at the article, and make sure that you are ready for the big stuff.  And you might want to sign up for one of the few remaining Jumpstart classes, either today or Thursday.

CALI

With exams right around the corner this is a good time to brush up on your substantive law.  There are lots of ways to do that, the best, or course, is probably attending the review sessions for the classes and looking at your own notes.  There are other options, though.  You can also thumb through a hornbook or nutshell, for example.  You can also go take a look at the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI).  Some classes actively assign CALI lessons, but in general this is something that is optional for you.  CALI is a collection of lessons, written by a variety of people in the legal world-the Center tries to get people who are especially close to the subject matter to write lessons.  The lessons very greatly depending on who authored them, but in general you will be given lots of information about a particular area, and review questions that come up throughout the lesson.  There are CALI lessons on most areas of substantive law, and even lessons on legal research.  (There is no Indiana state legal research lesson yet-but a couple of the librarians here are in the process or writing it!) You can look for lessons by subject, by year you are in school, and even by casebook.  You might want to see if your particular course book had a lesson attached-that could be a wonderful way to study.  CALI is a service that we subscribe to, if you would like an account come by the library reference office and we can get you a password.

Jumpstart Returns!

The extremely popular Jumpstart research program returns to the Law Library for the next two weeks. The program, designed by the Reference librarians, will again work towards preparing law students for summer clerkships and the first year of practice. In addition to group sessions on basic legal research skills, there will also be individual sessions dealing specifically with the Internet and Web applications. During last year’s sessions, a number of students learned the necessary research skills for dealing with materials such as legislative history, administrative law and the regulatory process, and computer-assisted legal research.

Following the formula established in previous years, each of the Jumpstart sessions will begin with a brief review of the basic legal resources so that every student has a complete grasp of the legal research process. The librarians will also provide information about more specialized types of reference books, including practice aids and form books. The Jumpstart sessions will then focus on individual student problems and questions about legal research, with an emphasis on the type of practice student participants will be seeing in the summer. During individual electronic research sessions, Peter Hook, the Computer Services Librarian, will discuss applications and uses of these extraordinary computer sources in the law office and on the job. The Internet/Web sessions will include hands-on exploration of the various Web sources.

If you have any questions about the Jumpstart programs, be sure to drop by the Reference Office and speak to a reference librarian. We’d especially like to hear from those of you who already know in what jurisdiction you’ll be working this summer and any special areas of law with which you’ll be dealing. We tailor the Jumpstart sessions to your particular needs in order to make the program a continuing success.

Supreme Court Bobbleheads

The Green Bag has just announced the release of its latest Supreme Court Justice bobblehead-Justice David Souter.  These prized bobbleheads are funny, well-made, and decked out with references to important cases decided by the justice in question-“annotated” in Green Bag parlance.  In Souter’s case, a gold necklace, a life guard chair, and a recording of part of Modest Mouse’s Float On.  We don’t yet know if the library will be lucky enough to receive one of these bobbleheads (they don’t make very many) but if we do it will be added to the collection that currently graces our rare book room.  If you have the time, you might want to take a look at our collection-it includes Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, John Paul Stevens, and Antonin Scalia.

New & Noteworthy (Sort of): Not Your Father’s Legal Thriller

Connelly, Michael. The Lincoln Lawyer: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2005 [PS 3553 .051165 .L56 2005]

The law library doesn’t buy a lot of fiction. Still we do purchase the occasional legal based novel and of course the latest legal thriller (Grisham/Turow/etc.) So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when, a few years ago, I read a review of The Lincoln Lawyer, I decided it was an appropriate addition to our library. Connelly is perhaps best known as being one of Bill Clinton’s favorite writers and he had a string of successful “hard boiled” detective novels published in the 1990s. A fan of the like of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Connelly’s writing is as rough as 24 grit sandpaper. The Lincoln Lawyer, his first jump into the legal thriller genre, is no exception. Full Story »

Printer Defaults Changing

A message from the wonderful Dave–

There’s been a recent change to the default printer settings for the law school printers.  These printers now print double-sided (duplex) print jobs unless the user specifically requests for the job to be single-sided.  This is similar to the way the university printers handle double-sided printing; all jobs are automatically double-sided unless you specifically turn off double-sided printing.

If you need for a job to be single-sided (because your assignment requires a single-sided printout, for instance) this is still possible if you remember to check the printer properties.  After clicking File and Print, click the Properties button for the Printer and change the options under ‘Print on Both Sides’.  Flipping on the long edge gives normal double-sided printing, flipping on the short edge makes steno-book-style double-sided printing, and turning the option off will allow you to produce a single-sided print job.

We hope this change will save resources and also be more convenient to those users who prefer double-sided printing for most jobs.

Legal Resources for the Election

Election Day is now less than a month away. If you are interested in knowing more about election law for this election, or in the U.S. in general there are some good options available to you.

First of all there are several good print resources. On display in our hall display case at the moment is a book called America Votes! by Benjamin Griffith. We also have a subscription to the Election Law Journal.

While you are online you might want to check out Westlaw’s new tab on election law. Or maybe poke around the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s website on election law, which has a huge collection of materials on past and present elections, and on the process in general.  If you are interested in local elections, you might check out the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations website for information about candidates, and recorded debates.

Finally, remember that today is the last day you can register to vote. And the first day of early voting! If you want to make sure that you are registered to vote in Indiana, you can go here. If you are not, you download a registration form here, and then either mail it (it must be postmarked today) or you can bring it to the Justice Building down town before four o’clock today. Happy voting!

Using Microfilm or Fiche

The Library offers several options for accessing microform data, including: viewing, printing, and digitizing.  The Canon Microfilm Scanner 800 (MS-800) is like the older Canon machine (both located in the Law Library’s Media Center) – you can use it to read and print film or fiche, however, it has two notable differences. 

First, the MS-800 has a wide screen, which not only allows for clear viewing of detailed or large-format microfilm images, but also permits dual-page printing.  Second, the MS-800 can scan microfilm or fiche into a digital image directly to the attached PC.  With up to a 600 scanning dpi resolution, the MS-800 will allow you to save the images in the following formats: TIFF, BMP, JPEG, JBIG, PDF (depending on which scanning software you use):

  • Canon Scanning Utility 800 – easy to use, offers 4 file formats (TIFF, BMP, JPEG, JBIG)
  •  eCopy Desktop – easy to use, can save digitized documents in the following formats: TIFF, CPY, PDF.  Can create searchable text, which will then be imbedded behind the PDF.  Using OCR, can also convert the scanned document to editable text (Microsoft Word document).
  • OmniPage 15 – sophisticated OCR software generates the most accurate results and will save scanned documents into over 30 different formats (including Microsoft Word, Excel, XML, PDF and PowerPoint).  OCR proofreader allows you to correct the scanned image while simultaneously viewing a wide context of the document’s original text.

The Canon MS-800 has an attached high speed laser printer.  The cost of printing is 10 cents per page.  There will be no charge for scanning microforms, but you must save any scanned documents to your own storage device (USB flash drive).

As with any resource in the Law Library, please consult a reference librarian if you have any questions or if you need any assistance with using the Canon MS-800.

Snazzy New Wireless Access

Last year, as our returning students may recall, there was some trouble with wireless access in the library (and throughout the Law School).  The University has been working on the problem, which exists all across campus, this summer and hopes that the problem has been fixed for the school year. Please let us know if you have any trouble with the wireless system in the library–if we don’t know that there is a problem it’s not easy to fix it! You can contact Linda Fariss at fariss@indiana.edu, or stop by her office in the reference area of the library.

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