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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Law for Kids

Arizona has a website devoted to the law for kids.  It includes several things aimed at children, such as cartoons, games, and stories, but it also links to the law itself and other legal websites.  It answers serious questions from kids about crimes, custody, and emancipation among other things.  Is this the correct approach to take to educating kids about the law? Should Indiana have a website like this?  For more websites devoted to youth law (though most with a more adult focus) take a look at this research guide from the University of Washington.

An Interesting European Case Law Database

Today’s topic is the Common Portal of National Case Law, a free search utility (ignore the log-in box) that provides access to selected case law from courts across the European Union.   This database is intriguing because it provides a way to search for substantively like cases across many jurisdictions at once. Full Story »

CALI Lesson on Indiana Primary Resources

The new CALI lesson on Indiana Primary Resources (written by librarians Jennifer Morgan and Cindy Dabney) is now available.

This interactive lesson teaches the basic sources for Indiana law and how to use them.  Using a hypothetical problem, the lesson walks you through case law, statutes, session laws & legislative history, and regulations.

As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, CALI lessons are an excellent tool for refreshing or perfecting your legal research skills.  You should definitely take advantage of this great resource as you prepare for life after graduation or for your summer job.

Use CALI Lessons to Perfect Your Legal Research Skills

CALI lessons are an excellent tool that you can use to hone your legal research skills.  The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) publishes a library of online interactive tutorials for anyone interested in legal education.  The lessons cover all legal topics from Administrative Law to Wills and Trusts, and include researching primary and secondary sources of law and federal and state jurisdictions. 

Whether you are graduating in a few weeks or about to finish your first year of law school, you should use CALI lessons if you plan on doing any legal research this summer.  Here are some CALI lessons that you should try out:

CALI also includes lessons on state-specific legal research such as “Colorado Legal Research – Secondary Source Materials” and “Georgia Legal Research – Primary Source Material.”  Librarians Jennifer Morgan and Cindy Dabney have created a lesson on Indiana legal research, “Indiana Primary Resources.”  Our lesson will be published in a few weeks, so keep an eye on the CALI website (or this blog) for an announcement of this new lesson.

The Library has a subscription to CALI, so you need a password (i.e., student CALI authorization code) to be able to access CALI lessons.  Stop by the reference desk to get your CALI password.

State Bar Associations Provide Free Legal Resources

  
Did you know that state bar associations provide legal resources for members?    

Coverage varies from bar to bar, but paying those annual membership dues can get you access to legal research services such as Fastcase, Casemaker, Loislaw, and Versuslaw.   

Greg Lambert has provided an interactive map (at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog) that shows what service you can expect to find provided by your state bar.  The Georgetown Law Library blog points out that the underlying data for this map “comes from a more detailed matrix of bar benefits that describes such benefits as mentor and ethics resources.”  Check it out!  

Fastcase, Casemaker, Loislaw, and Versuslaw are all Web-based legal research services that are available by subscription.  While not providing the depth and breadth of coverage as Lexis and Westlaw (nor the bells and whistles), they are low-cost legal research alternatives.  

Fastcase includes primary law from all 50 states as well as federal case law back to 1 U.S. 1, 1 F.2d 1, 1 F.Supp. 1, and 1 B.R. 1.  Use Fastcase to find court rules, legal forms, search PACER and newspapers.   

Casemaker contains state and federal case law, statutes, regulations, attorney general opinions and other resource materials used daily in the practice of law.    

Loislaw, in addition to having primary law for all 50 states and federal jurisdictions, has a public records database and a database of practice-specific treatises and state-specific treatises and legal forms.   

Versuslaw offers access to archived and current opinions from state, federal and Native American tribal courts, as well as the U.S. Code, CFR, and specialty practice collections.  Versuslaw also has an a-la-carte database of U.S. Legal forms.

Be sure to check out each service’s website for more detailed information on content coverage, searching, citators, training and webinars, free demos, iPhone apps, and more.

U.K. Treaties Online

The Treaty Section of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently launched a database of information on more than 14,000 treaties relating to the U.K.  The database is called UK Treaties Online.  Coverage is from 1835 to the present, and information provided for each treaty includes treaty type, date of adoption, depositary, date of entry into force, publication reference, and participant status.  All of these data points are also searchable in the database, as are country-of-opposite party, date and place of signature, treaty type, and boolean combinations of title words.  The records allow one to answer questions such as the following: does the U.K. have an extradition treaty with India?; are bats protected by treaty, and if so, how many country parties are there?; what countries does the U.K. have a prisoner transfer agreements with?; what are the correct titles for the “Aarhus Protocols” on climate change?  The database is updated weekly, although the F.C.O. does not guarantee that new information is added within a definite timescale, and for multilateral treaties suggests that researchers contact depositaries concerned for up-to-date information on paraticipant status.  The F.C.O. also warns that information for early 19th century treaties may not be complete. Full Story »

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.

ALR International

The American Law Reports (A.L.R.) series has recently added a new title, ALR International.  This new title is intended to collect and analyze U.S. and foreign cases from both English and non-English-language jurisdictions on topics of international importance.  So far one volume has been published, and is available in Westlaw in its own file (i.e., not in the A.L.R. file).  For the most part, annotations involve the construction and application of various important multilateral treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCP), and the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters, to name several. Full Story »

Improving USA.gov

We have often touted the utility of state and federal government websites for information.  www.IN.gov is a repository for lots of useful information, including a lot of the basics of Indiana law.  We are also heavy users of the federal government’s website, www.USA.gov. Though a source of lots of helpful information, USA.gov, like many websites, could use a little sprucing up, and its administrators are asking for your help in deciding what needs updating.  Your Voice Matters is a website created to ask for feedback about USA.gov. They are asking for suggestions, they want to know what are the services that you use most, and they are also asking for opinions on ideas like offering a personal account you could log into.  Some commentators like the idea, others are worried that it is a way to harvest information about users.  Go take a look!  You have to provide an e-mail address to become part of the discussion, but if there is something that you find lacking, or difficult find on the site this is a good opportunity to let them know. The discussion lasts until January 15.

Listening to the Health Care Bill

Last Saturday the House passed H.R. 3962, the highly controversial health care bill, by a very slim margin of 220-215.  The House added one amendment to the bill, concerning coverage of abortion procedures, but declined to include an amendment dealing with insurance. The bill as introduced is sizable—nearly two thousand pages, and if you are interested in reading it you can.  It is available in several places including FDsys, the new website from the Government Printing Office.  There is another alternative, though, for people reluctant to wade through the paper version.  Hear the Bill is a website where voice actors have volunteered their time to read aloud the text of the health care bill.  The later divisions of H.R. 3962 are not yet complete, but all of Division A and the majority of Division B are.  You can also listen to older versions of the House Bill, or a draft version of the Senate Bill.  Go take a look!

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