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On the Prowl for Government Information?

Some of the first changes made by the Obama administration seem to be aimed at granting more access to government and presidential documents. In addition to the weekly release of presidential documents started by President Johnson in 1965, the Government Printing Office will now offer a daily compilation. He has also increased access to presidential papers held by the national archive. As the Law Librarian Blog points out this is a real policy change from the policy that former President Bush implemented with Executive Order 13233.

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 »

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Nearly a million votes were cast in choosing the lucky winners of the 2008 Weblog Awards, and ten thousand of those were in the Best Law Blog category. The winner, as it so often is, is the Volokh Conspiracy. If you are interested in what is going on in the legal world it almost certainly behooves you to keep an eye on Volokh, as well as its many worthy competitors. Things like the Weblog Awards tell you what people are reading, so even if a particular blog does not appeal to you personally, it is good to know what everyone else is looking at. And if you get too burnt out on law blogs, you can always thumb through the notables of other categories, like Best Food Blog, or Best Comic Strip.

Thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for reminding us that these awards were posted.

A Guide for OneLs—Mistakes Are Made

Everyone makes mistakes, and lawyers are no different. According to a recent Law.com article one complaint was allowed even though it misspelled the names of both parties and forgot to list the amount of damages. The defendants asked for a dismissal based on the numerous errors, but the judge decided that the mistakes were not sufficient grounds to dismiss the complaint. The same site references an older article about a solo practitioner who did not notice when his spell checker replaced every occurrence of the term “sua sponte” into “sea sponge.”

There are any number of potential mistakes waiting to be made. Legal terminology is unusual, and you don’t want to be dependent on your spell checker. It is important to edit your own work. And you always want to get the parties right. It is worth checking and double checking your papers and briefs for errors. But is it also true that mistakes are not the end of the world, in law school or even in the real world. Forgive yourself a few mistakes, and get on with your career and you life. But never forget the importance of learning from those mistakes.

The ‘Dawn of a New Era’

We are all proud that Professor Dawn Johnsen has been selected to head the Office of Legal Counsel under the Obama administration, but perhaps no one has expressed it as well as Professor Aviva Orenstein did today in her weekly column for the Herald-Times, Columnist applauds the dawn of a new era in Washington ($). Congratulations again, Prof. Johnsen! And thanks for saying it so well, Prof. Orenstein!

Inauguration Day 2009

Today we see a new president take office. This is an exciting day by any account, and this inauguration day is particularly historic. The city of Washington D.C. has a website devoted to the ins and outs of this day, which also includes fun facts, and historical photos of past elections. The US Government website is also a great resource for inauguration information. It has information about the Obamas and the Bidens and schedules of interesting events of the day. It also has historical information about the Oath of Office, and even a collection of original documents dealing with presidential inaugurations. So whether you would like information on the events of the day, or just to read President Jefferson’s draft of his first inaugural speech it is a good place to go.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

It is always nice to have a holiday this early in the semester. It lets you ease back into school. MLK Day is more than just a holiday, though. In 1994 Congress made it into a day celebrating not only the life of a great man, but also volunteerism and community service. Have a relaxing day—but if you see an opportunity to lend a hand this is the day to take it. If you want to know more, either about the day or what you can do to help, check out this government website.

Twentieth Century British House of Commons Documents Now Available Online

The Wells Library recently added a new database to its collection that will be useful to anyone conducting research in the political or legal history of the United Kingdom during the twentieth century.  The database is the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, which currently contains some 5.5 million pages of sessional documents published at the behest of Parliament in the course of its proceedings from 1902-2004.  As the working documents of government, parliamentary papers relate to all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, showing how issues were explored and legislation was formed.  In short, these documents play the same role in parliamentary research that Congressional documents play in helping researchers to understand the development of U.S. legislation. Full Story »

Welcome Back!

Today marks the beginning of a new semester with a whole slew of exciting new classes. For some of you this is the last semester you will spend here, so remember to make the most of it. For others, you have just made it past the halfway point. And for still others, you have just lived through your first semester here, and you now know that it is possible. No matter where you are in your law school career, this is a time to start fresh, see old friends, and maybe get to know some new professors. We are delighted to have you back, and are looking forward to a wonderful semester. Enjoy your first day of classes!

The 2009 State of the State

Last night Governor Daniels delivered the 2009 State of the State Address. He expressed his pride in Indiana, and then tackled such difficult issues as the economy and education. If you have a minute, and missed the address last night, it would probably be worthwhile to read, watch, or listen to it on the Indiana government website.

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