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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

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For many years one of the best places to go for government documents has been the Government Printing Office website, GPO Access.  But recently GPO has been in the process of rolling out a new website, FDsys. At the moment both sites are up, so many legal researchers have simply continued to use GPO Access.  It sounds like once the transition is completed, though, GPO Access will no longer be updated.  So how does the new FDsys stack up?  You can read a short review by Peggy Garvin in LLRX.  We here at the law library have our own reviewing to do, but this is a good start.  Thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for passing this along.


Words are the bread and butter of many professions, the law included.  Lawyers need to be able to communicate facts, to tell stories, and to draw out stories that we want told.  Some of the ways that we prepare our students for the challenges of legal communication are simple—students have to learn legal terms of art, participate in oral arguments, and practice writing both objective memos and persuasive briefs.

But with all this preparation, it never gets any less important to watch your language.  Legal parlance and jokes can often be misinterpreted.  Two stories on today illustrate the point.  One is about a Nebraska lawyer who, in defending a colleague on a minor driving charge, sent a letter to the county attorney’s office suggesting that the case be dismissed. He claims that the letter was intended as a joke, but no one seems to be laughing.  The lawyer was suspended for four months.

The second article is about a defense attorney charged with conspiring with a client to threaten witnesses.  Tapes reveal the lawyer using words like “kill” and “neutralize” when talking about witnesses.  The accused claims that those words are common parlance for lawyers. 

 We do not actually know the motivations of these attorneys.  But whether or not they were only joking, or innocently using common terms, it is clear that the words they chose were important.  Law students are taught that language is an important tool for a good lawyer, but it is also good to remember that our words not only make us really good lawyers—they stop us from becoming really bad ones.

President Obama in Indiana

President Obama will be making his third trip to Elkhart, Indiana tomorrow.  He visited Elkhart once as a candidate, and this will be his second appearance there as President.  He plans to announce a manufacturing grant for the area, as Elkhart has been hit particularly hard by the current economy.  Unfortunately, the event is invitation only, but it is interesting to know that he is in the area.  If you would like to keep close track of the President’s movements, the CBS blog Political Hotsheet posts his schedule every business day.

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