Primary Navigation

BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

Brace Yourselves…Bar Exam is Coming

You made it through three years of Socratic method, issue-spotting, and cite-checking, only to be plunged, post-graduation, right into the longest study hall you’ve ever attended.  But here we are, two months later, and the bar exam is almost here.  It’s exciting.  It’s nerve-wracking.  It’s almost done!  There are many articles out there to offer last-minute bar exam tips.  Here are some of the most commonly agreed upon:

  1. If you haven’t yet, try to simulate a full day of examination.  A big part of success on the bar is stamina, and it’s hard to know what you’ll experience if you’ve just been outlining essays rather than writing them out completely.
  2. Don’t focus entirely on one portion of the exam.  Your grade comes from a combination of the MBE, the MPT (where applicable), and the essays, so make sure you’re getting practice in all three.
  3. In the last days leading up to the exam, try to just go over your outlines.  You’ve been looking at them all summer, you know them front and back.  Don’t suddenly switch to some new resource you just found.
  4. Try to relax the day before.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but you need to give your brain a rest so it’s in top shape for the actual exam.  If you don’t want to sacrifice an entire day, try to at least take off the afternoon.
  5. Get some sleep.  In the days leading up to, and especially the nights of, the exam, make sure you’re resting.  You cannot perform your best when you’re worn out.
  6. Correspondingly, eat well and stay hydrated.
  7. Come prepared.  Some people even scope out the bar exam location beforehand to make sure they know how to get there and how long it’ll take.  Read and re-read the list of items you can bring and make sure you have everything you need.
  8. Do NOT talk to people about the exam before, during, or after.  This is my favorite piece of advice.  It will only psych you out, and that’s not going to help.
  9. Afterward, try to forget about it.  The cruelty about the bar exam is you get about three months to convince yourself you failed.  I had myself so convinced of failure that I almost didn’t even check the results when they came out!  (I passed.)  Chances are, you did way better than you think you did, and all you have to do is pass!
  10. Finally, trust yourself.  These are all fantastic tips, but you know yourself better than anyone else does, and you have to do what’s best for you.  Take care of yourself, stay focused, and soldier on.  It’ll be over soon!

And once you’ve passed, remember this: Every other summer, no matter how swamped you are with work, you’ll be able to think, at least I don’t have to study for the bar again!  Best of luck everyone!

bar meme

Calling All Writers: Ethics Essay Competition Announced by Indiana State Bar

inbar logoAre you a writer at heart?  The Legal Ethics Committee of the Indiana State Bar Association just announced their annual Legal Ethics Essay Contest.  In 1800 words or less, write on one of five prompts from the competition guidelines.  Topics range from the impact of technology on competent representation, to ABA rules limiting the number of hours a full-time law student may work while in law school, to the duty of an attorney to practice law in a “civil” manner.  Entries are due by August 21st.  There are cash prizes for the top three essays, and an opportunity for the first place winner to have his or her essay published in Res Gestae, the bar association’s journal.


Legacies Captured in Art

When you think of art, one of the last places that probably comes to mind is the law library. Yet, it is replete with artistic touches – an old panoramic print of the graduating class of 1913 in Dunn’s Woods hangs over the copy machines, an oil painting beautifies the Rare Book room, and, a more modern addition, the digital sign, strikes a balance between utility and aesthetics at the library’s entryway. The artwork in the law library falls into three main categories: works that are historically or institutionally significant, those that are topically relevant, and others which are simply artistic. Furthermore, much of the art on display straddles more than one of these distinctions. Read on to learn a little bit more about the wonderful art which surrounds you…

Platonic Geometry: the Morton Bradley, Jr. sculptures

One of the most striking art features in the law library are Morton C. Bradley’s Jr.’s sculptures. Showcased and individually suspended from the ceiling of the reading room, they serenely float in the five-story atrium far above the patrons below. Morton Bradley’s connection to Indiana University spans several generations. He was a relative of the University’s first president, Andrew Wylie, and Bradley’s grandmother (Elizabeth Louisa Wylie) grew up in the historic Wylie House. In addition, Bradley’s father – Morton C. Bradley Sr. – was a proud graduate of Indiana University. Upon his passing in 2004, Bradley gifted his entire body of artwork to Indiana University, which included over 300 distinct pieces of art.

The law library houses nine of Bradley’s geometric sculptures. Rooted in the principles of Platonic geometry, Bradley was fascinated with the five Platonic solids: tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron. His sculptures vary these basic solid forms by manipulating their faces, edges, and angles to create entirely new structures. The nine sculptures hung in the law library are: Untitled, Constellation series (1971); Interlace (1975); Recessions (1976); Sixty Circles (1976); The Great Machiavellian Knot, from the Knot series (1983); Staccato (1986); Kahlil Gibran: A Portrait, from the Pattern series (1987); and from the Polylink series, both Festival (1988) and Chrysalis (1989).

Size varies from piece to piece, but most of the law library’s Bradley sculptures are several feet in diameter, with the largest having a diameter of over five feet. The materials used to create these pieces include aluminum, steel, brass, Lexan (a plastic composite used in impact-resistant objects) and wood. Each is finished with paint in an array of soft colors designed to highlight the shadows and angles of the multidimensional designs. Full Story »

The Law Library: Constant, Yet Always Changing

The traditional image of the library typically involves an institution that is unchanging as the world around it changes. Some view this as dependability, others view it as obsolescence. In truth, there are many aspects of the library that have been around for decades or even centuries – we still collect books; our main services are still in cataloging, reference, and circulation; and our primary goal is still to help people find the information they seek – but just because our core function is the same does not mean we’re not changing with the times. In honor of National Library Week, I thought I’d highlight some of the recent ways the Law Library continues to update our existing services to meet your changing needs.

When most people think about Technical Services they think mostly of the creation and maintenance of the library’s catalog, but that’s only a fraction of what they do. Our Technical Services team also maintains the law school archives, and recently began a digital repository, bringing together faculty publications, a comprehensive digital collection of our law journals, and historical law school documents, all in one place and freely accessible. In just over three years, we have already had 1.7 million downloads!

Public Services – comprising both Circulation and Reference – has seen many recent additions and updates as well. Last summer, Circulation moved to an online scheduling system for conference room reservations, allowing you to schedule your reservations remotely. To better serve our patrons, Circulation also added a scan-on-demand service to facilitate quick, digital access to our print collection (within the limitations of copyright law, of course!). You can learn more about the many services offered in Circulation by checking out our Circulation Guide.

Over in Reference we have seen many recent changes to better serve your needs. Earlier this year we adopted LibChat to offer another way to ask us reference questions, supplementing in-person, over-the-phone, and Ask-a-Librarian interactions. We continue to add to and update our vast collection of online Research Guides covering an array of legal topics. We began an Advanced Legal Research course for those interested in honing this particular lawyering skill. And in January, we hired Kim Mattioli as our first Student Services Librarian, to be a resource entirely devoted to the research needs of our students and student groups.

Finally, and more generally speaking, the Law Library has in recent years updated our communication methods to include social media and a digital sign. Yes, our core services remain unchanged, but the means of executing those services are ever-evolving.

Now, as we don our new name, the Jerome Hall Law Library thanks you for another great year!


Jumpstart Returns!

The extremely popular Jumpstart research program returns to the Law Library. Jumpstart sessions will be available April 7th-April 14th. The program, designed by the reference librarians, will again work towards preparing law students for summer internships, clerkships and the first year of practice. 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.

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.

Researching the History of U.S. practice in international law and international relations

If you are interested in researching the history of U.S. practice in international law, or the history of U.S. diplomacy more generally, there are several resources in HeinOnline and in ProQuest Congressional that can help you.

U.S. practice in international law is summarized in three editions of the Digest of International Law of the United States, each known more familiarly by the name of its editor. The first edition, edited by Moore, covers the years 1776-1904. The second edition, edited by Hackworth, covers the years 1905-1940. The third edition, edited by Whiteman, covers the years 1941-1972. These three editions have been updated by Digest of United States Practice in International Law, 1973-1981, and 1989 to present, and by the Cumulative Digest of United States Practice in International Law, which covers the years 1981-1988.

All of these digests are available in HeinOnline’s Foreign & International Law Resources Library, and easy to search. Suppose you wanted to find a discussion of the Halibut Fisheries treaty of 1930. Using the Advanced Search interface, you would simply search for the phrase “halibut fishery” in Hackworth. This search would retrieve a discussion of the treaty, its predecessor and successor treaties, with links to the texts of the treaties themselves.

You can also search for diplomatic correspondence and other documents relating to U.S. international affairs in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), which is also available in its own library in HeinOnline. Here you could find all diplomatic correspondence related to the 1930 treaty on the “preservation of the halibut fishery of the northern Pacific and Bering Sea.” The trick to using the FRUS database is to realize that dates of coverage are not the same as dates of publication. Thus, to search for documentation from 1930 you would actually date-restrict your search to 1945, the year in which volumes for the year 1930 were published.

FRUS covers the history of U.S. foreign policy from 1861 onward. From 1817-1861, diplomatic correspondence and other documents relating to foreign relations were published in the Serial Set, a massive series best known as the source of Senate and House reports. The Serial Set is fully digitized and readily available electronically through ProQuest Congressional. The Serial Set is not difficult to search in ProQuest Congressional, but there is also a three-volume Index to United States Documents Relating to Foreign Affairs, 1828-1861, which is available in HeinOnline, in Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf. If you were interested in the history of U.S/French trade relations in the nineteenth century, you could search this source for “France trade”~25 (the term ‘France’ within 25 words of the term ‘trade’), which would retrieve 14 items, among them an 1860 message from the president transmitting to Congress a letter from the emperor of France on commerce and free trade. This entry is accompanied by a citation to the Serial Set, 36. 1. H. ex. doc. 30, which you could use to retrieve the full text of the document in ProQuest Congressional.

The digests of U.S. practice of International law, Foreign Relations of the United States, and the Serial Set are the most important sources of information relating to the historic practice of the United States in international law and foreign affairs generally. All three readily available to researchers in HeinOnline and ProQuest Congressional.

Foreign Relations Materials from the U.S. Department of State

Follow the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian on Twitter for updates on researching foreign relations, foreign policy, and Department of State records.  For example, check out this informative tweet about their index to foreign relations documents published in the Serial Set:

  • In 1817, Congress began publishing foreign affairs documentation in the Serial Set. Check out our index here: #FRUS.

The Serial Set is digitized and fully available in ProQuest Congressional.

Also worth noting from their Twitter feed, 20 newly digitized Foreign Relations volumes have been released.  The Office of the Historian has partnered with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center, to digitize the entire Foreign Relations series.

“The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the State Department’s Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 450 individual volumes. The volumes published over the last two decades increasingly contain declassified records from all the foreign affairs agencies.” (About the Foreign Relations of the United States Series)

Recent volumes of FRUS (from the Truman administration through the Carter administration) are available from the Office of the Historian’s Historical Documents web page.

The entire published Foreign Relations series (comprising more than 600 published books) is available in digitized format (PDF) from the Lincoln administration (1861) to the Carter administration (1980) in HeinOnline.

As an additional bonus to the researcher, the Office of the Historian also offers a guide to Citing the Foreign Relations Series.

Legal Research Tech Tool: Bestlaw

One of the toughest skills to master in legal research is cost-effective research techniques.  With your law school accounts, you have the luxury to play around and explore without any fiscal consequences, but when you or your employer are paying for your subscriptions to these platforms – and when your clients are being billed for your research time on these platforms – playtime is over.  There are many ways to gain cost-effective research skills: Vendor reps at your school likely offer cost-effective research training sessions in the Spring semester.  You might learn about free and low-cost alternatives for conducting legal research.  And once in a while, you come across new tools developed to help you stay cost-effective in these subscription platforms.  One such tool is Bestlaw.

Bestlaw is a browser add-on for Chrome (support for Firefox is coming soon too).  It is designed to help you research in WestlawNext more cost-effectively (support for Lexis Advance should also be coming soon).  Once you install Bestlaw on Chrome, you will see its tools appear whenever you run searches on WestlawNext.

First, when looking at your search results (not in Overview, but when you select a particular view of results, such as Cases), under each search result you’ll see a drop-down “Search…” menu.  This gives you the option to view this document in a free site, such as Casetext, Cornell LII, Court Listener, Findlaw, Google, Google Scholar, Ravel Law, or Wikipedia before viewing (and paying to view) it in WestlawNext.  So if you’re not sure whether this is a document that will be helpful for your research, viewing it in a free site first could save your firm a lot of money.


Next, once you decide to look at a document in WestlawNext, you’ll see a Bestlaw toolbar just below the document tabs at the top of the screen.


This toolbar gives you several options:

  • Display – Gives you the option for a readable view (clears away the extra content on the sides so that you have distraction-free reading for the document); the option to hide search term or page number highlighting; and gets you back to the top of the document with a click of the mouse
  • Tools – Gives you several ways to copy information from the document, including Bluebook citation,* title, or full text
  • Search – Will search for your document in Casetext, Cornell LII, Court Listener, Google, Google Scholar, Ravel Law, or Wikipedia (in a new tab)
  • Share – Allows you to share your document via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+
  • Help – Gives you quick access to the Bestlaw FAQs; allows you to report a bug, ask a question of the Bestlaw developers, or suggest a feature

If you find the Bestlaw toolbar distracting, you can hide it by clicking the up arrow next to the Help menu; this hides the toolbar behind an orange Bestlaw button, retrievable at any time by simply clicking the button.

Depending on the type of document you’re viewing, the Bestlaw features will differ slightly.  The features listed above are fairly standard and apply to cases.  Statutes have the added feature of collapsing all sections of the statute for easier browsing; under Display you have the option to expand all sections.


If you are in a secondary source, such as a law review article, you have the option under Display of showing an automatically-generated Table of Contents for the document.  While many law review articles come with these already, some do not, and many other secondary sources do not either, so this can be a handy tool for quick skimming to find the parts of the document that are most germane to your research.

Will Bestlaw absolve you of the need to learn cost-effective research strategies?  Certainly not.  You should still attend the platform-specific trainings offered by the vendors; you should still have a research plan before you dive in; and you should still consult a reference librarian if you’d like further tips.  But as an easy-to-use tool offering many powerful features and a design that allows you to use it alongside WestlawNext, a traditional legal research platform, Bestlaw is a great tool to have in your legal research arsenal.  (Did I mention it’s free?!?)


* Bestlaw claims it will give you perfect Bluebook citations; but it is always advisable to double-check the work yourself.

Opportunity for Students—32nd Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition

Attention students! The Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association has announced the 32nd Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition. The Division will be accepting papers that are on the topics of planning, planning law, land use law, local government law, or environmental law. Submissions are due by June 5, 2015, and winners will be announced by August 28, 2015.

The winning paper will be submitted for publication in The Urban Lawyer, and the author will be awarded $2,000. The student who comes in second place will receive $400, and there will be an Honorable Mention prize of $100.

This is a great opportunity to gain some recognition for a seminar paper. Further information is available in the attachment. Good luck and happy writing!


Rules for the APA-PLD Student Writing Competition


Hello from your new Student Services Librarian!

My name is Kim Mattioli, and I just started the New Year off with a new position as the Student Services Librarian here in the law library. I’m likely familiar to many of you since I’ve been working part-time in the library for the past two and a half years in interlibrary loan and at both the circulation and reference desks. I’m thrilled to now be here on a full-time basis! You can find me in Room 105E in the Reference Office.

As you all know, every reference librarian is available to help students in any way possible, so I would like to tell you a little bit about what it means for me to be a librarian dedicated specifically to Student Services. As a starting point, I will be providing support to students who serve on the Indiana Law Journal, the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, IP Theory, and the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality. Any student working on journal assignments is encouraged to come to my office with any questions, general or specific. In addition, I will be providing support to students who serve as faculty research assistants. This will include coordinating a training session for new or experienced research assistants, as well as helping with specific assignments.

While these are some of my preliminary responsibilities, I sincerely hope that this will only be a starting point. It is my goal to make all of you familiar and comfortable with the library. I hope to develop programming that will make all of you effective researchers, but in addition to that I want to serve as your liaison in the library. I want to know what programs and services you think would be helpful or fun, and to that end I invite anyone to stop by my office or email me with suggestions or requests. Let us know what you like about the library and what could be done differently.

I will be working hard to make sure that you are all getting the most out of our library. In the meantime, you will see me at the reference desk, on our new chat reference service, and on this blog from time to time. I’m looking forward to working with you!