Searching Case Law with Google Scholar: New and Improved

Google Scholar Case Law Evolves by Mark Giangrande, Law Librarian blog:

Excerpt: “…. Google is hardly a substitute for any of the commercial databases as it does not have the value-added features such as secondary sources and others. At the same time, anyone searching Scholar’s case law database can do so with a good amount of confidence in my opinion….” [Google Scholar Case Law Evolves]

Alternative Legal Research Databases for New and Experienced Lawyers

From the Gallagher Law Library Blog: Alternative Legal Research Databases

When you think of online legal research, LexisAdvance, WestlawNext, or BloombergLaw probably spring to mind. With summer fast approaching, it may be worthwhile to explore some alternative legal research databases….” [Link to Gallagher Law Library blog post.]

Preventing Link Rot: Lawyer and Librarian Friend Perma cc Wins Webby Award

From ABA News: “Site aiming to prevent ‘link rot’ for legal researchers wins 2015 Webby,” by Molly McDonough, 4/27/15:

Excerpt: “A service that enables courts and researchers to make permanent links to research found on the Web has won a Webby Award for best legal site of 2015.

Perma.cc, developed by the Harvard Law School Library and supported by a network of more than 60 law libraries, takes on the widespread problem of broken or defunct Web links, also known as “link rot,” which can that can undermine research by scholars and courts….” [Link to full ABA article.]

And don’t forget to save your websites to the Internet Archive for future reference.

New Multnomah Law Library Website: Services, Databases, Catalog and More

The library is a growing organism.” [Ranganathan, the fifth of “Five Laws of Library Science”]

Visit the new website of the Multnomah Law Library for your legal research adventures. Note that Saturday hours have returned, remote and in-library database access is expanding, and the online catalog will earn its keep as a time-saver.

And don’t forget the Oregon legal research databases I featured in last week’s blog posts, from the State Law Library and OSB.

(Note the absence of the the word “county” in the law library’s name. The Multnomah Law Library is a nonprofit organization, not a county department, unlike other county law libraries in Oregon.)

New and Free Legal Database for Oregon Legal Researchers

Oregonians Rejoice: EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center has arrived. (Yes, thank the State of Oregon Law Librarian!)

This database contains NOLO Legal information books and much more.

This database is available to all Oregonians. (Other states, public libraries, and law libraries have their own access protocols.)

Save That Webpage to the Internet Archive!

It’s easy! Visit the Internet Archive. Click on Web. Enter the URL you want saved into the “Save Page Now” box. Voila!

For example, I linked in a previous blog post to this article: “Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job.”

But, let’s say, the article vanishes in the fullness of time from that particular URL and you can’t find another URL location for it via Google. You will still be able to see the article at the Internet Archive since I used theirSave Page Now” service.

Internet Archived version: “Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job.”

Beyond February 14th: Love, Adultery, and Madness in American History

If you think you live in the most interesting of times, you are not reading enough history – or not reading the right wild and crazy stories that make reading history so absorbing and enlightening. The Library of Congress has marvelous history in small bites blog posts, like this one:

“Love, Adultery, and Madness,” February 13, 2015 by Robert Brammer, Law Library of Congress

Excerpt: “It is often said that love can drive you mad. As further evidence, take the 19th Century case that is said to have introduced the defense of temporary insanity in American jurisprudence. This case resulted from an affair between the wife of a member of Congress and one of Francis Scott Key’s sons….” [Link to full blog post.]

Cuban Legal System: A Law Library of Congress Introduction

Foreign and international law librarians know things we mere mortals don’t know (yet):

“FALQs: Cuban Legal System
January 27, 2015 by Kelly Buchanan

The following is a guest post by Gustavo Guerra, a foreign law specialist covering a number of Spanish-speaking jurisdictions at the Law Library of Congress. It is the second post in our “Frequently Asked Legal Questions” series, following on from our post yesterday on French terrorism laws. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for this series!

In light of initiatives to improve relations between the United States and Cuba, and the recent visit of a U.S. government delegation to Havana, I decided to provide answers to a few questions about the Cuban legal system and where one could locate Cuban laws and information about them….” [Link to full LLoC post.]

Book Review: Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers”

Book Review: Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers”

  • Would you like a clear description of 3 free online versions of the U.S. Code?
  • Would you like useful tutorials on Fastcase and Casemaker?
  • Would you like to know about free and low-cost legal websites, legal research apps, and case law databases? How about cite-checking, dockets, federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal law, foreign, international, and comparative law free and low-cost research resource tips?

You will find those and more in “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers,” by Carole A. Levitt and Judy K. Davis, ABA Law Practice Division, 2014.

It takes brave authors to write a book about online legal research. If badly executed, it will sink quietly to the bottom of the recycle bin. If done well, it will remain within close reach of the researcher. I keep this book nearby and I’ve already pressed it into the hands of other legal researchers.

What this book is not: This is not a book about how to search public records or to perform background checks or skip-tracing. (There are other books on those subjects: see, e.g. Note 1, below.)

What this book is and for whom:

New and experienced researchers will find tips and instructions that can save time, money, and frustration when using the free and low-cost online legal research resources described.

I reviewed the book through the lens of a public law librarian who teaches lawyers and other legal researchers on limited budgets how to research the law. I wanted a quick reference book for myself, to lend to a researcher looking at a new research site or tool, and for our motivated self-represented litigants who need free or low-cost legal research tools.

This book will be useful to lawyers, law library employees, paralegals, judicial assistants, public librarians, and self-represented litigants. It will also be a useful legal research text for students of all stripes, paralegal, library school, and law school.

It can be read from cover to cover, but it is well organized, with a useful table of contents and a good index, so the specific guidance you seek can be found without wasting time.

It includes chapters on researching legal forms, court rules, cases, dockets, citators, and much more, all with excellent advice (and caveats) regarding the strengths and limits of the reviewed resources.

The research and website evaluation tips will be familiar to law librarians and will improve the research skills of those we serve – or at least reinforce the lessons we try to teach the researchers in our midst:

  • Read the whole screen.
  • Understand the database’s (or website’s) strengths and limits.
  • Make no assumptions about database searching protocols. (They change faster than the latest secret to a long life nutrition fad: Quinoa! Kale! Pomegranate! Bacon?)

This book presents those lessons painlessly and gives readers a roadmap for exploring and evaluating all online legal research resources.

Standouts: Tips are practical and the book is highly readable with appropriate warnings about data quality and database reliability. One, among other, standout examples is the section comparing 3 U.S.C. websites (pp. 163-177).

You will want to mark up this book. That is a good thing. It is not good when after reading a legal research guide all you have to show for the effort are a couple of sticky notes that could just as well fall out, with no regret or loss.

I added lots of sticky notes for tips to try out myself and recommend to co-workers. I featured this book in a recent legal research class, where I will recommend this book among my other favorite legal research guides.

The book was well organized. I would like to have been a fly on the wall when the authors and editors met to decide which legal research resources to include in the book and how to organize them – and which ones to leave out (the toughest cuts of all). Not all of the taxonomy, legal research, and UX knowledge in the world could have made that task easy.

Index: The index is very good – and I’m not unappreciative of the fact that there is an index at all, a rare value-added feature nowadays. I did wish there was a Legislative History index term; it is a subject frequently researched. Also, you need to look under both Briefs and Legal Briefs to find all the Briefs index entries, and … no, I quibble. I was able to find just about everything I needed in the index.

Wish list: I wished for more coverage of state and local resources, however, the selection of high quality, publicly accessible state and local online legal research resources varies widely from one jurisdiction to another, so the authors didn’t leave out anything over which they had any control. Many of the state and local research resources we need just don’t exist in digital format – and state legislative history documents often top that list.

Bottom line: This book is Highly Recommended, for law libraries, public libraries, legal research instructors, paralegals, and lawyers.

Notes:

1) “The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Investigative & Legal Research on the Internet,” by Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S. & Mark E. Rosch, is in its 12th edition as of today.

2) You can purchase today’s reviewed book, Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers” from:

Internet for Lawyers (Net for Lawyers)
Also: Internet Legal Research on a Budget
ABA Bookstore

 

January 2015 ABA Journal: Pet Nups, UPL, IP for Kids, and Much More

The January 2015 ABA Journal has these articles and more:

Washington state moves around UPL, using legal technicians to help close the justice gap,” by Robert Ambrogi

“It’s unethical for prosecutors to allow debt collectors to use official letterhead, says ABA opinion,” by David L. Hudson, Jr. (ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 469)

New website explains IP to kids,” by Anna Stolley Persky

American Indians challenging eagle feather rules get a boost from ‘Hobby Lobby’,” by Lorelei Laird

Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?” by Laura Snyder and “The UK’s alternative firms are reshaping legal services

“What’s working for lawyers seeking better search engine results,” by Joe Dysart

Link to the ABA Journal.