Articles Tagged with Legal research

Published on:


Short of performing a bundy-ectomy (formerly reserved for Al or Ted), let’s get another view of this particular cathedral. Here is an old Law Librarian’s take on protest and occupation:

Read a Book, Read the Law:

The history of protest goes back to the beginning of human time (check out the Flintstones if you doubt me).

So, if you plan to protest, march, occupy or maybe sit-in (and I highly recommend someplace with a cafeteria, a library, public computers, showers, and good wifi), expect a lot of time on your hands. Here’s a reading list to help you while away those hours – and you’ll be a lot smarter and maybe even wiser in the end. (Remember this excellent short story? “A General in the library,” by Italo Calvino, which you can find, among other places, in this collection: “In the stacks: short stories about libraries and librarians,” edited by Michael Cart. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2002.)

Some useful background reading to start you off:

Then, how about a little History of the United States (and I recently read this riveting book, by Peter Stark: “Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival”) about truly fearless explorers who wanted to make the United States bigger and better.

You might also want to read about armed conflicts that lasted decades, centuries, and ended only with negotiated agreements, and the literature on terrorism and diplomacy. Remember, greater minds than yours (way, way, way greater) have struggled with this for eons, so listen up, read, and learn about: Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and many other armed conflicts that used to look the way current ones still do.

Perhaps you can start with the bibliography in this book, “How Terrorism Ends” or read and listen to Lawrence Wright, another highly readable war and peace scholar whose book and article bibliographies should remind you just how little you know now about what you think you know.

Now let’s move on to the literature of protest and law:

In addition to the usual suspects, Alinsky, Thoreau, and other memorable and creative practitioners of Civil Disobedience

  • FBI Crisis Intervention and Response LibGuide: Books, and a few other research tools, pertaining to all aspects of crisis intervention.
  • Burns Paiute Tribe: You need to know who really has a claim on the ground beneath you
  • Civil Disobedience and Protest literature. Search online: civil disobedience activism protest revolts civil rights, anarchy, revolution, etc.
  • Read federal and Oregon law, including statutes, cases, and regulations. (I recommend asking a law librarian for a tutorial if you’re not an experience legal researcher.)
  • The U.S. Constitution and constitutional law treatises. The Library of Congress has an annotated version, which will save you a lot of time.
  • Oregon and U.S. history, including pre-statehood materials. The State of Oregon Law Library is a good place to begin, but remember that not everything you need is online.
  • U.S. Supreme Court cases on the constitution and federal and states’ rights. Back to the Law Library since the U.S. S.Ct. doesn’t have a searchable database, at least not for the public.
  • Native American law and legal treatises. And again, back to the Law Library and professional Law Librarians. You can search for guides, like this one at Georgetown Law Library.
  • Sentencing law, especially the history and practice of sentencing guidelines. Learn how and who makes laws, especially, who wrote the sentencing guidelines. Guess what, it’s back to the Law Library.
  • Local government law, especially on sources of state and local government authority, including what home rule means. Back to the Law Library (there are some excellent treatises, not online of course, at least not unless you have a lot of money). For example, here’s a research guide from USC.
  • Local and national newspapers are running lots of interesting and informative articles about all of the above, written by people who did their homework and didn’t just make stuff up. You can go online for these, unless you need to do a thorough search, in which case you need a newspaper database. Start with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Oregonian.
  • Some radio programs have interviews with experts, e.g. Jefferson Smith’s X-ray program on January 8, 2016, had an interesting interview with Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with Audubon Society and Michael Blumm, Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School, during the 7:30-8 a.m. segment. And here’s a lecture given in Salem on the Willamette campus not long ago: 2015 Salem Peace Lecture, by Erica Chenoweth, on Nonviolent Resistance, who has also given a TED talk
  • Sorry, but we have to get back to The Law: Don’t forget tax law. If they don’t get you on the other stuff, when all else fails, there’s always those darn taxes, unless of course you are rich enough to hire the best tax lawyers in the country in which case you just pay them.
  • Let’s not leave out an entire body of federal criminal law, maybe also starting with the Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is where the Hammond re-sentencing appeal decision originated, under the mysteriously vanished and now vanquished former Oregon U.S. Attorney, Amanda Marshall.

Did I leave out anything? Huge amounts (did anyone say Legal Research is Easy?), but in the meantime settle in with these research, reading, and learning tips, grab a snack, and start taking notes. And don’t forget to call home once in a while in addition to keeping up with current international news. Lots of protesters, many of them children, in other countries are also on the march. It never hurts to put all humankind’s trials and tribulations into perspective.

Published on:


LoisLaw is dead; long live Fastcase/Loislaw.

Research Tip: Good word searches won’t get you very far if you don’t update your research.

(And all good legal researchers know how to “update the law.”)

SO, if you search for: free or low cost legal research databases … make sure you look for the MOST RECENT search results. Otherwise you’ll end up with yesterday’s search results (and yesterday’s databases), when what you need are today’s results.

(Extra tip: Make sure you do this “updating” step whenever you search for forms, instructions, memos, news, etc. Unless of course you want YESTERDAY’S forms, instructions, etc. And sometimes one does want yesterday’s documents.)

We blog about lot of free and low cost legal research databases, see tags below,

BUT, you still have to update those posts, because Change Happens and the World Moves On Quite Happily Without You. (In fact it appears that it moves on a whole lot better without humans at all, so watch out. If you don’t believe me, Google this, Chernobyl wildlife without humans.)

Low-cost legal databases tag
Free legal research resources tag
Free legal databases tag

Published on:


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.)

Published on:


Every working stiff needs a laugh and a boost on Friday-Eve morning (better known as Thursday morning) and we are no exception to that truth. So, we often turn to the Legal Research is Easy blogger who never fails to tickle our funny bones – and he’s willing to spill the beans about his patrons. What more could you want?! We all have these public law library patrons, but who can tell their stories with such humor and exasperation – and with excellent legal research tips!

(Public libraries everywhere have these patrons. If you don’t believe me, read Unshelved and the “Black Belt Librarian” author who thought he knew everything about libraries and security until he actually started working in one.)

The latest Legal Research is Easy posts (and previous ones for that matter) are hilarious AND interesting AND smart AND the facts described would elicit a my, my, my from our favorite Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell). (The rest of us fall about laughing. Auntie Mame was nothing if not a classy dame.)

Start with these if you dare or catch up with all the LRiE posts.

Mirror, Mirror: watch out for smooth talking losers when the police show up

I did not know that: can your landlord hold your stuff for ransom?

Published on:


Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites is always interesting and he travels the same roads all legal researchers do: legal research, law libraries, law practice management, solo and small law firm practioners, big law, etc.

His list of “Most Popular Posts (Published Any Year)” is interesting and humorous, especially the: Top 4 from Any Year:

What Do You Pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis? (July 13, 2011).
How to Find if an Attorney Has Been Disciplined (July 7, 2010).
Problems with Adobe Acrobat X Pro (Jan. 21, 2011).
Has LinkedIn Abandoned CardMunch? (Dec. 23, 2013)”

(Our own top blog posts remain constant, i.e. anything we post about when, where, and how to leave kids home alone. Yikes.)

Published on:


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.

Published on:


I recently asked law librarians for alternate, non-proprietary, ways of saying “Shepard’s” or “KeyCite” (or Shepardizing or KeyCiting). Below you’ll find a short list and a long list of responses, and not a few “namemushs.”

We focused primarily on case citators, but keep in mind you can cite-check a lot of things, including law review articles, court rules, statutes, and regulations (to name only 4).

What’s a citator? We like this concise description of Online Citators, from the University of Washington Law School librarians.

Short list of cite-check(ing) verbs and nouns:

Analyze the case’s treatment
Check precedential value
Checking for gotchas
Checking for losers
Citation update
Citator service
Judicial consideration
Legal research
Note-up (noting up)
Poor man’s Shepard’s (aka meatball Shepard’s, and vegan versions)
Search for subsequent history or negative history
Treatment analysis
Using a citator
Validate holdings
Validate opinion

Full list of responses, including from Canada and Australia, where one librarian commented on the latest generation of lawyers using variations of “citators” instead of previous generations’ use of “note-up”:

  • Using a citator. Citating. Cite-checking.
  • I think “cite check” is the way most people term it. The others are trademarks and shouldn’t be used generically anyway.
  • Would “note up” work?
  • Notionally (and somewhat humorously), from a former practitioner’s perspective, you could say “checking for gotchas,” or “checking for losers”—not just cases that are losers, but cases that will make your case [a] lose[r]. I’ve heard more than one story where a motion-hearing was won or lost on whether the caselaw used in argument was still good.
  • I say: use a citator, because you can check for the current authority status of a case, but you can also use a citator to expand your research universe
  • My impression is that for anyone serious about the process, cite-checking is called “legal research” because it is such an integral part of the process. In the same way that suturing the incision is part of what is called surgery, making certain that the law you read is actually the law is legal research.
  • Cite check works.
  • As I remember it they were referred to generically as Citators back a few decades ago.
  • I once got grief from Lexis for saying “poor man’s Shepard’s.
  • I usually say “updating” as a generic label for Shepardizing.
  • When I’m speaking generically, I use “citator service.”
  • To take the “Xerox” out of photocopy, or the “Kleenex” out of tissue, I would just refer to it as a citation update.
  • Canadian terminology includes: “judicial consideration”, “note-up.”
  • I call it a citator, and then have to explain “Like Shepards, Keycite, etc.” I’ve also called it a citation index, but “index” seems to confuse people nowadays. You could also do a namesmush, like Brangelina. Shepcite? Keyshep? Beypards, if you want to get Bloomberg Law in there?
  • Searching for subsequent history to a case.
  • I refer to it as searching for subsequent history to a case.
  • I say “citator” as a noun, but there is no good verb form – checking cites, validating cases, updating. Besides S and K, all the other smaller services offer some kind of citation service. B Cite (Bloomberg Law) also provides colored signals and analysis. The others don’t provide analysis (e.g., GlobalCite in Loislaw).
  • We say “check the subsequent history” or “check the negative history” when the circumstances warrant such a phrase. We mostly use the expression “authority check” when speaking generally about Shepardizing/Keyciting. We call those services “citators” so we occasionally say “citator check.”
  • I have heard one judicial assistant say “key-perdize” but most staff members use the generic or say “Shepardize” no matter if they’re using Lexis or Westlaw.
  • I’ve seen ‘citator’ used. The problem is that students don’t know what any of them really mean anyway….
  • I use ‘citate’ when teaching.
  • I call them citators to be neutral on the vendor. I did a survey of practitioners and had more than one respond that they would put a definition of citator at the top of the survey because it took them awhile to figure out what I meant. That and the fact that MS Word tries to change “citator” to “citatory” make me want to just show my bias and call everything Shepard’s!
  • I use the term citator.
  • I use “citationize.”
  • I use Validate.
  • “See if it’s good law” is what I hear a lot of lawyers say.
  • I use “citate” as well. Of course, every time I do spellcheck goes wild.
  • How about a portmanteau, such as keypardize or shepcite? In my opinion, it always depends on what you’re asking someone to do, namely do you want them to simply verify the later appellate history of an order or opinion or do you need to know the larger historical treatment? I’ve heard some suggest “treatment analysis” or “analyze this case’s treatment” as an alternative to mean both. Either way specificity is better because time is money and the former takes much less time than the later. “Citate” or “Cite check” to me also include verifying a case’s legal proposition and particulars (style, court, year, volume, page, jump page, etc.), which may not be what you’re after.
  • Update, check precedential value, validate holdings, validate opinion.
  • You’ve probably heard this from a million other sources by now, but I believe that the generic term for Shepard’s or KeyCite or BCite would be a citator. Or a citation index, if you prefer using more words.
  • We use “citators.”
  • Online citator service. From
  • Similarly, the noun I use as a catch-all is “citator” and it’s been the same term used by colleagues at a number of institutions.
  • We use ”Citators” to “validate” here.
  • In Australia, we call them ‘citators’ / ‘case citators.’ So if I were running a training session, I would say something like: ‘you can use a citator to find out where a case is reported and to find subsequent consideration of a case, so that you can check if it is still good law.’
  • Use the word “scrutinize” and when a confused student asks if you mean “shepardize” then you say “Quiet! Man, do you want to be sued?” (Original credit to The Simpsons).
  • I was always taught the Shepard’s was a ‘citator’ service. I always taught ‘citator’ checking.
  • Cite-check might be confusing because it is a Lexis batch checking program.
  • In Canada we “note-up” to find considerations or “update” to find appeals.
  • I’ll cast another vote for “citator” as the noun. I don’t really have a verb, I just say “use a citator”. I also let my students know that many people use “Shepardize” to refer to citator use generally, not just to the use of Shepard’s.
  • In law firms, we generally call the process “updating your research” and tools like Shepard’s and Keycite “citator services.” (These are the terms the senior partners use when giving this type of assignment to young associates, so we try to stay consistent.)
Published on:


I could use this case to teach an entire course on Oregon legal research to lawyers, law students, legislators, and self-represented litigants:

City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (A156920)

This case concerns the constitutionality of a bill passed by the 2014 Oregon Legislative Assembly, House Bill (HB) 4029, which permits landowners with property located on the boundary of the City of Damascus to withdraw that property from the jurisdiction of the city….

After consolidating the cases, we requested that the parties also address whether the petitions present us with a justiciable controversy, including whether petitioners have standing, whether the petitions are moot, and whether the parties are adverse….

On the merits of the petitions in GDI and Patton, we conclude that HB 4029 is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to private individuals because the legislation delegates to interested landowners the authority to determine the city’s boundary and to find the facts necessary to make that determination without imposing any meaningful procedural safeguards on the landowners’ fact-finding function. Accordingly, we reverse the GDI and Patton withdrawals….

City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (A156920 – Agency/Board/Other)

In A156922 and A156923, reversed on cross-petition; in A156920, A156921, A156922, A156923, A156963, A156964, A156982, A156983, A156984, A157037, A157042, A157043, A157044, A157045, A157046, A157047, A157130, A157166, A157167, A157345, A157455, A157456, A157457, petition dismissed.

Published on:


Symposium: 404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent:

“The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.

On October 24, 2014 Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.” [Link to symposium website.]