A plea to scholars

Dear scholars,

Please pay attention to where you place your scholarship.   Are you aware of the cost of some journal subscriptions?  One example, of many, is the Journal of Law & Society.  The Stanford Law Library used to get this print subscription with discounted rate and paid $161 for the current 2013 print subscription. We just received word from Hein (who handles the subscription for us) that the publisher will begin to charge us the full price with an additional payment of $851.00.

What made me think of this was the receipt yesterday of a new publication from my hero Carl Malamud.  Carl has become quite the pamphleteer and his most recent is On Crime and Access to Knowledge.    I urge you all to read it.

In the pamphlet, Carl tells the story of the late Aaron Swartz and discusses JSTOR, PACER, and broader information access issues such as Carl’s heroic efforts to make public safety documents, such as building codes, available to the public.

But on the issue of what Aaron did with JSTOR, Carl makes this important point:

. . . One must remember that JSTOR is a messenger, an intermediary, and if there is fault here, that fault is ultimately the fault of the scholars who wrote those articles and allowed them to be locked up.  It was a corruption of scholarship when the academy handed over copyright to knowledge so that it could be rationed in order to extract rents.

Please think twice before you place a piece of your scholarship with a particular journal.  Find out what it costs to subscribe to the journal; find out what databases include its text (your librarian can help with this); ask the journal if you can retain ownership and publication rights.  And ask yourself:  Do you really want your scholarship tightly locked up behind expensive pay walls?

 

Becoming the “compleat lawyer” the Aldisert way

From time to time I will get a call or e-mail from a proud parent whose son or daughter has been admitted to Stanford Law School.  The parent wants my advice on a book for their accomplished child to read upon the beginning of their new-found career.  A wonderful book has just come along which fits the bill perfectly:  Judge Ruggero Aldisert’s A Judge’s Advice: 50 Years on the Bench.

This slender volume packs a lot of punch.  In less than 250 pages the judge offers answers to questions that have occupied his thoughts for decades:  : “What is the bedrock of our common law system? What are trial and appellate judges really looking for? What is the logical configuration that is absolutely necessary in any legal argument? What practical challenges do judges face when deciding a case? What is the difference between the philosophy of law and a philosophy of law? What is the difference between a judge making a decision and a judge justifying it, and why does that difference matter to me?  Precedent in the law: When do you kiss it and when do you kill it?”

The judge organizes his thoughts among the following five themes:

  • Our Common Law Tradition: Still Alive and Kicking
  • Logic and Law
  • Avoiding Assembly Line Justice?
  • The “Write Stuff”
  • How Judges Decide Cases

And within these themes are found the following chapters:

The house of the law — The role of the courts in contemporary society — Precedent : what it is and what it isn’t, when do we kiss it and when do we kill it? — Elements of legal thinking — Logic for law students : how to think like a lawyer — Formal and informal fallacies — State courts and federalism — Life in the raw in appellate courts — “The seniors” suggest a solution — Brief writing — Opinion writers and law review writers: a community and continuity of approach — Reading and evaluating an appellate opinion — Philosophy, jurisprudence and jurisprudential temperament of federal judges — Making the decision — Justifying the decision.

While I know that all law students would benefit greatly from reading this book, when I first saw it our international students immediately came to mind as no other single volume that I am aware of so neatly and clearly explains the American legal system.  This book explains stare decisis better than anything else available.

Judge Aldisert writes about his particular passion — the law — with an enthusiasm that is almost exhausting.  Through this book the law student can get a glimpse of just how enormously satisfying the next 60 or 70 years of his or her life can be.

As the judge states in his Introduction:  “. . . These pages flesh out the instruments and implements of lawyers with a far-ranging ‘view from above’ with one objective in mind: to enrich the skills of these men and women so that each may bear — to borrow from Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler — the noble title of ‘compleat lawyer.’

This book really should be required reading for all law students, lawyers and others too.  Judge Aldisert is one of my heroes, along with others who inspire me such as Roger Ebert, Vin Scully, Tony Bennett and Keiko Fukuda (Google her)  — people who, while they may have stopped buying green bananas, they have not stopped working and never will.  These are people who make no distinction between work and play and who will be carried off the job feet-first.  They know the secret.   People who I want to be like when I grow up.

Full disclosure:  I was first charmed by Judge Aldisert when I met him during my daughter’s clerkship for him.

Legal Research Methods in a Modern World: A Coursebook

Together with my Stanford Law School colleague George D. Wilson and our friend and Danish legal scholar Henrik Spang-Hanssen, we have just published the third edition of our legal research book, a revision of Legal Research Methods in the U.S. and Europe, 2nd Edition.  But with the inclusion of short but good (in my opinion) chapters on legal research in China and Russia and some other materials, we have changed the title to Legal Research Methods in a Modern World: A Coursebook.

The book, now weighing in at 453 pages (and bargain priced at $ 55.00), is rich with illustrations and peppered with legal research tips.  My contribution is mainly Chapter 5, about legal research methods in the United States, and it is based upon and follows the advanced legal research class that I co-teach here at Stanford.  New to this edition, in addition to other updates, is the inclusion of research exercises that we have found most useful from the class.  I did not include the answers — because I hope to continue to use these exercises — but I would be very happy to share the answers and my thoughts on approaches with other instructors of legal research.

The legal world is certainly getting smaller, and it is our shared belief that this would be handy book for any attorney to have as he or she deals with lawyers from other countries and their legal cultures.

The book should be available from Amazon.com; but if not, or if you want to order copies in mass quantities, the U.S. distributor is International Specialized Book Services.  For other countries, the distributor is Marston Book Services.

We also have a corresponding website here.

A Brief History of Opinion Writing (the book)

There’s a new book that all law clerks and law clerk wannabees might want to read.  It is:  Opinion Writing, 2d edition by Judge  Ruggero J. Aldisert.

Ordering information can be found here.

West Publishing Co. commissioned Judge Aldisert (Chief Judge Emeritus, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3d Circuit) to write the book.  It was never sold but utilized by West as a public relations gesture. Despite never being made commercially available, there are 144 libraries in WorldCat that hold copies.  West sent the book to  all federal judges and to state appellate judges, and as new judges came on later each new judge received a copy.  This practice continued for over 15 years, but after West was bought by Thomson, the new owners decided a few years back to stop the practice.  Rights were transferred back to the judge and the second edition is being published by AuthorHouse.

Full disclosure:  My daughter clerked for Judge Aldisert and assisted with the production of the book.  So I know it’s really good!

From the publishers description:

This book is a guide to opinion writing. It is written for every judge at every level and for all law clerks. Every trial and appellate judge, including the author of this book, can profit by learning how to improve his or her work product. This book provides a tool to do just that. Separated into four parts – Theoretical Concepts Underlying an Opinion, The Anatomy of an Opinion, Writing Style and Opinion Writing Checklists – the second edition of Opinion Writing distills the author’s nearly 50 years of experience on the bench into a handbook on the judge’s craft.

And the price is right too:

Hard Cover: $29.95
Paperback: $19.95

Going Green with GreenSlips – how law publishers can save trees and save money

So I took this week’s Sports Illustrated to the gym this morning to read with my cardio workout, and found that I identified closely with the story about high school guard Roberto Nelson who received “more than 2,000 recruiting letters from 56 colleges.”  According to the story, “You’ve Got (Too Much) Mail,” by George Dohrmann, SI determined that Roberto only opened 18% of his letters and packages.  The SI analysis determined that “college basketball recruiting pitches eat up the equivalent of 1,526 trees a year.”

I related to this story not because I was heavily recruited for my point guard prowess, but because I, too, get a ton of mail which goes straight from my inbox to my recycling box and only a tiny percentage gets opened first.  I’m talking about publishers’ catalogs.  What a huge waste of paper and postage. 

We librarians have great tools for finding and buying new books.  My absolute favorite is William S. Hein & Co.’s Electronic GreenSlips and I would encourage all book publishers to get their new and forthcoming titles listed there.   There are many other good tools but I’m finding a new kid on the block is very helpful too:  The Law_Book twitter feed – we’ve been picking a lot from there lately.

As the SI story notes:

Noting the environmental cost compared to the number of letters Nelson opened, Gleason asked the obvious question: “If recruits don’t open the letters, why keep sending them? Why waste all that money and paper?”

Some schools might soon ask themselves the same thing. In May, Michigan and Ohio State jointly announced that they would cease printing media guides. Bygones from the pre-Internet age . . .

I ask the same thing about publishers’ catalogs, especially the thick ones listing every title in print, most of which we already own.  In my opinion these bygones should be bygone.   What with all the money they will save, I’m sure law book publishers can offer us better prices on their books — that will get more of my business.

Long titles of Chinese statutes

The International Energy Agency book “Cleaner Coal in China” has posted its annexes online. Annex III includes a list of Chinese  statutes related to renewable energy and environmental law. The Annex provides the full title of each statute in English and Chinese, in addition to information on the date of passage, entry into force, and the government organ that issued the law.  Because uniform translations of statutes are uncommon, having the dates and the decree numbers of the government bodies helps locate the full-text in English or Chinese of these laws in databases, such as LexisNexis China Law Database, IsinoLaw, LawInfoChina and Westlaw China. Let’s hope that all publications will provide such complete and useful bibliographic references to Chinese legislation.

Cleaner Coal in China http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=355

Book Annexes: http://www.iea.org/Textbase/nppdf/free/2009/Coal_china2009_annexes.pdf

The History of CALR, Part 1: More on Thomson West and FLITE Takes Flight

THE HISTORY OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LEGAL RESEARCH (CALR)

______________________________________________________

First in an occasional series

More on Thomson West Merger and FLITE Takes Flight

********************

This is the first in an occasional and somewhat random look back at the early days of computer-assisted legal research (CALR).  It stems from a post here earlier in the week about a terrific new book by noted antitrust lawyer (and Stanford Law School alumnus) Gary L. Reback, Free the Market!: Why Only Government Can Keep the Marketplace Competitive (catalog record copied below). The very readable book gives an insider look at the merger (Mr. Reback represented LexisNexis) and as Jonathan Zittrain notes on the jacket, “Gary Reback offers a powerful defense for government’s role in protecting market competition. He draws from rich historical examples and his own extraordinary personal vantage point: his victories and defeats at the front lines of the most high-profile antitrust cases of the past two decades.”

Thomson West Merger

In 1997, Mr. Reback took a vacation to Hawaii after he had “spent a year of futility . . . trying to convince the Justice Department to block an anticompetitive merger that would raise the price of hiring a lawyer for just about every consumer of legal services anywhere in America.”

Storytelling for Lawyers and Monopolizing the Law

Chapters 14 (“Storytelling for Lawyers”) and 15 (“Monopolizing the Law”) tell the story of the 1996 merger of Thomson and West, “. . . the largest publishers of court opinions, treatises, and other materials used to do legal research. No other company was even close in terms of market share or customer usage.” And, as an earlier post here suggests, the end result of this merger created a wrecking ball for academic law library budgets. In my opinion absurd and obscene annual price increases was indeed an effect of this merger.

These two chapters trace through some of the very interesting history of legal publishing, electronic and otherwise, from the 1870s to present.

At one point in chapter 15 Mr. Reback states “. . . both Thomson and LexisNexis started charging law schools for online legal research, originally provided free of charge.” I shared this information on the law library directors listserv.

A few directors contested that statement and commented that, to their knowledge, neither Lexis nor Westlaw was ever free; a couple of other directors weren’t so sure and thought that perhaps there were some free installations.  But this comment also elicited a small flood of memories and reminiscences from directors about the very early days of CALR.

Stanford Law Library’s First CALR Terminal (Lexis only)

I myself came to stanford in 1982.  At the time the library had one Lexis terminal, and no Westlaw terminal.  The terminal was the so-called “DeLuxe” terminal, which was a large sit-down consol, reminiscent of the “con” of an early Star Trek starship.  It was located in a room shared with our photocopiers and microforms, both of which were used far more than the Lexis terminal.  For one thing, there was a daily blackout period and we could not access the database between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. There was no downloading of documents, and printing was done laboriously, one screen shot at a time.  Connection was via an internal modem and a phone line paid for, I think, by Lexis.

Dick Danner, from the Duke Law Library noted on the listserv that “the early history of Lexis from an insider’s perspective, with a bit about Westlaw, can be found in: William G. Harrington, ‘A Brief History of Computer-Assisted Legal Research,’ 77 Law Library Journal 543 (1984-85).”

The Air Force Starts Digitizing the Law – FLITE (Federal Legal Information Through Electronics) Database

And then J. Denny Haythorn, Associate Dean of Library and Information Services & Professor of Law at Whittier College School of Law shared this very interesting story about FLITE (reproduced with permission):

In the Law Library Journal article the author refers to the system the Air Force had developed by the late 1960s. The Air Force system was called Federal Legal Information Through Electronics (FLITE) and was operated from the basement of the Air Force finance center in Denver at Lowery Air Force Base.  FLITE had a large staff inputting federal court reports, administrative court reports (e.g., Comp Gen, Board of Contracts Appeals, etc.), US Code sections, CFR sections, and military regulations into databases. There was a staff of research attorneys who received calls from government lawyers for research and they would help formulate searches in the database.  The Finance Center did not use their computer mainframe at night so the searcher would run overnight and be printed.  The research attorneys would call back with the results the next day and sometimes mail the printouts to the requesting attorney.

More powerful minicomputers and the internet simplified the search process to ultimately be more like the commercial services thought FLITE kept the research attorneys for assistance with searches.  The office also continues to maintain unique databases of information use by military lawyers.  FLITE purchased the first PC computers for Air Force legal offices and began a program of law office automation using shareware software (PC Write for example), commercial software, and software specifically written by the office.

FLITE also was an early adopter of CD and DVD technology.  The goal was to have Judge Advocate General attorneys in the field with legal resources for a standalone law office.

The office still exists and is now located with the Air Force Judge Advocate School at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama.  In the 1980s I was one of the research attorneys as they made the transition from batch, overnight searching to real time searches and then user searching directly on the internet.  I also worked on the manuals for some of the software.

Denny will be contibuting more about his experiences as a CALR pioneer, so please stay tuned for later installments of this series.

And here’s the catalog record for Free the Market!

Author: Reback, Gary L., Stanford Law School graduate, J.D.(1974)
Title: Free the market! : why only government can keep the marketplace competitive / Gary L. Reback.
Related e-resource: Publisher description
http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0906/200804668
Imprint: New York : Portfolio, 2009.
Physical Description: x, 416 p. ; 24 cm.
Note: Signed by the author. CSt-Law
9-d.html

Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. [397]-403) and index.

Contents: Protecting competition — Product distribution –Patent and coypright limitations on competition —
Monopolies and market exclusion — Mergers and acquisitions.Subject (LC): Trade regulation–United States.
Subject (LC): Competition–United States.
ISBN: 9781591842460
ISBN: 1591842468

CALL NUMBER
HD3616 .U47 R136 2009

New book by Harvard Law Library’s director – Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, by Harvard’s John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.  It just arrived yesterday and it is fascinating and wonderfully readable, right from page 1.  I highly, highly recommend it (even though I’m only through the second chapter!). 

The second chapter, “Dossiers,” offers much food for thought.  And here’s a little taste:

The amount of information that goes into the digital files kept about a baby born today is extraordinary.  To see just how extraordinary, let’s look at the digital dossier of a hypothetical baby:  We’ll call him Andy.

Andy’s digital life begins well before he is born — before he even has a name.  The first entry in his digital file is a sonogram that his proud parents-to-be affix to the refrigerator, anticipating the happy event of his birth.  That same image is recreated in the hospital database, the first formal record of Andy’s life.  . . . In this case, with good reason, the obstetrician’s team will copy Andy’s image into a file for the pediatrician who will care for him after he’s born.  Start counting: That’s one digital file, copied in at least four places.

. . .

Even the digital information that we perceive to be out of reach from third parties may in fact be more accessible than we realize, now or in the future.  We can only hope that the Social Security Administration’s computer system, which processes and stores the application for Andy’s new Social Security number, is a digital Fort Knox.  But the biggest search engines — like Google and Baidu, China’s largest search engine — are constantly improving the ability of their Web crawlers to unearth more and more data from the dark recesses of the Internet.  These crawlers copy information, without asking permission, and dump it into a massive, structured global index.  At the same time, social networks and other services hosting personally identifiable information are eager to get the traffic from these search engines, so they are exposing more and more about people to the likes of Google and Baidu.  This combination of factors — the incentive for search engines to index all the world’s information and the incentive of online service providers to draw people to information on their sites — means that information about Andy that was once in a silo is now in a more open, public space. . . .

. . .

The problem with the rapid growth of digital dossiers is that the decisions about what to do about personal information are made by those who hold the information.  The person who contributes the information to a digital dossier may have a modicum of control up front, but he or she rarely exercises it.  The person to whom the information relates — sometimes the person who contributed it, sometimes not — often has no control whatsoever about what happens to the data.  The existence of these dossiers may not itself be problematic.  But these many, daily, individual acts result in a rich, deep dataset associated with an individual that can be aggregated and searched.  The process, start to finish, is only lightly regulated.

 

On the book jacket our Professor Lawrence Lessig writes “Digital technologies are changing our kids in ways we don’t yet understand.  This beautifully written book will set the framework for a field that will change that.  It is required reading for parents, educators, and anyone who cares about the future.”

I agree that it is beautifully written and that it should be required reading. 

Here’s the catalog record:

Author: Palfrey, John.
Title: Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives / John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.
Imprint: New York : Basic Books, c2008.
Physical Description: vii, 375 p. ; 25 cm.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents: Identities — Dossiers — Privacy — Safety — Pirates  — Creators — Quality — Overload — Aggressors — Innovators — Learners — Activists — Synthesis.
          Subject (LC): Information society–Social aspects.
          Subject (LC): Information technology–Social aspects.
          Subject (LC): Technological innovations–Social aspects.
          Subject (LC): Internet and children.
          Subject (LC): Internet and teenagers.
          Subject (LC): Internet–Social aspects.
          Subject (LC): Technology–Social aspects.
          Subject (LC): Digital media–Social aspects.
          Added author: Gasser, Urs.
                  ISBN: 9780465005154

LAW CALL NUMBER                                              
   1)HM851 .P34 2008

“Law School 2.0”

Law School 2.0

DAVID THOMSON, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Legal education is at a crossroads. As a media saturated generation of students enters law school, they find themselves thrust into a fairly backward mode of instruction, much of which is over 100 years old. Over those years, legal education has resisted many creditable reports recommending change, most recently those from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Clinical Legal Education Association. Meanwhile, the cost of legal education continues to skyrocket, with many law students graduating with crushing debt they have difficulty paying back. All of these factors are likely to reach a crescendo in the next few years, setting the stage for a perfect storm out of which can come significant change.

But legal education has successfully resisted systemic change for many years. Given that dubious track record, the only way significant change can reasonably be predicted is if something is different this time. Fortunately, there is something different this time: the ubiquity of technology. Since the MacCrate report in 1992, the internet has achieved massive growth, and a generation of students have grown up with sophisticated and pervasive use of technology in nearly every facet of their lives.

This book describes how the perfect storm of generational change and the rising cost and criticisms of legal education, combined with extraordinary technological developments, will change the face of legal education as we know it today. Its scope extends from generational changes in our students, to pedagogical shifts inside and outside of the classroom, to hybrid textbooks, all the way to methods of active, interactive, and hypertextual learning. And it describes how this shift can – and will – better prepare law students for the law practice of tomorrow.

Source:  LSN Cyberspace Law Vol. 13 No. 50,  08/11/2008

See also this fothcoming book’s corresponding blog.

Aspatore Books

I was introduced to Aspatore Books at the meeting of the West Academic Advisory Board (Thomson recently acquired Aspatore).  Aspatore provides questionnaires to experts it has identified and helps to then craft short chapters for these experts to revise and approve.  I think the concept is an intriguing one and I see two additional uses for the books in the series.  For one thing, the books can help librarians identify individual names to use for more precise searching (e.g., searching author fields of business and trade journals).  And beyond that, being a reference librarian is often a case of putting a patron in touch with someone who might be able to help them with specialized needs, and these books can help identify who some of these contacts might be.

Aspatore has recently published two books about law librarianship.  The books are:

The Changing Role of Academic Law Librarianship: Leading Librarians on Teaching Legal Research Skills, Responding to Emerging Technologies, and Adapting to Changing Trends (Inside the Minds series).   Contributors include Paul D. Callister, Michelle M. Wu, Philip C. Berwick,  Nancy L. Strohmeyer, Roy M. Mersky, Joan Shear, Christopher L. Steadham, Carol A. Parker, and Olivia Leigh Weeks

and

How to Manage a Law School Library: Leading Librarians on Updating Resources, Managing Budgets, and Meeting Expectations (Inside the Minds)

Full disclosure:  I have a chapter in this book.  (A number of the authors of chapters in these two books are or were members of the West Academic Advisory Board). Other authors are: Dan Martin, Michael Whiteman, Scott B. Pagel, William Blake Wilson, Christopher A. Knott, Kris Gilliland, Marian F. Parker, Penny A. Hazelton, and Sherri Nicole Thomas

I imagine that copies of both titles, in addition to others from this publisher, will be available in Portland and I encourage you to take a look.