Are we teaching what they will use?

Here at Stanford we haven’t shown our students Shepard’s in print in at least a decade.  And we have long since stopped using the digests in print as well.  So it was good to see these decisions validated in an article from the latest issue of Mississippi College Law Review, “Are We Teaching What They Will Use? Surveying Alumni to Assess Whether Skills Teaching Aligns with Alumni Practice,” by Sheila F. Miller.

The article wasn’t surprising to me, except the evident reluctance by law school alumni to use low-cost tools made available to them, namely Casemaker and Fastcase.

As can be seen from the frequency of usage chart, Lexis and Westlaw continue to be the most popular choices for online research. This finding is not significantly different depending on the size of firm, or year of graduation. This data is similar to a 2007 survey of Chicago lawyers in which 87% of attorneys surveyed who had practiced for zero to five years did “most” of their research in Lexis or Westlaw.   Casemaker provides free research for members of both the Ohio and Indiana Bar Associations. 43 Yet, only 16.9% of respondents used Casemaker often, very often, or always, and only 13.5% used it at least sometimes. This was a surprising number given the number of the respondents in small offices. In the follow-up interviews there was some criticism of Casemaker. For example, attorneys stated Casemaker is “too slow” and Casemaker is “not as easy as Westlaw, and I have an unlimited subscription for Ohio law.”

From Footnote #43:

Fastcase provides basically the same service for some other states, and we asked in the survey about Fastcase as well. The numbers were so low on Fastcase use that I did not include them in the tables of results.

Free Law Project Improves with API

Our good friend Pablo Arredondo shares this great free law development:

Those pursuing better legal technology will find new wind in their sails with the release of the first-ever application programming interface (“API”) for U.S. judicial opinions. The API is the latest in a string of great contributions from the Berkeley-centered Free Law Project (FLP), and will give developers and researchers unprecedented dexterity in accessing and analyzing FLP’s substantial (and growing) collection of judicial opinions.
Mike Lissner, co-founder of FLP and the driving force behind the new API, describes some potential uses for the API here: http://freelawproject.org/?p=342

The actual API can be accessed here: https://www.courtlistener.com/api/rest-info/
As with everything FLP does, this project is open-source and feedback from the community of users is encouraged and greatly appreciated.

“Weighing Paper against Pixel”

From the November issue of Scientific AmericanWhy the brain prefers paper, by Ferris Jabr

In many studies people understand and remember what they read on paper better than what they read on screens.  Researchers think the physicality of paper explains this discrepancy.

UNRIC Backgrounders

The United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe Backgrounders are a great resource for locating UN documents and sites covering international law topics and selected countries
These guides provide links to treaties, UN resolutions, UN press releases, UN reports and UN Web sites. Many thanks to the UNRIC Library staff for posting these useful guides online.

UNRIC Library Backgrounders
http://www.unric.org/en/unric-library-backgrounders

Backgrounders are available for the following countries:
Afghanistan
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Gaza
Iraq
Kosovo
Libya
Mali
Myanmar
Somalia
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Sri Lanka
Syria
Yemen

Backgrounders are available for the following topics:
Biodiversity
Climate Change
Desertification
Disability
Disarmament
Educational Resources
Food Waste
Forests
Genocide
Global Food Crisis
Human Rights
Human Rights Council
Middle East
Migration
Millennium Development Goals
Nuclear Disarmament
Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations
Peacebuilding Commission
Peacekeeping
Poverty
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Racism
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
Sustainable Development
Terrorism
Youth

The goodness of porn

 

The staff of the Stanford Law Library must abide by two simple rules:  1. Be nice; 2. no porn.

I start my day in the office by reading four newspapers:  The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Financial Times (have I got a great job or what?! – I get paid to read the newspaper).

So imagine my surprise when I turned to page 5 of yesterday’s Financial Times and found a full-page ad placed by the adult entertainment industry in support of the new .xxx internet extension, “WHY THE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS ADOPTING A NEW POSITION.”

According to the ad (and, rhetorical question here:  what will replace the impact of a “full-page ad” when newspapers give up their print editions?), there are many benefits of the .xxx address.

For one thing, all sites ending in .xxx with be scanned daily for malware and spyware.

And $10 for every .xxx domain will go to the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, which develops tools to protect children online.

“.XXX is the most desirable thing to happen to online adult entertainment in a long time,” the ad concludes.

And this ad comes about a week after a news story suggesting that colleges might want to “snatch up .xxx domains.”

But you won’t be seeing LegalResearchPlus.xxx, and my two rules still apply at the library:

1. Be nice.  2. No porn.

If anyone wants more information, the ad points to www.about.xxx and I’d be happy to send along a copy of the full-page ad upon request.

Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Document Library

The Governance and Social Development Resource Centre has put together a nice document library of citations and summaries of book chapters, reports, and journal articles arranged by keyword and by country. Links are provided to documents that are freely available on the Web. This site will help make up for the recent demise of the Intute portal.

From the Web site’s description:

“The document library is an up to date collection of the most credible publications available on governance, conflict and social development issues. It includes brief, policy-oriented summaries of each document highlighting the major findings and implications in an easy to read format, plus links to the full text online or by document delivery.

We monitor a wide range of publication sources weekly, including donors, NGOs and research institutes. Materials are carefully selected by our researchers to ensure that they are relevant to our topic area, demonstrate good practice or significant insight and represent a range of perspectives. Only the most credible and policy-relevant research, toolkits, analyses and case studies are included.”

Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Document Library
http://www.gsdrc.org/go/document-library

Legal Issues in the Republic of South Africa

“Legal Issues in the Republic of South Africa” is a Web site of 59 short articles written by H.C.J. van Rensburg on various aspects of South African law. Topics include criminal law, evidence, animal law, business organizations, labor law, and consumer law. Free registration is required.

http://legalissues.co.za/

 

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials

The latest issue of AIPLA Quarterly Journal (Volume 39, Issue Number 2, Spring 2011) just landed upon my desk, and at page 269 I found this article calling for “digital acquisition rights”:

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials, by Jodie C. Graham

Its abstract from the AIPLA webpage:

As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive communications technology in society, public discussions and other born-digital documents of social and political importance frequently exist solely on various websites.  To fulfill their missions of preserving public knowledge, libraries seek to acquire and make accessible web documents to scholars, students, and other library patrons.  However, section 108 of the Copyright Act, which previously provided sufficient protection from liability for libraries’ acquisition and reproduction activities, does not adequately map onto the technological realities of acquiring digital documents over the Internet.  As a result, libraries must accept the risk of copyright infringement liability or forgo preserving historically important online documents.  This Note proposes a set of amendments that would update section 108 to extend libraries’ current limited protections from copyright liability to the acquisition, preservation, and making available of online documents.​