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.

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.

Administrative Procedures and Bureaucratic Performance: Is Federal Rulemaking ‘Ossified’?

“Administrative Procedures and Bureaucratic Performance: Is Federal Rulemaking ‘Ossified’?”

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1079

JASON W. YACKEE, University of Wisconsin Law School
SUSAN WEBB YACKEE, affiliation not provided to SSRN

We provide the first empirical assessment of the ossification thesis, the widely accepted notion that procedural constraints on federal agencies have greatly hindered the ability of those agencies to formulate policy through notice and comment rulemaking. Using data that covers all active federal rule-writing agencies from 1983 to 2006, our results largely disconfirm the ossification thesis. Agencies appear readily able to issue a sizeable number of rules, and to do so relatively quickly. Indeed, our empirical results suggest that procedural constraints may actually speed up the promulgation of rules, though our model suggests that this positive effect may decline, or even reverse, as proposed rules age. We conclude that procedural constraints do not appear to unduly interfere with the ability of federal agencies to act, or in most cases, to act in a timely manner.

 

Source: LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 28,  04/24/2009

Empirical Tests for Midnight Regulations and Their Effect on OIRA Review Time

 

“Empirical Tests for Midnight Regulations and Their Effect on OIRA Review Time”

PATRICK A. MCLAUGHLIN, Mercatus Center at George Mason University

The midnight regulations phenomenon – an increase in the rate of regulation promulgation during the final months of an outgoing president’s term – is empirically tested using data on the number of economically significant regulations reviewed each month. Submissions of economically significant regulations to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) are found to increase by seven percent during midnight periods. Spikes in regulatory activity, such as those of midnight periods, are shown to decrease the amount of time regulations are reviewed at OIRA, perhaps because of budget and staff limitations. Evaluated at the mean, one additional economically significant regulation submitted to OIRA decreases the mean review time for all regulations by about half a day. If OIRA review improves the quality of regulations, then any phenomenon such as midnight regulations that leads to spikes in regulatory activity and decreases review time could result in the proliferation of low quality regulations.

Source: LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 19,  03/26/2009

Including ‘Political’ Reasons in Agency Decision Making

“Including ‘Political’ Reasons in Agency Decision Making”

Michigan State University Law Review, Forthcoming
U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 145

NINA A. MENDELSON, University of Michigan Law School

Presidential supervision has been central to arguments for the legitimacy of executive branch agency action, including on difficult questions of value. Yet very little about that supervision is transparent. Meanwhile, some scholars have argued that political reasons may serve to taint, rather than to legitimize, an agency decision. Agencies generally report neither whether their significant decisions are consistent with presidential preferences nor the content of supervision by presidential offices such as the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This paper presents some current evidence on silence regarding White House influence on agency rulemaking. It then recommends greater transparency through requiring agencies to summarize presidential office influence on significant rulemaking decisions. Finally, it suggests that some, but not all, political reasons for agency action are legitimate, but that only a more transparent system can fully resolve the question of which reasons are legitimate and which are not.

Source: LSN: University of Michigan Law School, Public Law & Legal Theory
 Vol. 9 No. 2,  03/24/2009

Carl Malamud – Liberating Law

Earlier Erika wrote about Carl Malamud and his public.resource.org codes.gov site.  Today our friend and hero Carl is the subject of a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Man provides code manuals free online
Matthew B. Stannard, Chronicle Staff Writer

The San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, September 27, 2008, p. B1

. . .

“Not everybody is going to read the building code, but everybody who wants to should be able to without putting 100 bucks in the slot,” Malamud said. “Primary legal materials are America’s operating system.”

. . .

“It’s very clear in American law that you can’t get intellectual property protection for law,” said Pamela Samuelson, co-director of the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. “Law belongs to everybody.”

. . .

“This stuff has been locked up behind a cash register,” Malamud said. “(It’s) way too important to just leave it there.”

 

I especially enjoyed reading the comments — all favorable — and note that Carl is not just our hero:

Yep! This guy is my hero. When I had to repair parts of my house up “to code” I was like, “Okay, where’s the code book? Let me read up on it…” When I found out it wasn’t available for free from a government website (the most obvious place for it!) I was shocked. It just made NO sense…

. . .

Its about time!! I am a retired building contractor and I say its about time the public had ready access to laws like this that they are controlled by. if youre controlled by a law or regulation, you should have free and ready access to it Thanks, Mr Malamud

 

There are many more posted at SFGate.com.

 

Story update:

Carl is also the subject of a story in the September 29, 2008 New York Times:

“So many people have been moving into the public domain and putting up fences,” he said in an interview from his office in Sebastopol, Calif., where he runs a one-man operation, public.resource.org, on a budget of about $1 million a year. Much of that money goes to buy material, usually in print form, that he then scans into his computer and makes available on the Internet without restriction.

. . .

As of Labor Day, he had put, he estimates, more than 50 percent of the nation’s 11 public safety codes online, including rules for fire prevention. “We have material from all 50 states, but we don’t have all 11 codes for all 50 states,” he said.

New rules rule

We’re making room on the shelf here for an extra fat issue of the June 1, 2008 Federal Register.

The lead story in today’s New York Times reports on a memorandum sent to executive agencies by White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten on May 9th telling the agencies that “they have until June 1 to propose any new regulations. . . .”

Administration Moves to Avert Late Rules Rush
By CHARLIE SAVAGE and ROBERT PEAR
Some legal specialists said the White House’s deadlines for
proposing and issuing regulations would make it harder for
President Bush’s successor to overturn them.

The Times story notes that the order

. . . will affect only potential rules controlled by the Bush administration.  It does not apply to independent agencies or to pending regulations with deadlines imposed by federal statutes or court orders.  The memorandum also does not prevent agencies from continuing work on potential rules that are not intended to be made final until after the next president takes office.

An interesting and related article is John M. Broder, A Legacy Bush Can Control, The New York Times, Week in Review, Sunday, September 9, 2007, p. 1.

May 2008 Unified Agenda

The Unified Agenda: May 2008 – Now available….

The Unified Agenda (also known as the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda), published twice a year (usually in April and October) in the Federal Register (FR), summarizes the rules and proposed rules that each Federal agency expects to issue during the next six months. It is published by the Office of the Federal Register National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

From GPO Access Unified Agenda