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.

“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.

Ineffective Assistance of Library: The Failings and the Future of Prison Law Libraries

By Jonathan Abel, in Volume 101, Issue #5 of The Georgetown Law Journal (June 2013).  Here’s the abstract:

The prison law library has long been a potent symbol of the inmate’s right to access the courts. But it has never been a practical tool for providing that access. This contradiction lies at the core of the law library doctrine. It takes little imagination to see the problem with requiring untrained inmates, many of them illiterate or non-English speakers, to navigate the world of postconviction relief and civil rights litigation with nothing more than the help of a few library books. Yet law libraries are ubiquitous in American prisons. Now, in light of a technological revolution in legal research methods, prison libraries face an existential crisis that requires prison officials, courts, scholars, and inmates to reconsider the very purpose of the prison law library. This Article takes up that challenge by providing a novel historical account of the prison law library’s development.

This Article uses original historical research to show how prison law libraries arose, not as a means of accessing the courts, but rather as a means of controlling inmates’ behavior. By placing the origin of the prison law library in the first decades of the twentieth century–half a century earlier than typical accounts–this Article shows how the law library evolved to take on a new purpose in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Supreme Court and other courts first began to fashion a law library doctrine. The central argument of this Article is simple: The courts’ attempts to graft an access-to-courts rationale onto a law library system that had developed for other purposes led to a law library doctrine riddled with contradictions and doomed to failure. This historical account helps explain a prison law library system that never really made sense in terms of providing access to the courts. As prisons look to update their law libraries in light of sweeping technological changes, it is all the more important to understand the history of the law library system so that authorities can plan for its future.



United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

United Nations Databases and Web Sites for Legal Research and Education

Steven Robert Miller   (Indian Univ. Law Library)

Res Gestae, The Journal of the Indiana State Bar Association

Vol.54 # 3 , pp.12-20 (October 2010)

Nice article providing an introduction to major UN databases, such as UNTS, UN-I-QUE, and the UN AudioVisual Library of International Law,  ASIL’s ILEX database of U.S. cases, and IALS’s FLARE index of Treaties.  All web sites are free.

Hat tip to Paul


UN Pulse reports that the World Intellectual Property Organization has formally released WIPO  Lex, a portal of IP legislation and treaties searchable by country and subject.

From the WIPO description:

“WIPO Lex is a one-stop search facility for national laws and treaties on intellectual property (IP) of WIPO, WTO and UN Members. It also features related information which elaborates, analyzes and interprets these laws and treaties. It provides streamlined access to reference material of key importance for optimal information on the global IP System.”

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties

Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has produced a Digital Library of Argentina Treaties from 1811. The treaties are available in PDF format. The database includes historical documents, bilateral and multilateral treaties, and inter-institutional agreements.  They can be searched by title, citation, date, subject, country, and signatory. Currently, it is not possible to search by keyword across all agreements.  This treaty database will be useful to historians and legal researchers. The search interface is exclusively in Spanish.

Argentine Digital Library of Treaties (Biblioteca Digital de Tratados)

From the press release:

In honor of the bicentenary of Argentina’s independence, the Foreign Ministry has created a website with some 10,000 historical documents that can be copied, downloaded, printed or sent via e-mail.
Cabinet Chief of the Chancellery of Argentina, Alberto D’Alotto, officially launched the new portal that provides copies of international treaties and national historical documents that can be downloaded by citizens who require it.

The Digital Library of Treaties took about five years of work. It includes a total of 10,000 documents, including bilateral, multilateral, and historical documents (international and national). 

Many of the documents are scanned and can be viewed in their original form with signatures, for example, by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Juan Bautista Alberdi, Tomás Guido, Rufino de Elizalde, Carlos Tejedor, Bernardo de Irigoyen and Roque Saenz Peña.

International Fisheries Sites from Ocean Law Publishing

Ocean Law Publishing maintains online research resources for international fisheries law. Of particular interest is “Fisheries Treaty Database” available at the  Internet Guide to to International Fisheries Law.

Free Online Resources from Ocean Law Publishing

International Fisheries Law and Policy Portal www.intfish.netInternet Guide to International Fisheries Law

IFLPP Research Centre

International Fisheries Law and Policy Updater



Law Books on Kindle

“Amazon will sell continuing education legal books from the Practising Law Institute on Kindle . . . ”

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, July 10, 2009, p. B6

Amazon’s Kindle to Sell Law Books

By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

 . . . the three-volume “Art Law,” by Ralph E. Lerner and Judith Bresler, carries a Kindle price of $220 instead of the $275 print list price, while the Kindle edition of “Copyright Law: A Practitioner’s Guide,” by Bruce P. Keller and Jeffrey P. Cunard, is priced at $236, a 20% discount from the $295 print price.

. . .

The PLI said 67 of its 90 titles are now available in the Kindle format. “Our average book is easily over 1,000 pages, and a number are multivolume sets, . . .

. . .

Traditionally, lawyers buy PLI books whose binders allow them to insert new material and discard the old. PLI customers typically receive annual supplements priced at $125. With the Kindle, users will be able to delete old versions of their texts and substitute new books. The digital editions are also searchable.

. . .

Rudovsky v. West Publishing Corp. – Judge writes readers were “not informed that some cases cited in earlier volumes had since been reversed or modified.”

An earlier post here, “So Who Does Write Those Expensive Supplements and Updates to Big Name Treatises?, commented upon a lawsuit brought against Thomson West by the authors of one of their treatises.   Yesterday Judge Fullam (United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania) issued an opinion in the case that is the subject of a story in The Legal Intelligencer, “Judge denies injunction to law professors but seems to back some claims in defamation suit,” by Shannon P. Duffy.”  The story quotes from the judge’s opinion, Rudovsky v. West Publishing Corp.:

“Although plaintiffs had no role in authoring the pocket part, defendant West made it appear that they had indeed authored the pocket part, with aid from members of the publisher’s staff,” Fullam wrote.

“To make matters worse,” Fullam wrote, “the quality of that particular pocket part was not up to standard.”

Fullam found that “few if any relevant court decisions were included in the publication,” and that readers were “not informed that some cases cited in earlier volumes had since been reversed or modified.” ‘

Here’s the full opinion:



INC. t/a THOMSON WEST : NO. 09-cv-00727-JF
Fullam, Sr. J. April 23, 2009

Plaintiffs are well-known law professors who, in 1987, contracted with the defendant West Publishing Corporation to publish a book on Pennsylvania criminal procedure, entitled “Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: Law, Commentary and Forms.”  They also undertook to provide annual updates (“pocket parts”), and such updates were in fact provided each year until 2007, with the exception of the year 2000, when a second edition of the entire publication was issued.

When the time came for a 2008 update, the parties were unable to agree upon the financial terms pursuant to which plaintiffs would provide the pocket part, and the contractual arrangement between them was terminated.

Defendant nevertheless issued a 2008-2009 pocket part, in December 2008, but that publication was entitled “By David Rudovsky … and … Leonard Sosnov.” Below their names, in smaller print, were added the words “and the publisher’s staff.”

Thus, although plaintiffs had no role in authoring the pocket part, defendant West made it appear that they had indeed authored the pocket part, with aid from members of the publisher’s staff. To make matters worse, the quality of that particular pocket part was not up to standard. Few, if any, relevant court decisions were included in the publication; and the reader was not informed that some cases cited in earlier volumes had since been reversed or modified.’

Plaintiffs thereupon filed this lawsuit, seeking equitable relief as well as damages. By the time of the preliminary injunction hearing, the defendants had taken some further steps to remedy the situation. Eventually, defendants informed their subscribers that the plaintiffs had not had any part in the preparation of the 2008-2009 pocket part, and that the pocket part contained errors and omissions which would be remedied in the subsequent pocket part. Subscribers were also advised, in rather small print, that upon request, they would be given a financial credit against subsequent pocket parts.

The issue now before this Court is whether further interim relief should be ordered.

On the basis of the evidence thus far available, it seems clear that plaintiffs have established a right to some form of remedy — damages to reputation come to mind — but it would seem that the harm has already been done, and that, if plaintiffs do require further injunctive relief in order to complete their remedy, such relief would be just as effective after final hearing.

Plaintiffs argue, for example, that the defendant should be required to disclose more prominently and with greater clarity and emphasis that plaintiffs were not involved in the preparation of the offending pocket part. Plaintiffs also argue that the defendants should be required to extend to all subscribers an offer to refund the cost of the offending pocket part. But I am not persuaded that plaintiffs’ entitlement to this kind of relief is so clear that it would be appropriate to order it preliminarily.

In short, I am inclined to believe that the likelihood of further irreparable harm pending final outcome of this litigation has not been established with sufficient clarity.

I recognize that reasonable minds might well differ as to whether the corrective measures taken by the defendants were adequate. And it may well be that the defendants may, in their own self-interest, decide that further interim corrective measures should be taken, in order to minimize plaintiffs’ claims for damages. But I am not persuaded that the situation is sufficiently clear as to warrant further preliminary injunctive relief. An Order will be entered.

/s/ John P. Fullam
John P. Fullam, Sr. J.

INC. t/a THOMSON WEST : NO. 09-cv-00727-JF
AND NOW, this 23rd day of April 2009,upon consideration
of plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, and defendants’
responses, IT IS ORDERED:
That the motion for preliminary injunctive relief is
/s/ John P. Fullam
John P. Fullam, Sr. J.

So Who Does Write Those Expensive Supplements and Updates to Big Name Treatises?

Here’s a story from The Legal Intelligencer, “Law professors seek injunction over ‘sham’ treatise supplement that raises the question:

Law professors seek injunction over ‘sham’ treatise supplement
The Legal Intelligencer

Shannon P. Duffy

April 16, 2009

An ugly dispute has erupted between West Publishing and two law professors who claim they were falsely identified as the authors of an annual supplement to a treatise on Pennsylvania criminal law even though they had nothing to do with writing it.

In a federal lawsuit, professors David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania and Leonard Sosnov of Widener Law School claim that the December 2008 supplement, or “pocket part,” to their book, “Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure — Law, Commentary and Forms,” was so poorly researched that it will harm their reputations if allowed to remain on library shelves.

. . .