Rex Lee and Oyez

Attendees of the Rex E. Lee Moot Court Competition Finals were encouraged  to listen to the Supreme Court oral arguments of great Supreme Court advocates like Rex Lee, Paul Clement, and Seth Waxman to help develop their advocacy skills.  Supreme Court oral argument audio can be found on the Supreme Court’s website back to 2010, but to find anything older than that you’ll need to check the Oyez website .  With Oyez you can find 7,000 hours of oral arguments all the way back to 1955.  Oyez also arranges oral arguments by case, justices, and by attorney.

The arrangement by attorney is not the easiest to navigate, but I’ve found that if you start typing in the last name, first name of an attorney in the search box you will get a drop down that shows the advocates name.  Clicking on that and scrolling down you will see cases the attorney argued as well as a link to an advocate profile page.  Here are the profile pages for Rex Lee, Paul Clement, and Seth Waxman. (The formatting of these pages isn’t great, but you’ll find the links below pictures.)  Warning – it’s easy to get sucked into these oral arguments and spend a lot of time here.  More about the Oyez project and its history can be found here.



The Law School is lucky to have had the Utah Supreme Court with us this morning to hear arguments in two cases.  In the first case one of the attorneys referenced XChange and I wanted to make sure our students were familiar with this resource.  XChange is a repository of district court and justice court case information that is run by the Utah Courts.  XChange primarily provides summary information about the cases in these courts, but the full-text of district court public documents has become more available in recent years as e-filing has become required.

Many of our students should be familiar with PACER, the federal governments repository for federal court documents and information.  (And if you’re not, that’s something to look into.)  XChange is somewhat comparable to PACER for Utah, although the number of full-text documents is significantly less.

The Law Library has a subscription to XChange that can be used by BYU Law students and faculty for academic purposes.  Those that need access can contact the Reference Desk.  BYU Law studetns and faculty who need XChange for non-academic purposes or members of the public who need access to XChange should contact their local district court to find out if they have a public XChange terminal available.


World Treaty Library

The Law Library is pleased to announce the latest addition to our electronic collection, HeinOnline’s World Treaty Library.  This new library allows users to search across all the major treaties in the world in one place.  Treaties in this library cover from 1648 to the present and can be searched by keyword, title, countries, full text, treaty number, and more. Works included in this collection include Hein’s U.S. Treaty Index, United Nations Treaty Series, Rohn’s World Treaty Index, and Martens’ Treaties.  If you’re looking for treaties, this is the place to start.


New York Times Access

Earlier this year the Law Library entered into an agreement with the New York Times to provide its faculty, staff, and students with access to the New York Times website and smartphone app.  That means the BYU Law community can avoid the 10 article monthly limit that applies to most users and get access to all the articles it wants.  If you haven’t signed up for this NY Times access, please email me at and I can help get you set up.


Introducing “Binding the Law”

We are happy to announce a new Law Library blog named “Binding the Law”. New Faculty Services Librarian William Gaskill will be reading and posting summaries of the published opinions issued by the United States Supreme Court, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Court of Appeals. Look for the first set of summaries on Monday, October 6, 2014.


Key Numbers in WestlawNext

When WestlawNext originally launched a number of years ago, I found it interesting that Topics and Key Numbers were less visible than they had been in Westlaw Classic.  It’s not that Topics and Key Numbers were gone–in fact, I would say they play an even greater role in WestlawNext because of their incorporation into the WestSearch search algorithm–but they were hidden.  To find the Key Number outline, users had to know (and many didn’t) to click on WestlawNext’s “Tools” tab.  Even within a case, users could zip up the Key Numbers as if they weren’t there.  I imagine this led many users to discount what an important tool Topics and Key Numbers can be.

That’s why a search I ran a few weeks back caught my eye.  The overview of results on the left now had a result for “Key Numbers,” with West’s famous key icon.

Clicking on those results I was given 10 key numbers that might be useful to me in my search.  I could click on one of these results and be taken into a custom digest.

(I found it telling of where we’re at in legal research these days that the heading for my key number results said – “Key Numbers – Points of Law Found in Cases.”  I guess it needs an explanation these days.)

Today I noticed that the Key Number name and icon have been added to the front page of WestlawNext, allowing users to easily get to the Key Number outline.

While using Key Numbers in WestlawNext is not new, their new prominence should remind researchers that Key Numbers are still a useful tool and one of the advantages of using WestlawNext.


Happy Constitution Day!

September 17 is Constitution Day, a day we celebrate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787 in Philadelphia.  As a researcher, I’m drawn to thinking about the history and the sources surrounding important documents like the Constitution.  If you’re ever interested in examining these sources, you’re in luck.  The Law Library houses a number of these early sources, like Max Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, in its Benson Collection in the Reserve Library.  Many great constitutional history sources are also available online from ConSource.

One of my favorite historical sources surrounding the Constitution deals with its ratification.  As you’ll remember, the signing of the Constitution on September 17 did not yet mean we had a constitution.  The Constitution had to go through a ratification process that ultimately ended in Ratification and, later, to the addition of the Bill of Rights.  The debates from these state ratifying conventions are a great source of history and can be found in a wonderful source called the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution.  The Library has both print and electronic copies of this great source.


Legal Info. Overload

Researchers deal with a consistent problem these days – legal information overload.  The sheer amount of legal information can be overwhelming, especially for new researchers.  While the abundance of legal information isn’t going away, researchers can develop skills and techniques to effectively deal with this problem.  To assist, I recently wrote a legal research column in the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine called Taming Legal Information Overload.  I hope it gives you a few ideas that can help.


New Classrooms

As many of you know, the library’s room 275/76 was one of several areas under construction this summer.  Room 275/76 was originally the library’s computer lab, but as laptops become common the space was better used as a classroom.  Over the last several years, 275/76 has functioned as a classroom despite still being set up as the old computer lab was (although without the computers).  This summer, the law school decided to create 275/76 into two true classrooms.  One is a seminar room and one is a medium-sized classrooms.  The rooms have already been getting a lot of use in the first week of class.  Here are some pictures if you haven’t seen the area already.

This is the new hallway into the two rooms near the reference desk.

Here’s a look into 276.


275 again.


Welcome, Class of 2017!

The Law Library is happy to welcome the class of 2017 to the law school!  We’re excited that you’re here with us and want you to know that we’re here to help you throughout your legal education.  In addition to the study carrels and the books you see around you, the law library has many electronic databases available to help you in your studies and research.  Check out our website to find many of the great resources available to you. We do our best to keep you up to date on new databases, research tips, and more through our law library blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.  Here’s a little information for you to get to know us.  We look forward to getting to know you.  Please stop by and say “hello!”

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