CALI (“The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction”) has recently released a revamped version of its website (along with a whole new color scheme). CALI still offers its great interactive tutorials that are excellent for students trying to master their classes. They are now up to 950 different lessons in 35 legal subject areas. (I don’t feel like it was that long ago that the number was 600.) These lessons are created by law school faculty members and can be a great help during law school. The new website also prominently features CALI’s eBooks where users can download free versions of different compilations of Rules and open-access versions of certain casebooks. BYU Law is a member of CALI and law students (even incoming students) and faculty can get access to CALI by emailing Shawn Nevers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While most legal research classes naturally focus on researching the law of the United States, there is a large body of foreign and international law research that most students aren’t exposed to. Foreign and international law research can be quite challenging and often frustrating if you don’t know where to go. Luckily for us, one of our law librarians, Dennis Sears, is an expert in foreign and international law research and is a great resource for our students and faculty. As he’s done with tax, Prof. Sears has created a research guide helping students with their Foreign and International Law Research. This guide has been very popular, being viewed over 4,600 times in the past year. This guide is a great place to start if you find yourself needing to research foreign or international law.
When customers speak, Hein listens and acts–quickly. I recently received an email from HeinOnline’s Vice President of Production Development, Shane Marmion, addressing some of the concerns I raised in a recent blog post regarding searching in HeinOnline. He said that Hein had tweaked their code so that the “Turn to Page #” links within “View Matching Text Pages” will now open in a new tab. No more right clicking to open in a new tab, which I’m grateful for.
Shane also mentioned that Hein is exploring ways for a user to default the “View Matching Text Pages” option to open while a search is running. That would make my Hein search experience much better.
Thanks to HeinOnline for being so responsive!
While much of the research lawyers do revolves around state and federal law, local governments also have laws that lawyers should be familiar with and know how to research. I recently wrote a short piece for Student Lawyer magazine that attempts to introduce students to local government law and provides some tips on researching these laws. I hope you find it useful.
I love HeinOnline. It’s a must-have for all academic legal research. With that said, there are still a few minor things I’ve learned to work around to make my research experience better. One of these is the functionality of “view all matching text pages.” Let me explain.
When researchers run a search in HeinOnline’s law journal database (or any other database), the search results show the title and citation information of the articles, but not the excerpts from the articles that have your terms. These can be displayed by clicking “view all matching text pages,” like I’ve done here.
I can think of very few times when I have not viewed all matching text pages, so I’d prefer to have this display be the default like it is in Westlaw/Lexis. Once “view all matching text pages” is clicked, however, Hein’s display is superior to Westlaw/Lexis because it shows hits on all pages where your term is found. Westlaw/Lexis only show a few examples of where your terms are found.
Once you have your search results, the next step is to look more closely at a specific article that looks relevant. When I began using Hein I would click on the article, review it and then go back to my search results. One of my pet peeves was that when I went back to my search results, “view all matching text pages” was no longer active and I had to “view all matching text pages” again. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it would get me out of my research rhythm, especially since the matching text pages take a little while to load.
Eventually I figured out a way around this problem and many of you have probably discovered it too. Now if I want to open an article and look at it, I right click on it and open it in a new tab. Then when I’m done with it I can close it out and still have “view all matching text pages” working for me in my original tab. It’s a small workaround, but has sped up my research with Hein. Hopefully it will help you too.
Researching tax law can be tough. We’re lucky enough here to have a law librarian, Dennis Sears, who is a tax research expert. To help tax law researchers, Prof. Sears has created and maintains a Taxation Law Subject Guide that is extremely helpful. It points researchers to a variety of print and electronic sources in the different areas of tax law. This subject guide has been so helpful to BYU Law students and others that it has been viewed over 5,000 times in the past year. If you need to research tax law, this is a great place to start.
This and other subject guides created by our law librarians are available here.
As school was coming to an end I blogged about student access to Westlaw/Lexis/Bloomberg for the summer. While the access to Lexis and Bloomberg is wide open, some of you may not have access to Westlaw this summer. Some of you may also be in firms that don’t use any of the more expensive legal research systems. If you’re looking to go back to those firms, it would be a good idea to get familiar with the types of legal research systems that they’re using.
Free and low-cost legal research systems have been around for a while, but there seems to have been an uptick in their use over the past few years. I think there are two main reasons for that. First, the recession caused law firms to look for ways to cut costs and many firms were forced to look at alternatives to Westlaw/Lexis. From that time until now, many of the free/low-cost alternatives have improved and some, like Google Scholar, were created. All of this has led to more firms using these sources more often. I know of one firm, for example, that has cut their Westlaw contract and uses Google Scholar for its case law research. Many others use the resources, like Casemaker or Fastcase, that are offered by their Bar Association.
With all that said, it’s important to be familiar with free and low-cost resources and what they can offer (as well as what they lack). Here’s a guide we’ve created that has links to a number of free and low-cost sources, as well as some additional information on using these sources. We hope it will help you get familiar with some of these sources this summer.
The Law Library has recently subscribed to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Armed Conflicts Database. This database monitors current conflicts worldwide, “focusing on political, military and humanitarian trends in current conflicts, whether they are local rebellions, long-term insurgencies, civil wars or inter-state conflicts.” Currently there are 41 armed conflicts occurring across the world. This database provides news, information, and statistics on each. For example, researchers can get a brief summary of the conflict in Libya and see a number of news events surrounding the conflict that occurred last month. Researchers can also see that there have been 31,078 fatalities in this conflict since 2011. This database will be especially useful for students who take Prof. Jensen’s Law of Armed Conflicts class.
100,000 downloads. That was the milestone our digital repository hit last week. Pretty impressive if you ask us. The Howard W. Hunter Law Library Digital Collections, which debuted at the end of last summer, provides free access to a number of documents, including the complete archive of the Brigham Young University Law Review, the Journal of Public Law, the Education Law Journal and the Int’l Law and Management Review. Digital Collections also has a large collection of Utah State Briefs that are added to daily, as well as other law school publications like the Clark Memorandum and the 3 volumes of the Life in the Law series.
Recently we’ve added a wonderful download map that shows what documents are being downloaded and from where. Watching the balls drop can be addicting. In the last few minutes we’ve had downloads of a BYU Law Review article from Shijazhuang, China, a UT Court of Appeals brief from Portland, Oregon, an Education and Law Journal article from Montreal, Canada, and a BYU Law Review article from Syracuse, New York. The page resets when it’s opened, but leave it there for a few minutes and you’ll start to see the downloads.