Category: Research Tips

Crossing Borders

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By , November 1, 2012 10:44 am

by Emily Smith

Full disclosure at the outset: this is less of a useful, informative post than it is an attempt to get information and input from you, dear readers. Here’s the situation: next quarter I’ll be teaching the foreign and international law research class at the UW law school. This year I’m co-teaching the class with Trinie Thai-Parker of Gallagher Law Library, and we’ve decided that we’d like to take advantage of having a firm librarian in the classroom to try to bring more of a practical, real-world angle to parts of the class. The practice of law is becoming increasingly international even for attorneys who don’t specialize in this area, and we think it would be useful to give students a realistic sense of what they might face as attorneys in firms that represent multi-national corporations and clients who do business across borders.

So in preparation for next quarter, I’ve been keeping a list of the types of questions that our library fields from attorneys and others on foreign and international law issues. And I’d love to hear from any of you about the types of research requests you get in this area — either those that are routine or that have had you stumped in the past. (Additional disclosure: ‘stumped’ is my general state of mind when faced with these questions. I’m no expert in this area of research; one of the best things about teaching a class like has been having to learn it just well enough to explain it to someone else.)

If you have items you’d like to share — or if you have thoughts on any of the ways in which your attorneys could be better prepared for this type of research when they step into a law firm job, feel free to drop a note in the comments or email me directly.

Thanks in advance! I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

On Digging Up Dirt

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By , October 11, 2012 9:57 am

By Annette K.

By Anna Endter

Book Review: The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet, 12th edition, by Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch

I like research. You probably do, too. I especially like research that requires some creativity and a fair amount of digging for background information on companies and people (in other words, I really like finding the dirt). My love of investigative research probably stems from spending too much of my childhood pretending my name was Harriet and dreaming of a career with the CIA. Alas, I did not become a spy, but I very much enjoy finding information that elicits a “you found this?!” kind of response. The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet by Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch should get at least some of the credit for providing a good starting place for planning out a public records or other complicated online search for background information.
Continue reading 'On Digging Up Dirt'»

Do Not Pass Go, Go to Print

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By , October 4, 2012 2:32 pm

by Philippe Cloutier 

The United States of America maintains the highest GDP at $15.09 trillion (and we’ve put people on the moon); yet the website for the hallowed United States Code still proclaims:

While every effort has been made to ensure that the Code database on the website is accurate, those using it for legal research should verify their results against the printed version of the United States Code available through the Government Printing Office.”

I am continually shocked by the USC’s refer to the print motto: first in library school, then in my first professional library job, and now in the present moment. While it is hard to imagine that any discrepancies exist betwixt the print and online editions, the caveat does not guarantee the online’s verisimilitude. The USC beta website details the issue further (averting liability): Continue reading 'Do Not Pass Go, Go to Print'»

Many Librarians Make Light Work

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By , September 27, 2012 1:46 pm

By Nick Harrell
Reference/Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Miami School of Law
UW Law Librarianship Graduate 2012

Recently I was asked to track down a copy of an unpublished opinion from the 1970s issued by a U.S. District Court located on the other side of the country.  After my best efforts failed to find the case, I did what everyone should do when they’re stuck.  I asked for help.  I reached out to a law librarian who works at a county law library near where the case was argued.  After she took a look around without any luck, that librarian provided me with contact information to a librarian at the court where the case was argued.  The court librarian didn’t have a copy of the opinion either, but he did provide me with more information about the case.  He shared the research notes of another court librarian trying to locate the case for yet another librarian on a different occasion.  He also provided contact information for the folks at the archive where the case file was held.  With that information, I was able to put in a request to the archives that would hopefully have the case.  While waiting for a response from the archives, I contacted an author who had cited to the case.  And, as I should have expected by this point, the author referred me to the librarian at his firm, who was also exceedingly helpful.

Eventually I was able to get my hands on the elusive case, but only with the help of over half a dozen librarians (I had been picking the brains of my co-workers during my quest).  I learned some new things about researching unpublished opinions while working on this project (specifically, that unpublished opinions roam in the wild west of citation land and are anything but uniform, and that if someone offers you a docket sheet, you take it).  But, my real take away was that librarians help each other.  Besides my co-workers, I had no prior connection to the librarians who helped me, but they were all generous with their time and eager to help.  I have added that generosity and eagerness to the list of reasons why I am glad to be a librarian.

Back to Business

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By , September 25, 2012 10:08 am

by Emily Smith

In June, a lot of us rushed to retrieve copies of National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (better known as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of “Obamacare”) for our attorneys or professors. It was a highly anticipated decision, so happily for ease of retrieval the text of the opinion was seemingly everywhere upon its release. As fall rolls around, I’m always prompted to think about what significant (or more esoteric) Supreme Court opinions we might be asked to track down for our patrons this year. As always, SCOTUSblog comes to the rescue with a cheat-sheet of the cases scheduled for argument during the October 2012 term. Because the first oral argument is just around the corner (on October 1) I took a quick peek last week. Depending on your interests you might find other cases more noteworthy, but here are some docket items that caught my eye:

  • Lovers of the Fourth Amendment (or dogs): the 2012 term finds the Court hearing argument on two cases involving the use of narcotics detection canines. The first, Florida v. Harris, will address whether a drug dog’s alert can establish probable cause to search a vehicle for contraband. A second case from the Sunshine State, Florida v. Jardines, tackles the question of whether a dog sniff at a suspected grow house is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Continue reading 'Back to Business'»

AALL Boston: Research Guide Guidance

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By , August 20, 2012 11:05 am

by Michele Knapp

My first AALL Conference experience kept me on my toes. It was busy, filled with job interviews, networking opportunities, and interesting programs. I found particularly useful a program sponsored by RIPS-SIS, Connect with Patrons by Creating Strong Research Guides. The program was led by Catherine Dunn of the University of Maryland, Sara Sampson of the University of North Carolina, and Morgan Stoddard of Georgetown University.

One of the most important things a research guide can do is to confirm that a type of resource does not exist or that a tool cannot perform a particular function. This saves time and improves efficiency. Research guides can be used to teach skills through the use of videos and tutorials. They can cover areas beyond substantive law, such as job search and legal services. It is important that an organization keep internal consistency with its research guides. They should be viewed as serials that require periodic updating. For instance, revisions will be needed as materials are updated and links change. Finally, each guide should be the responsibility of a specific person in the library. This will ensure that it is updated on a regular basis.

Although we tend to think of research guides as a tool used mainly in academic law libraries, they can be useful in other settings, as well. Court libraries use research guides to reach out to public patrons and members of the bar. Law firms can utilize research guides to provide assistance to new attorneys fresh out of law school. Moreover, research guides are useful reminders to law librarians in any area as to how to approach certain types of legal research questions. If you are looking to learn more about research guides, you can find materials from the RIPS program here.

Thank you to LLOPS and the Grants Committee for supporting my attendance at the AALL Conference in Boston. My membership in LLOPS has enhanced my experience as a newcomer to law librarianship. I have no doubt it will contribute to my success in future endeavors.

Names, Popular and Not So Popular

By , May 23, 2012 8:34 am

by Mary Whisner from Gallagher Blogs

The Social Security Administration has released its list of the most popular baby names in the last year, with Sophia and Jacob at the top. Reality TV, religion give birth to top baby names, Seattle Times, May 14, 2012.

Why stop with the most recent year? The curious can visit the Social Security Administration’s Popular Baby Names site and find out how a name has ranked going back to 1922. (The first Social Security card was issued in November 1936.)

My own name, Mary, was #1 the year I was born. It was in the top 5 from 1922 through 1967, but has now toppled to #112. Continue reading 'Names, Popular and Not So Popular'»

Library Link of the Day

By , April 12, 2012 10:51 am

by Robyn Hagle

If you like to keep up with news on all types of libraries in all types of media, Library Link of the Day is a great tool.  The link of the day for April 11th lead to a very interesting and worthwhile read on library entrepreneurialism.  I can’t say I found all of the links of the day as relevant as this one but this site may be worth a look every couple of weeks.  You can also sign up to receive a daily link via email for keeping up to date with all things related to libraries.

Something you may not know about LinkedIn

By , February 29, 2012 8:40 am
by Robyn Hagle
Do you perform LinkedIn research on behalf of clients while logged into LinkedIn?  If so, you should know that depending on your settings, the people you are searching for can find out who you are and that you were searching for them.  A quick change of your settings and you can anonymously search LinkedIn while logged in.
Go to the settings menu (in the upper right under your name).  Select “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.” Within this setting, you have 3 options to choose from to restrict what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.  The 3 options are:

1.  Your name and headline.  Example:  Joe Smith, Friends of the Law LLP
2.  Anonymous profile characteristics such as industry and title.  Example:  Someone at Friends of the Law LLP
3.  You will be totally anonymous

If you select complete anonymity, you should know that you no longer have the ability to see who has viewed your profile.  Tit for tat.

Turning off Google Personalization

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By , December 16, 2011 9:44 am

by Robyn Hagle

Most of us know that Google is smart enough to customize or personalize results based on past search activity.  This is true whether you have a Google account or not.  In doing this, Google looks at past searches you’ve done and results you’ve clicked.  This can be useful if the majority of what you do on Google is business or legal related research.  Sometimes I think this helps me get better results (and find what’s actually being asked for) more efficiently than our attorneys.  Google keeps getting smarter the more I use it. Continue reading 'Turning off Google Personalization'»

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