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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Considering the Time Element in Law

Law is a unique and important dataset: to a large degree it is a record of governance. It also tends to be conservative, so people can know what is likely to happen in the future based on what has happened in the past. Structurally, it has elements in common with other large text-based collections, such as aggregations of literary works. However, socially it has more in common with other high stakes bodies of information like medical research, with concerns like privacy and direct impact on people’s lives being necessary considerations. These attributes combine to make law as data a strange . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Make Your Presentations Sing! Six Lessons From the Musical SIX

Why is the average powerpoint presentation painfully dull while the average musical is something theatergoers will pay loads of money to experience? How is it that the musical genre can take a topic like Alexander Hamilton or the six wives of Henry VIII and make textbook history into a memorable hit? Aside from the obvious advantages of singing, dancing, and glitzy costumes, the musical SIX gives us a clearly defined roadmap: we will tell you the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII, in order. This roadmap is repeated a few times during the show, cementing the women’s stories . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

2022 Year-End Roundup of U.S. and Other Legal Research Information

The U.S. mid-term elections are almost over except for the litigation from sore losers. The new Congress will be more diverse and probably more divisive. The old Congress is working on finishing up business by the end of the year, including funding the government. I’m hoping the new Congress will be able to work better together, but I am not betting on it.

The Law Library of Congress continues to post accurate and timely legal information on a variety of subjects in their In Custudio Legis blog. On November 30th Michael Chalupovitsch, a Foreign Law Specialist at the Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Access to Justice and Legal Research Without Law Schools: The Case of Alaska

In the legal community within the United States, Alaska has a unique feature. With a population of over 700,000 people and rich in natural resources, the largest state in the country has no law school. This unique situation poses a number of salient issues and challenges which Alaskans have to deal with on a daily basis. Broadly speaking, not having a law school in Alaska affects access and preservation of the state’s legal history and its current development, accessibility to territorial archives, meaningful inclusion of underrepresented voices, knowledge of indigenous peoples’ legal traditions, navigating a complex legal system, remote communities’ . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Late-Fall U.S. Legal Information Roundup

Our U. S. midterm elections are almost over and it looks like things will be getting back to a new normal in Washington, DC. During this tense and contentious season my colleagues at the Law Library of Congress continued to publish excellent legal research information guides and other information.

On November 16th they announced their Human Rights Day Lecture to be held on December 8th. “This event will feature a panel discussion concerning two foundational legal documents, Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.”

On November 7 they posted the November top tips In Custodia . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

On Time in Teaching

Timing is one of the hardest parts of teaching. At the very beginning of lesson planning, I sometimes have the fear that I cannot fill the time, but my more common problem is having too much content and too little time. I’ve learned to plan my timing down to five-minute increments, to hold a pause for questions far longer than I would like, and to set expectations and then set a visible timer.

When I write or revise my class plans, I mark the parts of the plan with time limits, rounded to the nearest five minutes. Normally, I think . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Are We Simply Keeping Up? Discussing Predictive Searching With New Legal Researchers

“Only by understanding the biases of the media through which we engage with the world can we differentiate between what we intend, and what the machines we’re using intend for us–whether they or their programmers even know it.”[1]

Slaw previously published an excellent post written by Amelia Landenberger, Legal Information Librarian at the Boston University Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries. It outlines a research activity where students are asked to find a pair of black dress shoes online. The exercise reveals the complexity behind a simple research question. Students learn about personal bias, what questions to ask prior to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Fall 2022 Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

I have spent the last five months moving out of Washington DC and back to Milwaukee WI. That’s where I met Simon Fodden many years ago. We later reconnected when he asked me to start blogging for SLAW. These transition moving months have been very chaotic both personally and nationally. The trauma of viewing the insurrection on January 6th continues to linger. Watching the subsequent hearings of the United States Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol has been riveting and eye opening. The videos are available on the Committee’s website. More hearings should . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Thoughts on the New Lexis+ Brief Analysis Tool: For Law Students and Novice Researchers

New academic year; new legal research tools. Something new always comes out right as another cohort of students is gearing up to begin their law degree. And, as with many new product launches these days, “artificial intelligence” is often a prominently displayed term with accompanying materials. As legal publishers continue to launch AI-driven research tools in Canada, what do students and other novice researchers need to know to be prepared for their first forays into legal research?

Lexis recently launched the latest version of their legal research platform, Lexis+ Canada, for Canadian law schools. It features significant updates that employ . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Adaptive Technologies for the Visually Impaired in the Law Library

This submission is part of a column swap with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) bimonthly member magazine, AALL Spectrum. Published six times a year, AALL Spectrum is designed to further professional development and education within the legal information industry. Slaw and the AALL Spectrum board have agreed to hand-select several columns each year as part of this exchange. 

When I was first asked to write an article on technology for the visually impaired and its role in legal research, I confess that a small part of me flinched inside. I wondered what I could say that would . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Commemorate the Joy of a New Semester

In the genre of self-help books which I readily consume and then promptly fail to follow, sometimes one or two pearls of wisdom enter my consciousness and reemerge in this column. One of these is Gretchen Rubin’s suggestion in her book The Happiness Project that we ought to cultivate the activities which brought us joy when we were children. When I was younger I loved getting ready for the first day of school. I loved the freedom of the summer, but as the end of August approached I liked getting my pencils in order and my binders and notebooks packed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information