The Importance of Legal Research Skills for Practice

April 7th, 2015 No comments


To uncover how newer attorneys conduct research in this emerging legal marketplace, an independent survey was conducted by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG) and funded by LexisNexis.  Author Steven A. Lastres, director of Library & Knowledge Management at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP drew conclusions on what they may mean for the future of legal research instruction:

Key findings from the survey included the following:

  • Newer attorneys spend more than 30% of their time doing legal research
  • Approximately 50% of associates think legal research should be a larger part of the law school curriculum
  • Over 80% of associates use an extensive range of content from traditional primary law and secondary materials to News, Court Transcripts, Verdicts, Dockets, Public Records and more.
  • Legal Classification systems are rarely used (only 12% begin with a legal classification system)
  • Attorneys use free online research resources but spend most of their time, over 8 hours per week, using paid-for online research services.

Key recommendations from the author on what law schools and employers can do to update and enhance legal research instruction:

  • Adjusting time allocated to hard copy vs. online research
  • Reducing emphasis on legal classification systems
  • Mastering use of treatises and other highly used sources such as legal news, regulatory materials and public records.

See the full article here.


Spring Holiday Hours

April 1st, 2015 No comments

APRIL 3 – 5

April 3 and 4 9 a.m.—5 p.m.
April 5 3 p.m.—Midnight




A New Day

March 27th, 2015 No comments


harrisburg-announcement-041For a quarter century, Widener Law Harrisburg has built a solid reputation and unique identity in the Commonwealth and beyond with outstanding programs in government, environmental and business law, and the incomparable access students have to dedicated faculty. Today, Widener University announced that Widener Law Harrisburg will stand on that reputation and those strengths as its own law school.

 The university today announced the American Bar Association has approved its application to split its School of Law, which has campuses in Harrisburg, Pa. and Wilmington, Del., into separate law schools that will operate independently of each other, but remain part of the university.

 Christian A. Johnson will serve as dean of Widener University Commonwealth Law School, the name for the school in Harrisburg, Pa. The change in status and the new name will take effect July 1, the day Johnson begins his tenure as dean.

 “This is an exciting time for Widener University and its law schools,” University President James T. Harris III said. “The campuses have grown with their own unique identities, and are ready to stand apart from each another and showcase their strengths and individuality. Christian Johnson is an outstanding leader, and I am confident he will help provide a world-class legal education that graduates practice-ready lawyers and supports Widener’s commitment to the communities we serve.”

 Widener University Commonwealth Law School was chosen for Harrisburg as a reflection of Pennsylvania’s status as one of only four commonwealths. The university community liked the name for its sense of history, distinction and its allusion to state government. It also complements Widener’s strong program in government law, which is a key component to the Harrisburg location’s identity.

 Johnson, is the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, where he has been on the faculty since 2008. He teaches and writes in the areas of business, banking and tax law.

 Johnson earned his law degree at Columbia University School of Law where he was executive editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Utah.

 “It is an absolute privilege for me to serve as dean of Widener Law Commonwealth. The school plays such an important role for Pennsylvania’s capital with its programs, lectures and signature Law & Government Institute,” Johnson said. “I look forward to sharing my vision for legal education with the school, including the importance of globalization and the need to balance legal theory with an education that prepares students for the practice of law. I am anxious to build on the positive relationships Widener has with the community and its many constituencies.”

 Widener University opened the law school campus in Harrisburg in 1989 and this year is celebrating 25 years of service the Commonwealth and beyond. The location is home to more than 240 law students pursuing Juris Doctor degrees in a three-year, full-time program, or part time in Widener’s four-year, extended division.

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HeinOnline App

March 16th, 2015 No comments


HeinOnlineApp_UsersGuideNow you can have access to the world’s largest image-based legal research database, HeinOnline, on your iPhone/iPad. View and download image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques. Visit the App store to download the HeinOnline App to your iPhone or iPad.

Logging In:  Click the IP Authentication button if you have IP authentication through your university or organization. Or, log in using your HeinOnline username and password.

Accessing Content:  After you log in, you will see a list of all collections you are subscribed to. Click on any library name to open the contents of the library.

Title Lookup:  After selecting a library, you will be given the option to enter a publication title. Enter the name of the journal or publication using quotations to enclose the phrase.  NOTE: This tool will not look for article titles.

Navigating Inside a Library:  From inside a library, the Search option will always appear in the upper right hand corner. For collections with a citation navigator (ie. Law Journal Library), a “Cite Nav” option will appear next to the Search.

Searching:  Click “Search” in the upper right hand corner to conduct a search. This search box functions as an advanced search, so utilize the advanced search syntax, and as with all searching in HeinOnline, be sure to use quotes around phrases.

Citation Navigator:  Click “Cite Nav” in the upper right hand corner to use the Citation Navigator. As you start to enter the abbreviation for the citation, a list will populate below, select your citation from that list, then enter the volume and page number and click “Get Citation.” This will open the exact page entered.

View imaged-based PDFs: Once you select a volume of a title, you will be able to view the image based PDF, and easily expand the image to zoom or slide from page to page.

PDF Downloads:  Select “PDF” when viewing a page to have the option to download PDFs onto to iPad or iPhone. Select the pages you wish to download and click the download button. Then use PDF viewer to view downloads.

eTOC: Select “TOC” when viewing a page to reveal the electronic table of contents and jump to a title within the volume.


Case Law Integrated into HeinOnline

March 13th, 2015 No comments


William S. Hein & Co., Inc. is pleased to announce a new partnership with Fastcase, a leading next-generation legal research service that features powerful “best-case-first” tools that make research faster than ever. This partnership allows Hein to provide federal and state case law powered by Fastcase to HeinOnline via inline hyperlinks, along with the option to retrieve case law by citation.


What is Fastcase?

As the smarter alternative for legal research, Fastcase democratizes the law, making it more accessible to more people. Using patented software that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, Fastcase helps busy users sift through the clutter, ranking the best cases first and enabling the re-sorting of results to find answers fast. Fastcase provides federal and state case law in an HTML format which can be downloaded to a PDF or printed.

Case Law Coverage

The federal case coverage includes the judicial opinions of the Supreme Court (1754–present), Federal Circuits (1924–present), Board of Tax Appeals (vols. 1–47), Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols. 1–59), U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1–70), Board of Immigration Appeals (1996–present), Federal District Courts (1924–present), and Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1B.R. 1–present). The state case law covers all fifty states, with nearly half of the states dating back to the 1800s. Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.


Link to Case Law from Publications in HeinOnline
Like Hein’s ScholarCheck feature, when viewing a document in HeinOnline, the references will now link to the cases in addition to other types of documents cited in HeinOnline. When an article cites a case, the case citation will be highlighted in blue. The blue highlighted case citations link to the case in either HeinOnline or Fastcase.






















When will you see Fastcase content?
HeinOnline case law includes early editions of the Federal Reporter (1891–1922) and U.S. Supreme Court Reports. Whenever possible, they will link you to case law in HeinOnline. When the case law is not included in HeinOnline, they will link you to the case powered by Fastcase while staying on the HeinOnline server. Thus, you will not need to adjust any authentications or proxy settings, but you will notice a slight change in format. Where HeinOnline provides the exact page replications of the original document, Fastcase provides a reformatted, plain text version





Retrieve Case Law By Citation in HeinOnline
You will now see a Fastcase tab when using HeinOnline. Use this tab to retrieve case law by Bluebook citation. From this tab you will see a citation search box which will allow you to copy and paste a case law citation directly into the search box. In addition, they also provide a Direct Citation option which will allow you to type in the volume, use a drop-down menu for the case abbreviation and enter the page number to find your citation. Both options will retrieve the full text of the case in Fastcase’s HTML format.





Parallel Citations
Cases or judicial opinions can be published by more than one publisher.  When this occurs, the case name may be followed by one or more parallel citations. The official reporter is provided by the publisher with which the court has contracted to publish the reports; any other citation is called “unofficial.” It is acceptable to cite either the official or unofficial versions as the text of the opinions will be the same. The unofficial may contain additional editorial features which differ from the official. Fastcase relies on the use of official and unofficial publications in order to provide the full text and provides parallel citations where available. 


Widener Law Journal New Members

March 12th, 2015 No comments


The Widener Law Journal is pleased to announce the Administrative Board for Volume 25 (2015-2016):




The Big Law Business Community by Bloomberg BNA

March 9th, 2015 No comments




The pace of disruption is accelerating.
You face new opportunities and challenges.
You need to keep your fingers on the pulse of the Legal Market.

Business, finance, and law are inextricably linked. Stay up to date on disciplines ranging from business development and marketing to pricing, talent management, and technology. Bloomberg BNA’s Big Law Business Community is the ideal way to engage with quality content produced by your peers and by Bloomberg BNA…all focused on the business of Big Law.

This unique online community connects you with legal thought leaders from across the industry, with an emphasis on the most successful firms in the country. You will:
• Leverage the insight and wisdom of your peers and leading practitioners
• Take advantage of trusted news and analysis from Bloomberg BNA
• Explore content dedicated to the business of Big Law
• And so much more


Fun Friday Facts

March 6th, 2015 No comments

Librarians Portrayed in Comics


Graphic novel and comic book fans are book lovers, so it is no surprise that libraries and librarians are portrayed fairly frequently in all sorts of graphic works. Here are some comics that feature libraries and librarians and are perfect for some light reading or for a fun library display.


Americus by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill – This book focuses on an event that some libraries know all too well – a book challenge. The main character is a teen named Neal Barton who really just wants to read the latest entry in his favorite fantasy series. But, unfortunately for him, a religious group objects to the book’s “heretical” content and requests that it be removed from the library. Together with a youth services librarian, Neal fights to keep his favorite series on the shelf and for the right of readers to have access to books of all sorts.









Library Wars by Kiiro Yumi – Set in a dystopian future of Japan where the government is allowed to censor anything it finds to be objectionable, the Library Wars manga series follows Iku, a young girl determined to serve in the combat forces of the Library Defense Force. Members of this group save materials from censorship and destruction and take them to libraries that can legally save and protect them.











Rex Libris by James Turner – This series, which starts with I, Librarian, follows Rex Libris, the head librarian at Middleton Public Library as he confronts all manner of foes from the quasi-historical, to the literary, to the science fictional in his never ending quest to track down overdue books and protect his library. The stylized art and humorous tone allow Turner to poke fun at both common comic tropes and librarian stereotypes. Though the plots tend to be over-the-top, the series is a fun and quick read.









Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes – Since February 2006, the Unshelved comic strip has chronicled the ups and downs of life in libraries poking fun at typical problems confronted by librarians and lampooning ridiculous patron interactions. Neither patrons nor staff are safe from the humor of the series. Whether you work in a library or just frequent them, you will probably find something to relate to in this series. All of the Unshelved strips are available online (and libraries and educators can even reuse them in some cases as described on their site), but the creators have also published ten collections of the comic over the years.





Batgirl by various authors and artists – One of the most iconic examples of librarians in comics has to be Barbara Gordon, better known by her alias, Batgirl. Debuting in the 1960’s, Batgirl’s day job was as the head librarian at Gotham’s public library, but she was also a superheroine who aided Batman in his crime fighting efforts. After she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in Alan Moore’s controversial Batman: The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon went on to be Oracle, a superheroine who didn’t allow her disability to stop her from making use of her computer and information seeking skills as part of the Birds of Prey. In both incarnations, she made use of the skills she gained as a librarian to support her missions as a superheroine.





About the Author

Carli Spina is an emerging technologies and research librarian at an academic library. She is a big fan of graphic novels, young adult and children’s literature, and popular culture and writes about these topics for several blogs including the Horn Book’s Lolly’s Classroom blog and YALSA’s The Hub blog. You can find her on Twitter as @CarliSpina or on her website at


The New ABA Law Library Collection of Periodicals on HeinOnline

February 27th, 2015 No comments


In partnership with the American Bar Association, HeinOnline has released a brand new collection which digitizes the ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals and makes the current files available to you via HeinOnline.




ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals Features:

Forty-four titles previously available only to ABA Section members, including:
• Appellate Practice
• Children’s Rights Litigation
• Family Law Litigation
• International Litigation
• Trial Practice
• And many more!

For the first time ever in HeinOnline, these titles will be available as full color PDFs.

Not only does this library include current ABA content, it also includes seamless linking to the entire archive of these ABA periodicals.


Books As You’ve Never Seen Them Before

February 26th, 2015 No comments


Check out these amazing works of art carved from old books and follow through to the video on TED.