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.

 

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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.

 

 

Are Study Groups Necessary?

February 20th, 2015 No comments

 

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On the journey towards law school exam domination, an important question must be asked: will it be more beneficial to study on your own or with a group of your classroom peers? After all, whatever helps increase the chances of doing well should be included as part of the game plan targeting finals. The easy answer is to chalk it up to the individual student and say that it depends on his or her past experience. Those same study methods that have developed over time and have presumably served the student well leading up to law school should be implemented by default upon entering law school. Although this argument has merit, law school exams are a different beast entirely. It is not a student’s memory that matters, but the analysis and application of the law to the facts. This often requires creativity, especially when presenting arguments for both sides. As a result, you can’t be sure that what has worked in the past will work in law school. Because of this, defaulting to your past study methods may work, but it is recommended that you at least experiment to see what happens. Because both methods have their place in law school, ideally your aim should be to incorporate both silent study and group study in an efficient manner to help prepare for exams. Efficiency in this context is based on using each method for the role it is best suited.

To begin, everybody does some form of silent study. It’s almost never the case that a student will rely solely on studying with others even if that is his or her preferred method of exam preparation. Silent study is important for several reasons. First, it should be used to learn the black letter law cold prior to any official practice exam preparation or group study session. You cannot take practice exams without knowing the law, and you cannot have efficient study group sessions if you all are spending time learning the law. Second, it is a valuable tool to use after any study group session to go over the material you covered together one more time on your own. Between any chit chat, things may get lost or inadequately skimmed. Silent study allows you to fill in those gaps and reinforce everything that has been learned.

The idea of study group sessions may seem weird to some students, particularly those students that have relied solely on themselves prior to law school. Often, it is hard to get anything accomplished because there’s too much off-topic discussions taking place. This seems like a waste of time. However, for law school exams it is beneficial to have a source of other people’s viewpoints, ideas, and perspectives. This helps you see things you may have missed, and it stimulates your creativity. Therefore, an efficient use of study group sessions should involve getting together after everybody knows the law cold and using the time to go over hypotheticals and practice exams. This will allow you to bounce ideas off of each other as you apply the law to the facts. Sometimes you will miss an issue someone else will spot, or you will see someone come up with an argument you missed. This is extremely beneficial.

To ensure study group sessions are efficient, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, they should be small. Either study with 1 other person or at most 2-3 others, although even four people total in a study group is pushing it. This means you have to try and make sure that the friends you do study with are also willing to be on point during these sessions and are knowledgeable and driven enough to be of value to you. There’s no reason to study with people if they will not issue spot well or get creative with potential arguments. After all, if you can do all of this on your own, study group sessions are pointless. The idea is to stick with people you know can enhance your learning. This isn’t easy to do, but hopefully you have someone in mind. Second, use these study group sessions only to the extent they help you achieve their purpose: analysis of hypotheticals and practice exams. This means you should not be going over the law with each other, because outside of clarifying some confusion, this should be done on your own time. This is why small study groups are so important, not only is the potential for off-topic banter diminished, but there’s less of a chance that someone will come unprepared.

Law school exams are not fun, but they do test your knowledge in a unique way. Use silent study to learn the law and go over what you have covered in study group sessions, but also try to take advantage of small study group sessions to get different perspectives on the analysis and application of the law to the facts. Model answers supplied by your professors can only do so much. An educated back and forth between a few people not only reinforces knowledge of the law, but forces you to consider different thought processes. This is ideal for what you will be doing on the law school exam. Unless you really have no one that can be of aid to you, you should try to make sure you include study group sessions when studying for your exams. If efficiency is preserved, they are a truly great supplement to your studying.

 

Law School and Outlines

February 19th, 2015 No comments

 

Final exaIMG_3150ms are just around the corner. An outline is your best tool for learning all of the law that you need to know in time for your final exams.   An outline will help you condense the material that you have learned over the semester into something that is manageable and easy to learn. A stellar outline can make the difference between an A and a B, or a B and a C. Here are some tips for creating law school outlines: 

Tips for Creating Law School Outlines: 

1. Organize your outline around the topics that appear in your class syllabus.  All of the major headings in your class syllabus should appear in your outline. Do not make the mistake that many first year law students make by organizing your outline around cases.  You can include cases in your outline as illustrations of legal principals, but do not organize your outline around them.

2. Do not use your class notes as an outline! Writing “Outline” on the top line of your class notes does not magically transform them into an outline. Your class notes will be way too long and unorganized to serve the purpose that an outline serves.  That is not to say that you cannot use your class notes as the backbone of your outline – you simply have to modify them significantly by going through the unglamorous process of condensing them and organizing them into something manageable. This brings me to my third point…

3.  Rely heavily on your class notes when creating your outline. It is useful to consult a commercial outline or supplement when you are writing your outline because you can ensure that you truly understand the law. However, your class notes are more important than any commercial outline or supplement because your class notes reveal what your professor thinks is important and what your professor wants you to know for the final exam.

4. Make your outlines easy to read. Instead of writing rules in full sentences, break them down into elements and space them out in your outline. It is much easier for your brain to learn rules in small bits and pieces rather than trying to memorize a full sentence.  It also helps to use diagrams and pictures to illustrate concepts.

5. Once you’ve created your outline…congratulations! But your only halfway there. Simply creating an outline isn’t enough. Once you have created an outline, you must actively review it.  It helps to figure out your learning style to determine how you can best learn your outlines. Some ways to start the process of actively reviewing your outlines: Underline them and write notes to yourself in the margins. Draw pictures and diagrams. Explain them out loud. Quiz yourself or have your unwilling significant other quiz you. To “actively” review an outline means that some part of you is “active” – whether it is your hand, your mouth, or your body. If you are sitting completely still (and, for example, trying to simply passively read your outlines) then the likelihood is that you are not really thinking about the law and that you are instead thinking about what you will eat for lunch or what you will post as your next Facebook status. Neither of which will be tested on your law school final exam.

 

Posted in “Excellence in Law School and Beyond” by Ashley Heidemann.  Ms. Ashley Heidemann graduated as the number 1 law student out of over 200 students in her class of 2011 at Wayne State University.

 

Briefing Cases

February 18th, 2015 No comments

 

670px-Brief-a-Law-Case-Step-5A brief is a written summary of the case. To prepare one, you must distill the case’s most important parts and restate them in your own words. The effort will provide a variety of important benefits. First, to describe a case accurately, you must read it carefully and thoroughly. Describing the case in your own words forces you to determine exactly what the courts said, which concepts and facts were essential to its decision, and the proper legal terminology and procedures.

Second, after reading so many cases in each course, your case briefs will help you remember the details of each case for class discussions and exam preparation. To be most effective, case briefs must be brief.

Third, briefing cases exercises skills you will use throughout your legal career. As a lawyer, you will have to read and analyze cases with a careful eye to detail. You also will have to summarize cases when writing legal memoranda, briefs, and other documents and when making oral arguments to courts.

Case Brief Format

There are many different ways to brief a case. You should use the format that is most useful for your class and exam preparations. Regardless of form, every brief should include the following information.

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A brief should begin with the case name, the court that decided it, the year it was decided, and the page on which it appears in the casebook.

Facts

Next, state the facts of the case. This section is necessary because legal principles are defined by the situations in which they arise. Include in your brief only those facts that are legally relevant. A fact is legally relevant if it had an impact on the case’s outcome. For example, in a personal injury action arising from a car accident, the color of the parties’ cars seldom would be relevant to the case’s outcome. Similarly, if the plaintiff and defendant presented different versions of the facts, you should describe those differences only if they are relevant to the court’s consideration of the case. Because you will not know which facts are legally relevant until you have read and deciphered the entire case, do not try to brief a case while reading it for the first time.

Procedural History

With the statement of facts, you have taken the case to the point at which the plaintiff filed suit. The next section of the brief, the procedural history, begins at that point and ends with the case’s appearance in the court that wrote the opinion you are reading. For a trial court opinion, identify the type of legal action the plaintiff brought. For an appellate court opinion, also describe how the trial court and, if applicable, the lower appellate court decided the case and why.

Issues

You are now ready to describe the opinion you are briefing. In this section of the brief, state the factual and legal questions that the court had to decide. To analyze a case properly, you must break it down to its component parts.

Holdings

In this section, separately answer each question in the issues section. For quick reference, first state the answer in a word or two, such as “yes” or “no.” Then in a sentence or two, state the legal principle on which the court relied to reach that answer (the “holding”).

Rationale

You now should describe the court’s rationale for each holding. This section of the case brief may be the most important, because you must understand the court’s reasoning to analyze it and to apply it to other fact situations, such as those on the exam. Starting with the first issue, describe each link in the court’s chain of reasoning.

Disposition

Describe the final disposition of the case. Did the court decide in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant? What remedy, if any, did the court grant? If it is an appellate court opinion, did the court affirm the lower court’s decision, reverse it in whole or in part, or remand the case for additional proceedings?

Concurring and Dissenting Opinion

Concurring and dissenting opinions are included in a casebook when they present an interesting alternative analysis of the case. Therefore, you should describe the analysis in your case brief. It will help you see the case in a different light.

If you need more help, consult “How to Study Law and Take Law Exams in a Nutshell, authored by Ann M. Burkhart and Robert A. Stein, found in the library on the study aids shelf at KF283 .B871x.

Trivia on President’s Day

February 16th, 2015 No comments
The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia from Smithsonian Books just might make you question how comprehensive your head-of-state knowledge actually is. To commemorate the Presidents’ Day holiday, they offer some nuggets excerpted from the book that reveal a few unexpected facts about the sartorial habits, social practices and defining characteristics of our commanders-in-chief.
Check out the ten most fascinating facts here.
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ScholarCheck from HeinOnline

February 13th, 2015 No comments

 

Using HeinOnline’s ScholarCheck tool is like having an assistant helping with your legal research!  In the past year, HeinOnline made several enhancements to ScholarCheck. They’ve integrated the features of ScholarCheck into case law powered by Fastcase. They’ve also added the ability to view the number of times an article has been viewed by other HeinOnline users in a rolling 12-month period. They’ve added the ScholarCheck “cited by articles” analysis to Index to Foreign Legal PeriodicalsUsers can now view the cumulative number of times an author’s articles have been cited by other articles next to the author’s name in search results.

One of the cornerstone features of ScholarCheck is the ability to use inline hyperlinks to quickly jump between related documents in HeinOnline, making it easy to access both primary and secondary legal research sources without leaving HeinOnline. Citations on pages are highlighted in blue:

index

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legal Research Guides – Environmental Titles from Hein

February 12th, 2015 No comments

Environmental Justice:  A Legal Research Guide

KF241.E58 C65 2014

This title is a comprehensive guide to researching environmental justice and the evolution of geographic equity. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Containing information relevant to legal issues pertaining to the pursuit of environmental justice, this guide covers where to begin your research, including suggested internet sources, federal statutory law and legislative resources, executive branch materials, secondary materials, statistics, science and much more. Subjects include the liability for environmental damages, environmental laws, environmental policies, environmental protection, and liability for hazardous substances pollution damages. Collins goes beyond the routinely taught primary law to offer advanced legal research opportunities that include, relevant executive orders, relevant legislative history for bills that have passed and not passed, statistics underlying laws on the subject matter and routinely proposed regulations due to inclusive goals of the environmental justice movement.

This guide also:
• Includes interdisciplinary resources
• List annotated examples in each area
• Offers an opportunity for advanced legal research
• And much more!

 

Environmental Crimes and Corporate Responsibility: A Legal Research Guide

KF241.E58 H47 2001

This pathfinder covers sources both primary (federal statutes, case law, and government agency publications) and secondary (American Law Reports, law reviews, and various looseleaf services), as well as other sources of information such as newsletters, books and publications, and organizations. Finding tips and internet sources are also provided to aid the researcher.

Unpublished Opinions — One Time Only?

February 11th, 2015 No comments

 

Did you know that eighty eight percent of federal appeals courts decisions are unpublished, meaning they set no precedent?  Read the article, Courts Write Decisions that Elude Long View, here03BARWEB-articleLarge

 

 

 

Getting Started Using Checkpoint, part 6

February 10th, 2015 No comments

5

Using the News Screen

The News screen provides the latest editions of several subscription-based news services in the areas of tax, accounting, and finance. Most of the news services provide access to earlier editions and e-mail delivery options.

1.  Headlines, summaries, or opening paragraphs are generally provided for each news article. In some newsletters, the headline is a link to the full article. In others, a “document” symbol at the end of the paragraph links you to the full article.
2.  Select from news services included in your Checkpoint subscription. Titles include News & Insight, RIA Daily Updates, Accounting & Compliance Alert, PPC’s Daily Update, BNA Daily Tax Report, BNA Int’l Tax Monitor, IBFD Tax News Service, Towers Watson, EBIA Weekly, and Sabrix VAT News. Click a date on the Date drop-down list, if available, to access earlier editions.
3.  Document tools let you print, export, e-mail, and manage the news content.
4.  Advance to a section of the newsletter by selecting the section title from the Outline on the left navigation bar.
5.  Click Set Display/E-mail Preferences and arrange to receive any of your subscribed newsletters by e-mail. Options include receiving a Daily Update version or a Complete Newsletter version offered on a less frequent schedule. This option is not available for all newsletters.