Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Internet of Things at CMU

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article titled "The Internet of Things Faces Practical and Ethical Challenges" about studies being done up the street at CMU. The IoT, as it’s known, works through a network of internet-connected devices, such as wireless sensors and smart products like phones, speakers, tablets, and watches. The sensors, many of which are about half the size of an iPhone’s screen, can be placed virtually anywhere — including on toasters, coffee makers, doors, windows, and walls. Thousands of sensors have been placed across the CMU campus for a research project funded by Google. "You can start to get answers to questions that would’ve taken a fairly significant effort to figure out by yourself," Anind Dey (director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU) says. For instance: Why is my office so cold? Is my colleague in her office right now?
Meanwhile, Wired magazine, in a report on the massive internet outage last Friday, says that "initial reports indicate that the attack was part of a genre of DDoS that infects Internet of Things devices (think webcams, DVRs, routers, etc.) all over the world with malware. Once infected, those Internet-connected devices become part of a botnet army, driving malicious traffic toward a given target."

Monday, 24 October 2016

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports online

The Congressional Research Service, a component of the Library of Congress, conducts research and analysis for Congress on a broad range of national policy issues. Congressional Research Service reports have traditionally only been available to Congressional offices. Now EveryCRSReport.com provides access to every currently loaded CRS report in Congress’s internal website. The site contains over 8,200 reports, but this changes as reports are added or updated. Each report includes a revision history that reflects changes over time. The site offers topical browsing, keyword searching, email alerts, and RSS feed capabilities. EveryCRSReport.com is a joint effort between Demand Progress and Congressional Data Coalition.
The website says "We’re publishing reports by Congress’s think tank, the Congressional Research Service, which provides valuable insight and non-partisan analysis of issues of public debate. These reports are already available to the well-connected — we’re making them available to everyone for free."

hat tip: Kirstin Nelson, AALL CRIV blog

Bar passage standards set to get tougher

The ABA Journal and Above the Law are both reporting that last Friday the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to tighten bar passage rate standards for ABA-approved law schools. Under the proposal, 75% of the graduates must pass a bar exam within a two-year period; the current rule is a 75% passage rate within five years. The proposal is expected to go the ABA House of Delegates in February 2017.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Pitt Law: Fall 2016

In case you missed it, the Fall 2016 issue of Pitt Law Magazine came out this week and is available online. The cover feature is about Prof. Jules Lobel and his work with prisoners in solitary confinement. There are also stories featuring Prof. Tomar Brown and the Health Law clinic she directs at Children's Hospital; the Pitt Law Legal Incubator; and lots more. Kudos to our Communications Department for an excellent publication.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Of books and library stacks

There's an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "It's Not Too Late to Save the Stacks." Author Ann Michael, who is a poet and writing coordinator at DeSales University in eastern PA, says "I would like to make a plea for the value of keeping libraries as physical spaces — as actual, rather than virtual, edifices — and as buildings for housing books and encouraging the conversations between human beings and physical textual materials." Librarians are familiar with the various sides of this issue, but students and scholars should be aware as well.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

New from Bloomberg Law: Litigation Analytics

Bloomberg Law has announced the launch of Litigation Analytics, a new resource from Bloomberg Law that can help lawyers shape litigation strategies and understand the potential impacts of different judges and courts. Litigation Analytics gathers and uses intelligence about law firms, courts, judges, and industry to enhance decision-making. It is available in all of Pitt Law's Bloomberg Law accounts, under the "Litigation & Dockets" tab on the orange menu at the top of the page.

Uber: the Pittsburgh experiment

MIT Technology Review has an article titled Your Driverless Ride is Arriving, about the Uber self-driving car experiment in Pittsburgh. Uber is using Pittsburgh to test how well driverless cars can do in an urban environment. The articles author gives a detailed description of what it's like to ride in one of the test cars in Pittsburgh, and talks to CMU robotics faculty who are also working on the autonomous car concept. His conclusion: "Uber thinks its self-driving taxis could change the way millions of people get around. But autonomous vehicles aren’t any­where near to being ready for the roads."

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Cybersecurity through a legal lens

Pittsburgh's World Affairs Council has announced a luncheon event called "Exploring Cybersecurity through a Legal Lens." What international laws are broken when cyber attacks are committed across borders? What legal obligation does a country have to respond? Should individual companies and corporations have the authority to hack back?
The event will be held at the Rivers Club in Oxford Center on Weds. Oct. 26 at noon.  Panelists include David Hickton, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, J. Keith Mularski, Supervisory Special Agent Cyber Squad FBI - Pittsburgh Field Office, and Matthew LaVigna, President and CEO, National Cyber Forensics & Training Alliance. There is a $50 registration fee for members and $75 for non-members.

Friday, 14 October 2016

New and Different SSRN website changes

SSRN has updated their website, with a very different look for the home page. According to the announcement on the SSRN blog, they are delivering on their promise to improve "the SSRN experience. With new resources for design and development, we are reimagining SSRN’s possibilities. First, we implemented our long-awaited full-text search which had been requested by many of you. Now we’re delighted to present our new Home Page. This is just the first of many design improvements we hope to deliver before the end of the year."

hat tip: Karen Shephard

A Westlaw question & a clever answer

We had 1L Westlaw training this week, and afterwards one of our students emailed the Westlaw rep with this question: How can we use Westlaw to find things like definitions or elements of basic legal concepts such as the element of consideration in contract law. Samuel Berbano, our Westlaw rep, created this video, titled "Law School Study Blues? Try the Jury Instructions!" to answer the question.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials

The American Assn. of Law Libraries and BU Law are hosting a National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials on Dec. 2, 2016 at the BU College of Law. The conference will feature keynote speaker Corynne McSherry, lunch speaker Sarah Jeong, and a full slate of copyright experts on three panels: legal status, operational issues, and advocacy and inspiration. Panelists include librarians, lawyers, law professors, technologists, and practitioners. The draft agendahas been posted; it includes speaker names and more information about the panels. The cost is $75; you can register here.

Pitt Cyber Security Symposium

The University of Pittsburgh will hold the third annual Cyber Security Symposium on Tuesday, October 25th, in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Rohyt Belani, CEO and co-Founder of PhishMe, Inc., will deliver the keynote address. The event is free to all University of Pittsburgh faculty, staff, and students.
Registration is required. Please register here.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Typography and Law

Slaw has an interesting post titled "Typography and Legal Information" that talks about how law looks - i.e. how font style and size affects readability. Apparently the typography and style used for the Canadian statutes online was changed this year, according to an announcement on the Canadian government website. The author says that "Studies that show typography affects retention of information and perception of the quality of information," and notes that one study found that readers who read a statement in Baskerville font "were more likely to agree with it."
And if you are fascinated by typography you might also enjoy this article from Vox Almanac that tells the history of Wingdings fonts.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

9/11 Commemoration Digital Collection

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Center for Homeland Defense and Security has assembled a digital collection to honor those who lost their lives, remember important lessons learned, recognize progress in protecting our communities, celebrate the dedication of public safety officials, and challenge leaders to think critically about the future of homeland security. The collection includes reflective essays, recorded audio personal stories, and a collection of key 9/11-related resources published since 2001.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

HeinOnline adds UNC Press publications

HeinOnline has announced that they recently added over 120 titles from the University of North Carolina Press to their online collection - at no additional cost. The announcement says "The UNC Press has a national and international reputation for publishing quality books. Established in 1922, the UNC Press was the first university press in the South and one of the first in the entire nation. These UNC Press publications cover a variety of timely topics and include both current and historical titles." You can see all the titles on the HeinOnline website.

Friday, 9 September 2016

United States Treaties Added to the Law Library of Congress Website

The Library of Congress has announced that they have added the 13 volume United States Treaty Series compiled by Charles Bevans to the law library digital collection. The collection includes treaties the U.S. signed with other countries between 1776 and 1949. The LOC says that "One of the most interesting things in these early treaties is the different countries with whom the United States signed treaties, especially those that no longer exist. In these volumes you can find treaties the U.S. signed with the Republic of Texas and the Hawaiian Islands before they became states. The U.S. also signed treaties with the Orange Free States, Sardinia, Lagos, Algiers, the Ottoman Empire, and the German Republics before Germany unified."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

More on what color is your CFR...

There's a post on the Federal Register blog about how they choose the new color that the CFR will be every year.  It's from 2015 so it's talking about the 2015 color, Pantone 355U green. 2016's is blue but I don't know the Pantone code for it...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Seen in Oakland...

This morning one of the Uber self-driving cars was spotted on Forbes Ave. in Oakland.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Something completely different from CALI

CALI - Computer Assisted Legal Instruction - has just published a coloring book that reinforces legal research skills titled "What Color is your C.F.R.?" You can download your own free copies at CALI's eLangdell Bookstore.

Updated LexisNexis Law School home page

Just in time for the new school year Lexis Nexis has "refreshed" their Law School landing page.  According to Lexis, "The new intuitive design is easier to use, provides quicker access to content, and offers responsive design on mobile devices."
Note the access points to key products including Web Courses and Lexis Learn are located at the top of the page. Teaching tools, mobile apps, and other products are listed under Resources. Also note quick links along the right side of the page. The student home page looks very similar and includes the same menu up top.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

New PLI online treatises for July 2016

To find these titles, just go to our PLI search page and enter the title in the top search box.

• Anti-Money Laundering Deskbook: A Practical Guide to Law and Compliance Release #2,
• Corporate Political Activities Deskbook Release #4
• Financial Product Fundamentals: Law, Business, Compliance (2nd Edition)
• Friedman on Leases (5th Edition) Release #31
• Mutual Fund and Exchange Traded Funds Regulation (3rd Edition) Release #9

 • Health Care Mergers & Acquisitions Answer Book 2016
• Telecommunications Law Answer Book 2017 Edition

 • A Starter Guide to Doing Business in the U.S.
• Privacy Law Answer Book 2017 Edition

The Life of a Document

We can all relate to this video about document versions from Iowa Filmmakers and Workiva.

Hat tip: Sam Berbano

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Pokemon Go legal issues?

The ABA Journal has an article titled "Pokemon Go spurs lawyers to stop and consider legal issues." If you have been caught up in the Pokemon Go craze, there are several legal issues raised in the article; and  the article also mentions the general problem of wandering around through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.”

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

SBA book exchange group re-started

The Pitt Law Student Bar Association is reviving a book exchange group to help reduce the cost of law school books for students. You can sell your 1L books to new students or buy books for this year on the cheap.  Check out the information on the SBA Book Exchange Facebook page

Friday, 1 July 2016

New Westlaw rep for Pitt Law

We recently heard from Westlaw that they have appointed a new law school representative for Pitt Law:
"I am pleased to announce that your new Westlaw Academic Account Manager is Samuel Berbano. Samuel is a graduate of Drake Law School. While at Drake, Sam argued criminal appeals with the school’s appellate clinic and was a Westlaw Student Representative. After graduation, Sam continued his career with Thomson Reuters first as an Inside Account Manager. His next position at Thomson Reuters was Senior Associate of Product Management and Editorial. Sam brings a wealth of product knowledge to his new role in Academics. Sam also brings energy and expertise. Sam’s first day with Academics was Monday, June 27th. For the next few weeks Sam will be in training. I hope to fully transition Sam to his schools by mid-July. Many thanks to Erica Hines for her coverage and continued support as we make the transition."

Sam also has a LinkedIn profile

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

new app for mapping the world

The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog has 2 posts, here and here,  about a new project to create memorable "addresses" for every (3 x 3 meter) spot in the world.  It's called what3words and the project is dividing the world into 3 x 3 meter square blocks and then giving each a unique 3 word name or address.
Sounds pretty crazy, but it turns out that Mongolia is now adopting the system and using it for its postal system.
You can register to use it and then download the app. And pull up a map that will give you a three word address for your location. For example, "the Capitol Rotunda is in “shall.spider.bake” and the Empire State building in “heaves.wipes.clay.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

free webinar from GAO

A free webinar, "GAO Podcasts and Social Media," will be offered on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Jacques A. Arsenault, Digital Communications Manager, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will take you through GAO social media initiatives, including their great podcast GAO Watchdog Report. Jacques will also offer tips on how to set up a podcast.
This webinar is brought to you courtesy of the U.S. Government Publishing Office's FDLP Academy. Register here

Monday, 13 June 2016

CMS can help identify students needing help

Inside Higher Ed has a story today titled "Logging Off, Dropping Out." The story reports that knowing how often students log onto course management software sites is "one of the best ways to predict whether they will stick with their studies or drop out." A study looked at how often students logged on to their course management system (such as Blackboard or TWEN) during the first two weeks of classes. It found that the student "persistence rate" (percent of students who remain enrolled after their first year) was 98% for students who used their CMS at least five days during the first two weeks; for students who used the CMS one day or fewer the persistence rate was 48%, meaning more than half did not continue in college. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

New PLI titles

Listed below are the Practicing Law Institute Course Handbooks published in May 2016; these are available via Barco's PLI subscription:
• 21st Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute 2016
• Antitrust Institute 2016: Developments & Hot Topics
• Enforcement 2016: Perspectives from Government Agencies
• Financial Services IT 2016: Avoidance of Risk
• Fourth Annual Institute on Corporate & Securities Law in Hong Kong 2016
• Leveraged Financing 2016
• The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2016
• The Volcker Rule 2016: What it Means for Financial Institutions and Markets
• Venture Capital 2016: Nuts and Bolts
• 10th Annual Patent Law Institute
 • Fundamentals of Patent Litigation 2016

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

ProQuest training

For those of you who are interested in our trial of ProQuest's Reguatory Insight, they are offering a training Thursday June 9, 2016) at 1 pm with the always excellent Andrea Sevetson. You can view this and other upcoming webinars, as well as recordings of past webinars, here.

Twitter search tips

The Digital Inspiration blog, by Amit Agarwal, has a post titled "The best Twitter search tricks." The post provides a list of search operators that will help you "search Twitter like a pro."

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

North Carolina helps faculty publish diy textbooks

The Chronicle of Higher Educations reports that the University of North Carolina Press recently opened an Office of Scholarly Publishing Services that will assist faculty with editing, layout, distribution and seed money for creating their own course materials - rather than using expensive textbooks. The article says that this new role for the UNC Press is " an opportunity for professors to seek advice on various materials they may have kept tucked away but would like to publish online or digitize...(and) as a way to collaborate on open educational resources." The Press's website has a list of FAQ's, as well as easy-to-complete forms for faculty who are interested in publishing a book or an article.

Friday, 27 May 2016

HeinOnline to add UNC Press titles

HeinOnline has announced that they are adding more than 100 titles published by the University of North Carolina Press to their Core collection. Hein says ". A new collection will be created to house these titles, and they will also be added to subject-appropriate collections. For example, more than 50 of the titles relate to slavery and the law."

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Legal Research Basics presentation

The North Carolina Library Association continued its excellent webinar series "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" last week with a presentation titled "Legal Research Basics Redux." The presenter was our friend Jennifer Behrens, a law librarian at Duke. Her presentation was well-organized and very engaging. And though okay - we should all be familiar with the basics of legal research- it doesn't hurt to have a refresher.
If you missed it, the NCLA has helpfully provided an online recording of the webinar, as well as the powerpoint slides from the presentation.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The GSU case and copyright monitoring

Prof. Pamela Samuelson has published an opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Colleges Shouldn't have to Deal With Copyright Monitoring." She discusses the lawsuit against Georgia State University by several academic publishers that is now in its eighth year. The trial court has recently ruled that "...of the 48 claims remaining in the case, only four uses, each involving multiple chapters, infringed. The question now is, What should be the remedy for those four infringements?" The publishers involved in the suit are asking the court for a permanent injunction that would impose new duties on GSU and require close monitoring of the content of all online course websites, including giving the publishers access to the online course system. Eventually this would affect course content in course websites at all US colleges and universities. Samuelson outlines the specifics of the proposed injunction, and argues that "If the overwhelming majority of the university’s uses were fair, it doesn’t make sense to impose substantial and costly compliance measures on it."

Monday, 23 May 2016


WIRED magazine has published an article about PACER titled "Here's the problem with the Feds profinting from court filings." The article explains how PACER works and the costs of using it and summarizes the problems with PACER. It looks at the class action lawsuit filed against PACER recently, with the claim that PACER profits far outweigh costs.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Robot Lawyer

Gizmodo reports that "A Major Law Firm Will Soon Be Using A Robotic Lawyer" , aka an "artificial intelligence attorney." The "robot" is named ROSS and was created using technology from IBM's Watson. It acts as an advanced legal research tool, providing more elaborate and intuitive advanced searching. The law firm Baker & Hostetler announced that they will use ROSS in their bankruptcy division. But the article adds that ROSS won't be appearing in court anytime soon.