Monday, 17 July 2017

GPO wants to change Title 44

Over at the Free Gov Info blog, James A. Jacobs has a post titled " Here we go again: GPO wants to change Title 44." The director of the GPO, Davita Vance-Cooks, has asked the Depository Library Council (DLC) to make recommendations for changes in Chapter 19 of Title 44 of the U.S. Code. A link is provided to the FDLP page where comments and ideas about changing Title 44 are solicited. But Mr. Jacobs discusses why he is very leery of this request. For example, he says, "Changing the U.S. Code is a complex, lengthy, political process. The results of suggesting changes to the law are unpredictable. Even if you begin the process with clear, unambiguous, and lofty goals, the outcome can end with very, very bad unintended consequences.... The first and most important question is: What does GPO want to accomplish by changing Chapter 19? Unfortunately, GPO has not told us what they want or why or if they were directed to do this. It has not told us what parts of Chapter 19 they think need to be changed or why they need to be changed. It has not told us what changes it wants or what it would wish to accomplish with those changes."

Friday, 14 July 2017

FCC cracking down on robocalls

Reuters reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted unanimously to pursue rules that will help consumers block unwanted robocalls. One report estimates that there are 2.5 million of these unwanted automated messages made to US consumers each month. The FCC press release states that "In its latest step to combat annoying and malicious robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on standards that will help differentiate legitimate phone calls from those that attempt to trick consumers through caller ID spoofing. The Commission will explore ways to set up a reliable system to verify that a phone call is really coming from the phone number that it claims to be." These calls are easy for scammers to make thanks to inexpensive automatic dialing machines and spoofing tools that hide the source of the call from your phone company and make your phone’s caller ID display a bogus number.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said robocalls are a top consumer complaint. "Americans are mad as hell" that they still get these calls in spite of efforts by Congress and the FCC to stop them.

ABA mulls changes in full-time faculty requirements

Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Bar Association is considering changing its requirements on full-time faculty members at law schools. Currently the ABA requires that more than half of credit hours offered at a law school must be taught by full-time faculty, or that more than two-thirds of "contact hours" are taught by full-time faculty. The ABA is considering cancelling this requirement. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has come out against loosening this regulation because of the effect it would have on the number of full-time law school faculty. In comments submitted to the ABA Section of Legal Education this week, the AAUP stated:
    "In the current climate for legal education, for the Council to adopt the proposed revision to Standard 403(a) would be tantamount to abandoning its longstanding commitment to tenure as the best system for assuring intellectual merit, professional excellence, and academic freedom. At this important juncture, we cannot afford for American legal education to be less rigorous in its expectations of scholarship and classroom performance, or less committed to the highest standards of free inquiry and professional integrity."

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

new: Happy! Effective lawyer

Pittsburgh attorney Robert Creo is the principal of a new website (launching officially 8/1/17, but fully operational now) called Happy! Effective Lawyer , an initiative focusing on lawyer contentment and peak performance. The site has information and links to sites about mindfulness, wellness, self-care, insights on human behavior, and other resources. The full site is set to be a subscription but you can have a free 30-day trial without giving any credit card info. From the homepage (which is a cheerfulness-inducing bright yellow):
"Lawyers deserve to lead an integrated life 24/7 and to find contentment in their daily tasks. The HAPPY Lawyers at Work approach rejects the concept of mainly focusing on achieving a work-life balance. We believe that this is a false duality between work as drudgery contrasted with time away from work as “living”. Whether you work 20 hours or 80 hours each week, not all of these hours are going to be performed with passion. Work, however, can be structured to be engaging while maximizing individual core competencies. There is a correlation between happiness, peak performance, and effective judgment and decisions. You can take affirmative steps to enhance your engagement, productivity, competency, and happiness. Best practices can be creatively crafted to meet the individual expectations for success while providing effective representation for clients."

Monday, 10 July 2017

article: Information literacy for law school graduates

The current University of Hawai'i Law Review has an interesting article by professors Ellie Margolis and Kristen E. Murray titled "Using Information Literacy to Prepare Practice-Ready Graduates." The article addresses the difficult problem of preparing “practice ready” law graduates when the practice of law is rapidly changing as a result of new developments in technology. Building upon their prior work on legal information literacy, the authors suggest a new way to think about how to prepare law students to be “practice ready” for the legal research and writing tasks they will face as they enter law practice, and how to equip them with the skills to communicate with older generations of lawyers while adapting to new and evolving technologies. From the article:
"What constitutes “cutting edge” legal research and writing skills is almost ever-changing; these are also areas where senior practitioners are likely to feel wedded to the methods and technologies they learned and first encountered in practice. Bridging this gap poses a great challenge to both the new lawyers trying to navigate it and educators striving to prepare new graduates to enter the profession within the ability to hit the ground running...The first step in helping law students and new lawyers bridge the technology gap is to shift from thinking about research and writing as fixed skills, and to focus instead on self-learning and skill development, so that new lawyers can be flexible and adapt as the technological landscape continues to change. Thinking about these skills in terms of “information literacy” can help us take this first step."

City of Pittsburgh database of city-owned properties that are for sale

The City of Pittsburgh Department of Finance has created an online searchable database listing more than 3,000 city-owned vacant lots and abandoned buildings that are for sale. The database website features a map and search options for 3,089 properties. Many of the properties are "vacant land" but there are also houses and other buildings. Some of the listings have photographs. All listings show the lot area, zoning, and assessed value. There are forms available online for anyone interested in applying to purchase any of the properties.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Lexis Advance enhancements announced

Lexis recently announced new enhancements to Lexis Advance. Lexis Answers uses "machine learning technology" to understand and anticipate your research questions as you type into the search box. The new technology suggests natural-language questions for your search and delivers a clear, concise and authoritative answer plus comprehensive search results for deeper research.
There is more info available on the Lexis website; Lexis also provides a short (2 minute) video overview of Lexis Answers on Vimeo.