Wednesday 14 December 2016

Winners Of The Techshow Startup Alley Competition

Above The Law reports on the winners of a new competition to select 12 legal technology startups to participate in the first-ever Startup Alley at the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW conference in March.  These startups will participate in a March Madness-style bracketed face-off on TECHSHOW’s opening night. Startups will face off against each other in pairs, over three rounds, with audience votes determining who moves to the next round. The startups are:
ClariLegal, a cloud-based litigation management platform that is simplifying the way litigation services are bought, sold and managed.
Ping is automated timekeeping for lawyers that will automatically track, categorize and describe all of a lawyer’s billable actions.
Court Buddy is a wholly automated platform that matches solo and small firm attorneys with small businesses based on pre-selected, a-la-carte flat rates.
LawTap Like ZocDoc for doctors and dentists, LawTap is a booking engine for attorneys.
Doxly is a cloud-based platform that transforms the chaotic process of managing legal transactions into a singular tool.
Paladin helps law firms, companies and law schools manage their pro bono with streamlined sourcing, tracking and outcome reporting on a modern, tech-forward platform.
UniCourt is a nationwide case research, tracking, management, and analytics platform that integrates court data from federal and state courts into a cloud-based application.
LegalClick is a platform for lawyers to sell their legal services direct to clients with a document assembly shopping cart in an app or online.
TrustBooks takes a scary thing like trust accounting and makes it drop-dead simple.
LawBooth connects people and attorneys online, making it easy for consumers to find the right attorney and schedule a free initial consultation.
 Alt Legal’s software helps companies and law firms create, track, and analyze intellectual property filings.
 Aggregate Law quickly and efficiently connects skilled project attorneys to legal work.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

New ABA Innovation Fellowship

The American Bar Assn. Center for Innovation has announced that applications are now being accepted for the first Innovation Fellows Program. The ABA Center for Innovation encourages and accelerates innovations that improve the affordability, effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of legal services. Recent – within the last 5 years – law school graduates will spend one year in-residence at ABA headquarters in Chicago. Fellows will receive a stipend of $45,000, along with benefits, during their time in the program. The first cohort of fellows will begin August 1, 2017 and complete their work by July 31, 2018. Bar admission is not necessary.

Are gadgets done?

The New York Times recently had an interesting article called "The Gadget Apocalypse is Upon Us." The Gadget Age, claims the author, is over, and "and even if that’s a kind of progress, because software now fills many of our needs, the great gadgetapocalypse is bound to make the tech world, and your life, a little less fun." for law schools ending Dec. 31

LexisNexis has sent us a reminder:
"Dear Law School Librarians, A friendly reminder that® will retire on December 31, 2016 for law school customers. The current link to in the drop down menu in Lexis Advance® will be removed. We've been communicating directly via email to the small number of faculty nationwide still using to ensure a smooth transition to Lexis Advance, consistently over the past year. LexisNexis Account Executives have also been contacting these individuals to offer training on Lexis Advance. Faculty using should be aware of the retirement date, but we want to make sure no one is caught off guard. If you're aware of faculty at your school still using, please remind them of the impending date. "

Monday 12 December 2016

FDLP "End of Term Presidential Harvest"

The Federal Depository Library Program has announced that The Library of Congress, California Digital Library, University of North Texas Libraries, Internet Archive, George Washington University Libraries, Stanford University Libraries, and the U.S. Government Publishing Office have joined together for a collaborative project to preserve public United States Government web sites at the end of the current presidential administration ending January 20, 2017. Using a two pronged approach, the project seeks to capture a comprehensive snapshot of the Federal government on the Web at the close of the current administration. The first is a "comprehensive crawl" of the dot gov domain; the second is a "prioritized crawl" that seeks to capture sites in greater depth and to identify those at greater risk of rapid change or disappearance. The project team will assemble a list of related URL’s and social media feeds. As a result, the project team is calling upon government information specialists, including librarians, political and social science researchers, and academics – to assist in the selection and prioritization of the selected web sites to be included in the collection, as well as identifying the frequency and depth of the act of collecting. You can use their "End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016" form to submit sites for consideration.

Friday 2 December 2016

Gender differences in law schools

Bloomberg Law blog has an interesting post that looks at gender differences in law school attendance. They point out that although almost half of law school students today are female, this is a national average and conceals an interesting gender divide. "Female law students outnumber men at schools with weak reputations while men dominate class rosters at the most prestigious schools." As am example they point to Yale where just 46 percent of students are female. At Duke University and the University of Virginia, also highly ranked law schools, women make up only 42 percent of the student body. The school with the highest percentage of women students (65 percent) is low ranked Charlotte School of Law. "This relationship between law school rank and the percentage of women students isn’t just anecdotal: across all ABA-accredited law schools, it reaches a sizable (and statistically significant) correlation of .381. Schools with a better rank, on average, enroll a substantially smaller percentage of women."

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Cornell Law offers "legal research clinic" opportunity for law students

Cornell Law School has a new legal clinic called the "Cornell Legal Research Clinic," a three credit course offered through their Law Library. Students enrolled in the clinic help local residents, nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs who have specific legal research questions but do not require full legal representation. Students also work with public-interest lawyers who need legal research assistance, and regularly staff tables at local Startup locations. The Cornell Chronicle has an article with more information about the clinic.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

MIT report on the future of libraries

Inside Higher Education reports that MIT has published a preliminary report that is the culmination of a yearlong initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study "how the MIT libraries ought to evolve to best advance the creation, dissemination and preservation of knowledge; and to serve as a leader in the reinvention of research libraries. "The MIT libraries should focus on its four "pillars" -- community and relationships, discovery and use, stewardship and sustainability, and research and development -- to reimagine itself as an "open global platform," according to a preliminary report published Monday. Chris Bourg, the MIT Libraries' Director, says “What the report and the work of the task force say is that libraries aren’t just about buildings, and they’re not just about books. Providing access to credible information and the tools to assess, use, understand and exploit it is what libraries, librarians and archivists have always done. It’s more important than ever now.”
The full report is available on the MIT website (28 page pdf).

Monday 28 November 2016

BIG changes at the GODORT State Agency Databases Project

Daniel Cornwall, who initiated the State Agency Databases Project back in 2007, has announced a number of changes in the website. The project is managed by volunteers from the government documents section of the American Library Assn. Daniel says:
"We have instituted two major changes that I think will benefit you, your patrons and anyone else who needs to deal with publicly searchable databases from US States.
 1) We are migrating to LibGuides! We feel this will allow for easier reuse of our material and will give us better usage statistics and control over how things look. Effective immediately please use the following URLs: a. Main Project Page b. State Blue Books/Encyclopedias
 2) Our state pages are now being organized by subject, rather than by agency. This change has also allowed us to offer more cross-state subject guides - though these are embryonic at the moment.
 To see how the subject organization looks in LibGuides, visit the Alaska page.
The switch to move all content from the GODORT Wiki and organize it by subject will take a while. We anticipate being finished by 3/31/2017. You can follow our progress on our migration dashboard at We will also offer periodic updates on our progress. We have set all LibGuides content to share with the entire LibGuides Community, so please let anyone you know working on LibGuides that our content is available for their use. Permission not required, attribution appreciated.
 Finally, we'd like your help in deciding whether to keep several of our current subject guides. If you care about cross-state guides in history and related fields, please visit this page and vote whether these should  be moved into LibGuides or let go. Voting will continue until 2/1/2017. To be migrated into LibGuides, a subject guide must receive at least 50 votes and a majority of those votes have to be yes. "

Friday 18 November 2016

New Director of University Library System

Pitt News Service has the announcement:
"Kornelia Tancheva, associate university librarian for research and learning services at Cornell University Library, will be Pitt’s Hillman University Librarian and director of the University Library System effective May 1 of next year, Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson announced today.
Tancheva, whose association with Cornell University dates back to 1993, holds a PhD in American drama and theatre from Cornell as well as three master’s degrees—one in library science from Syracuse University, one in history and theory of drama and theatre from Cornell, and one in English language and literature from Sofia University in Bulgaria.
Her career has included planning and implementing a number of key projects and initiatives, including partnership programs within Cornell and beyond."

hat tip: Pat Roncevich & Tracey Olanyk

ABA puts law school on probation

The ABA Journal reports that The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is placing the Charlotte School of Law on probation and publicly censuring Valparaiso University School of Law because both schools were out of compliance with ABA accreditation standards. The two schools were disciplined for violating ABA admissions rules by failing to maintain sound admissions policies and admitting students who "(do) not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.” reports that "The ABA has now publicly sanctioned three law schools for violating admissions rules since August, unusual moves considering such actions historically are rare. Ave Maria School of Law is the other campus that has run afoul of the rules."

Wednesday 16 November 2016

PACER revenues

The Free Law Project blog has a post titled "How much money does PACER make?" and answers the question with statistics that are quite eye-opening: PACER has brought in $1.2 billion over its 21 year existence, including $145 million in 2015 (the latest year available). Which leads the Free Law Project to conclude that:
"These are remarkable numbers and they point to one of two conclusions. Either PACER is creating a surplus — which is illegal according to the E-Government Act — or PACER is costing $135M/year to run. Whichever the case, it’s clear that something has gone terribly wrong. If the justice system is turning a profit selling public domain legal documents through its public access system, that’s wrong. If the judicial branch needs $60M/year to run a basic website, that’s gross waste, and that’s wrong too. Something needs to be done to rein in PACER, and again we ask that public citizens, Congress, journalists, and the courts work to develop a solution."

Statutes at Large from the LLoC update

Jennifer González on the In Custodia Legis Blog From the Law Library of Congress informs readers that two years ago the LLoC “added historical Statutes at Large to our Digitized Material page. Years 1789-1950 have been available there in a large PDF download, but we have been working steadily to add more functionality to the website. We continue to add details to each Congress page that show the titles and dates of each statute, along with a smaller download for just that statute. Currently, we have years 1826-1919 (Congresses 19-65) available with chapter details. Years 1919-1923 (Congresses 66 and 67) will be posted by the end of 2016. And then we will continue to fill in the gaps in our coverage…”
hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Friday 11 November 2016

Government Accountability Office (GAO) transition app

“To help make the upcoming presidential and congressional transitions as informed as possible, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has launched a new mobile app that provides users easy access to the watchdog agency’s priority recommendations for improving government operations."  The app is available free of charge in the App Store or Google Play. GAO has a webpage about the Presidential and Congressional transition with links to the App and other information.
hat tip: beSpacific

President Elect website now available

Monday 7 November 2016

Beyond Google - Another Look at Finding Government Information

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) through its FDLP Academy is hosting a webiner this Wednesday, November 9th at 2:00 pm called "Beyond Google - Another Look at Finding Government Information." This webinar will cover intermediate and advanced searching techniques, deep web search engines, and ways to find and use "hidden" resources. During the webinar, sample searches will be for statistics, born-digital, and digitized historical publications. You can register for this free webinar here.

Friday 4 November 2016

Moving to Office 360 email

If you're paying attention you have probably received several notices, both via email and snailmail, about the move to Office 365 email that is going to occur for Pitt faculty and staff really soon.
If you haven't paid much attention, you can get all the info you need at, a site that  CSSD has set up. Basically the move should happen seamlessly and there's no need to worry.
Plus Office 365 email is going to be "An improved email experience" with 50 GB of email storage (!) etc. etc. etc. and a new feature called Clutter: "Clutter will be activated for your Inbox. It automatically moves less important messages into a new Clutter folder."
Sounds interesting.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

LLRX updates website

The website was recently redesigned with an all new look. LLRX is a free, independent, one woman published Web journal dedicated to providing legal, library, IT, CI/BI, marketing, communications, Congressional, legislative, academic and administrative professionals, as well as students, with the most up-to-date information on a wide range of web research and technology-related issues, applications, resources and tools. It has been edited and published for 20 years by Sabrina I. Pacifici, pioneering member of the online legal community.

Burgh's Eye View tracks and locates Pittsburgh data

The City of Pittsburgh has launched a new website/app called "Burgh's Eye View" that contains information and maps about Pittsburgh including crime statistics, building code violations and 311 service requests about broken sidewalks, graffiti, potholes and excessive noise complaints. The app contains data the city supplies each night to the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, a website that contains public information, much of which was previously accessible only through Right-to-Know requests.
According to the website, "At first glance, Burgh’s Eye View might seem like some­thing from the dreams of our most “neb­by” neigh­bors... but...We think of it as neb­by for the great­er good." Burgh’s Eye View is an initiative of the Department of the Innovation & Performance’s Analytics & Strategy Team. Who, by the way, say they would "love to hear (via email) your feedback, ideas, and hopes for the future of data in the City of Pittsburgh."

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Charleston Conference live streaming Nov. 3&4

The 2016 Charleston Conference, an informal annual gathering of librarians, publishers, electronic resource managers, consultants, and vendors of library materials in Charleston S.C. is running this Thursday, Nov. 3 2016 through Saturday. If you aren't planning to attend the conference in person they will be live streaming several plenary sessions on the conference website, available here.
The events that will be available are:
Thursday, November 3  
8:30 – 9:15 am: You Can’t Preserve What You Don’t Have – Or Can You? Libraries as Infrastructure for Perpetual Access to Intellectual Output. (Anja Smit, University Librarian, Utrecht University)
9:15 – 10:00 am Libraries as Convener, Enabler, Distributor, Advocate, and Archive in the Future Knowledge Economy (Jim Neal, University Librarian Emeritus, Columbia University)
Friday, November 4
8:30 – 9:10 am Reimagining Our World At Planetary Scale: The Big Data Future Of Our Libraries (Kalev Leetaru, Senior Fellow, Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, Georgetown University)
9:10 – 9:55 am Hyde Park Debate – Resolved: APC-Funded Open Access is Antithetical to the Values of Librarianship (Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Collections & Scholarly Communication, University of Utah; Michael Levine-Clark, Dean and Director, University of Denver Libraries; Alison Scott, Associate University Librarian for Collections & Scholarly Communication, University of California, Riverside).
Recorded video from the sessions will be made available on the Conference website in January.

webinar: International Government Survey Data: How to Find and Use It

"Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian," the webinar series hosted by the Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association, has announced its next installment: International Government Survey Data: How to Find and Use It. The webinar will be held on Monday, Nov. 14 from noon- 1 pm Eastern time.
From the description: What is the difference between international government statistics, aggregate data, and microdata? What is "unit-level" data? How does one discover, evaluate, and utilize microdata produced by international organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations? This webinar will introduce the user to tips and tricks for finding, evaluating and using international microdata, and explaining how these sources differ from the statistics and aggregate data many users are more accustomed to working with. Major discovery services will be explored, as well as the essential skills needed to interpret data documentation, study descriptions, and the formats in which these data are provided.
Presenter Jim Church is the librarian for economics, international & foreign government information, global poverty, and political economy at the University of California Berkeley. He serves as the Chair of the IFLA Government Information and Official Publications Section and is also active in the ALA Government Documents Round Table where he writes the international documents column for the journal DttP. His primary areas of interest are in economic development and international and nongovernmental organizations.
You can register for the program here. The webinar will also be recorded and available after the live session from the NCLA GRS web page and on their YouTube channel

Friday 28 October 2016

New data dissemination beta testing

The U.S. Census Bureau is releasing a new "enterprise dissemination tool" for the giant mass of data gathered by the Census. Currently there are a bunch of data sources/finding aids for the US Census, and this new tool is meant to centralize and standardize data into a single platform. The Census Bureau held an online webinar this week that gave an overview and demonstration of this new Census site. The webinar was recorded and is available online through the FDLP Academy program at the US GPO; the powerpoint presentation and a transcript of the audio are also available through FDLP.
The Census Bureau is determined to make this as userfriendly as possible, and the beta test, called " preview", is now open to all. The Census Bureau would like people to use the preview and then submit feedback to improve the platform as it evolves into the permanent Census data source.

Kluwer study guides subscription updates

For your information: Kluwer has just updated all the study guides in our subscription to the most recent editions. There are also two new titles included in the subscription: "Inside Adjudicative Criminal Procedure: What Matters and Why," and "Inside Torts: What Matters and Why."
The Kluwer study guides are very helpful and we encourage Pitt Law students to make use of them as we head towards final exam time.

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 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. 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.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Alliance for Justice sues over PACER fees

The ABA Journal reports that the Alliance for Justice, along with the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the National Consumer Law Center, has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court accusing the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts of illegally charging excessive fees to access court records through its online Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. The lawsuit charges that the Administrative Office is in violation of the E-Government Act of 2002, which mandated that the fees to access court records online cannot exceed the amount needed to maintain the system itself. The lawsuit (15 page pdf) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A press release announcing the lawsuit says “Faith in our judicial system depends on transparency and uninhibited access to court documents for all Americans, regardless of the ability to pay. It’s particularly disturbing that the courts themselves are violating a plainly written law, especially one designed specifically to promote public confidence in the judicial system.”

Friday 22 April 2016

Update on the baby Bluebook

Another event in the Carl Malamud and Baby Blue saga.. the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog reports that Carl Malamud has alerted the Harvard Law Review Association that his alternative version of the Bluebook has been renamed  "the Indigo Book ."  This should avoid any confusion over the use of the word "Blue." 

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Short fast books

The EBook Friendly website points out that "Reading for 6 minutes can reduce stress by 68%. It's three times more effective than video games... Reading a book, even for a couple of minutes, can increase self-worth and trigger imagination" (no argument from librarians). The site has a helpful infographic with "24 Books You Can Read In Under An Hour"...  all by respected authors like E.A. Poe, Annie Proulx, R.L. Stevenson, Nick Hornby and Nikolai Gogol. So no excuses, get reading!

Authors Guild v. Google: the end

Inside Higher Ed reports that a United States Supreme Court order issued today ends a more than a decade-long legal battle between Google and the Authors Guild. At issue was whether Google's book digitization project, in which millions of copyrighted books are being scanned without the authors' permission, is legal. The Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, allowing the Second Circuit's opinion of the case to stand: see Author's Guild v. Google, Inc., 804 F. 3d 202, 2015. The scanning project is considered "fair use."

LLOC signs on to

The DigitalGov blog posts that the Law Library of Congress is now using as the solution to the problem of "link rot" in all its reports. The blog post says "The Law Library’s discovery regarding the extent of link rot in its own reports led to the search for an archiving solution that would allow readers of those reports to access linked content in real time, as they were reading, without having to jump out of the report to search a database of archived material. The exploration of options ultimately lead to a solution known as, developed specifically for the legal community by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. allows authors to archive documents referenced in their work as they are writing and simultaneously generates a permalink to the archived document for inclusion in the work." The University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Barco Law Library is, of course, also a "member" of

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Saturday 16 April 2016

For faculty, 37 ways to use technology in teaching

John Mayer, the director of CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction), has posted an article titled "37 Free Ways to Use Tech in Your Law School Course."  A few of the ideas do involve using CALI tools - which anyone at Pitt Law can do since we are a member of CALI. But there are many other ideas that may be useful in law school teaching - worth a look. 

Friday 15 April 2016

Con Law Prof scolding

Above the Law has a (somewhat amusing) post titled "Con Law Professor Has Meltdown In Email Blast To Students", with a story about a law professor at Wayne State who sent a scolding email to his students. It sounds more like a scolding than a "meltdown" - there is only one word that might possibly be considered a swear word (and it isn't pinkeye). Hopefully students will take it to heart and attend all the remaining classes of the semester.

Twitter and hashtags

The RIPS Law Librarian Blog (RIPS stands for research, instruction, and patron services) has an interesting post that discusses Twitter and, more specifically, the use of hashtags on Twitter. Author Christine George says "I’ve found that there are some definite benefits to Team Hashtag. Using institution-wide hashtags helps build relationships with other units. They become aware that you are active on social media and can sometimes come through when you need to get the word out. Using trending hashtags—as appropriate, of course—can help you gain new followers that might not have been aware of you otherwise."

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Friday 8 April 2016

Country by Country Guide to Foreign Law Research from the Yale Law School Library

Yale Law Library recently updated their excellent country by country foreign law guide; it will help get you started on foreign law research by connecting you to the best research guides and databases for each country.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

The Coral Project working to make comments better

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard has a post about The Coral Project - "a joint effort between The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Mozilla Foundation, and The Knight Foundation." The project is developing an app called Trust, aimed at building communities around journalism by using the "Comments" section of user-generated contributions to journalist articles.

hat tip: Karen Shephard

2015 Justice Dept. report available

The Justice Department's Office of Information Policy has posted Justice's 2015 Litigation and Compliance Report (25 page pdf), detailing the department’s efforts to encourage agency compliance with the FOIA, and listing of all FOIA litigation cases received and decided in the prior calendar year. Once of the things they did this year was produce an FOIA infographic as a training resource for all government agencies.

Monday 4 April 2016

ABA Peeps in Law contest update

You can see the 2016 gallery here.

Update: Georgia State copyright case

Inside Higher Ed reports "Publishers Dealt Another Blow in Copyright Lawsuit." This is the continuing story of the case Cambridge U. Press, Oxford U. Press, Sage Publications v. Mark P. Becker, President of Georgia State University, commonly known as the Georgia State copyright case or e-reserves case. In the decision, a federal court has once again found that Georgia State University’s use of digitized course readings known as e-reserves is protected by fair use. This is an ongoing case in the Northern District of Georgia in which three publishers, Cambridge University Press, SAGE Publications, and Oxford University Press, are suing Georgia State University for copyright infringement, claiming that Georgia State University engaged in "systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works" through its e-reserves system. Georgia State asserted that its system did not infringe copyright because its uses were fair use.
The original case is Cambridge Univ. Press v. Becker, 863 F. Supp. 2d 1190 (N.D. Ga. 2012). The judge's 220 page ruling is available here.

massive Doc leak from Panamanian/international law firm show global tax dodging

BBC News and The Guardian, among many other news sources, are reporting on the "Panama Papers" - millions of papers leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Among the stories are pieces on Vladimir Putin’s $1 billion in offshore holdings; the Prime Minister of Iceland’s shady dealings with a private company, which served as a tax haven for his private wealth; and FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, whose members also appear in the documents. The papers were first leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a part of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. The Süddeutsche Zeitung has a full report on this fascinating story in English as well as German.

Friday 1 April 2016

Solar Powered Books!

Lulu, a website for self-publishing authors, has announced an amazing new release in "Press Release: Lulu Leaps Ahead of Competitors with Release of Solar-Powered Books."
According to the press release:
"every page of a book ordered on acts as its own solar-powered reading substrate. The paper’s reflective qualities highlight the print in such a way that when a page is exposed to light, black text appears to float in a pool of white and colors seem to vibrantly leap off the page...Lulu’s solar-powered books are not limited to use in direct sunlight, but are fully functional with LED, incandescent, fluorescent, firelight, candlelight and even moonlight on clear nights. This breakthrough ensures that students and readers everywhere can complete their assignments and even read for pleasure in any lighted space regardless of access to electricity or charging stations."
Congratulations, Lulu!....

...and April Fool's!

Monday 28 March 2016

Upcoming ProQuest Congressional webinars

ProQuest has announced a series of Congressional webinars for April and May:
1. Tuesday April 5, 12:00 noon:  Using/searching ProQuest Congressional Hearings for Expert Testimony : Join this 30 minute webinar for how to search Congressional hearings for expert testimony - including companies, scientists, researchers and more. Register here.
2. Tues. April 19, 12:00 noon:  Legislative Insight Overview :  Join this 30 minute webinar for a quick review of ProQuest Legislative Insight. We’ll look at two legislative histories, one more straightforward and the other more complex, to explore the legislative histories and the functionality of Legislative Insight. Register here.
3. Thurs. April 21, 12:00 noon:  101 Uses for the Congressional Research Digital Collection  The Congressional Research Digital Collection, made up of Committee Prints and CRS Reports, is a rich source of varied content – from pro/con discussions to Democratic and Republican staff papers. Join this appr. 45 minute webinar to explore some of the content types and how to find them. Register here.
4. Tues. May 3, 1:00 pm: Using ProQuest Congressional for Historical Research The ProQuest Congressional Collection, with all of the full text modules, creates a rich source of information for those doing historical research. Join this webinar (45-60 minutes) to explore sources available - the Congressional Record, Committee Hearings, the US Congressional Serial Set, the Executive Branch Documents collection and the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations and how you might use them for research.  Register here. 

Friday 25 March 2016

Security in libraries

Inside Higher Education recently posted an article titled "Library Access vs. Library Security" in which it discusses security and safety in academic libraries that are open to the public. The article uses the Pitt ULS as an example of how some libraries deal with public access: "The University of Pittsburgh library system, for example, lets everyone in but charges a $100 fee for borrowing privileges for the unaffiliated." Other university libraries have guards and security cameras; Georgia State recently closed the library to the public after a series of armed robberies inside the building - they are upgrading security cameras and improving sign-in procedures during the closure.

AAUP draft report on Title IX enforcement by the Dept. of Education

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released a draft report, available for comment (56 page pdf), called "The History, Uses and Abuses of Title IX." In the report, the AAUP warns that the manner in which Title IX enforcement dealing with sexual harassment and assault, by the Education Department and campus administrators, is trampling faculty members' rights to academic freedom, due process, and shared governance. It also warns that "colleges’ current focus on eliminating sexual harassment may be contributing to other campus inequities, and may actually be hindering broader efforts to fight sexual discrimination under the gender-equity law known as Title IX." The report concludes that ""The contemporary interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of Title IX threatens academic freedom and shared governance in ways that frustrate the statute’s stated goals," and that by interpreting Title IX "to focus primarily on sexual harassment and assault on campus" the department has been distracted from its duties under that law to protect women from discrimination in other areas, such as access to academic programs and participation in collegiate athletics.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Blue(book)s Wars

Carl Malamud of Public Resource has been on the case of the Bluebook for a couple of years now . The latest salvo came in a recent posting in the Harvard Law Record titled "The Blue Wars: A Report From the Front" written by Mr. Malamud. In the post he refers to a letter he received from attorneys for the Harvard Law Review Association "concerning Mr. Malamud's recent Twitter postings." The post gives the history of the wranglings over the Bluebook that Public Resource has been involved in since 2009.

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Google Scholar search button

If you like to use Google Scholar to find free cases and scholarly articles (and who doesn't?) you can add a Google Scholar button to your browser, if you use Firefox or Chrome. This lets you launch the Google Scholar search box from your browser bar. The default is set for articles; if you want to change the default to case law, click on the gear icon at the bottom right to for the "Scholar Settings" page. Then you can include patents, or search for caselaw and articles, and set the results to a max of 20 per page.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Webinar on Government Apps and Mobile Sites

"Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian" Webinars from the Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association is a series of free webinars designed to help librarians do better reference work by increasing familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them. These sessions are recorded and made available after the live sessions from the NCLA GRS web page.
On Friday, March 18 from 12-1 there is a webinar called "Get App(y): Government apps and mobile sites." You can register here.

Transparency for the Congressional Research Service

Recently, bipartisan bills were introduced in both houses of Congress (S 2639 and HR 4702) that authorize the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to make reports prepared for Congress freely available to the public. Libraries, educators, and groups advocating for transparency in government support the legislation. An agency within the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) employs more than 400 policy analysts, attorneys, and information professionals across a variety of disciplines in five research divisions: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and Resources, Science and Industry.  CRS provides policy and legal analysis to Congress, and its reports remain the province of congressional members and their staff. They are released to the public mainly when referred to during hearings. A new website,, was launched in December 2015, and purports to be the “largest free and public collection of Congressional Research Service reports.” The earliest report in the repository is from 1989. The "Search" function is, at present, rudimentary. 

Friday 4 March 2016

We say carNAYgie, you say CARnegie. You're wrong.

Aha! Irrefutable proof that we Pittsburghers (unlike everyone else in the world) pronounce "Carnegie" correctly.

hat tip: CMOA

Monday 29 February 2016

National Archives website adds new features

The National Archives has announced updates to their website - in particular, to the National Archives Catalog. "You can now:
- Enjoy the updated homepage featuring background images from Catalog records.
- Find what you need with a more intuitive advanced search page.
- Add your comments on digitized records, descriptions, and authority records; and
- Track your "citizen archivist" contributions with updated user account pages.
- Add data from scanned records to your developer toolbox with increased API functionality.”
Also, if you enjoy coloring books, the National Archives recently released the "Coloring Book of Patents 2016," available as a free 17 page PDF and full of "sheer inventive weirdness." 

Friday 26 February 2016

Psychology & Lawyering symposium

The U. of Nevada - Las Vegas law school recently published a collection of papers that were presented at their symposium on Psychology and Lawyering. These articles discuss how research in psychology can be used to inform legal education and lawyering in general. Among the interesting titles:
Getting Students Psyched: Using Psychology to Encourage Classroom Participation;
Hiding the Elephant: How the Psychological Techniques of Magicians Can Be Used to Manipulate Witnesses at Trial;
Virtuous Billing; and
Silencing our Elders.

US v. Apple at a glance

The Wall Street Journal Tech Blog has a very concise explanation of the U.S. v. Apple dispute titled U.S. v. Apple: Where They Disagree. For a slightly longer take on the dispute, the MIT Technology Review has an article called The Legal Question At the Core of the Apple Encryption Standoff. 

Thursday 25 February 2016

cellphone battery help

The New York Times Personal Tech blog has a really helpful article today called "Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life." The bad news is that we're stuck with not very good batteries for "the forseeable future"; but there are some ways to eke out battery life that I didn't know about.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

ABA Journal Peeps diorama contest opens

It's that time of the year again: Law in Peepculture, aka the ABA Journal's Peeps Diorama Contest. To quote the ABA Journal article: "The spring awakens, which means it is time for 2016 Peeps in Law: Peep Wars... Create a law-related diorama with Peeps, take a photo of the diorama and send the photo (JPG, GIF or PNG) by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 21 to Include a title of the diorama, how you would like to be identified and a description of what the diorama represents. If you’d like to attach additional multimedia, go for it! In the past, some dioramas have had accompanying videos and original songs. Decisions to accept and post dioramas are solely up to ABA Journal staff. Here is a photo gallery of 2015 entries to give you some inspiration."

Finally, Fastcase

We were intrigued and a bit nervous last fall when new-ish legal research company Fastcase announced the acquisition of competing service Loislaw from Wolters Kluwer. We had a subscription to Loislaw but not to Fastcase. So we are pleased that Fastcase invited us to "grandfather" our Loislaw subscription into a Fastcase subscription, now available on the Barco databases page. And Fastcase's "smarter legal research tools" are more intuitive and help users drill down to the information they need more quickly. Features include:
- Interactive Timeline - the first data visualization for results.
- Smartphone apps, for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
- Bad Law Bot, the first big data service to find negative history.
- Integrated citation analysis - know which results are most important with a single click.
- The Loislaw treatise libraries.

Fastcase helpfully links out to other websites for information not (currently) included in the database, like Federal docket filings and HeinOnline. There's a "Search Newspapers" link to NewsLibrary, where you can find stories from newspapers across the US.
Fastcase is available to law school faculty, staff and students inside the Barco Law Building (including via wireless network). Currently it isn't available off-campus.
Fastcase also provides free live training webinars that you can register for throughout the spring.  

Friday 12 February 2016

New map of academic law libraries

Law Librarian Aaron Kirschenfeld from UNC has put together a list of academic law libraries in the U.S., available as a map and as a downloadable spreadsheet. H collected the library's name, website, and Twitter profile, and plans to add blogs to the mix soon. He is also asking for help in correcting information I've gotten wrong or for suggestions about what else to include - you can email him your comments.

Friday 5 February 2016

Hall of Justice, new database of criminal justice across the U.S.

A new database called "Hall of Justice" was announced today by the Sunlight Foundation. According to the announcement, "Hall of Justice is a robust, searchable inventory of publicly available criminal justice datasets and research. While not comprehensive, Hall of Justice contains nearly 10,000 datasets and research documents from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and the federal government. The data was collected between September 2014 and October 2015. We have tagged datasets so that users can search across the inventory for broad topics, ranging from death in custody to domestic violence to prison population. The inventory incorporates government as well as academic data."

GPO Launches Beta of, eventually to replace FDsys

The Government Publishing Office has announced the beta launch of, a new platform for federal government information that will eventually replace FDsys, GPO’s current digital archive, in 2017. According to the announcement, "govinfo is a user-friendly, modernized site that provides an easy to use navigation system accessible on smartphones, tablets, laptops and personal computers." GPO said other features include an alphabetical list of collections, quick links to popular publications, related documents and search by calendar.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Task Force on Federal Corrections issues sweeping report

The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections has issued a Report titled "Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives" (132 p. pdf) that makes a set of recommendations to reform the federal justice system, enhance public safety, and save the government billions of dollars. The report provides both an urgent call to action and a roadmap for reforming the federal prison system. The Task Force was established by Congressional mandate in 2014 as a nine-person, bipartisan, blue ribbon panel charged with developing practical, data-driven recommendations to enhance public safety by creating a more just and efficient federal corrections system. The Task Force found that punitive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes represent "the primary driver" of prison overcrowding and recommends they be reserved for the most violent offenders. The report also urges more oversight and resources for the Federal Bureau of Prisons — and for programs that return inmates to their communities and foster bonds with their families.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Oyez Project's future up in the air

The Chicago-Kent Law professor who has been building and maintaining the Oyez Project since the early '90s is retiring in May, and the future of Oyez is up in the air. Jerry Goldman has been providing his content free to the public but now he would like to sell the content, according to an article in the WSJ Law Blog. "“There are a lot of buyers out there if the cost is zero,” Mr. Goldman says.
Oyez includes 7,794 hours of argument since Oct. 13, 1955, including such landmark cases as Engel v. Vitale (striking down mandatory prayer in public school, 1962), Loving v. Virginia (invalidating ban on interracial marriage, 1967) and U.S. v. Nixon (requiring president to surrender Watergate tapes, 1974). Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court's own website, Oyez also offers audio of justices reading their opinions as the decisions are announced.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Harvard Law announces a new tool for preserving online info

Jonathan Zittrain, chair of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law has announced the release of Amber, a free software tool that can be used with WordPress and Drupal to preserve content and prevent broken hyperlinks. Zittrain said "Amber harnesses the distributed resources of the Web to safeguard it. By allowing a form of mutual assistance among Web sites, we can together ensure that information placed online can remain there, even amidst denial of service attacks or broad-based attempts at censorship.”

Friday 29 January 2016

Supreme Court Justices' favorite words

An article in the Stanford Technology Law Review called USING ALGORITHMIC ATTRIBUTION TECHNIQUES TO DETERMINE AUTHORSHIP IN UNSIGNED JUDICIAL OPINIONS by William Li, Pablo Azar, David Larochelle, Phil Hill, James Cox, Robert C. Berwick, & Andrew W. Lo was recently discussed in the Atlantic Monthly. These computer scientists developed a program that analyzes signed opinions to spot words, phrases and sentence structure characterizing each justice’s writing style, then uses its findings to determine the author of unsigned opinions. Examples: Chief Justice John J. Roberts Jr. uses the words “pertinent” and “accordingly” a lot. He tends to start sentences with “here” and end them with “the first place.” He also likes the phrases “without regard to,” “given that” and “a general matter.”  Justice  Scalia favors the words “utterly,” “thinks” and “finally.” He also likes to start sentences with “of course” and “that is not.” Justice  Breyer likes to use the phrase “in respect to” and to start sentences with “for one thing,” “that is because” and “hence.” He likes to use the words “consequently” and “thing.”  Justice  Ginsburg often uses the words “observed” and “stated,” and likes to start sentences with “notably.” She likes the phrases “reasons stated” and “case concerns.” Justice Sotomayor often uses the words “observes,” “heightened” and “lawsuits.” Justice Clarence Thomas likes the phrases “the foregoing reasons” and “address whether.” He likes to begin sentences with “therefore” and “however.” Justice Alito favors the words “fundamentally,” “widely” and “regarded.” He also uses the phrases “set out,” “noted above,” “is generally” and “the decision of.” Justice Kagan tends to use the words “enables,” “earlier” and “matters,” and the phrases “result is” “after all” and “the theory.” Justice Kennedy likes to begin sentences with “though” and “the question is.” He favors ending sentences with “however.” He also uses the phrase “he or she.”

Monday 25 January 2016

Title IX Investigation Tracker for sexual violence

The Chronicle of Higher Education has created an online project called the Title IX Investigation Tracker. The project tracks federal investigations of colleges for possible violations of the gender-equity law Title IX involving alleged sexual violence. It includes all investigations "in this wave of enforcement": those either open now or resolved since April 4, 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter exhorting colleges to resolve students’ reports of sexual assault — and to protect them throughout the process.
You can search federal investigations by institution or keyword, see which ones are open and which are resolved, and learn the context. You can also sign up for alerts about specific campuses or federal enforcement in general.  As more information is gathered by the Chronicle  — such as the federal investigations’ case files, which they have requested through the Freedom of Information Act — it  will be added to the site.
Note that this project is focused on federal enforcement. It does not document each step in state or federal legislation on campus sexual assault, colleges’ internal investigations of students’ reports, or related lawsuits.