Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Episode 082 – Conversation with BLS Librarian Jean Davis

Episode 082 – Conversation with BLS Librarian Jean Davis.mp3

In this podcast, Brooklyn Law School's Associate Librarian for International Law Jean Davis shares her observations about the challenges facing law students in using five legal research engines, including the legacy versions of Westlaw and Lexis and the newer versions of WestlawNext and LexisNexis Advance as well as Bloomberg Law. She also provides a flyer that Lexis created to highlight new content and features of LexisNexis Advance. Earlier this month, Davis was a co-panelist in New Generation of Legal Research Databases a program at the American Association of Law Libraries' 105th Annual Meeting. Other panelists were former BLS Library Director Victoria Szymczak, (now Law Library Director at the School of Law at the University of Hawaii), Jean P. O'Grady, Director of Research Services and Libraries at DLA Piper, Emily Marcum, a law firm librarian from Birmingham, Alabama, and Susan Nevelow Mart, Law Library Director at University of Colorado in Boulder.

The program grew out of last year’s Annual Meeting of AALL and enabled librarians familiar with Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis Advance, and WestlawNext to compare the developments of these research tools and consider the effect these changes have had in libraries. The discussion contrasted the latest interfaces of these services to their classic versions, as well as to each other,  examining what worked, what failed, whether “improvements” changed workflow, and whether the changes impacted user preferences.

The panelists delivered the results of a survey on academic, law firm and government adoption of Lexis Advance, Westlaw Next and Bloomberg Law. The survey showed that law schools librarians teach a variety of platforms to train law students. Traditionally, they taught only the Lexis and Westlaw platforms. Now they need to train students on WestlawNext, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law. Law firms are concerned about pricing schemes available under both the old and new platforms and the challenges of cost recovery. Government libraries are starting to adopt Bloomberg Law and have seen a strong interest in the product by judges. Executives from the three vendors were present to answer questions from the panel or audience members. For observations about the panel, see the blog post Next Generation Legal Search Engines: Westlaw Next, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law: The Good, The Bad and The Baffling on Jean O’Grady’s blog Dewey B Strategic. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Law Students Teach Copyright

An article in the New York Law Journal reports that Brooklyn Law School's BLIP Clinic has created a new curriculum to help New York City art students better understand copyright law to avoid violating intellectual property rights. Starting this fall, students from the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic will vist high schools to conduct 50-minute sessions on the basics of copyright, fair use and how copyrighted material can be used to make new creative art. BLS law students will initially teach the classes, but the goal is to train high school art teachers to incorporate copyright basics into their courses.

The curriculum was developed by Charles Stanley, BLS Class of 2013, with other clinic members and funding from the NY State Bar Foundation. The BLIP Clinic, which Associate Professor Jonathan Askin founded in 2008, has provided legal support to more than 400 technology start-ups with the help of 25 BLS students each semester. Askin hopes to create a new generation of lawyers who recognize that current laws "don't necessarily apply well in a digital world" and who will work to transform the law "so it better enables artists and other creators and entrepreneurs to realize their vision."

BLS Reference Librarian Sara Gras created a LibGuide, Researching Copyright Law, for resources on copyright law at Brooklyn Law School. Pages on the guide list material on Statures and Regulations, Library Materials, Online Databases, Internet Resources, and Copyright and the Internet.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Suing Courts by Serkin and Bloom

Brooklyn Law School Professor Christopher Serkin and University of Colorado Law School Professor Frederic Bloom (who until last year taught at BLS) have posted Suing Courts on SSRN. For the full text of the article, see 79 U. Chi. L. Rev. 553 (2012). The abstract reads:
This Article argues for a new and unexpected mechanism of judicial accountability: suing courts. Current models of court accountability focus almost entirely on correcting legal errors. A suit against the court would concentrate on something different — on providing transition relief, by way of legal remedy, to those bearing the heaviest burdens of desirable legal change. These suits may at first appear impossible. But suing courts is conceptually rational and mechanically reasonable, a tool that eases legal transitions while navigating the many hurdles modern doctrine puts in the way. This Article sets out the first complete account of how, where, and why suing courts might work — both in the context of judicial takings and perhaps outside it, too. It shows how suing courts can simultaneously discipline judges and liberate them. And it outlines a surprising promise for all involved — a narrow hope for impacted parties and a new kind of accountability for law-changing courts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ADA 22 Years Later

Twenty-two years ago, on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law making it the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. The National Archives is featuring Presidential records related to disability history on a new web research page. The site has many records relating to American citizens with disabilities, from personal letters to historic legislation, that provide insight into efforts over the past century to establish programs and to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The documents are also available on Disability.gov, a partner of this project. Featured documents include:

• The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
• President George H.W. Bush's speech notes from the ADA signing ceremony
• A White House memo regarding correspondence between Eunice Kennedy Shriver and President
• Lyndon B. Johnson about advocacy for intellectual disabilities
• A statement by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the founding of the March of Dimes.
• Letters from Helen Keller to President Herbert Hoover

The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection a number of items to help researchers better understand this landmark legislation. Among them is the 3rd edition of Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act by William D. Goren (Call #KF480 .G67 2010). The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) became effective January 1, 2009 changing several significant respects of the original ADA. While the ADA remains an extremely broad and comprehensive law, this book highlights various aspects of the ADA, so that by the end, the reader will have an excellent overview, as well as a framework for dealing with the ADA in a preventive manner.  Topics include:

• ADA as it relates to professional sports
• Genetic Nondiscrimination Act
• Undue hardship and reasonable accommodation
• Pre-employment medical exams
• Alcoholism and drug addiction
• Public accommodations and commercial facilities, and other specific topics

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tax Evasion and Tax Havens

A new report by the British group Tax Justice Network concludes that there is at least $21 trillion -- and possibly as much as $32 trillion -- sitting in secret tax havens in offshore accounts, an amount roughly the size of the American and Japanese economies combined. The offshore tax havens result in an estimated $280 billion in lost income tax revenues. In 2010, the world’s top 50 private banks managed more than $12.1 trillion in cross-border funds, up from $5.4 trillion in 2005. The offshore wealth belongs to a group of 10 million people, according to the report, which is based on data from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and more.

For more on the subjects of Tax evasion -- United States and Tax havens, see the Brooklyn Law School Library's collection for its copy of Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens by Nicholas Shaxson (Call #HV6344.U6 S53 2011). The publisher states that the book, written in league with the Tax Justice Network, "dives deep into the secret world of tax havens and takes us to hot spots from Switzerland to Panama to Delaware in a riveting narrative of how society loses through illegal tax evasion.” It shows how more than 12,750 foreign corporations get out of paying taxes each year by claiming to have offices in the same five-story building in the Cayman Islands and how one thousand children die every day as a result of illegal, trade related tax evasion.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Books List July 19

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List dated July 19, 2012 is now accessible on the SARA Library Catalog. Among the 62 items on the list is The Law of Lawyers' Liability, a Fifty State Survey of Legal Practice edited by Merri A. Baldwin, Scott F. Bertschi, and Dylan C. Black. The American Bar Association which published the book notes that increase in suits against lawyers has highlighted a number of issues that distinguish the claim from the run-of-the-mill negligence to cause of action. Lawyers who prosecute or defend legal malpractice claims must understand their state's legal malpractice laws and, when a claim involves multiple jurisdictions, must also consider the potentially applicable laws of other involved jurisdictions. This guide provides a state-by-state review of laws in each state pertaining to the laws of lawyer liability. Each chapter is devoted to the law of each state, written by lawyers in that particular state for easy comparison. Whether a lawyer is involved in litigating legal malpractice actions or merely wants to understand more about these matters, this book is intended to serve as a resource to how the law varies state by state.
The book includes a chapter devoted to the law of each state, written by lawyers who practice in that particular state. The chapters follow a standard format, allowing the reader to easily search for comparable law in other states. The chapters detail the applicable law of legal malpractice as follows: Elements of the Claim, Standing, Standard of Care, Causation, Damages, Defenses, and Alternative Causes of Action.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Welcome to Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn Law School recently added to its YouTube channel a new video featuring faculty, students and administrators talking about the advantages of attending Brooklyn Law School.  See it below.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

BLS Library New Books List

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for July 5, 2012 has 67 items including works on federal agency adjudication, antitrust law and the judicial power, disability rights versus bioethics, strategies and tactics for pharmaceutical patent litigators, children and the Internet, wrongful convictions, computer-related crime, E-Discovery in smaller cases, environmental law, trade secret litigation, eyewitness identification, nonprofit organizations, and deceptive trademarks. Members of the BLS Faculty can request a book by clicking on the “Faculty Book Request” tab in the SARA Catalog above the search box to submit a request. Students can go to the open shelves to locate books and bring them to the circulation desk for checkout.

One of the titles that may be of interest to graduating law students is Build Your Practice the Logical Way: Maximize Your Client Relationships by Carol Schiro Greenwald and Steven Skyles-Mulligan (Call #KF311 .G7 2012). The authors discuss how clients will fuel a law firm's growth. Consistent, strategic, and sustainable firm growth depends on strong client relationships rooted in practices that practices that are designed to meet not only clients' expressed needs but also their expectations. This how-to guide will help lawyers tend what is already most rewarding, both intellectually and financially, in practice: the clients who value the lawyer most and with whom lawyers most value working. The steps outlined are straightforward, strategic, and significantly important for a practice's long-term health and viability. The authors identify strategies to keep clients and help grow a law firm, including. Chapters are: Focus on clients to build your firm -- Use value to create a foundation of loyalty -- Master communication techniques to build a client-centric practice -- Research to understand your current practice -- Research to understand your foundation clients' worlds -- Build a client-centric firm -- Replicate your foundation clients -- Pick the low-hanging fruit: summary.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fireworks and the 4th of July

Under current New York law, N.Y. Penal Law § 270.00 makes the sale and possession of fireworks illegal. The law dates back to section 1844a of the Penal Law of 1909 which was enacted into law in 1940. In 1997 certain fireworks were reclassified as "dangerous fireworks". These fireworks are capable of causing serious physical injury and include torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles and bombs. Current law penalizes as a violation the possession or use of fireworks or dangerous fireworks, and penalizes as a class B misdemeanor the sale of fireworks or dangerous fireworks. Any person who sells fireworks or dangerous fireworks valued at $500 or more, or who sells dangerous fireworks to a minor, is guilty of a class R misdemeanor. Finally, any person who, within the past five years has previously been convicted of the sale of dangerous fireworks is guilty of a class E felony.

For Fourth of July celebrations beyond 2012, that could change if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs a bill recently passed by the State Senate and Assembly. The proposed law would legalize the sale of hand-held sparkles, ground sparkler displays and other so-called novelty items. Explosive devices, including firecrackers and Roman candles, would still be banned. The proposed law would not apply to New York City, where all fireworks would remain illegal. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Delaware are the only four states that ban all forms of fireworks. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, (D, New City) and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, (D, Rochester), co-sponsors of the bill, say people are crossing into other states to buy fireworks or buying them in underground markets. Making fireworks legal will bring in about $50 million in annual sales and $2 million in state sales tax.

Safety advocates are concerned legalizing some fireworks is putting profit ahead of safety. Fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) supports a ban on all sales of consumer fireworks. "The AAP continues to urge families NOT to buy fireworks for their own or their children's use," their website states. "Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks -- devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death." This video from the AAP relates the dangers of fireworks.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2010 three people were killed and about 8,600 others were hurt in fireworks. In 2009, there were two deaths and approximately 8,800 injuries. The year before, there were seven people killed and an estimated 7,000 others hurt. Read the 2010 report here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cramming for the Bar Exam

With just over four weeks to the July bar exam, think about alternatives to the bar prep courses:

CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, provides interactive tutorials on more than 900 legal topics. They cover general areas of law to specific legal concepts. If you have not used CALI, you need a Brooklyn Law School authorization code to access the tutorials on the web. Ask a reference librarian at the library Reference Desk.

Wolters Kluwer has six separate Bar Review Exam Edge Mobile Apps covering Evidence, Property, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Torts, and Criminal Law. The six subject areas from Emanuel Bar Review are easy to download on an iPhone or iPod. Each app features 33-34 questions, identical in scope and content to those frequently asked on today's MBE. Features include two different formats for quizzing yourself: Review Mode and Test Mode; a review Mode that features a "Notes" screen to capture your personalized notes via the touch-screen keyboard; a test Mode that randomizes the questions to present you with multiple test-taking experiences; a timer (in both modes) that helps you control and improve your question-answering speed.

Visual learners may want to review attorney Nathaniel Burney’s blog, The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law, which began in December 2011. It publishes detailed and creative comics exploring criminal law concepts like mens rea, conspiracy, and defenses. A book-length version of the comic is due out in the fall with a whole set of comic-style study aids in time for next year’s MBE. Finally, for more traditional supplements to bar exam study (including study guides for the MBE and past bar exams), take a look at our July 2010 post on Bar Exam Study Aids or see the 2009 video Pass the Bar!: We Did, You Can Too available in SARA, the BLS Library catalog.