New Kid in Town

Montana attorneys have a new option for conducting electronic legal research, and this one is free, making it a game-changer for many attorneys who have had limited access to electronic legal research until now. The State Bar of Montana recently contracted with Fastcase to provide research services for Montana attorneys. This week University of Montana Law School students and faculty also gained access to Fastcase.

The Fastcase library contains cases, annotated codes, administrative regulations, constitutions and court rules from all 50 states and federal jurisdictions. In addition, through a partnership with Hein Online, Fastcase users can also research law review articles.

Fastcase has some unique features that set it apart. Fastcase’s relevancy results make sure the most relevant documents are always listed at the top of the results. The results screen weighs the relevancy of each document and in one glance shows how many times each has been cited, making it easy to find both the most relevant and most cited cases at the same time. For researchers who prefer visual cues to numbers, an interactive results map allows researchers to see both most relevant and most cited cases in one visual display. Fastcase’s authority checker doesn’t analyze how citing cases have treated a particular case, but it does show the context in which the case was cited and the language surrounding the citation. In addition, Fastcases’s new Bad Law Bot flags cases that have been treated negatively.

Twenty-five state bar associations now subscribe to Fastcase for their members. If you are a UMSL student or faculty member, you should have received your Fastcase password via email this week; if you didn’t, contact the law library. There will be training opportunities early next semester, but if you want to start trying it out now, there are some video tutorials you can use.

Two pumpkins surrounding a Happy Thanksgiving sign.

 

The Jameson Law Library Blog will take a break Friday, November 28 for the Thanksgiving Weekend. Look for us again on December 5.

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Retrotechnology

In the legal field, changes in technology in the last ten years have changed how things are done and what is possible for everyone from law students to advanced practitioners. As always, some embrace technology and others resist, but it is impossible to ignore. The profession now demands technological competence.

It’s always difficult to tell where technology is leading, but it’s often useful to look back at the technological breakthroughs of the past and see how they have led to the present. The changes in the legal profession in a very short time are astounding.

You know how important legal documents are, and copies of legal documents are equally important. Everyone involved needs a copy, copies need to be filed with the court, copies need to be sent to people in other places, etc. This has always been true, but Xerox designed the first successful commercial copier in 1959 (Xerox 914).

Up into the 1900′s, lawyers depended on scriveners for making all the necessary copies. A scrivener is a person who makes handwritten copies of documents. A scrivener didn’t need to be trained in law. They needed to know how to read and write, write legibly, and copy accurately. Up until the mid-1800′s, this was all done using quill pens. A technological breakthrough that sped up the process a bit was the introduction of steel nib pens like the ones in this 1869 advertisement.

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Typewriters first appeared in the late 1800′s, but they were rather awkward machines at first and with few people trained to use them, they weren’t used with any regularity until the mid-1900′s when rows of typists began to replace rows of scriveners. The typewriter below is from 1874.

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What we take for granted now, the ability to instantly and exactly copy any piece of paper, was a dream, but it was a dream that was achieved by means of the letterpress copier. This is basically just a large screw vise with a square document-size plate (usually wood). This wondrous machine could make an exact copy of a document page. This did speed things up tremendously, but it still took a special person to make the copies because it was a rather tricky process and had the risk of destroying the original document in the process. Here are the instructions on how to make a copy:

  • Place a piece of oiled, moisture-resistant paper underneath the leaf of thin copying paper in the copying book, to prevent moisture from transferring to surrounding leaves.
  • Dampen the sheet of copying paper with a dampening cloth or a brush dipped in water. “Moisture evenly distributed, and neither scant nor excessive, is the secret of success.” Too little water and the copy of the letter would be too faint to read; too much water and the copy would be blurred and illegible.
  • Remove excess moisture from the copying paper with a sheet of blotting paper, so that the copying paper is evenly saturated and damp, but not wet enough to be shiny.
  • Place the letter to be copied so the writing side is in contact with the dampened leaf of copying paper.
  • Place another sheet of oiled paper or blotting paper behind the original letter, to prevent moisture from transferring to surrounding leaves.
  • Close the book, place it in the copying press, and make the impression.
  • Open the press, remove the original letter, and return the (closed) copying book to the press with the two sheets of oiled paper still surrounding the copy. This allows the page to dry flat and prevents moisture from transferring to other leaves of the copying book.
  • 19th_c-legal_technology-sm

How technology changes procedures and possibilities is a fascinating subject, but technology doesn’t necessarily solve problems. Sometimes it creates new problems. It’s up to you to understand and properly use technology to solve problems and make yourself more effective.

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Using the Law Library Online

Former Jameson law librarian Cynthia Condit wrote an an excellent guide to using the online library catalog   -  I present it to you below.  Thanks Cynthia for this week’s blog entry!

The online catalog is your key to determining what resources are available in the library collection and precisely where they are located. You can access the catalog through the Law Library website (link under Research Tools) or directly at: http://catalog.lib.umt.edu/vwebv/searchBasic?sk=law

The default search is to materials located at the Law Library, but you can expand your search to Mansfield library and other affiliated UM libraries. One exception to the Law Library default: if an item is available as an electronic book or resource through an affiliate library, it will appear in your results list.

Note: Law titles often are referred to by shortened or popular names. For instance, Wright & Miller is the name most people use to refer to Federal Practice and Procedure. If a title search does not return results, conduct an advanced search (see below).

How to Search the Law Library Catalog

Basic Search by Title: This is the default search that comes up when you open the catalog. Use this search if you know the title of the resource you are looking for. Exclude A, An, or The when they appear as the initial word of your title.

Author Search: Use this search if you know the author’s name. Select the Author tab and enter the author’s last name and first name. Double check that you have the correct spelling of the author’s name.

Advanced Search: Use this search if you are not sure of the title, don’t have the author’s name, or want to browse what’s available in a particular area.

  • Select Advanced Search tab. Type in search term(s) in the search field. Options include search term(s) “as a phrase” (the default), or as “any of these” or “all of these” from the drop-down list.
  • The “Search by” box default is by “keyword.” This returns results where your term(s) appears anywhere in the record. Sometimes, this broad search returns many more results than are useful to you.
  • To narrow and refine an advanced search, select “Title Keyword” from the “Search by” drop-down list. This search limits results to items that contain these terms only in the title.
  • Example: enter Evidence as a “Keyword,” you retrieve over 3,400 results. But enter the same term and select “Title Keyword,” and the results list drops to 1,684 results. To continue narrowing, add additional keywords in the remaining search boxes and select “Keyword Title.” Example: add “federal” and the results list drops to 70. Add “guide” and the results list drops to 18.
  • The “Library” default for searches, as noted above, is the law library, excluding government documents. If you want to expand your search to include other affiliated libraries, select from the drop-down list.
  • Further optional search limiter criteria include: by year, format, type of material, language, and place of publication. You can also increase the number of results per page.

How to Locate Your Title in the Law Library

 Materials in the Law Library are arranged according to the Library of Congress classification system. See the handout “How Do I Read Library of Congress Call Numbers” for a quick guide to understanding how titles are shelved according to this system.

 To locate a title:

  • You need the Call Number to your title from the record. The Call Number will look similar to the following examples:
    • REF KF 154.A42 (may or may not include a year)
    • KF 5692.J84 (1998).
    • KFM 9112.A75 L25 (2003)
  • Quick tips:
    • REF at the front of the Call Number indicates that the title is in the reference section of the Law Library (west side of the library, downstairs and on the mezzanine level).
    • Items without REF on the call number are generally located in the treatise section of the Law Library (east side of the library, downstairs and on the mezzanine level).
    • Items with KFM in the Call Number indicate Montana titles.
  • Some exceptions:
    • Law Reviews and Journals do not have a call number. They are on the mezzanine, north-west section of the Law Library, in ABC order.
    • ALR’s (American Law Reports) are along the west wall downstairs.
    • Bankruptcy Reporters and Digests are along the east wall downstairs.
    • Federal reporters are in the low shelves downstairs in the middle section of the Law Library.
    • Compact shelving (in the far north-east corner of the Law Library) holds pre-2000 Law Reviews and Journals.
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Vampires in the Workplace

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Being Halloween, I guess I can admit that I’m partial to vampires. It seems that zombies are the favorite Halloween character these days, but the classic Dracula was number one when I was growing up. Of course I’ve seen everything from Nosferatu and Lugosi’s Dracula to millions of questionable movies on late night TV and up to the True Blood series, which was a particularly interesting take on the whole vampire mythology. Vampires are such a part of our culture that we feel like we know them. Maybe we do! Maybe your co-worker is a vampire.

The article “The Vampire in the Next Cubicle” in the Employment Responsibility and Rights Journal (2012) has everything you need to know if you might be working with or supervising vampires in the workplace. I love this article because it’s not a fluff piece or a humor piece, it’s a complete and solid analysis of the legal issues that would be involved if vampires wanted employment.  It covers nondiscrimination in the hiring of vampires, how vampirism would be classified as a disability under the ADA, what is reasonable accommodation for vampire employees, and vampires and confidentiality laws. It also shows how existing laws try to adapt to new situations, which is a process of great importance to anyone in the legal profession. So I would recommend this article whether you’re passionately interested in the legal rights of vampires or if you just want a little Halloween fun learn some law at the same time. Happy Halloween!

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Something for Nothing

When the three year lease ended on our library photocopier last spring, we opted for a new machine with a document feeder, scanning capabilities and network connectivity. Using the document feeder, you can scan both sides of loose documents in a single pass and either print them out on paper, save them to a thumb drive, or email them to yourself. Saving to your thumb drive and emailing documents are both free of charge. Printing things out the old fashioned way entails the old fashioned price structure: 10 cents per page. While that may not be the best price on campus, I can honestly say that the price of photocopies has not gone up in the law library in over 13 years.

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The Minolta 454e will not print in color, three hole punch or staple but with a little effort it will collate and sort print jobs and zoom or resize an image. In addition, the basic functions of copy, save, send, scan, and print are very intuitive and easy to execute. The best part is that unless you really need that piece of paper, its free. It may be true that there is no free lunch, but free scanning? Yeah, we have that technology.

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Law360 Legal News Service Now Available to UM Law Students & Faculty

Law360 is a widely-read daily legal news and analysis service from LexisNexis. Law360 provides continuous coverage of major U.S. litigation in 43 practice areas. Through their monitoring of federal dockets and regulatory filings, Law360 is often the breaking-news source for litigation and major transactions involving the world’s largest companies as well as federal court opinions in all their practice areas. In addition, Law360 provides links to documents and expert analysis.

Law360 will allow students and faculty to monitor up-to-the-minute developments in the areas of law they are interested in as well as search for expert analysis of issues in the news. It is a great tool for classroom current-awareness. Major law firms and corporate counsel rely on Law360 so students can begin now to learn a source many will encounter in their legal careers.

Law360 is available only in the Law School building. It can be accessed from the Lexis Advance search page or by going to www.law360.c0m (there is a link on the Law Library Databases webpage). Students and faculty can quickly & easily sign-up to receive daily email newsletters in 23 practice areas, including appellate, environmental, legal ethics, and tax, and 14 industries such as energy, health, and technology. To sign-up for a newsletter, just click on the University of Montana link in the top right corner of the screen and select Newsletter Signup. Users can also register to receive alerts when new articles are added that match their specific search terms. For example, if you are writing an article on wind energy, you can create a search that will find articles on that topic then alert you any time in the future a new article is added. This allows you to track new developments in real time.

To learn more about Law360, stop by the Law Library, attend a Lexis training, or visit with the Lexis rep next time she is here.

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What about those numbers?

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I’m sure you are aware that books in a library are arranged in a very specific way, but from my observation post at the Reference Desk, it seems to be a fairly common occurrence that someone will come in the library, look around in a rather confused manner, and then start wandering through the stacks row by row thinking they will be able to somehow spot the book they need out of the thousands and thousands of books here. There is a better way, and it’s not that hard. It’s those numbers on the books, the ones you probably think look weird, intimidating, and incomprehensible. However, take my word for it that with very little effort in understanding those numbers, you can save tremendous amounts of time and open up a world of information for yourself.

Libraries have been around for a long, long time, but a standardized system of library organization is a rather recent development. It used to be that all libraries were different. Some were organized by title, some by author, some by size of book, some by order in which books were received, etc. It was a nightmare of different systems, and in order to use a library, you had to spend a lot of time learning its organization system before you could find anything, and when you went to a different library, you had to start over.

To rectify this situation, along came one of my personal heroes, Melvil Dewey. As a student attending Amherst College, he worked in the college library and started developing an idea for what would become the Dewey Decimal system. When he graduated in 1874, the college hired him to reorganize the library and he got to put his theoretical system into practice. He went on to work in several other large academic libraries and began putting his dream of universal information organization into practice. His vision went beyond academia, however. He was instrumental in the idea of starting public libraries in every city, town, and village across the country. He saw libraries as a great democratizing force, allowing everyone to become educated and informed whether they could afford college or not. He fundamentally changed the nature of libraries forever and greatly impacted education in general. By the way, he created and taught the first Library Science course, but was greatly criticized for allowing women to take the class.

Having been influenced by Dewey, Herbert Putnam created the Library of Congress Classification system in 1897. It was to be used to reorganize the Library of Congress and replace the shelf location system originally developed by Thomas Jefferson.

Both systems are in use here at the University of Montana. The Mansfield Library uses the Dewey Decimal system. The Law Library uses the Library of Congress system. Though slightly different, they have the same basic concept and are similar enough that if you know one, you can easily learn the other. Since most material you need will be in the Law Library, it would make sense to learn Library of Congress first, but there is also a wealth of material at Mansfield Library that will be relevant to your studies at some point, so you should become familiar with it too. You can easily learn the basic system of either in about half an hour, but that half hour will be of tremendous benefit and allow you to access all the information you ever need.  If you know both systems, you can walk into any library in the country and find whatever you want very quickly.

Most people consider the creation of the internet as the information revolution, but the creation of those weird little numbers was an information revolution that changed forever accessibility of information and they are as useful and relevant in the age of Google as they ever were. Hats off to Melvil Dewey! He did a great thing for you!

HOW DO I read LOC call number

 

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