ALR Student’s Corner: Douglas’ Forms

Douglas’ Forms is an indispensable, five volume set of hundreds of forms covering the following areas of North Carolina civil practice: Business Transactions; Civil Litigation; Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration; and Domestic Relations and Guardians.

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Whether you are a new attorney starting in a large firm or a seasoned attorney managing your own practice, Douglas’ Forms will save you valuable time drafting documents, which is now more important than ever, as attorneys shift their billing structures, away from hourly billing and to such things as fee-for-service solutions, to satisfy and retain clients who have become savvier at negotiating attorneys’ fees.

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Douglas’ Forms can be accessed electronically via the Charlotte School of Law library catalog or Lexis Advance.    For those who prefer print, Douglas’ Forms can also be accessed at CSL’s Library on the fifth floor in the “Reference: Carolinas” section.  But, if you get lost in the stacks, even with the call number (KFN7468.D622) in hand, there is always a reference librarian to assist (by the way, CSL has the best reference librarians ever).

Researching electronically on Lexis Advance for the correct Douglas’ form should begin the same way as any other research project, with an effective search string.  For example, my client, a hospital, would like to enter into a joint venture with a medical practice.  Therefore, I need to draft a joint venture agreement. To access Douglas’ Forms on Lexis Advance, I can either type the title in the universal search box or use the “Browse Sources” feature.  Once I’ve pulled up the resource, the most efficient starting point is to search “joint venture” from the Table of Contents tab. Then, from the result list, click the link for “Form 8-5 Joint Venture Agreement.”

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Once the document is open, click the save icon to import into your word processing platform.

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The last step before downloading is to choose the document format, format options, and content-specific options.

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After you click download, retrieve the form by clicking the .docx link from the pop-up window.

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Finally, the form will require minor formatting adjustments depending on the word processing platform being used. Now all that is left is to tweak the contract according to the agreed upon terms and make sure the contract does not violate either federal Stark law or Anti-Kickback laws.

Douglas’ Forms is an excellent resource for essential forms related to every aspect of North Carolina civil practice, designed for attorneys to adapt the relevant form to their client’s particular situation.  So, why recreate the wheel – save yourself some time with Douglas’ Forms.

~ Kriss Anne Carlstrom, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Top Five Tips for Appropriate Email Etiquette from CSL’s Center for Professional Development

By Aithyni K. Rucker, Esq.

In this digital age, communication has become more informal and we communicate in 140 characters or less.  However, even electronic communication must remain professional, timely, and audience appropriate.

Everyone has received an email where you really want to just throw your keyboard, pick up your laptop and call it a day.  To cut down on those visceral responses, here are five quick tips toward effective digital communication.

1. Everyone is a Professional and Deserves a Professional Greeting -Every email communication should begin with a formal greeting, i.e. “Dear Ms. or Dear Mr.”  Avoid the Twitter/Facebook trap of addressing your email without a salutation.  Keep in mind you are not friends with your addressee until they say so. Follow the below email trail as an example:

Email 1(you) Dear Ms. Jones: Email 2(employer response) Dear Jim:  Email 3( your reply) Dear Lisa:

In the above example, I changed the tone of our correspondence and allowed for the use of first names.  Never start an email with “Hey, Wassup, Good Morning, (or worst of all, no salutation whatsoever)”. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and keep your salutations formal.  A good Mr. or Ms. can take you a long way.

2. Your Tone Dictates the Effectiveness of Your Message -we all know the clear email rule of never write in all caps.  However, everyone forgets the age old rule about polite correspondence.  We’ve all sent an email when upset, in a hurry, or in need of a quick response.  But remember, “Your Fire is not someone else’s emergency.” Be courteous with your key strokes.  Take a minute, walk away, and read your message back before you hit send.  If it sounds snarky, it likely is.  I can’t think of anyone who wants to be on the receiving end of a snarky message.  Also, remember that emails last forever, and you can’t take you message back once you hit send.

3. Check Punctuation and Message Length - Please remember emails are letters.  They aren’t text messages and they deserve good punctuation.  Make sure to use appropriate periods, commas, and the like within your communication.  Also, email isn’t the time to write a novel.  Keep your message brief, direct, and to the point.

4. Give the Recipient Time to Respond - Proper turnaround time for email response runs about 48-72 hours. More than likely, your message isn’t the only one requiring a response.  Give your recipient time to handle your request and respond timely.  Jumping the gun might offend your recipient and ruin your repoire. If you deem your email urgent and you don’t receive a timely response, consider placing a telephone call. Remember to always be gracious when following up with an unresponsive recipient.

5.  Check Your Own Email and Respond – Remember, what goes around comes around! (Don’t live in  a glass house, see rule 4)  As a lawyer in training, it is important to get used to receiving and managing numerous emails in one day. When you begin practicing, the commonly-heard refrain “I receive too many emails!” will not suffice.  An unanswered email can lead to malpractice, a lost client, or a missed opportunity.  Get in the habit of answering emails timely, checking your email regularly and cleaning out any unread messages.  An easy rule of thumb is to mark any message unread where a response is pending.

Any questions?

 ~Center for Professional Development~

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

On Friday, October 31st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hold an argument session at Charlotte School of Law. Three arguments will be heard by the court, with each case taking about 40 minutes. After the final case, the panel will entertain questions from the audience (other than about the cases). Case summaries will be posted after October 23th. Case briefs can be accessed in WestLaw or below.

We welcome students, staff, faculty, and the community to register for and attend this session. Due to limited space, we are asking all attendees to register and access to the courtroom will be first-come, first-served. The argument session will be broadcast to additional rooms within Charlotte School of Law, as needed based on registration. We ask that anyone who cannot attend the entire session, please view the proceedings from one of the overflow rooms, so as not to disturb the court. Entering or exiting during an argument session will not be permitted.

Attire should be consistent with what would be worn to an official proceeding at the courthouse, cell phones are not permitted in the courtroom and audio/video recording is not permitted in the courtroom.

Charlotte School of Law is located in the Charlotte Plaza building at 201 South College Street. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to Charlotte Plaza or you can search for nearby parking lots with www.aboutparking.com/charlotte.

Please submit your registration through the following: Registration link

Case Summaries completed by writing competition winner CSL 2L Stacey Cargile:
13-2219 Case Summary; Case Brief
14-4288 Case Summary; Case Brief
13-4803 Case Summary; Case Brief

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is Charlotte School of Law located?

CSL is located in the Charlotte Plaza building at 201 South College Street. You can park in the lot adjacent to the building (accessible from 3rd or 4th street). From the 6th floor of the adjacent parking garage, you’ll enter the Mall level of the Charlotte Plaza building. If you park elsewhere, you’ll want to enter the building at the ground level and take the escalators to the Mall level. Next to the Sundries shop on the Mall level, you’ll find the CSL Welcome Center where Student Ambassadors will be waiting to assist you and where you can get tickets for courtroom viewing.

Can I get my parking ticket validated?

Parking validation is only being provided for Court Staff (Judges, Deputy, law clerks)

Where can I find a case summary or case brief?

Links to Case summaries (written by Stacey Cargile) and Case briefs are located above

I have to leave early or come late to the proceedings, is that ok?

Exiting and entering during one of the three argument sessions is not permitted in the courtroom nor one of the viewing rooms. Although you may exit and enter during the break between sessions, we ask that you watch the proceedings from a viewing room, rather than the courtroom if you cannot stay the entire time.

Is there WiFi access at CSL?

Since use of electronic devices is not permitted in the courtroom or the viewing rooms, guest WiFi access will not be provided.

How can I participate in the Judges Q&A if I’m in a viewing room rather than the courtroom?

Student Ambassadors or CSL Staff will be stationed in each viewing room to solicit questions and communicate those questions to CSL Staff in the courtroom.

Upcoming Events 

Title Organization Date/Time
Arguments Session: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Dean’s Office 10/31/14
8:30am-12:00pm

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Free Online Resources: Freedom of Information Act “FOIA” Electronic Reading Rooms: Civil Rights Division of DOJ

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Charlotte Law Library is beginning a series of blogs about FOIA Electronic Reading Rooms available for free on the web.

Before you make that FOIA request, check if the information is available in the FOIA Reading Rooms on the internet.  According to the FOIA Guide, “The Electronic FOIA amendments embodied a strong statutory preference that electronic availability be provided by agencies in the form of online, Internet access — which is most efficient for both agencies and the public alike — and this expectation has been met by the development of agency FOIA sites on the World Wide Web.

Under the Electronic FOIA amendments, all federal agencies have FOIA sites on the World Wide Web to serve this “electronic reading room” function, as well as for other FOIA-related purposes.  This is a matter of great and growing importance to the processes of FOIA administration.  Agencies of such size that they contain sub-agencies or major agency components that administer the FOIA on a decentralized basis and have their own Web sites may maintain multiple “electronic reading rooms,” so long as they are linked together clearly and efficiently for Web site users.”

Today we will look at the FOIA Electronic Reading Room for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

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Frequently Requested FOIA-process Records

Frequently Requested Documents and Records Likely to Become the Subject of FOIA Requests

Policy Statements and Other Significant Guidance and Technical Assistance Letters

Enjoy exploring this FOIA Electronic Reading Room and look for this symbol for future blogs on free online resources:

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Come see us in the library for more resources in print and online.

~Mary Susan Lucas~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — October 27, 2014

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Three Surprising Ways to Feel More Confident at Work

Confidence is what gives us the courage to act on our competent thoughts. So I thought I’d share three interesting – and even surprising – strategies to feel more confident at what you do. The first two come from research that has received a great deal of media attention lately. The last is from my own, non-research-based experience and is reflected in this very post.

Five Song Parodies Just for Lawyers

Just kidding. It’s six. But who’s counting? Not lawyers. That’s why you go to law school right? No math classes.  Anywho, we here at Bitter Lawyer love us some song parodies. And this week we countdown six of the best from around the web… or at least YouTube.

Free Public Access to Federal Materials on Guide to Law Online

Through an agreement with the Library of Congress, the publisher William S. Hein & Co., Inc. has generously allowed the Law Library of Congress to offer free online access to historical U.S. legal materials from HeinOnline.  These titles are available through the Library’s web portal, Guide to Law Online: U.S. Federal.

Finding Balance: How Being a Law Student and Functional Human Don’t Always Have to be Mutually Exclusive

This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ariel Salzer offers advice to overwhelmed law students

Friedrich Nietzsche on Why a Fulfilling Life Requires Embracing Rather than Running from Difficulty

A century and a half before our modern fetishism of failure, a seminal philosophical case for its value.

Legal Podcasts Now Broadcast on Twitter

Twitter announced last week that we can now listen to podcasts directly on Twitter.

How a Charlotte Boy and a Librarian Rescued a Lost Parrot

One of the reasons I am a school nurse is because I love children and their stories. This story about a parrot, two boys and a librarian is one of hope, courage, friendship and love. And it begins at Billingsville Elementary during recess the Thursday before last.

Bookish DIY: Bookends

The classic bookend shape – the “L”.  It’s as simple as nailing together two pieces of wood (scraps work nicely in this case), doing a little painting, and spending some quality time with your hot glue gun.  Here are couple of more specific suggestions.

UNC Libraries to Open Three Research Hubs

After months of renovations, the second floor of Davis Library is open for research.  Davis Library is one of three University libraries that hosts a research hub, which Judy Panitch, director of library communications, said will be the ideal place for students to perform cutting-edge research.

Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation

How do we know if we’re in a slump or if we should just quit? We don’t. There’s no way to know the future. There are times when there are a bunch of good indicators that you should quit — customers aren’t responding, the market doesn’t support your work, there are better opportunities. But the feeling you have when you’re in a dip is not a good indicator that it’s time to quit.

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OMGMetrics

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When I first proposed beginning a column on metrics, it seemed like a common sense notion. In fact, the proposal practically wrote itself. Library metrics are the hottest of topics, as we’re simultaneously a service industry and an industry whose value to patrons and communities is difficult to quantify. This results in our necks traditionally being one of the first on the chopping blocks during cuts, and our staff and supporters constantly fighting for more allocated resources. Qualitative anecdotes don’t defend our worth effectively in this business-savvy, metrics-driven world, nor do they assure that we’re maximizing value for our patrons in our expenditure choices.

As a true librarian at heart, once the column was approved, I started my research. Often when beginning research, you cast your first net with extreme caution, prepared to be buried under a towering mound of inaccurate or inapplicable results. Surprisingly, despite the importance and value of library metrics, I discovered they aren’t touched on with near the frequency you’d expect. Why this phenomenon? I have some ideas.

Let’s face it. Librarians are rarely math-centric. I learned this as a MLIS student with an undergraduate degree in actuarial science. While like majors could bond over their commonalities, I always felt a little lost – who needs a math librarian? Further in to my library school career, I was swept up into Technical Services librarianship when I came in for a part-time reference desk job interview at my legal resources professor’s workplace and the Technical Services Director saw math featured prominently on my resume. She immediately usurped my reference interview and stole me away to the land of backlogs of Westlaw and Lexis bills, much to my delight. In retrospect, I don’t even remember interviewing formally. You say, “statistics,” and librarians’ ears perk up. You say, “I like numbers,” and their eyes light up. Then, they hand you a stack of papers covered with numbers and run before you can hand it back.

Yes, people who have bad memories from their math classes growing up are often squeamish around things number-related. While I understand that fear completely, library metrics are completely different. Hence, one of my goals at the outset of this column is to help our amazing group of technical services law librarian readers realize that hearing the word “metrics” is not synonymous with “panic.”

To begin, let’s go over some basic concepts and vocabulary regarding metrics and their uses in libraries. First, all metrics aren’t created equal – for example, they: (1) use different collection and evaluation methods; (2) speak to different audiences; and (3) serve different purposes. Understanding the breadth of this topic is the first real step in creating and tracking functional metrics, which can then effectively communicate value and aid in decision-making. There are many things you can measure in the library falling into the general categories of inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes and impacts.

“Inputs” is a fancy name for resources used to produce or deliver a program or service, like staff, supplies, equipment, and money. Through processes, these inputs become outputs – resources and services that you produce, including your available materials and the programs you organize and host. Input and output tracking gives you those first glance statistics, easy to count, measure, and report, as these are tangible things. Outputs are usually what are reported to stakeholders or decision makers, e.g., we check out this many books, we have this many research guides, or these many people use the library. However, these metrics don’t accurately demonstrate the value of our services and our products.

And here’s where outcomes and impacts come in. I tend to agree with the school of thought that outcomes and impacts are the same thing, seen from different perspectives. Outcomes are changes from the perspective of our customers and impacts are the same change from the perspective of a stakeholder, usually more of a high level change, with long-term effects on the larger community. These metrics are known by quite a few names, including impact metrics, performance metrics, and outcome metrics, and are primarily intangible, making them much more difficult to measure. Naturally, they also communicate the most value and provide the most guidance and support.

Let’s be clear. Metrics are different from statistics, and for that matter, so is data. Just because you did poorly in your statistics class or didn’t score highly on the quantitative section of the GRE doesn’t mean that you should run from data or cringe when metrics is bandied about in a meeting with stakeholders or decision makers. Formally, data is qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables which typically arises as a result of measurements. Statistics don’t even come into play until you study the collection, organization, and interpretation of this data. Even better, in the library world, statistics don’t necessarily require the use of Greek letters or even convoluted equations. Most statistics, measures, and metrics can be organized into operating metrics, customer and user satisfaction metrics, and value and impact metrics.

Operating measures and operational statistics (such as how many people came to the library, how many check-outs took place on a certain day, and how many hits we had on a database) lend themselves well to understanding resource allocation, improving efficiencies, and making budget determinations. Customer and user satisfaction metrics, on the other hand, tell us how well the choices we made are doing based on operating measures and indicate what improvements may be required.  Value and impact measures are incredibly meaningful in their own right, as they often incorporate satisfaction and the importance of separate outcomes. These are the most elusive of all measurements; so naturally, they’re the most valuable.

Martha Kyrillidou, senior director of the Association of Research Libraries statistics and service quality programs, once said “what is easy to measure is not necessarily what is desirable to measure.” This is such a true observation regarding metric gathering in libraries – easy measurements rarely result in meaningful statistics, meaning one of your first challenges is figuring out how to make the things you choose to measure meaningful. Simply put, a meaningful measure shows you how much value you’re getting out of your investment. This could mean the investment in the library itself and the value that the stakeholders or decision makers are getting out of that investment, or it could mean what sort of value your customers are getting out of how the library chooses to invest their resources, both in terms of financial outlay and in terms of staff time. To determine meaningful measures, you need to understand your stakeholders or decision makers, and you need to understand your customers.

For instance, quantitative resource usage information doesn’t show how or why users are using materials, or even indicate how satisfied they are with the products. Relying solely on quantitative data, such as a basic measure of number of hits, isn’t necessarily enough to justify value to stakeholders and customers. Our most popular blog post at the law school, according to easily generated WordPress statistics, is one featuring a cartoon sun. Looking at the numbers and reports, you’d assume this was an incredibly popular post and maybe even assume it contributes a lot of value. However, this particular post features a metadata tag for “cartoon sun,” and one of the most searched keywords that leads people to our blog is – you guessed it – “cartoon sun.” Here, it’s obvious that a simple number doesn’t communicate actual value to our customer base or to our stakeholders and decision makers.

Similarly, one database may feature twice as many hits as another database when comparing generated usage reports, but that could be because it has a convoluted interface (possibly even for the sole purpose of generated inflated hits). Again, just because it’s an easy measure doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. Qualitative data, such as patron survey feedback and user experience testing, provides the context within which to view these numbers. This often means using a hybrid approach of both quantitative and qualitative data.

So there you have it. The metrics world is wide and wild, and this column will do its best to shine light on as many parts of it as possible. In addition to detailed discussions of the general metric concepts already mentioned, additional topics will include collection methods, statistical concepts in a nutshell, resource usage statistics, COUNTER and SUSHI, collection and transactional statistics, consortia challenges, web metrics, altmetrics, faculty support, law firm and public law library metrics, performance indicators and benchmarks, as well as discussion of tools for presentation and manipulation of data.

I’m still figuring out how best to approach the column to meet the needs of our audience, and since the next issue is devoted to American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting program reports, this column won’t reappear until fall. I’d love to hear any suggestions on format and approach, any questions you’d like for me to attack, or any topics you’d like for me to cover. Shoot me an email at amoye@charlottelaw.edu, and let me know what you think!

~Ashley Moye~

 Technical Services Law Librarian (TSLL)  is an official publication of the Technical Services Special Interest Section and the Online Bibliographic Services Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.  This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

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Alumni Spotlight: Legal Aid Client Thanks Her “Dream Team”

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“From the bottom of my heart I thank you all” : Legal Aid client thanks her “Dream Team”

Attorneys in our Charlotte office recently received some sincere thanks and high praise from a client for whom they went to extraordinary lengths to help escape from an unhealthy housing situation.

Our client and her daughters were desperate to get out of their apartment, which was infested with black mold, but they didn’t know how to leave without losing their much-needed security deposit.

“I was at a very bad place when I came to Legal Aid,” wrote our client in an email, “but not one time was I not greeted with compassion. I was teamed up with a very firm but compassionate attorney named Shannon Pearce. She was very supportive and always a phone call or email away.”

Shannon, a Charlotte School of Law Fellow, helped our client and her daughters get out of the mold-infested apartment with her security deposit in hand.

But there was still a problem. Our client didn’t have the money to rent a moving truck or hire movers, and didn’t know anyone who’d volunteer to lend a hand.

Going above and beyond the call of duty, Shannon convinced the U-Haul truck rental corporation to give our client a certificate for a free moving truck. Now what about movers?

“I tear up as I write this,” said our client. “All of a sudden during moving day, Shannon had a moving crew!”

Shannon, joined by fellow attorneys Shanae Auguste, who is also a Charlotte School of Law Fellow, and Isaac Sturgill, threw on some old clothes and showed up to serve as our client’s volunteer moving crew!

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Legal Aid attorneys Shanae Auguste (left), Shannon Pearce (second from left) and Isaac Sturgill stand in front of the donated U-Haul truck they used to help our client (holding sign) move out of her mold-infested apartment.

“I could not believe they had selflessly taken time out of their day to help me,” wrote our client. “And man are they strong, especially Isaac. I call them the Three Musketeers ‘cause they put any moving company to shame.”

“I’m forever grateful to the young attorneys,” she wrote. “So from the bottom of my heart I thank you all, especially the Dream Team: Shannon, Shanae and Isaac.”

This article is shared with permission from Legal Aid of North Carolina.

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