Author Archives: Charlotte Law Library

The Point System Is Launching in August!

Points (sweet) (2)

And, like we say, for more information on the Points System, head on over to our OrgSync site:

https://orgsync.com/80746/files/583898/show 

or ask the library staff.

 

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ALR Student’s Corner: North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide

In general, practice guides are secondary sources that aid and guide lawyers through the understanding of a particular area of the law.  In addition to explaining an area of law, practice guides often times provide useful forms and tips, as well.

ncestatesettlementpractice

North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide covers the topic of estate settlement in North Carolina.  The practice guide begins with a checklist that chronologically goes over the steps for settling an estate, and then, over the course of 36 chapters, examines each step, starting with becoming a personal representative and ending with tort actions involving wills and related documents.

Additionally, the practice guide provides useful tips and forms.  For instance, in Chapter 2, there are numerous forms to aid a lawyer in becoming the personal representative of an estate.  These forms and letters, such as the Application for Probate and Letters, will be very helpful to a new lawyer who may not know how to locate such information.

Part of the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog and available for purchase for $259, North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide is also accessible via WestlawNext.  Simply search for the title in the universal search box or drill down within the database in accordance with the following navigational sequence: “Secondary Sources” > “North Carolina” > “North Carolina Texts & Treatises” > “North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide.”  The practice guide is currently in its second edition and was last updated on WestlawNext in March 2014.

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this practice guide is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Let’s say that you are a new attorney and you wish to determine how the laws and courts of North Carolina treat illegitimate children. After considering several different search terms, you decide to take “illegitimate children” into the index of the practice guide.  The index then directs you to § 20-20 where you find a general overview of the topic and references to relevant statutory and case law authority.

North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide offers concise overviews of the relevant law and provides helpful practice tips for lawyers who practice in (or wish to learn) estate law in North Carolina.

~ Marci Gattis, L’ 14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Self-Care as a Law Student: What do you do to take care of yourself?

As a law student, you are expected to attend classes, write scholarly papers, and perform at a superior level on assessments.  Additionally, you may be working while going to law school which involves meetings and time commitments.  You also may have a significant other, children, or family that requires time and support.  Lastly, you require the most basic needs of food, water, and shelter.  But your body and mind need more than the basic needs to function at a healthy level.

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What is Self-Care?

So, you may ask what is self-care and how will it benefit me.  Well, self-care involves behaviors and attitudes that assist in preserving an individual’s well-being and personal health.   Self-care is also a significant feature in managing stress.

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Importance of Self-Care

Self-care can benefit your physical and emotional health.  Physically, the relaxation that comes with doing self-care allows your body to trigger the relaxation response.  This relaxation response is vital to our health.  Without relaxation, our body would function in fight-or-flight mode where the body is constantly in a state of physiological arousal.  This relaxation response within our body allows our blood pressure, heart rate, and digestive functioning to return to its normal rate.

Emotionally, taking time to focus on your needs and wellbeing will make you feel great about your life and your body while expressing to others that you value yourself.  Additionally, as a caretaker, you may neglect your personal needs to take care of others, but this can lead to unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of bitterness.  Engaging in self-care can transform you into a better caretaker for others.

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Effective Self-Care Strategies:

  1. Eat healthy foods
  2. Get between 6-8 hours of sleep per night
  3. Engage in regular physical activity
  4. Maintain social support and catch up with a friend
  5. Find a new hobby
  6. Reframe life circumstances in more positive, yet realistic ways
  7. Learn to say no
  8. Meditate
  9. Go offline
  10. Take an afternoon nap
  11. Journal
  12. Do yoga
  13. Listen to music
  14. Take a walk outside
  15. Have a pampering massage

For more self-care strategies, click here!

Additionally, check out our Health & Wellness LibGuide which includes print and electronic resources for you!

~Brooke Rideout~

References

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — July 28, 2014

weeklyroundup

Power of Lists: 51 Twitter Handles for Legal Pros to Follow

A little while ago, LexBlog founder Kevin O’Keefe  gave us a compliment in a post titled Two legal companies doing Twitter the right away.  While we can’t attest to whether or not we’re doing it the “right away” as Mr. O’Keefe said, we do work at it and just like the rest of the professionals in the legal industry, we too at times struggle to keep up with the sheer volume.

1 Million Net Neutrality Comments Files, But Will They Matter?

The Federal Communications Commission received more than 1 million public comments on the issue of net neutrality during a five-month commenting period that ended Friday.  It’s the biggest public response the FCC has ever gotten on a policy matter in such a short period, and the second most commented-upon FCC issue, period. It ranks just behind the 1.4 million complaints received after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, which isn’t a direct comparison because those were spontaneous comments unrelated to a rule-making matter.

4 Must-Do’s for Networking Situations

If you think about it, a great networking event can be career-changing. When this kind of magic happens, you connect with people that “up” your skills, you form lasting alliances—you may even engage those with the power to expand your career options and mobility.

Five Last-Minute Day Trips in North Carolina

Even if you don’t have the time to take a weeklong summer vacation, you’re still in luck. There are fantastic day trip destinations all across our state.

Forbes Wants to Close Libraries

I just read Close the Libraries and Buy Everyone An Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription, a Forbes article written by Tim Worstall. It’s a poorly-researched opinion piece about … well … what the title says. Getting rid of libraries and giving everyone a Kindle Unlimited subscription instead.  Yes, Forbes posted this. Thanks, Forbes!

Airbnb Guest Won’t Leave, Forcing Condo Owner to Begin Eviction Proceedings

A San Francisco woman found out about the downside of a 44-day Airbnb rental after the renter refused to leave her Palm Springs vacation condo.  The guest who overstayed his welcome has renters’ protections under California law because he was in the unit for more than 30 days, report the San Francisco Chronicle and Business Insider.

5 Reasons Lawyers Seeking Career Development Ought to Blog

Hibah Ahmed (@AhmedHibah), community manager at IT World Canada (@itworldca), shares 5 reasons IT professionals ought to start bloggingwhich I think apply equally to lawyers.  As with IT professionals, blogging isn’t the first thing lawyers think of when looking to further their careers. But there’s a growing network of professionals to network with via blogging along with countless benefits.

Levine Museum Makes History with LGBT Exhibit

The Levine Museum of the New South is unveiling a historical exhibit Friday that is in itself historic.  Called “LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality,” the show is a combination of exhibits that tell the history of Charlotte’s gay and transgender community, including the largely forgotten stories of average Charlotteans who made that history happen. The show then puts their stories in context of the national gay civil rights movement.  It marks the first time any museum in the Charlotte region has broached the subject of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and it could well be the first of its kind in North Carolina, which has a thorny history on gay rights.

How to Be Prepared for Anything

There are various ways to prepare yourself for what might come your way, whether that’s a tough work project, a crisis, the loss of a loved one, an argument with your partner, or the zombie apocalypse.  One way is to get everything ready for anything that’s likely to come: get all your survival equipment, prepare your skills, plan for your work projects, get your affairs in order, think through your arguments, and so on.

Moogfest Festival to Return to Asheville in 2016

Organizers say Moogfest will return to Asheville in 2016, becoming an event that occurs every two years.  The festival brings technologists, entrepreneurs and music fans to Asheville.

Library Launches Alternate Reality Game ahead of Comic-Con

The Downtown Central Library is getting gamers geared up for Comic-Con in a unique way.  The public library has launched an alternate reality game that participants say is the perfect way to prepare for the upcoming four-day expo.  “An alternate reality game is an interactive story that takes place in real time, in a real world setting such as here in Central Library, which involves players solving puzzles and perfuming activities,” said Erwin Magbanua, Special Events Librarian.

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Congratulations to the Winners of the Library Space Survey Drawing!

SpaceSurveyWinnersJuly2014

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by | July 24, 2014 · 8:00 am

ALR Student’s Corner: North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms

A form book can be helpful in many ways to a practicing attorney.  It provides checklists for litigation and fill-able practice forms within various areas of law that become a good starting point for lawyers, particularly were they to need to draw up a form in an area of law that is outside their practice area.  It is important to remember when using this resource that forms are unique in every case and should be modified to reflect the individual defendant.

nccrimtrialpracticeforms

North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms, 5th edition, by Ronald M. Price, is a single volume resource filled with a bounty of criminal trial forms.  It has a table of relevant cases, general index, and a master table of contents, not to mention individual ones at the beginning of each chapter.  According to the table of contents, this form book addresses the following legal issues: stop and frisk, search and seizure, confessions and self-incrimination, double jeopardy and collateral estoppel, bonds, probable cause hearings, venue, arraignment, discovery, and motion to dismiss.  Each of these issues is broken down further in the table of contents by subject matter.  Under “Chapter 18: Capacity,” for example, there are forms dealing with capacity that a practitioner would need to file on behalf of a client, such as notice of defense of insanity, motion for mental evaluation, application of transfer of prisoner to a hospital, and motion questioning defendant’s capacity.

The table of cases is one of the most important features of North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms.  The reader uses the table of cases to quickly look up and consider or cite the law used in any given form.  The index, organized by a more extensive topical listing than the table of contents, includes a range of legal topics and subtopics such as age, Batson, blood, children and minors, burglary, capital cases, interpreter, voir dire, and weapons.  These topical headings make it easier to locate the form relevant to your client’s situation. Additionally, the pocket part, at the back of the resource, includes the most current itineration of each form were its language and corresponding annotation to case law updated since the most recent publication.  This is important because failing to submit to the court the proper form, one that is reflective of the most current and binding legal authority, is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

To locate North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms, look up the electronic version of the resource in the universal search box on WestlawNext, or conduct a search for the print resource in the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog.  Getting here requires the following steps: 1) access the Charlotte School of Law homepage, 2) follow the link on the left-hand side, to “Our Law Library,” 3) click on the “Library Catalog” link on the right-hand side, and 4) search within the catalog for the call number using the following search string: “North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Series.”  The print version of North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms is located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section of the library, but unfortunately does not circulate outside of the library.  It’s always nice to have remote access to the electronic version of a specific resource so that you don’t have to commute to the library, but upon my graduation this summer, the luxury of remote access will be no more and, alas, I will have to come on campus for the print resource and its electronic counterpart on WestlawNext, just like the other attorney members of the CSL library.

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this book of forms is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Let’s say that you are a new attorney and you wish to file a motion to suppress a coerced taped confession from your client.  First, you would start in the table of contents and locate “Chapter 5: Confessions and Self-Incrimination.”  It sounds like the perfect place to start, so you proceed to browse through the subtopics within the chapter.  Under “motion to suppress,” you locate two different forms for motion to suppress defendant’s statements and another helpful form for motion for exclusion of involuntary admissions and confessions, but nothing relevant to the element of coercion.  So, you go to the index and look up “confessions, generally.”  There, you find exactly what you are looking for, just in a different chapter, a form called “Suppression Motion for Taped Confession” which has the element of coercion.  After this, don’t forget to check for updates in the pocket part to complete your research effectively!  Also, remember, these forms are not a “one size fits all” kind of thing.  They should be modified and tailored to fit your client specifically; no two defendants are the same.

North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms is an indispensable resource for any lawyer and even more so for newly admitted attorneys just learning which form to submit to which court on behalf of their respective clients.

~ Ashley Lawrence, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Net Neutrality or a Two-Tiered Internet?

What is net neutrality and what are the issues?

Law professor Tim Wu coined the phrase “net neutrality” in a 2003 law review article.   While net neutrality has a number of complex implications, the main idea here is that the Internet is an impartial conduit for information and that all traffic on the Internet would be equal.  That concept seems pretty straightforward. However, net neutrality is a complex, important concept to understand.

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Tim Wu (Open Rights Group)

Since the world moved from dial-up to broadband, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has worked to keep the Internet open and neutral. However, on January 4th, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s “Open Internet” rules in Verizon v. FCC. Basically, the court stated that the FCC does not have the authority to impose its net neutrality rules on Internet service providers (ISPs).

“Even though the Commission has general authority to regulate in this arena, it may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates. Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such.”

As a result of this decision, there is a grey area that allows Comcast or Verizon to charge extra to have content from certain providers like Netflix streamed more quickly or give preference to their business partners.

Founding Principle. The Internet was founded on the principle of net neutrality. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who created the World Wide Web, has said, “Being able to connect freely and equally to the Internet is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and, now the society is based on it” (Scola, 2014). We take for granted that we as a members of our society, we can access the information we want just like everyone else.

Consumerism. The Consumers Union has been vocal in the debate on net neutrality. They believe that the new FCC rules while prohibiting Internet service providers from blocking traffic, would allow ISPs to charge online providers like Amazon, Google, or Netflix a fee for preferred access to customers. Delara Derakhshani, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, stated that this Internet fast lane “could create a tiered Internet where consumers either pay more for content and speed, or get left behind with fewer choices” (“Internet,” 2014). Conceivably, content providers could give preferential treatment to online sites that pay them the most.

Innovation. American Libraries Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling argues that having to pay for faster, efficient access would dissuade entrepreneurs from experimenting. Websites of small businesses and nonprofits would be out of the mainstream and all those start-ups would never make it out of their garages. Stripling has stated, “Many of the innovative services we use today were create by entrepreneurs who had a fair chance to compete for web traffic. By enabling the Internet service providers to limit access, we are essentially saying that only the privileged can continue to innovate” (Miller, 2014). While limiting access would not be the end of the Internet, we could lose the creativity that has resulted in current advances.

Intellectual Freedom. The ALA’s policy statement on the issue of net neutrality is based on the value of intellectual freedom. Intellectual freedom is one of the ethical principles of the profession and is included in the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Intellectual freedom is the “right of all peoples to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.”  The Internet allows everyone to inform themselves and others. Without net neutrality, information could be more restricted.

Digital Divide. In April, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) held a hearing to focus on the role of libraries in providing Internet Services. The IMLS is charged with advising the president and Congress in such matters. The hearings highlighted the fact that the digital divide continues to grow in this country. A Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report in 2013 states that while 70% of Americans have broadband access; 88% of households with incomes over $75,000 have broadband. Only 54% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 have broadband. Furthermore, the Pew study found 63 million Americans do not have either a broadband connection or a smartphone.

Access.  Public libraries, not only worried about having to negotiate with ISPs over potentially high rates for patrons to have access to the library’s resources, are also concerned about the broader issue of protecting the equitable use of the Internet for the “common good.” 77 million people use the public library for Internet access each year (“ALA Responds,” 2014). According IMLS President Susan Hildreth, 60% of American libraries offer the only free computer Internet access in their communities and only 9% of those have high capacity connections (Herther, 2014). Furthermore, Internet service providers will not have any business incentive to run fiber optic cable to small towns; and without fiber optic cable, there is no broadband access. Without a policy of net neutrality, these numbers will only go down.

Some organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have gone so far as to warn that ISPs could conceivably slow down the websites of political parties and other organizations with which the ISPs’ executives disagree.

A Solution. Kathleen Ann Ruane in a report for the Congressional Research Service suggests a solution for the FCC that would enable the Commission to continue its advocacy of net neutrality. According to the Verizon ruling, the FCC does have the authority to issue rules; however, because Internet service providers are classified as information services rather than telecommunication services, the net neutrality rules concerning anti-blocking and anti-discrimination were thrown out. A reclassification of broadband Internet service providers would seem to be a logical solution for the FCC and others advocating for net neutrality.

Net neutrality is complex and important issue.  After reading about the issues, there are still other underlying questions such as: how do you allocate scarce resources (bandwidth) in a free market economy? Traditionally that would be regulated by price. So then the question becomes who pays and how much? This blog only touches the surface.

Still confused?

John Oliver describes net neutrality as the most boring important issue. His humorous You Tube video (13:17) is worth watching. He gives a not-so-boring explanation.

What Can We Do?

Activists protest against proposed new net neutrality rules outside Federal Communications Commission in May. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Activists protest against proposed new net neutrality rules outside Federal Communications Commission in May. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Or we could….

Email comments to the FCC at openinternet@fcc.gov. The FCC has established a new inbox to accept comments through the summer. Chairman Wheeler plans to have new rules in place before the end of the year.

An Addendum

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, 11 higher education and library groups issued a set of 11 principles regarding net neutrality meant for the FCC to consider in its rule making. The principles can be found at http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EPO1305_1.pdf

Want to read more?

  • American Library Association. (2014, March/April). ALA responds to net neutrality decision. American Libraries Magazine, 45(3/4), 10.
  • Chant, I. (2014, February 15). Court strikes down net neutrality. Library Journal, 139(3), 12-14.
  • Delta, G.B. & Matsuura, J. H. (2014).  Regulation of Access, Interoperability, and Services.
  • In Law of the internet.  St. Paul, MN:  Thomson/West.
  • Heller, M. (2014, June 23). What should academic librarians know about net neutrality? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://acrl.ala.org/techconnect/?p=4396
  • Herther, N. K. (2014, June).  FCC and IMLS update focus. Information Today, 31(5), 1-35.
  • Internet rules could put you in the slow lane. (2014, July). Consumer Reports, 79(7), 10.
  • Miller, R.T. (2014). A commons at risk. Library Journal, 139(3), 8.
  • Scola, N. (2014, June 12). Five myths about net neutrality. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-net-neutrality/2014/06/12/ff58ad7c-ec06-11e3-93d2-edd4be1f5d9e_story.html

~Betty Thomas~

 

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — July 21, 2014

weeklyroundup

New to the City, but Where Are the Native Charlotteans?

Check out this opinion piece in The Charlotte Post, written by one of our new students, Michele J. Chilton.

At Sea in a Deluge of Data

Skill in finding useful information and a sense of what to trust will prove essential in the 21st-century workplace. Librarians can play a crucial role in training students accordingly.

20 Tiny Thoughts Crushing Your Biggest Dreams

The mind is your battleground.  It’s the place where the greatest conflict resides.  It’s where half of the things you thought were going to happen, never did happen.  But if you allow those thoughts to dwell in your mind, they will succeed in robbing you of peace, joy, and ultimately your life.  You will think yourself into a nervous breakdown, into depression, and into defeat.  I know because I’ve been there.  What can be done?

Beachfront Libraries Are Pretty Much the Best Idea Ever

What’s a beach day without a good book?  Beachfront libraries are an ingenious addition to shorelines around the world. Forget your book? Go grab a replacement. Finished your latest read? No worries, many choices await you.

Hacking Chaos: The Cornell Method of Note-Taking

Taking notes by hand is better than typing notes, because it forces you to slow down and focus on what is important. Slowing down greatly increases your understanding of information, which is why you need to become better at note-taking.  That’s where the Cornell Method comes in. The Cornell Method has you separate your notes into note-taking portion, key points, and a summary. And it is ideal for lawyers.

‘9,000 Libraries, 9,000 Mohawks’ — Could Vista’s Librarian Mohawk Challenge become a Dare?

Librarian mohawks – makes you do a double take, right? Those are two words that usually do NOT go together.  But thanks to Vista, now they do, as five good-natured librarians made good on their promise this spring and got mohawks because the community pushed them to a big milestone – Vista was the first county library to make it over the 1-million check-out mark.

On Writing Every Day for Two Hours #AcWri

It’s like a muscle: you use it or you lose it.

Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books

If there’s one phrase I dislike more than the latest company touting itself as the “Netflix for books,” it’s when the retort is that such a thing already exists and it’s called the library.  The library is not a Netflix for books.  While there are plenty of reasons a company would want to step in and create something as successful as Netflix but for books, the comparison made to how libraries already fulfill this role is a false one at best. It’s a reductive and problematic comparison.

This is What All 50 States Look  Like When Perfectly Captured in Lego

Jeff Friesen puts us all to shame with his fantastic Lego dioramas. Hailing from Nova Scotia, this creative started building Lego representations of U.S. states in 2013, using nothing but the Lego in his daughter’s collection. Hard work and a very clever imagination resulted in an incredible project that contains all 50 states, each capturing a very defining aspect of the place’s history, geography or culture.

10 Other Facebook Experiments on Users, Rated on a Highly-Scientific WTF Scale

Here’s other research done by Facebook data scientists on users (possibly on you) that we know about because it’s been published.

Update: My Rant on Little Free Libraries

When I wrote my rant about Little Free Libraries, you would have thought I was criticizing apple pie and baseball. For the record, I love apple pie but can’t stand baseball (the game is long and my attention span is not)…  Do I stand by my thoughts on Little Free Libraries?…for the most part. But here are a few points I want to refine.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Criminal Procedure in North Carolina

criminalprocedurenc

For 20 seasons, on the television show Law & Order, we watched the police investigate the crime and arrest the criminal, and then, with bated breath, hung on Jack McCoy’s every question and objection as he prosecuted the crime for the win. We’ve seen this scenario play out countless times and believed it to be the criminal process, but is it really? In North Carolina, there is a clear beginning, middle, and end to the criminal justice system, and it revolves around the rules of criminal procedure. But, as new criminal lawyers starting out on our own, how do we know what to do?  After all, the beginning, middle, and end of the criminal justice system can seem a little overwhelming, especially so if we do not have a mentor to guide us through the process.

Luckily, there is hope! Criminal Procedure in North Carolina by Irving Joyner is the very practice guide that can help the new lawyer, and even some seasoned lawyers, navigate the rough waters of our state’s criminal justice system. To find this practice guide, locate the call number (KFN7975 .J69 2005) in the Charlotte School of Law library catalog, or look up the title using the “browse sources” feature in Lexis Advance.

After a defendant has hired you as her defense attorney, how do you know what to do? The great thing about Criminal Procedure in North Carolina is that, similar to the dramatic arc of Law & Order, the practice guide logically and sequentially moves the practitioner from arrest, to pre-trial, to trial, and then to sentencing.  At each stage in the prosecution of a crime, the practice guide explains the relevant processes and procedures, providing annotations to primary authority for greater context, and supplements with a plethora of other useful information for new attorneys, like sample forms.  The pre-trial section, for example, uses precedential case law to explain the importance of discovery and pre-trial motions practice to a client and the pre-trial issues that arise.

Furthermore, the pre-trial section includes sample forms that show the attorney how to draft and file a particular motion. I found the forms particularly helpful because, while I had learned how to file a motion in limine, others like a special venire were foreign to me.  So, how do you file a motion for a special venire? Well, the practice guide explains who can file this type of motion, when it should be filed, and the type of claim the defendant might bring, such as a motion based on array or racial composition. After the full discussions of the motions that a defense attorney can use, the practice guide then provides the forms so that the attorney can properly file the appropriate motion within the court, changing only what they need to change based on the court where the motion is to be filed.

What better way, when lost in the sea of the criminal justice system, than to go to Criminal Procedure in North Carolina to make sure that you are taking proper advantage of any and all pre-trial and trial motions on behalf of your client.  It doesn’t matter if you are a new attorney or have been admitted to the bar for 20 years, this practice guide is a great resource to make sure that you are following the proper criminal procedure guidelines in the North Carolina courts. Criminal Procedure in North Carolina makes better attorneys because it helps them provide their clients the representation that they deserve.

 ~ Adrianne Ribar, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Back to School: Lessons for the Second Time Around

To educate

“Are you just filling in for the regular librarian?”   I was stunned, and on that particular day, frustrated almost to tears.  Had the question come from a law student, it would have been understandable and more palatable. I was, after all, only 2 months into a new job. Instead, it had come from a “public patron” whose inability to articulate his needs paled next to my inadequacy to walk him through a reference interview.

Like many reference librarians, I’ve spun my share of straw into gold and was proud of it.  A previous director frequently bragged that books flung themselves off the shelves into my arms, opened to the correct page and that a halo would highlight the significant passage.  Those days were gone. I felt like a failure and wondered if I would ever be competent again.

This anecdote, now legend among the staff, serves as a reminder that every job holds its own challenges, even for veteran librarians.  After seventeen years as a research librarian in private law libraries, I had returned to academic law libraries.

I had learned much as a private law librarian, including the business side of practice.  It had been rewarding, but I missed the interaction with students, the chance to support scholarship and the stimulation I had found in teaching.  I wanted new challenges, but wasn’t quite ready to let go of the familiar.

And so, armed with my desire to return to academic law libraries, a yearning to be nearer to family and a leap of faith, I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, changed time zones and moved to North Carolina. I began work as a reference librarian at the Charlotte School of Law.

While I had been away, law schools had been realigning their missions and a new model of legal education had emerged. Charlotte School of Law epitomizes that model.  Charlottelaw is a member of a consortium of independent, community-based law schools. It’s strategically located in North Carolina’s largest city, at the center of the banking industry.  The school’s mission advocates student-centered outcomes, serving the underserved and preparing practice-ready graduates.  The school set a pro bono requirement for students and incorporates experiential learning into many of its courses.

I had expected that my greatest challenge would be advances in technology and their incorporation into the classroom. Integration had moved beyond PowerPoint presentations. Fortunately for me, not only has Charlottelaw  encouraged faculty to incorporate emerging technologies into instruction, it has provided professional development opportunities regarding training on video conferencing software, course management systems and the creation of distance education modules.  Librarians continue to go into the classroom, but now we do it both live and virtually. I am in the process of creating an online legal research component for the first year research and writing course. Adapting to technologies is a continual process for me. I hope to stay at least one step ahead of the students.

I had departed law school libraries before the release of the 1992 MacCrate report on law schools and the legal profession. In the aftermath, there has been a concentrated attention to rubrics, mapping, outcomes, and applications of Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.   Most recently, this interest has been propelled by the proposed revision to the American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools.

The A.B.A. Standards Review Committee, after assessing the condition of legal education in the wake of the MacCrate report and the subsequent findings compiled by William Sullivan and others in Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (also known as the “Carnegie Foundation Report”) and Roy Stuckey and others in Best Practices for Legal Education, proposed a revision to the standards that would address learning outcomes. The proposed revision shifts the focus from teaching to learning and from curriculum to outcomes.

Charlottelaw, as a young school has been an early advocate.  In May, Charlotte Law hosted the “Assessment and Student Outcomes Conference – Implications of the Proposed ABA Standard on Student Learning Outcomes.”  Conference speakers included consortium faculty, education professors and legal scholars, including President of the New York Law School, Richard Matasar, and Steven Bahls, principle draftsman of the proposed revision. I feel as if I’ve come in on the ground floor of something monumental.

I’m pleased with the transition I’ve made and am enjoying my new position.  I’m not only grateful for the opportunity to stretch my own skills and knowledge, but I am beginning to feel competent again.  I also better understand the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  When spring arrived, I found that I missed the fragrance of lilacs.  They don’t do as well here as they did in the Midwest, because they need sustained periods of cold. I have, however, discovered Crepe Myrtles. Their blossoms are gorgeous and resemble those of lilacs.  They lack the fragrance of lilacs, but they last for months and remind me of both homes.

~Susan Catterall~

This article was originally published in the November-December 2010 issue of the online West publication, Law Librarians in the New Millennium.

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