Category Archives: Books & Stuff

Books, Libraries and Serendipity

As we celebrate National Library Week, I encourage you to reflect upon the enchantment which attaches to certain books.  Book lovers know the value of a good book; how it may inspire, challenge, foreshadow and, in other ways, impact lives.  However, even book lovers acknowledge that sometimes a book is more than just a book.

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The embossed book plate bore the words, “Sioux City Public Library, Sioux City, IA” and the inscription read “From the Children of Sioux City, Iowa to the Children of Lund, Sweden.”  All in all, it was pretty straight forward, but I still had no answer for my friend, Nancy’s question – “Does your library often give books away to other libraries?”  It wasn’t an unheard of practice then, and it continues today. However, this exchange involved a heartland city of approximately 75,000 and similarly-sized city in southern Sweden.  Actually, I wondered how Nancy had happened upon that particular book. Or to paraphrase a classic, “Of all the books in all the libraries in all the world,” how did she pull that one off the shelf?

Nancy and I had been friends since college.  My goal was to finish grad school and land a job in a college or university library.  Nancy was finishing up her degree in education, but also planned to enter graduate school and earn her degree in library science.

As it happened, we were both side tracked. After graduation, Nancy married, temporarily put her career on hold and moved with her husband to Lund, Sweden where he pursued his post-doctorate work.  My first job after graduate school was not in an academic library, but rather as the Young Adult librarian at the Sioux City Public Library.  I was working there when I received Nancy’s letter.

My direct supervisor, Ella Lauritsen, was the Assistant Director and in charge of Children’s services for the entire library system. By the time I met her, Ella had served that library for nearly 40 years and was nearing retirement. She was of Danish heritage and her pride in her ancestry lead her to make almost annual trips to Denmark.  In my mind, it seemed logical that perhaps on one of these trips, she had taken the ferry across to Malmo, Sweden, boarded the train to Lund and had bestowed gifts to several libraries along the way.  For all I knew she traveled around all of Scandinavia presenting books to various libraries on each trip.  But when exactly would that have been?  At the time, the book in question was over 40 years old (and is now nearly 70).  Anyone, Ella, or someone prior to her, could have sent or taken the book to Sweden.

Many years earlier, 1941, in particular, Robert McCloskey published a children’s book, Make Way For Ducklings. The book, for those who aren’t familiar with it or can’t recall the plot, relates the story of a Mother duck who parades her baby ducklings across the Boston Public Gardens and is assisted by a kindly policeman who stops traffic for them.  The book won the Caldecott Medal, became a beloved classic and has delighted many generations of children, both in this country and around the world.  Even today, one may view the charming statues of the duck family in Boston Public Gardens.

Yet when I asked her about the book, Ella was stumped.  And, as it turned out, she didn’t carry armfuls of books around the world to other libraries.  She deliberated on how and when this title had ended up in Sweden. She also asked me how I had learned of it.

As I mentioned earlier, Nancy had put her career on hold while in Sweden. As a young mother, she often took her baby for walks.  Also, because her plans were to become a children’s librarian, she thought it would be interesting to explore some of the children’s books at the local library.  She had enjoyed reading Make Way For Ducklings as a child and was pleasantly surprised when she found the book on the shelf of the children’s section. The book, after all, had been translated into several languages.  What startled her was that this specific book was in English and bore the aforementioned book plate.

What made this situation all the more fluky was that I was in the midst of planning a trip to Lund in order to visit Nancy and her family.  In the days before internet access and cell phone availability, all negotiations had to be done by airmail letter or phone.  Because Nancy had no telephone, arrangements had to be made sufficiently in advance (again by letter) in order to ensure that she would be near a phone, should I call.  When I received this particular letter, I had expected it to include further plans and directions, but not a mystery that seemed to foreshadow the plans of two fairly unexceptional young women.

I never actually found an answer to her question.  Ella thought there may once have been, years before, an international children’s literature conference which had been held in Lund and that her predecessor had attended.  We could never validate this.  The predecessor was deceased and no one at the library actually recalled any literature conference.  It probably didn’t matter.  I have chosen to suspend evidence-based reality and, instead, embrace a more ephemeral explanation involving serendipity, kismet and karma.  Yes, sometimes a book is just a book and yet… .

~Susan Catterall~

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10 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs To Visit

Express your inner literary passion by drinking where the greats drank.

~Brooke Rideout~

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/bars-every-book-nerd-needs-to-visit

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Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain – A Book Review

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For many information professionals, copyright fascinates and confounds. Copyright is glossed over in many classes, and librarians struggle to find clear answers to questions that arise in their practice. In the early days of a career, it is easy to blame youth for your befuddlement, but as years pass it becomes more and more difficult to plead ignorance. I have turned to a number of resources, including books, seminars, and massive online open courses, but all have skimmed over practical issues. For many librarians, copyright is simply a hurdle, not a concept to be lingered over, and swift resolutions to imperative questions are invaluable. Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain by Laura N. Gasaway goes a long way in fulfilling that need.

Gasaway, a recognized expert on copyright, has been wrangling with copyright problems for fifteen years now, answering questions from readers in a regular column in Against the Grain, the periodical offshoot of the Charleston Conferences. In her column, she addresses her audience of librarians, publishers, teachers, and authors, clearing the fog and replacing it with clear practicalities, one query at a time.

In her new offering, these questions and answers have been curated, updated, organized, and reassembled, giving readers access, in a single work, to Gasaway’s experience and expertise that was before scattered throughout her columns. Gasaway covers all the usual suspects, including fair use rights, library reserves, licensing, interlibrary loan, preservation, software, and digitization. Question-and-answer pairings are organized into topical chapters, and the book finishes with an emerging issues chapter providing current content on timely subjects such as HathiTrust and the first sale doctrine.

Each chapter features a brief introduction that provides context, but the value of the text lies in her answers to each questioner’s specific needs. While this idiosyncrasy does make the book poorly suited for cover-to-cover reading, it is perfect for quick reference. Other popular copyright texts use the question-and-answer format to show applications of broad concepts, but since the questions posed in this book are wide-ranging and true to life, it effectively provides applicable answers to specific questions. Unfortunately, this also means that when looking for concrete answers, there is no guarantee that guidance for a given question is present between the covers.

In this case, a comprehensive and exhaustive index holds the key to unlocking the precious wisdom inside this book. This is a weakness of the book. While a primarily question-and-answer format leads you to believe that this work would be well-suited for novices, specialized vocabulary or specific portions of the Copyright Acts are often indexed instead of the words used by the questioner. Underutilized cross references again hinder those without a strong knowledge base, and while excellent term definitions and clear, concise summaries of concepts are repeatedly provided throughout the text, the index does not easily lead a reader to them. Not having comprehensive keyword references may seem to avoid redundancy, but instead it limits usability. Readers will not be approaching this text with exact replicas of existing questions, but instead will need to glean their own answers through a careful reading of answers to similar inquires. Because the language of exact inquires is not carefully indexed, an e-book version of this work would be preferable, allowing readers to perform keyword searches and thus work with whatever vocabulary they have on hand.

While the index and other minor inconsistencies keep Gasaway’s content from shining as brightly as it should, Gasaway deserves great praise for her work’s greatest strength: her ability to strike a balance between handing out specific advice and teaching readers strategies to navigate the treacherous waters around best practices and general guidelines. Guidelines and fair use do not lend themselves to cut-and-dry answers, making many copyright texts full of generalizations. However, Gasaway brilliantly teaches her lessons through examples, focusing not only on the use of best practices, but also on the importance of careful risk assessment. She reminds readers that copyright is rarely a firm line, unfortunate though it seems. Instead, application of copyright law is often nebulous. Gasaway’s well-balanced advice guides readers in making their own choices, weighing their options, and choosing to overcome their copyright hurdles the way that is most appropriate for them. In this role, Gasaway is truly a master of her craft.

~Ashley Moye~

This book review first appeared in 106 Law Libr. J. 108-109 (2014).

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Resources for Professional Responsibility Courses and the MPRE

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If you are taking or preparing to take a Professional Responsibility course and/or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), there are many helpful resources and materials at your fingertips.

The Charlotte School of Law Library has a number of professional responsibility treatises, legal periodicals, study aids, and more.  A part of the CSL Research Guide collection, Professional Responsibility outlines and describes the print treatises and e-books available to CSL students, faculty, and staff.  This collection includes major treatises, such as the Model Rules and the Restatement; study aids, including volumes from the Nutshell series; and several other popular resources.  This Guide also includes links to the CSL catalog, where users can click into full-text journals and electronic databases and search for items and articles of interest.*  The Carolinas tab includes jurisdiction-specific resources for present and future practitioners of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Another CSL Research Guide, Academic Success: Professional Responsibility, includes a listing of study materials, including Emanuel Outlines, CrunchTime, E&Es, Barbri Review, Q&As, and more.  It also provides a brief description of the different types of study aids so you can determine what may work best for you.  These items are available for check out in the CSL Law Library.

CSL students also have access to West’s Study Aids Subscription, which has 13 different e-books on the topic of legal ethics and professional responsibility.  A link to those Study Aids is available on your Westlaw homepage.  You may search by keyword or browse by subject.

Finally, on the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) MPRE website, studiers can view NCBE tips on preparing for the MPRE, a subject matter outline of the MPRE, sample test questions from the MPRE, and more.

*Off-campus access to these electronic journals and databases requires a username and password.  Your username is your Last Name, First Name (e.g., Reid, Shannon), and your password is your Library Bar Code Number, which is located on the sticker on the back of your ID badge.

~Shannon Reid~

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Every Step of the Way — 2014 LAUNC-CH Conference

everystep1EVERY STEP OF THE WAY

March 10, 2014

With a conference title about steps and conference location in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I was surprised not to see Tarheel footprints everywhere.

Every year the Librarians’ Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors a one-day conference.  While there are occasionally public librarians in attendance, the majority of attendees and conference sessions relate to academic librarianship. This year’s LAUNC-CH Conference focused on supporting student and faculty research. As usual there were lots of excellent presentations on every aspect of the topic.  This blog post reviews the keynote presentation.

Keynote Presentation

Designing Academic Libraries for New Ways of Research

everystep2Nancy Fried Foster, Senior Anthropologist at Ithaka S+R talked about her work in helping design new libraries to enhance the work practices of students and faculty doing research. According to their website, Ithaka S+R is a research and consulting service that helps academic, cultural, and publishing communities in making the transition to the digital environment. Foster’s presentation contained three parts: participatory design and the use of ethnographic methods, work practice studies of research, and design beyond precedent.

In using the participatory design process, different experts (architects, graphic designers, faculty, students, leaders, and staff) work together through the following steps: gathering information (using ethnographic methods), analyzing the information, developing a concept, and building, testing and iterating the process. The most interesting part of her presentation was the ethnographic methods used in the process. Some of those methods follow:

  • “Retrospective” interviews.  Students were asked to draw out where they were physically and for how much time at different steps of the research process, resulting in comic strip-like frames.
  • Coding sheets for observations. Where exactly were students located and what were they doing in the different parts of the current library at various times?
  • Photo elicitation interviews. Students were asked to take photographs about how they do their academic work and also about their lives. In debriefing the students, the researchers gained insights into the lives of students doing research.
  • Mapping diary. Using a large map of the campus, students plotted out where they went, for how much time, and how they used the campus and the spaces on campus to do their work.
  • Design workshops where faculty and staff drew pictures of how they would use the space. The researchers were interested not so much about the objects included as what the items represented.

Using these methods, the design team continued with the participatory process by doing the following:

1. Co-viewing interviews and artifacts. They taped interviews with the team members.

2. Analyzing the transcripts by cutting and pasting, organizing commentary. There  is also coding software available to use in this analysis.

3. Inspecting, categorizing, comparing and contrasting data. They used space where photographs taken of the library were posted on one wall and across on another wall were photos from 5 years later. The team compared and contrasted the similarities and differences.

4. Interpreting and developing requirements from all the information gathered. The team categorized student comments and needs and dug further into the drawings made by library staff.

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The second part of Foster’s presentation dealt with work practice studies. For example, one study found that faculty were dealing with too much paper, had sharing problems with cowriters, lost files, and encountered problems with migrating their research data to new systems.  Many of the brainstormed solutions now exist as Google products. In another study, the researchers discovered that the largest percentage of faculty used the recommendations of their personal network to find resources for their research.  At another university, the team realized that the library staff’s drawings of private offices represented not only their need for quiet space to get work done, but also a core need for respect and job security that an office represented.

The last part of Foster’s presentation dealt with design beyond precedent. She explained the purpose of metaphors is to make new things seem familiar. Foster asked the attendees, “How would you conceptualize use of the library?” Some of the ideas suggested were a marketplace, museum (like the Library of Alexandria), a coffee house in 18th century England, a laboratory, the heart of learning, a sandbox, or an incubator.  What metaphor would you use to describe your library? In sum, Foster’s presentation was different because she provided a non-traditional view of library use and design.

Interestingly, the day after the LAUNC-CH Conference, Ithaka S+R released their findings from a 2013 survey of American library directors. The respondents were “nearly unanimous” in their emphasis on teaching research skills to undergraduates as their top priority. The two core undergraduate services of widespread importance were “providing reference instruction to classes” and “providing a physical space for student collaboration.” All these findings tie back to the keynote address about redesigning academic libraries to support research.

~Betty Thomas~

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The Happiness Advantage: Part II

Principle #1:  the Happiness Advantage

Positive brains have an advantage over negative or neutral brains.  Our outlook and mood are positive when we are happy and this makes us smarter, more motivated and ultimately, more successful because we are happy.  Competitive, successful people are those who capitalize on positivity.

How do scientists define happiness?  After years of testing, involving millions of people, it has been determined that happiness is “the experience of positive emotions – pleasure combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose”[1].  Martin Seligman, the pioneer in positive psychology, has determined there are three measurable components to happiness:  pleasure, engagement, and meaning.  Aristotle defined happiness as “human flourishing”.  The main components of happiness are positive emotions – awe, amusement, gratitude, hope, interest, inspiration, joy, love, pride, and serenity.  Aggregating over 200 scientific studies which involved about 275,000 people, it was determined that happiness translates into success in almost every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally.

Positive psychology studies show us that happiness leads to greater success, higher performance and greater productivity – not the inverse.  “Happiness precedes important outcomes . . .happiness causes success and achievement”[2] and can also improve out physical health and well-being.

Negative emotions narrow our thoughts and resultant range of action.  Happiness has an important evolutionary purpose.  It helps to “broaden the amount of possibilities we process, making us more creative and open to new ideas”[3].  Broadened possibilities increase our creativity and help us build more physical, social, and intellectual resources which ultimately leads to greater success.

Biology plays a part in the effects of happiness.  When we are happy, our brains are flooded with serotonin and dopamine, making us feel good and also boosting the learning centers of our brains into higher gears.  This leads to increase neural connections resulting in the ability to think more quickly and with greater creativity.  We become “more skilled at complex analysis and problem solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things”[4].  Every time people experience happiness they are mentally primed for greater creativity and innovation, leading to greater success.  Happiness can also help decrease stress and anxiety so we can function on a higher level.

Our happiness fluctuates continually but with concentrated effort we can raise our baseline so that when we are happy we reap even greater rewards.  There are many activities that we can engage in to do just that.  These should be mindfully practiced over time to reap the greatest benefit:

      • Meditate
      • Find something to look forward to
      • Commit conscious acts of kindness
      • Infuse positivity into your surroundings
      • Exercise
      • Spend money (but not on stuff – spend it on experiences)
      • Exercise a signature strength

Lastly, be mindful of the effects on others of negative comments and encounters.  According to a study conducted by Marcial Losada, the ratio of positive to negative interactions is a key determinant in success.  It takes at least three positive experiences, interactions, or comments to negate the effects of one negative experience, interaction, or comment.  Increasing your positivity ratio leads to greater performance, trust, and ability to deal with the negative.

 “Happiness is the center around which success orbits.”[5]

If you would like to read the first article in this series, please see here.  Next time . . . “The Fulcrum and The Lever:  Changing Your Performance by Changing Your Mindset.

~ Julie Morris ~


[1] Achor, Shawn, The Happiness Advantage (New York: Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., 2010), 39.

[2] Achor, 42.

[3] Achor, 44.

[4] Achor, 44.

[5] Achor, 61.

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The Future of Libraries?

Photo by Eric Gay/Associated Press of Eric Gutierrez at BiblioTech

Photo by Eric Gay/Associated Press of Eric Gutierrez at BiblioTech

A library without books?

BiblioTech is an all-digital, public library outside San Antonio, Texas run by Bexar County that opened last September.  Designed like an Apple store, the library has two long tables with 48 iMacs, an IPad bar, and a circulation desk.  Through another door, patrons will find a room with Xbox 360s with Kinect and Microsoft Surface video tables loaded with Kaplan educational games.

A tiny café sells coffee, flash drives, and headphones. The back of the area has space for patrons to bring their own devices and connect to the wireless Internet.

The library has 10 MacBook Pros and 40 iPads available for checkout by the hour for use in the library. Bibliotech has 600 e-readers and 200 pre-loaded e-readers for children available for home use. Patrons can select up to five eBooks from a collection of 18,000 titles. After a checkout period of two weeks, the book just disappears from the device.

6,000 people visited the library during its first week, borrowing 180 e-readers.

Judge Nelson Wolff of Bexar County, an avid book collector who is credited with the BiblioTech vision, explained the initiative in an NPR interview in October. First, the County wanted to bring library services to the community at a competitive price. BiblioTech cost $2.3 million to create with a yearly operating cost of $1.1 million. In comparison, a conventional library currently being built in Austin will cost $120 million. Second, another goal was to narrow the digital divide. BiblioTech would bring access to the internet and digital devices to an economically disadvantaged area. While Judge Wolff acknowledged that not every book is in eBook format and that BiblioTech is not fulfilling that role, he points out that the library is providing access to information and other digital resources that are not available in that community. The county plans to extend BiblioTech’s reach to shopping districts, transit stations, and large businesses.

futureoflibraries2

~Betty Thomas~

References

  • Bookless library in Texas aims to ‘break down the barriers to reading.’  (2013). Washington, D.C.: National Public Radio. Retrieved from ProQuest Research Library database.
  • Cottrell, M. (2013). Paperless libraries. American Libraries, 44(9/10), 11.
  • Electronista staff. (2014, January 4). All-digital Bibliotech library opens in Texas, eschews paper books. Retrieved from http://www.electronista.com/articles/14/01/04/library.offers.48.imacs.ipads.other.tablets.for.client.use/
  • Nawotka, E. (2014, January 19). It’s Here: A Library with Nary a Book. New York Times, p. A27B(L). Retrieved from InfoTrac Newstand database.
  • Sanburn, J. (2013, October 7). Smoked stacks. Time, 182(15), 70. Retrieved from MasterFILE Complete database.

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February is LOVE YOUR LIBRARY Month

loveyourlibrary

How much do you love your library here at CSL?  Our new library provides a beautiful, quiet place to study, reflect, check your email and check-in on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among other things.

Why do you come to the library?  To study, meditate, center yourself for the day’s work ahead?  Could there actually be reference materials needed for your next class?  The assistance of a professional law librarian who can guide you in your research needs?  Technical assistance in accessing the many electronic databases we have to offer?

You should stop by your library today.  Pick up a bookmark and check out the hearts at Circulation and Reference – tell us what your library means to you.  They will be available all month for your comments.  What do you like?  What would you like to see more of?  Wishes?  Expectations?  Dreams?  Thoughts?

See you in the library!

loveyourlibrary2

~Julie Morris~

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Does The Library Have My Textbook?

Many students often ask Library staff if the Circulation Desk has a copy of their textbooks this time of year.  While we are happy to help you with this in person, here’s a quick way for you check yourself:

1) First, go to the Library’s online catalog. Links to the catalog can be found on the CSL website.

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2) Next, type in the title of the book you are looking for.

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3) You can narrow your results using the facets on the left hand side.

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4) If the Library owns the book you are looking for, you can also tell where the book is located, if it is on course reserve, and whether it’s checked out or not.

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If you’d like some more information on how to find books or study aids in our online catalog, please take a look at this Slideshare presentation.  As always, please let us know how the Library can help you!

~Brian Trippodo~

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Stress Positions and the Importance of Persuasive Writing Skills

“So often in professional life – life in any profession – we exist in the minds of others only through our writing.”[1]  This may be particularly true for civil litigators, whose pleadings and correspondence at the beginning of a case or their memoranda in support of dispositive motions, for instance, may be more likely to play a role in the outcome of a case than actual trial practice.  This is because so few civil cases actually reach trial.

According to statistics provided at www.uscourts.gov, only one percent (1.0%) of civil filings reaches trial in the United States district courts for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (i.e., federal trial courts within North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland).[2]  This is one reason why advocacy must exist in writing.  Writing skills are essential to the integrity of the legal profession and critical to the strength of a lawyer’s ability to effectively advocate for his or her client.

Lawyers use persuasive writing in a wide range of circumstances, such as filings with the court and both formal and informal correspondence with clients and opposing counsel.  Indeed, “[i]t is of the utmost importance as a lawyer for your prose to proclaim accurately not only what is going on in the case but also who and what you are[,]” writes author George Gopen, Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University, in his recent article titled, The Style Proclaims The Lawyer: You Are What You Write.[3]  To illustrate this point, Gopen provides:

Here is a paragraph from a 1984 campaign speech by Walter Mondale, who was the Democratic candidate up against Ronald Reagan seeking a second term.

I have refrained directly from criticizing the President for three years.  Because I believe that Americans must stand united in the face of the Soviet Union, our foremost adversary and before the world, I have been reticent.   A fair time to pursue his goals and test his policies is also the President’s right, I believe.  The water’s edge is the limit to politics, in this sense.  But this cannot mean that, if the President is wrong and the world situation has become critical, all criticism should be muted indefinitely.

*****

Mondale was a long-term senator, respected by most of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle… And yet he lost that election by the largest electoral margin in U.S. history… Exit polls suggested that even a majority of Democrats felt Mondale was not strong enough to face up to the continuing threat posed by the powerful Soviet Union.

Gopen notes that Mondale’s speech was grammatical and intellectual, but the “stress positions” were weak, causing Mondale to appear politically impotent.  Gopen defines the term “stress position” as the words to be read with the most emphasis.

In a revision of the above passage, Gopen illustrates the effect of moving “something of import” into every stress position.

For three years, I have refrained from directly criticizing the President of the United States.  I have been reticent because I believe that Americans must stand united before the world, particularly in the face of our foremost adversary, the Soviet Union.  I also believe a President should be given fair time to pursue his goals and test his policies.  In this sense, politics should stop at the water’s edge.  But this cannot mean that all criticism should be muted indefinitely, no matter how wrong a President may be or how critical the world situation may become.

The style of this revised paragraph presents us with a man who is a tower of strength, a man of clear vision, a man who can lead us all forward.

In researching other speeches from that campaign, Gopen discovered the speechwriter’s stylistic habit was to fill the stress positions weakly, as he did in this example.  Thus, the lesson here is that “[w]e are all creatures of rhetorical habit; and the sum of all our rhetorical habits becomes the identity of the character we show to the reading world.”

To learn more about stress positions and persuasive writing, see Gopen’s article in the Fall 2013 edition of Litigation, along with many of the other books and materials available to you right here at the Charlotte School of Law Library.


[1] George Gopen, The Style Proclaims The Lawyer: You Are What You Write, The Journal of the Section of Litigation American Bar Association, Fall 2013, at 12.

[2] The Judicial Business of the United States Courts reported the highest rate of civil cases reaching trial is 1.9% in the district courts for the Ninth and First Circuit Courts of Appeal; the lowest rate is 0.9% in the Third and Eleventh Circuits.  For more information, see http://www.uscourts.gov/Statistics.aspx.

[3] Gopen, at 12-13.

~Shannon Reid~

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