Tag Archives: Book Review

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

copyrightquestionsandanswers

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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ALR Student’s Corner: Lee’s North Carolina Family Law and Its Value as a Secondary Resource

north carolina family law

Lee’s North Carolina Family Law (“Lee’s”) is a valuable secondary source for researching a family law issue.  Lee’s is a treatise bound in a grayish-green cover, organized into a three-volume set.  It can be found in the “Carolinas” section at the Charlotte School of Law Library with the Library of Congress call number KFN7494.L43 (using the search term “family law north carolina” in the Library’s catalog gets you here).

The library’s current copy of Lee’s is the Fifth Edition, published in 1993 by the Miche Company, in Charlottesville, Virginia.  However, Lee’s is kept up-to-date by yearly pocket parts that are located in the back of each volume, to ensure that the researcher has access to the most current rule of law and annotations.

The three-volume set is organized in such a way that pre-marriage – marriage – post marriage situations occur in reality, making it an easy source to navigate even without an advanced knowledge of the law.  Moreover, the volumes consistently flow from one to another, so that there is no confusion between Chapter or Section numbers within each volume.  For example, in the First Volume, there are five main Chapters, while the Second Volume starts with “Chapter 6” to continue the flow of the organization between the volumes.  Additionally, each volume contains a Summary Table of Contents that lists the topics covered throughout the volume by Chapter, as well as a detailed Table of Contents that separates information under each Chapter by Section that then further narrows to multiple Subsections.  The comprehensive Table of Contents provides an excellent tool to help researchers navigate through specific and relevant legal issues.

The treatise also contains a variety of other finding tools to help a researcher efficiently retrieve information.  Each volume contains an index that lists all the relevant terms within that volume and directs a researcher to the relevant sections within the book.  Furthermore, Lee’s contains two other valuable finding tools located in the back of each volume, a “Table of Cases” and “Table of Authorities.”  These contain lists of relevant cases, organized alphabetically, and a list of all the pertinent North Carolina statutes referenced within the treatise.

One of the most helpful finding tools within the treatise are the annotations at the bottom of almost every page, which direct the researcher to the legal authority (both primary and other secondary) for the rules of law discussed in the treatise.

The following illustration demonstrates how one can use Lee’s to help efficiently and effectively research an issue:

You have recently opened your own general law practice, and one of your first clients comes to you with questions regarding what options she has in her current marriage situation.  She separated from her husband and moved into her own apartment in March 2012, and although the couple tried to reconcile the relationship a few times since then (as late as this past February), she has decided that she is done with the marriage and wants a divorce.  After conducting the rest of the client interview, you assure her that you will be in touch shortly with answers, and immediately get to work.

Because you are only vaguely familiar with family law, you decide to start with Lee’s North Carolina Family Law because as a treatise it provides a general overview of the law, as well as a detailed Table of Contents to accurately guide you through the relevant information.  You decide to start in the Second Volume under “Chapter 7 – Absolute Divorce” because your client wants to divorce her husband.

family law table of contents

As you scroll through the very detailed Subsections listed below each Section in the Table of Contents, you come across “Divorce Based on Separation: Elements and Defenses” and decide to start there.  Under that Section, the Table of Contents further subdivides to such subtopics as “Residence” or “Resuming the Marital Relationship”.  These subtopics help a researcher narrow the legal issue.  After reading through the relevant sections pertaining to your client’s divorce situation, you are confident that you have completed all the necessary research to satisfy your client’s concerns.

The demonstration above shows the value of Lee’s North Carolina Family Law as a secondary resource in which to effectively and efficiently research a legal issue.  Because everyone does not have access to treatises, either in print or by subscription, free internet resources about family law, such as the Rosen Law Firm, are available for a general understanding of Family Law in North Carolina.

~ Brittany Tidd, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Law Among Nations – An Introduction to Public International Law for New Researchers

lawamongnations

Law Among Nations: An Introduction to Public International Law
Von Glahn, Gerhard and James Taulbee, Law Among Nations: An Introduction to Public International Law (Pearson Longman, 8th ed. 2007).

This treatise is located in print in the CSL Library. It can be found in the Treatise section of the library. After finding the call number (KZ3185.v6 2007) by using the online catalog, you follow the call number cards to the International Law shelf and find the book in the middle of the left side of the aisle.

Content

Law Among Nations is a single volume that was published in 2007 (the 10th edition, published in 2012, is currently available at online booksellers). There is a Table of Contents, Index of Cases, Arbitral Awards and Advisory Opinions, and Index. These resources allow researchers to efficiently locate their topic and narrow down their research.  Law Among Nations provides an introduction and overview of major subject areas in international law.  Although not visible in the Table of Contents, the chapters are divided by sub-topic to provide structure and help guide researchers as they read.   Each chapter is followed by a list of  “Suggested Readings” that list academic articles as well as relevant authority.

Using the Treatise as a Secondary Source

To better understand how to use this resource, we will walk through a brief research exercise.  Imagine you are taking a course on international law. For one of your assignments, your professor asks you to examine a major current event in light of international law. You recall reading about the Arab Spring and Syria. You decide to research if the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has committed any war crimes in the on-going conflict.

After deciding to start with a secondary source to get an overview of war crimes, you locate Law Among Nations and check the table of contents for “war crimes” and notice Chapter 21 is titled “International Humanitarian Law: War Crimes.” You turn to the first page of the chapter (p. 628) and begin flipping through the pages.  There is a list of types of war crimes on page 633 that provides a broad research map for you to begin.  You continue skimming the chapter and notice there is a list of acts constituting war crimes on page 642 and decide to follow up with the sources listed.  The end of the chapter provides almost two pages of additional readings on war crimes that cite to academic articles, as well as United Nations Treaties and Protocols governing war crimes.

Conclusion

Law Among Nations is a helpful tool for researchers new to international law. It provides a general overview of major international law areas and sub-topics. The suggested reading lists are extremely helpful to guide the reader to more specific instruments of international law.  While the table of contents would be more helpful if it guided readers to more specific topics, the book is generally well-organized and the language is easy to follow.

 ~ Nadia Aziz, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Estate Planning Using Irrevocable Trusts – Analysis with Forms

irrevocabletrustsBefore law school, I was fortunate to work for an estate planning attorney and to learn the benefits placing property in a trust could provide in managing assets.  An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be terminated once it has been created.  The treatise I have chosen to critique is Irrevocable Trusts, Analysis with Forms by Robert A. Esperti, Renno L. Peterson, and Robert S. Keebler.  The purpose of this blog posting is to discuss the organization and content of the treatise and assess its usefulness to a user with little or basic knowledge of this subject.  A basic subject search of “irrevocable trusts” in the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog will retrieve three results, the last two of which are the treatise in question (call number KF 730.E83).  This treatise is not available electronically.  The book is physically located in the Treatise Section (or “quiet zone”) of the Library, in the row of compact shelving labeled “KF645-KF889; Real Property; Trusts & Estates; Contracts; Commercial Code.”

CONTENT

The treatise is a single volume set consisting of two supplements that have been updated yearly since 2008.  Each supplement consists of 16 chapters with a detailed Table of Contents.  The subtopics of each chapter can go at least four levels in some instances (i.e., 2.03;[1]; [d]; [ii]).  The chapters are segregated by the type of trust.  Each chapter consists of the following sections: a general overview, requirements, and special rules for the particular type of trust.  The Highlights and Filing Instructions (“Highlights page”), located at the front of the treatise, contains information related to revised materials, the elimination of the previous year’s supplements, and date the newest supplements were received.  The treatise currently consists of 2012 Cumulative Supplement No. 1 (received April 11, 2012) and No. 2 (received Fall 2012).  Attached to the back cover of the treatise is an Irrevocable Trusts Forms on Disc CD.  The CD includes examples of various trust documents and checklists covering various drafting and estate structuring scenarios.

HOW TO SEARCH

There are many ways this treatise can be helpful to an attorney.  For example, say your client wants to know how to set up a charitable trust, and what their benefits are.  A few search terms you may develop include “charitable trust,” “trustee,” and “tax deduction.”  Searching the index for “charitable trust” returns no results. Amending the search to “charitable” takes the user to a list of charitable trusts and their characteristics.  Using the index is helpful if you are searching for a specific trust.  The topics listed tend to be specific, but may be too broad, in some cases, for the user unfamiliar with charitable trusts.  The main index topic is in bold and subtopics are formatted by the number of dots placed before it.

From a search of the index, you discern that the most relevant topics for your client are in Chapters 9 and 10.  Chapter 9 discusses Charitable Lead Trusts and Chapter 10, Charitable Remainder Trusts.  The overview at the beginning of each chapter defines the main difference in the trusts.  A Charitable Lead Trust distributes trust income to a charity, while principal is distributed to another beneficiary.  The Charitable Remainder Trust distributes trust income to a beneficiary, while the principal is distributed to the charity(s).  This should be a nice starting point before venturing into the particular details of your client’s needs.  Also, at the end of each chapter, there are checklists covering the trust requirements and other considerations.

CONCLUSION

The treatise is very useful in that it is continually updated, and contains an organized and detailed table of contents that flows nicely, as well as helpful general overviews at the beginning of each chapter.  Additionally, the checklists at the end of each chapter are excellent and make up for a rather confusing index that should be reserved for those well-versed in irrevocable trusts.  If the treatise Irrevocable Trusts is not enough, there are many well-organized and helpful resources on-line, some of which include nolo.com, wealthcounsel.com, and planningforelders.com.  These sites contain helpful information on the basics of estate planning and trust law and offer the latest news in this field of law.

~ Kevin Rinehart, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Protecting Inventions and Patent Licensing – Strategy, Negotiation, Forms

patentlicensing  Patent Licensing: Strategy, Negotiation, Forms by Mark S. Holmes (KF 3145 .Z9 2000) is an excellent guide for any kind of licensing agreement between parties, not just patent licensing.  Patents involve additional complications, and Holmes covers them extensively.  Along with a list of issues, there are sample clauses that can be readily modified for inclusion in any licensing agreement.

The first, and most obvious, issue to consider is the actual grant of a license.  With patents, there is a significant difference between an assignment, a license and a sale.  The nature of the terms in the agreement, not the specific words used (i.e. calling it a license agreement), will be determinative.  The examples provided comply with the UCC and other statutory provisions that come into consideration when creating the agreement.  The next most important issue will be the money involved.  Both parties will want to ensure that this is done correctly because they are most likely setting up a long-term relationship.  Legal fights and ambiguities do not make for a good long-term relationship. 

A couple of unique issues that come up with patents must be carefully considered.  In most cases, an inventor will be looking for a licensing partner even before the patent is granted.  Patent prosecution can take years before the patent is finally granted, so finding a partner before the patent is granted is quite common.  This brings up the issue of what happens if the patent application is denied by the patent office.  Holmes has an excellent chapter devoted entirely to this issue. A final rejection on a patent application is not the end of the story.  There are still many steps that can be taken by the applicant that could lead to an eventual patent.  Those steps are not cheap and can cost thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This is an extremely important issue and needs to be carefully considered.

Another consideration that is unique to patents is infringement.  What happens when another party infringes on the patent that is subject to the licensing agreement?  This will almost always lead to extensive litigation between the accused infringer and either the patent holder or licensee.  That can literally cost millions of dollars and take years to decide.  Also, the original inventor will be in possession of information that the license holder will need to properly defend the patent.  What kind of access to other information will the license holder have if an infringement lawsuit is filed?  Holmes handles this complex issue extremely well with a great discussion of issues and possible contract clauses that will address it properly.

A third unique consideration to patents is what rights does the original inventor or assignee of the patent have in regards to using the patent.  Can the original holder of the patent compete directly with the license holder?  There is also a very good chance that the original inventor will be working on improving the invention.  Who will have rights to that new invention?  How would the new and improved invention compete with the original invention? Holmes discusses this very carefully and provides sample contract clauses that can lean in either direction depending on the desires of the parties.

Patent Licensing by Mark Holmes is an excellent resource for any kind of license agreements.  It discusses the issues that every license agreement should consider, and expands into areas that will be unique to a patent license.  Patents are a way to protect an invention and hopefully turn it into a valuable asset.  Most inventors do not have the financial resources to monetize their invention properly, so they will need to license it.  There are big advantages to licensing compared to selling, but it creates a more complicated, long-term relationship between the parties.  Careful contract writing and a solid understanding are mandatory in making it a successful relationship.  Holmes provides an excellent start in achieving these goals.

~ David VanVliet, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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From One Accidental Law Librarian to Another: A Book Review

theaccidentallawlibrarian

I have to confess straight off the bat, that I am probably more entangled with and emotionally vested in Anthony Aycock’s work than many others reviewing this book; besides Anthony’s wife, that is.  It is due to Aycock that I can proudly call myself an accidental law librarian.

Never fear, though.  I promise that my review will be honest and unbiased.  However, because of my entanglement, I feel compelled to break tradition and take a moment to wax philosophical about my early days in library school and my arrival at Charlotte Law, both as an opportunity to breathe more life into this review and also to celebrate those serendipitous moments and connections in the library profession that chart your course and set your path.  Long and twisted journeys precede most librarians finding their place and their home in their profession, and oftentimes not only do we end up somewhere we never pictured, but our futures are touched and changed by unexpected people.

As a young MLIS student during the dark ages of the transition from on-site education to distance education, I had the challenge of navigating the waters between online classes and in-person classes from a satellite location.  Naturally, I gravitated towards what was comfortable – the in-person classes.  However, expecting a traditional class from a satellite campus that is transitioning to distance education leaves you with few options, especially when you have students from the main campus driving to the satellite campus for classes, simply because the cost was so much lower.

This is my roundabout way of saying that I ended up in Legal Resources almost accidentally.  And so encountered Anthony Aycock…

There was no way of knowing that he was the key to my future place in the library profession, so I merely sat back and enjoyed his instruction.  He was restricted significantly by circumstances, attempting to teach Legal Research using little more than PowerPoint slides, scans and a handful of print books because the university did not have a formal law collection, much less subscriptions to the major legal research players, nor would we have been able to use it to our hearts content, since we were the plus ones on campus.  These coveted in-person classes were filled with anecdotes and meanderings and my favorite, the absurd and unexpected real life cases that he would display and discuss.  In the six years since I graduated, times have changed significantly, with free legal resources and online research becoming more and more prevalent.  I’m not sure if class will ever be taught the way it was previously.

And I tried in class.  I really did.  As hard as I could.  But the simple fact remains – you can’t effectively teach a reference class without putting the books you’re talking about into the hands of the students.  You can do a good job.  You can do a great job.  But you can’t make students into confident reference librarians without getting their hands dirty.  Weeks of classes, despite including two visits to the Charlotte Law Library for dabbling in the dirty hands theory, seem to break up the lessons and disconnect the legalese and the convoluted resources from each other.  So despite an entire course in legal resources and research, after I finished the semester, I still felt like I was l floundering in a pair of water wings.  Why did I care, though?  Why would it matter?  I had no idea where I would end up after graduation, but I absolutely never envisioned ending up in a law school.

Enter that near graduation point of panic, where you’re realizing how crucial library experience is when trying to market yourself.  Add that to restricting your search to part time jobs, local, with hours that will accommodate single motherhood, and you’re almost frantic at the lack of options.  So I started reaching out to everyone I knew and every venue I could identify, casting a wide net.  I’m sure other librarians can commiserate with this feeling.

One such reach was to Anthony Aycock, my former professor, inquiring about part time work at a law firm.  By luck and serendipity and grace, he asked me to come in to the law school and apply for a job to lend a hand on the reference desk on the weekends.  I gulped and did some heavy breathing and then decided that the opportunity for experience was worth facing my fear.  However, once I came in, the current Director of Technical Services discovered my undergraduate and graduate mathematics and statistical background and immediately tapped me for technical services.  Over the years, my responsibilities increased as well as my knowledge, leaving me with a thirty hour a week job that both challenges me and grants me work-life balance, but that reference desk remained out of reach and the overwhelming fear of the desk increased exponentially.

Unfortunately, as the years passed and the books in the library and the records in the catalog became full of my fingerprints, I came to the realization that the more I knew about the world of law, the more I knew I didn’t know.  And without a J.D. or a Paralegal certificate and a busy, busy job doing a little bit of almost everything in Technical Services, there was no time, no resources, no energy left to dive in to the convoluted field and learn.  Six years have passed since then, and prior to opening the pages of The Accidental Law Librarian, I still joked about how I thought tort was simply a misspelled delicious multilayered cake filled with buttercream.  I could recognize every book on commercials and movie screens, giving my increasingly unamused couch companions the title, publication schedule and method of updating, but I couldn’t for the life of me explain why you would ever use it, and it killed me.

Time to queue the music.  Enter Anthony Aycock’s new book, The Accidental Law Librarian.  As soon as I opened to the contents page, a smile slipped across my face.  With Anthony as my first real connection to the library profession, the first of those amazing librarians that collect on a list throughout your life – the ones that you are indebted to, the ones that helped carry you to the point you are at now, the ones that gave you a chance, took a risk, believed in you, opened up to you – I was immediately hit with a moment of nostalgia.  Anthony is a librarian, yes.  But he’s also a writer.  A creative writer.  And this book was filled with reminders of his zany sense of humor and his tongue in cheek approach to the driest of topics.

From Chapter One’s subtitle of “What are all those books on Law and Order?” to the encounters with entertaining footnotes pointing out facts like Wexis is the librarian equivalent of Brangelina and Bennifer, this book dripped personality.

The dripping personality isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though.  Some people might find the excessive anecdotal bits and pieces nothing but glitz, distracting from the true content.  For instance, does a serious reader really need a chapter that starts out like the beginning to a bad romance novel?  Will they find it frustrating to follow footnotes and end up at pithy comments instead of formal citations?  Perhaps.  But perhaps a reader will find it refreshing, a welcome change from dry and dusty wording and standard approaches in primarily educational texts.

Either way, after sitting through prose that may or may not be excessive, readers are rewarded by the clear and concise manner that Aycock uses to approach most every aspect of law librarianship, ranging from discussions of primary and secondary sources, legal publishing, basic concepts and terminology and resources for the lowest common denominator reference desk bathroom break coverer wanna be (see also: me).  He then moves on to more specific advice for sitting the reference desk, including a frank discussion about the unauthorized practice of law fear that hovers over those bridging the gap between lawyer and librarian.

I was constantly stumbling over fascinating tidbits throughout the book, so even those sections that seemed more rote and addressed things that I had already gleaned through my six years ensconced in the back of a law library had something valuable to offer.  From explaining annotations and citations in a way that a newbie can understand, to listing out what a law librarian can and can’t do, to tracing the history of legal publishers in an engrossing manner, the ah-ha moments kept piling up.

As the book progressed, Aycock guided readers towards more specific information about online resources and mobile apps as well as navigating the world of public records.  With a somewhat less than seamless transition, he offered more tailored information for those in law firms, keeping my interest with his familiar writing style, but almost losing my interest because of its inapplicability to the strictly academic world.

Not content to stand on his own laurels, Aycock recommends a variety of resources for the budding accidental law librarian, ranging from print to online, even social media channels.  Unsurprisingly, he snagged that waning interest of mine back, since librarians are always on the hunt for more education, more resources, more materials to peruse.

My favorite portion of the later chapters was Aycock’s honest discussion about whether law librarians truly need a J.D. or an M.B.A.  This always seems to be a hot topic, or at least has been for my short six year library career, especially for those non-reference librarians who accidentally fell into law librarianship.  Coming from Aycock, a law librarian with a variety of academic credentials, though neither of the ones preferred for traditional legal reference positions, I appreciated his candor wholeheartedly.

Tables in the book were invaluable and a fantastic way of displaying lengthy content in a more efficient and palatable way.  To my dismay, though, screen shots were thrown up with some regularity, as well as those hyperlinks everyone wants to include in their printed materials these days.  I admit, I always find hyperlinks frustrating in a text.  With the information world changing as quickly and as grandly as it does, it seems to me that screen shots and images of websites are nothing but page filler; although I concede that they do break up the wall of text and content nicely and provide a little more white space on which to rest your eyes.  And hyperlinks?  Come on.  First of all, see earlier comment on page filler.  Second of all, I know very few individuals that actually open their book up next to them and hand type extensive URLs from the page in to their browser.  I certainly don’t do this myself, and find the inclusion of hyperlinks and screen shots in a printed text both frustrating and excessive.

Aycock, however, is a step ahead of the game and managed to temper my personal frustrations by creating a blog: http://accidentallawlibrarian.wordpress.com/ which provides hyperlinks directly to the resources in each chapter and all are kept current.  I still don’t like them cluttering up my book, but I have to tip my hat to his gesture and its resulting functionality.

All in all, even putting aside my personal connection and gratitude to Aycock, the hat tipping continues, as Aycock has created an accessible resource, basic enough for library students, public librarians and accidental librarians like me, yet detailed enough that even those who know the basics will learn something new.  Unthreatening and comprehensive.  Readable and browsable.

If only he had written it seven years earlier.  I could have tested out of three credits for my Masters in 247 pages.  And have been able to leave my office over the last few years and head out to the reference desk a little more often to see if anyone needed a bathroom break…

~Ashley Moye~

Aycock, Anthony. The Accidental Law Librarian. Medford: NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2013. 247p. $39.50

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ALR Student’s Corner: Business Torts – A Concise, User-Friendly Fifty State Guide

businesstorts

Business Torts are civil wrongs committed against or by businesses.  Just like intentional torts and negligence, state law governs these business torts.  The treatise, Business Torts: A Fifty State Guide, edited by Morton Daller, is a compilation of each state’s handling of business tort matters in a concise, user-friendly manner.

Part of what makes this treatise so easy to use is that each state is organized the same way: in an outline format revolving around the same issues that are part of each state’s statutory laws.  The section for each state starts with the most important question for an attorney when helping a client: the statute of limitations, to know if time still remains to bring a cause of action.  The next sections are basically the same for all states with only a few differences in wording based on each state’s statutory guidelines.  Some of these sections include misappropriations of trade secrets, conversion, tortious interference with a contract, fraud and misrepresentations, consumer fraud statutes, and owner’s and director’s liability.

To help expand a user’s research, each section contains footnotes with reference to various statutes, cases, and even the Restatement of Torts that the state has adopted.  Each state’s section is written by a local practicing attorney who litigates cases dealing with these same issues and is considered the go-to-person for her knowledge on the subject.  The series is updated each year with the current series consisting of editions from 2007 to 2012.  Each book is updated on a periodic basis with supplements that reflect the important changes in the relevant laws for each state. If nothing of significance has occurred, then the series is updated with each year’s new edition.

To illustrate how to search within the treatise, suppose you want to know what South Carolina courts would recognize and protect, were you to draft restrictive covenants and a trade secret clause in an employment agreement.  To start your search, follow these simple directions.  First, locate the call number (KF1250.Z95 B87 2012) from the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog with the search terms “business torts.”  This sends you to the Treatise Section (through the clear glass doors, and then it is the last section on the right).  Be careful unrolling the compact shelving before entering the row that you don’t commit any intentional torts or negligent acts in the process…you’ll need another Torts Treatise located in the same section were that to happen.

Once you are in the correct row, locate the colorful collection of books, just below eye level.

businesstortsonshelf

Using the 2012 edition, consult the Table of Contents to familiarize yourself with how the book is organized and to locate relevant information for South Carolina.

businesstortstableofcontents

South Carolina starts on page 779.  The two sections relevant to drafting the above referenced employee agreement is under Section B entitled “Misappropriations of Trade Secrets, 1- Uniform Trade Secret Act, 2- The South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, 3- Common Law Misappropriations of Trade Secrets, and 4- Restrictive Covenants/Covenants Not to Compete that runs from pages 779- 781.”

To ensure this is the most up-to-date law and that it has not been updated since the publication of the book, you would want to double check the South Carolina Code of Laws and case law referenced throughout footnotes eleven through thirty-eight. The First Restatement of Torts is also referenced, which South Carolina has adopted.  All of these resources are good for cross-references to primary authority and other secondary sources that can be used to expand your search.

Business Torts: A Fifty State Guide is a one-stop-shop to the information you need to ensure your client’s wishes are met.

~ Ashley Wright, Class of 2015 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Modern Scientific Evidence and Its Role in Law

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Introduction

The first time the United States Supreme Court integrated a “sophisticated understanding of science into legal decision-making” was in the landmark decision of Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.[1]. “The Daubert Court held that under the Federal Rules of Evidence trial court judges must act as ‘gatekeepers,’ and evaluate the validity of the basis for proffered scientific expertise before permitting the expert to testify.”[2] The Court in Daubert did not require lawyers and judges to be trained as scientists; the Court did, however, “demand a fair degree of scientific sophistication.”[3] It was this demand from the United States Supreme Court that paved the way for the treatise, Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law and Science of Expert Testimony.

Location in CSL Library

First, you must locate the treatise’s specific call number, KF8961.M63v.1. This can be found through the CSL library catalog. Next, you must navigate to the “Treatises” section in the northwest corner of the school library. Proceed to the “Evidence” and “Criminal Law” shelf and, four rows up from the bottom, you will find the five volumes of Modern Scientific Evidence.

Contents of Modern Scientific Evidence

The treatise is contained in five volumes that were initially printed in 1997. The most recent addition is from 2012-2013. These volumes contain a Summary of Contents, a Table of Contents, a Glossary of Terms, a Table of Laws and Rules, a Table of Cases, and an Index. The text challenges the use of “generally accepted” scientific ideas when ruling on admissibility or managing expert witnesses in state and federal courts, and prepares trial attorneys to explain scientific concepts during admissibility arguments and to confidently elicit or challenge expert testimony during trial.[4] The 2012-2013 Edition updates thirty-five chapters with new developments, commentary, authorities and insights from all six of the treatise’s authors, as well as numerous other expert scientists.[5] In particular, Chapters 31 (DNA Typing) and 33 (Fingerprint Identification), prepared under the direction of Erin Murphy and Jennifer Mnookin, respectively, have been extensively revised to reflect current developments and views on their subjects. Other chapters with significant updates include: 1 (Admissibility of Scientific Evidence), 9 (Insanity and Diminished Capacity), 11 (Sexual Aggressors), 23 (Epidemiology), 39 (Fires, Arsons, and Explosions), 41 (Alcohol Testing), 42 (Drug Testing), 43 (Structural Engineering), and 45 (Economic Damages).[6]

Research Exercise

To practice using Modern Scientific Evidence as a secondary source, imagine you have been asked by your boss (a general practice attorney) to assist her with determining causation in a toxic-tort case. She tells you the opposing counsel is utilizing “junk science” and she wants you to draft a “Daubert motion” to exclude certain statistical studies. To start your research, you would most likely turn to the index of Modern Scientific Evidence. There you will look up Toxic Tort Cases and the treatise will direct you to look under Epidemiology. While the sub-headings under Epidemiology will give you a good basis for understanding toxic torts, you will notice a specific sub-heading for Daubert factors under section 23:17. Switching over to Volume 3 of Modern Scientific Evidence, the Daubert factors will provide information on scientific admissibility under the Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 702. However, these four factors will not provide enough background to draft a Daubert motion.

Looking now to the table of contents, you will notice Chapter Six is titled “Statistical Proof” and discusses the legal issues of the admissibility and weight of statistical studies. Here you will find ample Supreme Court references and requirements that form the basis of statistical studies and the evolution of their admissibility in court. Through a combination of the analysis of the text and some further research involving the cases mentioned in the text, now you have the tools necessary to draft a Daubert motion. Congratulations, your boss will be pleased with your research skills and the money you saved her by utilizing a free print treatise available to you in the CSL Law Library.

Conclusion

Modern Scientific Evidence is a great secondary resource, not only because it is free to library users but also because the future is fast approaching and scientific evidence will play larger and larger roles in all aspects of the law as technology continues to improve. Updated analysis can be found throughout the copy of the 2012-2013 Edition. Updates for 2013 can also be found on both Westlaw (Database Identifier: MODSCIEVID) and WestlawNext.

~Jeff Poulsen, Class of 2013~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.


[1] 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

[2] Modern Scientific Evidence: Statistics and Research Methods; Faigman, David. Volume 1, pp. vii (2013).

[3] 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Larson on Employment Discrimination – An Up-to-Date Employment Law Attorney’s Resource

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Introduction

People use treatises every day to learn more about a subject, find information about a specific topic, or even to become an expert in a field of study or an area of law.  A legal treatise, in particular, is a scholarly legal publication containing information related to a particular area of law. A couple of the more popular treatises that attorneys and law students are familiar with are Corbin on Contracts and Prosser on Torts (now known as Prosser and Keeton on Torts). Treatises can be hardbound or loose-leaf, but generally the larger, more popular treatises are loose-leaf so that updates can be made by the editor as they become available.

About Larson on Employment Discrimination

I chose to review Larson on Employment Discrimination (Second Edition) because Employment Law has always fascinated me. The treatise is authored by Lex K. Larson, the President of Employment Law Research, Inc., and is published by Matthew Bender, a LexisNexis company. It was last updated on November 9, 2013, and can be found in the CSL Library by using the call number, KF3464.L37, or by searching with the keywords “Employment Larson” in the Library’s catalog.

Larson on Employment Discrimination is an eleven volume loose-leaf treatise that includes in-depth analysis of relevant cases, statutes, and regulations covering employment discrimination based on a person’s race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, and union membership.  It provides complete coverage of key substantive and procedural issues that arise under Title VII, as well as other federal and state laws governing fair employment practices.  It also has chapters on employment-at-will, sex differentiation versus discrimination, occupational qualification exceptions, pre-employment recruiting practices, seniority, layoffs, equal pay and benefits, and other topics.

One of the great things about loose-leaf treatises is that they can be easily updated with new developments in the law without having to republish an entirely new book. This is particularly important in Employment Discrimination Law because the field is extremely active with a constant flow of decisional law changing the legal landscape. New publications, however, do occur.  For instance, in 1999, an entirely new edition of Larson on Employment Discrimination was necessary to reflect the drastic increase in case law since the mid 1970’s and major new legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Special Features in “Larson on Employment Discrimination”

The new edition of Larson on Employment Discrimination is organized primarily, but not entirely, by major statutes. Certain selected topics, however, such as sexual harassment, are given unified topical treatment. The treatise also includes a Digest of Cases in each volume and a Table of Cases in a separate binder. The Digest of Cases is updated with new cases related to topics discussed in the text. The cases in each volume are listed according to chapter, section, footnote number, and corresponding propositions of law.  In addition, the treatise includes Practice Forms in Part 66 of Volume 10. Lex Larson and Jonathan Harkavy specifically selected forms from actual dockets that relate to EEOC claims, Settlements, Complaints and Answers, Discovery, Summary Disposition, Pre-Trial and Trial Pleadings, Proposed Findings and Jury Instructions, and Post-Trial Submissions. The intention of the forms is to be a useful tool for practitioners who are confronted with discrimination litigation regardless of which side of the courtroom they are on.

For more contemporary trends in discrimination, the treatise includes sections on sexual orientation and trans-sexuality  as well as sections on AIDS discrimination, political discrimination, and genetic discrimination. These sections can be found in Chapters 168-172 of Volume 10.

Conclusion

Overall, Larson on Employment Discrimination is a good resource for any attorney practicing in employment law or specializing in employment discrimination. It lays out the key concepts in a logical and easy to use format, and includes relevant cases, statutes, regulations, and forms that are critical when confronting employment discrimination litigation. In addition, it is updated three times per year with the new laws and trends in employment discrimination so the reader can rest assured that she is getting the most up-to-date information.

Citations

Lex K. Larson, Larson on Employment Discrimination (LexisNexis, 2nd ed. 1999).

Larson on Employment Discrimination can also be found on LexisNexis by clicking “Browse a Source” on the main landing page, and then populating the search box with the treatise’s title.

~ Cassie Cooper, Class of 2013~

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ALR Student’s Corner: Government Contracts – An Old School Professor that Shares Readily

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With its 15 large binders and supplemental Statutory Pamphlets, Government Contracts: Law, Administration and Procedure is all outward intimidation, just like a curmudgeonly law professor.  This resource occupies shelf space with the confident awareness that the annotations and rules of law within each volume can unlock the secrets of contracting with the U.S. Government – “the greatest purchaser of goods and services the world has ever seen.”

Locating Government Contracts

I need those secrets, because I work for a company whose largest customer is the U.S. Government.  A quick keyword search of “government contracts” on the Charlotte Law Library catalog provides the necessary call number:  KF849.M25.  I approach the treatise section tentatively, reading the call numbers on the ends of the rolling shelves, until I come to the 2nd or 3rd shelf from the parking lot-facing windows.  I make a right (or left) turn when I see “Contracts” on the label at the end of the shelf and quickly spy the run of black binders with Government Contracts stamped in gold on the spines.

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Accessing the Information in the Treatise – How the Treatise Is Organized

The way to handle a cranky law professor is directly, putting forward what knowledge you have, but admitting what you don’t know – bravado with some humility.  I take volume 1, volume 11 marked “forms,” and the “Tables” and “Index” volumes, and head over to a table with my arms full.  I begin reading volume 1.  Though large, the binders are not overfilled, and the print is a comfortable size to read.  This makes the resource feel more accessible, and I start to feel more comfortable with it.

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I soon discover that this crusty law professor of a resource gives up its secrets readily, if you just spend some unhurried time with it and ask reasonably good questions.  For instance, upon opening volume 1, I notice sturdy, clearly marked tabs separating hole-punched pages neatly filed in the 3-ring binder.  So, this is the elusive looseleaf!

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John Cosgrove McBride and Isidore H. Wachtel originally authored Government Contracts, although today Walter Wilson is the general editor.  A subscription to the treatise costs $2200 annually, a bargain compared to Westlaw or LexisNexis.  Government Contracts consists of 53 chapters in sixteen (16) volumes “providing in-depth information on every aspect of the government contracting process.”  Each volume has a general table of contents covering the chapters in that volume.  I feel the need for a comprehensive TOC so I can understand the span of topics covered in the 53 chapters, but there is not one.  Though, there is a 25 page table of acronyms included at the beginning of each volume – this is government contracting, after all.

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The first page of volume 1 is a brief publication update pamphlet, dated November 2012, with a “highlights” section that summarizes in bullet points what is new in the release.  This is promising.  I take the time to flip through several of these update pamphlets dated August 2012, May 2012 and March 2012, each accompanied by filing instructions that direct the library staff member to remove pages and file new ones.  Beneath these, I finally reach the title page and table of contents; both are easy to miss since neither is signaled with a tab of its own.

The title page introduces another subtitle for the treatise:  Cyclopedic Guide to Law, Administration and Procedure.  This is then followed by a table of contents, organized by chapter and section number for the first four (4) chapters of the treatise.  There is also an introduction and a handy “How to Use this Publication” section, where I learn that Government Contracts is published four (4) times a year by LexisNexis. (That jibes with the dates I saw on the update pamphlets.)  A practitioner could easily read a newly arrived update pamphlet with a cup of coffee for a quick overview of changes in this area of law.  There are no update pamphlets outside volume 1, so when the user opens the other volumes, the title page and TOC are quickly accessible.  Additionally, preceding Chapter 1, new issues in the law of government contracts, such as the CIA’s procurement of goods and services, are discussed in the “Recent Developments Newsletter,” which is organized by chapter number to correspond with the chapters of the treatise.

Value-Added Features

Volume 11 contains forms, some useful, some not.  The first section contains sample government forms; surely, these are available online, but those URLs are not provided here.  Volume 11 also contains a large collection of sample documents (pleadings, motions, answers, interrogatories) for use in litigation before the Board of Contract Appeals.

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The Tables volume, marked with a gold diamond on its spine, contains:

  • Table of Acronyms
  • Table of Opinions of the Comptroller General
  • Table of Cases – Federal Courts (organized alphabetically by case name with references to appropriate chapters and sections in the treatise)
  • Table of Statutes (U.S.C title and section: treatise sections affected)
  • Table of Regulations (C.F.R title and section: treatise sections affected)

There is no Popular Name Table for statutory references, though the Index volume contains references to popular statute names.  To help a user locate the treatise sections affected by a particular statute or regulation, the Tables volume references the relevant chapters (found on the volume spines) and sections.

Complementing the binders is a softcover book called the “Statutory Pamphlet” that contains the full text of selected federal statutes pertaining to government contracts.  This resource contains a table of contents organized by U.S.C title, chapter and section, as well as an index. Although the “Statutory Pamphlet” appears like an afterthought, tagging along after the binders, it is a thoughtful addition to Government Contracts, saving the researcher time and expense by providing the relevant statutes in a manageable, handy format.

Accessing the Substantive Law in the Treatise

Feeling far less intimidated, I decide to delve into the substantive material of the treatise.  The November 2012 update pamphlet tells me that “Chapter 32 – Damages” has been updated and the index, revised.  I do not know which volume contains Chapter 32, so I cannot go directly it.  But, I can consult the Index volume and look up the search term “damages”.  Upon doing this, boldface type refers me to volume 4A:32.  I locate volume 4A and open to the table of contents, which provides a browseable synopsis of the sections for each chapter in the volume.  Using the handy divider tab signaling the beginning of Chapter 32, I flip to it and begin reading.  I am delighted by the engaging prose – really.  I love a professor who doesn’t hide the bacon.  Government Contracts provides clear, basic definitions of legal terms as a hornbook does, then provides references to authority (i.e. case law, statutes, regulations, and opinions and decisions by the Board of Contract Appeals) specific to the application of government contracting.  Additionally, history, practice tips and interesting anecdotes are interwoven among the annotations.

This old school professor has a wealth of knowledge and experience and shares readily!

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P.S.  Much of the law of government contracts is codified in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).  Practitioners keep this large softcover volume – the size of an unabridged dictionary or a bible – on their desks.  Two practitioners with whom I work, a General Counsel and Director of Subcontracts have recommended the online version of the FAR maintained by Hill Air Force Base.  This online version looks amateurish, but has a browseable, hyperlinked table of contents and keyword search capability.  Click here to perform a search of the FAR, using the phrase “deadly force” to learn that government contractors are authorized to use deadly force only in self-defense.

~ Barbara Meskill, Class of 2015 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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