Tag Archives: legal research

Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — June 16, 2014


What Kind of Library User Are You?

Are you a “Library Lover”? An “Information Omnivore”? Or are you totally “Off the Grid”? Take our library engagement quiz to learn how your library habits and attitudes stack up against the general population.

Family Law: A Beginner’s Guide — Part 1: Formation and Dissolution of Marriage

Whether it be in relation to marriage, the birth of children, adoption, or divorce, family law is one area of the law that affects nearly everyone.  But even though family law is a part of daily life, legal issues in this area can quickly become complex.  Below, we have collected a sampling of the marriage and divorce law resources available, both at the Law Library of Congress and on the free web, to help researchers get a better handle on these issues

Simon Sinek: If You Don’t Understand People, You Don’t Understand Business

“We’re not good at everything, we’re not good by ourselves,” says Simon Sinek at the 99% Conference. Our ability to build trust and relationships is the key to our survival as a race, and to thriving as ideamakers.

A Comic Book-Inspired Law School Final Exam

Lawrence M. Friedman is a partner at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, LLP and an adjunct professor at the John Marshall Law School’s Center for International Law.  He sent me this final exam, which he recently gave in his Trade Remedies class.  According to Prof. Friedman, “I stressed to my students that the names and locations were not particularly relevant. Nevertheless, I have no doubt they are wondering what I was thinking. It is a bit of a scavenger hunt for random DC universe references, from the well-known to the obscure.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Silence Please, for Sir Mix-A-Lot

Violinists were nodding their heads to a different beat this weekend, as Sir Mix-a-Lot and the Seattle Symphony presented what the rapper called “Orchestral Movements from the Hood Night.” Their version of the hit “Baby Got Back” drew a large crowd of dancers to the stage.

Fair Use: Appeals Court Rules in Favor of HathiTrust in Authors Guild Case

The thirty-four page opinion was handed down on June 10, 2014

NCSU Building One of the World’s Oddest Libraries: A Catalog of Dyes

For now, N.C. State University’s newest — and strangest — library exists mainly in 98,000 glass vials and slim envelopes of cloth samples.  But chemistry students have begun the painstaking work of turning the huge collection of dyes, test swatches and documents, all donated by the Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Co., into an online resource. When they’re done, crime-scene investigators and a host of other kinds of researchers around the world will be able to search through files of three-dimensional models of the thousands of unique molecules and information about their attributes.

LawProse Lesson #166: Which Do You Suppose Is Correct: “Supposed to” or “Suppose to”?

Should you write supposed to or *suppose to?

ALA Announces First Ever Winner of the Lemony Snicket Prize

On June 9, the American Library Association(ALA) announced Laurence Copel as the first recipient of the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity. Copel is a youth outreach librarian and founder of the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library in New Orleans. Daniel Handler, also known as “Lemony Snicket” and the author behind of the “Series of Unfortunate Events” series (Harper Collins), will present the winner with the prize on June 29 during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas.

17 Bookstores that Will Literally Change Your Life

And all you have to do is visit them!

Delta Glass Bottom Jet — See beneath Your Plane Using the Fly Delta App for iPad

In early 2013, Delta introduced its Fly Delta App for iPad.  The app lets you book trips, get information on destinations, and get flight information during trips.  One feature of the app that I had not tried until recently is called the Glass Bottom Jet.  While you are in flight, this part of the app gives you a sense of what you are flying over at that very moment.  It’s an interesting feature.

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Refresher on Weight of Authorities in Legal Writing

weightBeginning a summer internship or clerkship?  Or maybe you just need a little research refresher?  This post includes a basic outline and two illustrations on the weight of authorities in legal writing.

Case law, statutes, and regulations are primary sources that can be mandatory or persuasive, depending on your court and jurisdiction.  As the terms suggest, mandatory authorities are binding on a court while persuasive authorities, including some primary and all secondary sources, are non-binding.  (For more information about the different types and use of legal authority, please see the FAQ section of CSL’s North Carolina Legal Research Guide.)

For purposes of writing a legal memorandum or brief, you must cite any relevant mandatory authority for your issue(s).  If none exists, persuasive authority may be appropriate.  Persuasive authority may also be appropriate to further support any mandatory authority cited.

Below is the hierarchy of authority for a United States District Court.  Thus, if your case is pending in a federal trial court, use this guide to determine which types of authorities to cite in your legal writing.

Illustration (1): Federal.  The first group of authorities is at the top of the legal hierarchy and is MANDATORY PRIMARY authority, binding on a United States District Court (e.g., Western District of North Carolina) or the “origin court” in this illustration.

United States Constitution

“The Supreme Law of the Land”

Supreme Court of the United States

Jurisdictional Appellate Court

(judicial precedent from the Circuit Court of Appeals for origin jurisdiction; e.g., Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals)

Federal Statutes/Regulations 

(if applicable)

 Below MANDATORY PRIMARY authority is the category of HORIZONTAL PRIMARY authority.  This phrase refers to prior case law of the origin court (e.g., the Western District of North Carolina in our illustration).  HORIZONTAL PRIMARY authority is the grey area between mandatory and persuasive judicial precedent.  Generally, a court gives great weight to such precedent and does not overturn its own prior relevant decision without a strong, compelling reason.

Below HORIZONTAL PRIMARY authority is the category of PERSUASIVE PRIMARY authority.  This category refers to precedent from an inferior or lateral court (e.g., Middle District of North Carolina) that is non-binding, but may be persuasive to the origin court.  Also included in this category (and following the same rules of hierarchy) is dictum, which is not the holding of a case, but the court’s support of the holding, such as language that is illustrative or advisory in nature.

Finally, at the bottom of the legal hierarchy is SECONDARY authority, which is never binding upon a court and includes sources such as treatises, dictionaries, legal encyclopedias, law review articles, digests, and other legal, but non-precedential material.


The second illustration is the hierarchy of authority for a state trial court in North Carolina.  Thus, if your case is pending in a North Carolina Superior, District, or Magistrate court, use this guide to determine which types of authorities to cite in your legal writing.

Illustration (2): State (North Carolina).  The first group of authorities is at the top of the legal hierarchy in North Carolina and is MANDATORY PRIMARY authority, binding on a North Carolina trial court (e.g., Mecklenburg County Superior Court) or the “origin court” in this illustration.

North Carolina Constitution

 North Carolina Supreme Court 


North Carolina Court of Appeals

North Carolina Statutes/Regulations

       (if applicable)

 Below MANDATORY PRIMARY authority is the category of HORIZONTAL PRIMARY authority.  This phrase refers to prior case law of the origin court (e.g., Mecklenburg County Superior Court) and is the grey area between mandatory and persuasive judicial precedent.  Generally, a court gives great weight to such precedent and does not overturn its own prior relevant decision without a strong, compelling reason.

Below HORIZONTAL PRIMARY authority is the category of PERSUASIVE PRIMARY authority.  This category refers to precedent from an inferior or lateral court (e.g., Iredell County Superior Court) that is non-binding, but may be persuasive to the origin court.  Also included in this category (and following the same rules of hierarchy) is dictum, which is not the holding of a case, but the court’s support of the holding, such as language that is illustrative or advisory in nature.

Finally, at the bottom of North Carolina’s legal hierarchy is SECONDARY authority, which is never binding upon a court and includes sources such as Strong’s North Carolina Index and other legal encyclopedias, treatises, dictionaries, law review articles, digests, and other legal, but non-precedential material.

And remember that, despite having the least authoritative weight, secondary sources are extremely valuable tools when beginning to research a legal issue.  This is because secondary sources articulate and analyze specific points of law either generally or within a particular jurisdiction.  They are annotated and serve as avenues that will lead you to the mandatory primary authorities that you must rely upon and cite in your legal writing.

Happy Researching!

~Shannon Reid~


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Other Libraries with Legal Resources for the Public and Attorney Members

Now that we have moved into our temporary quarters in Charlotte Plaza, we are no longer open to the public or our attorney members. We hope to see everyone again when our library construction is completed. In the meantime, there are several libraries in the area that have legal resources. A list follows which includes the address, phone number and a link to each library’s website.


Cato Law Library

Cato Campus

Central Piedmont Community College

8120 Grier Road

Charlotte, NC 28213

704-330-2722 x7819


atkinslibraryAtkins Library

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

9201 University City Boulevard

Charlotte, NC 28223

(704) 687-0494



Main Library

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

310 North Tryon Street

Charlotte, NC 28202

(704) 416-0100



Coleman Karesh Law Library       

University of South Carolina School of Law

701 Main Street

Columbia, SC 29208



~Betty Thomas~


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Meet CALI: Interactive Legal Tutorials, Free eBooks and More

CALI, short for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, has been providing online interactive lessons and tutorials on a variety of legal subjects since 1983.

Frustrated by the rule against perpetuities?  Need to brush up on the formation of a contract?  One terrific tool for doing this is CALI–a database of interactive review questions that help you identify relevant issues and apply recently learned concepts.  All you need for access is your Charlotte School of Law Authorization Code given to you during your orientation.


Need your Charlotte School of Law code? Contact the library!

Did you know that there are almost 1,000 CALI Lessons freely available to you as a student at the Charlotte School of Law?

Today’s CALI Lessons are web-based tutorials covering a variety of legal topics. Currently there are over 950 Lessons in over 35 law school topics in the CALI Lesson Library.

You also have access to a growing collection of free ebooks in many formats, such as Kindle, iPad and PDF through their eLangdell project.

CALI’s eLangdell® Press offers free legal casebooks, supplements, and chapters. eLangdell content has a nonrestrictive license that allows for free digital and e-book downloads, cheap printing, and easy editing.

And now there’s a digital version of their TimeTrial game where students can play and save their scores IF they have registered and logged in to the CALI website with their law school’s Authorization Code.


CALI Time Trial is a card game that challenges your knowledge of legal history. Draw a card and fit it into the time line based on the information on the card. Sound easy? How much do you know about NLRB vs. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.?

If you’d like to learn more about CALI, you can read more at CALI’s website – or you can visit the Reference Desk in the library for more information.

Don’t worry if you can’t find your CALI password. Come by the Reference Desk – we have plenty more!

~Ashley Moye~

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From One Accidental Law Librarian to Another: A Book Review


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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Fast and Free Government Internet Resources: Federal, State and Local – A New Research Guide for You

Businessman Wearing Cape

Fast and free legal research online?  While this statement may sound like an oxymoron, the government does provide plentiful Internet resources on a federal, state and even local level which can be used to assist you in your legal research.  Be aware, though, while there is no doubt that the web provides plentiful information, not all of this information is considered credible.

In February of this year, Susan Catterall and I had the privilege of teaching about this very topic for a Continuing Legal Education course hosted by the National Business Institute.  Our manuscript now lives in our collection, and the content created within this document has also been transitioned into a Research Guide for the Charlotte Law Library and our patrons.

Do you know about our Research Guides page, which features a range of information tools designed to assist you with your research and study at Charlotte School of Law?

The Charlotte Law Library Research Guides page now plays host to this new guide – Fast and Free Government Internet Resources: Federal, State & Local.   The overarching goal of this LibGuide is to provide you with efficient and cost-effective tips and resources, but as you conduct your research, acknowledge that your time is valuable and weigh that cost against the cost of supplementing your research with fee-based searches.

This guide will introduce you to free Internet resources to assist you in your legal research, from the federal to the state to the local level.  Check it out to learn more about specific resources relating to state and federal statutes, government agencies and regulations, licensing boards and commissions, using federal statistics and making FOIA requests.

And as always, don’t hesitate to ask your friendly library staff for assistance!

~Ashley Moye~

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Have you heard about the Lexis Advance migration?


Here are the details you need to know to keep making the best use of LexisNexis in your legal research…

 Migration Process Review and Upcoming Enhancements 

June 2013

Lexis Migration Plan

  • Current situation:
    • Two research systems (Lexis.com and Lexis Advance)
    • Each has their own registration process and ID
  • Migration Plan:
    • All existing Lexis.com IDs will be deactivated this summer
    • Lexis.com will become a part of the Lexis Advance portal
    • Access to both systems will be available through Lexis Advance ID
    • One registration process this fall for incoming 1Ls and faculty
    • Free printing will continue to be supported for Lexis Advance

Important Dates

  • 3.8 Release – June 24th:
    • New Registration Process
    • Redesigned homepage (“portal”):  www.lexis.com/lawschool
    • Access to Lexis.com will appear in “experience bar” at the top
    • Access to  ICW will appear in “experience bar” at the top


Have any questions or concerns? 

Contact Mary Susan Lucas at mlucas@charlottelaw.edu.

Happy researching!

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