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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
6/28/2016 12:42:40 PM

Book Review: Knowledge Management for Lawyers

Patrick DiDomenico, Knowledge Management for Lawyers, American Bar Association, 2015, 376 pages, inclusive of appendix and index, Paperback, $129.95, ISBN 978-1-62722-271-6

Cover to Knowledge Management for Lawyers by Patrick DiDomenico

In Knowledge Management for Lawyers, Patrick DiDomenico introduces basic knowledge management principles and discusses in detail the practicalities of implementing an effective program at a legal organization. The material is suitable for a wide-range of readers, from individuals unfamiliar with knowledge management to more experienced practitioners. However, the book focuses primarily on the process of implementing a knowledge management program at larger organizations. Consequently, it may be of limited use to small firms or to individual lawyers or law students interested in adopting knowledge management principles into their personal workflow.  

Even though DiDomenico targets a broad audience, due to his cogent explanations and the text’s logical organization, the book does not suffer from this breadth. Each chapter begins with a content overview and a suggested target audience (lawyer leaders, administrative leaders, and casual readers). End-of-chapter summaries of key points and a detailed table of contents and index are also provided. These tools permit readers to easily find sections of the book relevant to their interests and experience level, while permitting them to get a sense of the contents of any sections that they skipped.   

DiDomenico focuses on teaching readers how to talk about knowledge management in a way that will generate buy-in from stakeholders. His advice is practical and actionable. Despite drawing on his own experiences, DiDomenico is mindful of the fact that no two organizations are the same and he urges readers to identify the strategies that will be successful at their organization in light of work culture and other differences.

DiDomenico peppers his explanations with informative and relatable anecdotes taken from his career and collected from interviews with other knowledge management leaders. These real-world examples ground his discussion and help the book adhere to its stated goal of being a “practical guide to implementing knowledge management.” DiDomenico’s tone is clear and conversational. The writing remains engaging even as he delves into finer points of knowledge management, including an examination of the organizational structures of different knowledge management departments.

One drawback to DiDomenico’s use of his career and the careers of his peers is that many of the examples he uses in illustrating implementation of knowledge management techniques are from 10 to 15 years ago when he and his contemporaries established their knowledge management departments. DiDomenico’s appendix of stories detailing how knowledge management professionals got started in the field does include some individuals who are newer to the profession. But his section on how people can get started in a knowledge management career today is a slim two pages.

However, it is hard to fault DiDomenico for not focusing more on relative-newcomers to knowledge management. It is only because the book does such an excellent job distilling broad and complex topics into comprehensible sections that I noticed the few occasions when I was left wanting more. Of course, a single book cannot and should not explore every possible avenue. Ultimately, Knowledge Management for Lawyers is better for choosing to focus on its primary goal of providing readers with the tools needed to introduce knowledge management practices into their organization.

Overall, Knowledge Management for Lawyers is detailed and well-researched. It could serve as the primary guide for an organization that is interested in establishing a knowledge management department or for an organization that would like to incorporate knowledge management principles into its enterprise. However, although there are references to other helpful materials and relevant professional associations throughout the book, the lack of a bibliography or a discrete section on further reading lessens its ability to serve as a comprehensive resource. Nevertheless, this book would be a valuable reference guide for any organizational leaders interested in knowledge management.

Paul Riermaier. Reviewer, 2016. Research & Information Specialist, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, Philadelphia, PA, priermaier@mmwr.com. 


Posted By Paul Riermaier at 6/28/2016 12:42:40 PM  0 Comments
5/23/2016 8:49:30 AM

Book Review: Ferguson's Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation

Kimberly Jade Norwood, Editor, Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation, American Bar Association, 2016, 276 pages, inclusive of index, Paperback, $49.95, ISBN 978-1-63425-372-7  

Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation brings together contributing authors from a variety of fields within law, academia, and media to discuss implicit bias and inequalities in housing, education, and the criminal justice system, including solutions to these challenges in Ferguson and beyond.  Given the contributing authors’ extensive research in the fields of race, the criminal justice system, media, and education and how their work in their fields informs their analysis of race and issues of justice in Ferguson, the book is an ideal read for anyone wanting to know more about Ferguson, the issues surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, and the broader issues regarding race, inequality, and criminal justice in the United States. Contributing authors provide suggestions for resolving the challenges posed by implicit bias and a multitude of inequalities.  Due to its focus on current events and law within the United States, the book is a necessary addition to academic law libraries.  A paginated table of contents and index of key terms and prominent people make the book user-friendly.

The idea of implicit bias is a prominent theme.  In the Foreword, Current ABA President Paulette Brown, asserts that implicit bias is the major factor in the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” and suggests that taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) can benefit everyone.  Brown does not mention a specific IAT, however, readers may be interested in a series of IATs offered by Harvard University.  L. Song Richardson and Phillip Atiba Goff define and give examples of implicit bias and Candice Norwood asserts that implicit bias is the result of the images regarding African-Americans and crime propagated by the media.  

Implicit bias is a major factor in the discussions of policing.  Howard M. Wasserman suggests that requiring police to wear body cameras that record encounters between the police and the public may not be a panacea because people bring their own biases to what they see.  He cites the case of Eric Garner as an example of how a video of what one person views as police misconduct may be viewed by another person as reasonable force.  

A large part of the discussion of the criminal justice system focuses on methods of policing. Thomas Harvey and Brendan Roediger describe the “muni shuffle” in which people who lack funds to pay fines are jailed and then released after they have paid all they can pay and jailed in another municipality for the fines they owe there.  To fund themselves, municipalities in the St. Louis area, raise money by issuing traffic tickets, fining people, and prosecuting people for petty crimes.  Richardson and Goff’s discussion of the community policing model versus the professionalism model and Chad Flanders’ discussion of how the escalated force model of policing prevailed over the negotiated management model during the protests in Ferguson detail the impact of actions of police on the local community.  Flanders mentions “militarized vehicles and tear gas” when describing the protest scenes in Ferguson.  Flanders’ imagery raises the idea of the militarization of the police and the effect of this militarization on the day-to-day activities of the police.  While the topics of whether the militarization of the police is necessary and how the militarization of the police impacted the protests in Ferguson were not explored, readers who are interested in these topics may be interested in an ACLU report entitled War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing which asserts that federal programs which place military equipment and weaponry in the hands of local police departments have caused this militarization.

The themes of inequalities in housing and education are prominent in the chapters by Kimberly Jade Norwood and Colin Gordon.  In the St. Louis area, policies in both the public and private sectors facilitated the continued segregation of blacks and whites in housing.  Schools in Ferguson remain segregated due to segregated housing patterns.  

Contributing authors propose a variety of solutions to the aforementioned challenges.  One solution, proposed by Christopher Alan Bracey, is something everyone can work on:  recognizing and supporting everyone’s humanity which begins with examining one’s own humanity.  

Review by  Latia Ward, Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana. llward@indianatech.edu

Posted By Latia Ward at 5/23/2016 8:49:30 AM  0 Comments
5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM

Book Review: America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, 3rd edition

Benjamin E. Griffith, Editor, America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, (3rd edition) American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law, 2016, 347 pages, inclusive of table of cases and index, Paperback, $116.95, ISBN 978-1-63425-422-9  

The third edition of America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting will make an excellent acquisition for any academic, firm, or county law library collection. The timeliness of the subject matter makes the book a necessary addition to the collections of academic law libraries and the book may serve as a starting point for researchers who wish to delve further into the topics discussed therein. In the Introduction, attorney and member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law Advisory Commission, Thurgood Marshall Jr., notes that America Votes! is accessible to both laypeople and experts due to its material regarding basic tenets of election law and suggestions for government officials and policy makers. For this edition, a variety of contributors including professors, practicing attorneys, and directors of organizations that seek to promote civic engagement have written about the history and future of developments within election administration processes, the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting.

The book begins with Ann Ravel’s overview of the origin and purpose of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in which she highlights recent case law regarding the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and details where the FEC has fallen short. As the book progresses, contributing authors note a variety of issues within election law such as how restrictive photo ID laws have affected voters, the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions, and allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Throughout the book, contributing authors have ended their chapters with possible solutions to challenges in the field of election law and presented how various jurisdictions have handled these challenges. For example, in the chapter entitled Language Assistance to Voters, Terry Ao Minnis discusses Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which touches on how jurisdictions have populations that could benefit from language assistance, yet are not covered by Section 203, can assist these populations in exercising their right to vote. Minnis notes that in Beverly Hills, California, where there is a population of voters who speak Farsi, the City has provided ballots and other voting materials in Farsi. Tova Wang points out that the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions is not as publicized by the media as other forms of disenfranchisement, however six million people in the United States are not allowed to vote due to their criminal convictions. Wang sees the lifting of restrictions on voting for those with criminal convictions in Virginia and Delaware as a step forward. Wang also notes that another way to make sure that more people are registered to vote is through automatic registration at state departments of motor vehicles as is the practice in Oregon, the first state to implement this measure.  

As the title suggests, the book focuses on election law in the United States, however Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s former chief electoral officer, and Nancy G. Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, introduce aspects of comparative law in the Foreword and the chapter entitled Immigration, Voting Rights, and Electoral Access, respectively. Kingsley’s brief summary of the electoral system in Canada and Abudu’s mentioning of jurisdictions that allow noncitizens to vote such as the European Union, Bolivia, and Colombia add a global perspective.

The Summary of Contents, Contents (which includes headings within the individual chapters), Table of Cases, and Index all provide page numbers that facilitate readers’ finding of major sections, case law, and key terms within the book. The contributing authors have documented their sources very well.  Each chapter ends with an extensive list of notes. Hopefully, there will be a future edition of this book which will address the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting after the 2016 presidential election.

Review by  Latia Ward, Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana. llward@indianatech.edu

Posted By Latia Ward at 5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM  0 Comments