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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.
7/14/2016 4:09:56 PM

Pokémon Go and Legal Research

While we were getting ready for AALL 2016, Pokémon Go took over the USA. (The craze extends to several other countries, including Canada where the game isn't officially released yet.) According to SurveyMonkey, within one week Pokémon Go already had the most daily users of any U.S. mobile game ever. It also has more mobile users than Twitter.

On Sunday, the first day of AALL 2016, there will be a Pokémon Go meetup a few blocks from the conference hotel. It could easily draw more than 10,000 people.

A flurry of news reports and blog posts have addressed positive and negative impacts of Pokémon Go, including legal issues. (If you see me at AALL, feel free to ask about my own Pokémon Go anecdotes, which I call "Eevee and the Bagel Shop" and "The Pokémon and the Skunk.")

While the initial excitement is bound to fade, this game should have some staying power. It appears that many players are of traditional law school or new lawyer age, 20-30-year-olds who grew up with Pokémon.

So, what Is Pokémon Go?

Before getting to the game or its connection to legal research, let's briefly start with the original "Pokémon."  "Pokémon" is a cartoon--an anime from Japan--in which the hero, Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in Japanese) and other "Pokémon trainers" go on adventures to catch creatures called Pokémon and train them to battle other Pokémon. The ultimate goal of Ash and other trainers is to become a "Pokémon master."  Ash's companion is one of the most famous Pokémon, named Pikachu.

The "Pokémon" franchise, now 20 years old, also includes comic books (manga), movies, and video games. Until now, the video games have been on Nintendo consoles such as the Wii. 

"Pokémon Go" (or "Pokémon GO") is a game for iPhones and Android phones. In the game, you can be like Ash--catching and battling Pokémon. Pokémon Go's developer, Niantic, developed a database of real-world locations via its previous game, Ingress. (If you sign up for Ingress, you can search a world map to see if your location is highlighted.) In Pokémon Go, those locations are "PokéStops" where you can get items to help you catch Pokémon and "gyms" where you can battle Pokémon.

Even away from these locations, you may find Pokémon (often by walking around, phone in hand).  A Pokémon appears on your screen--superimposed on the real-world setting, if you wish--and is available to capture by throwing a "Poké Ball" at it. (Yes, the game uses the prefix "Poké" a lot. "Pokémon" is short for "pocket monster" in Japanese--and "pocket" are certainly appropriate for a smartphone game.) Once you capture enough Pokémon, you can join one of three teams and participate in gym battles to improve your team's status.

The fun of Pokémon Go is finding Pokémon--and other Pokémon Go players--in the real world, building your collection of Pokémon, and improving their ability, your ability, and your team's ability. You can buy items in the game to help in achieving these goals.

Why should legal information professionals care about Pokémon Go?

"Gotta catch 'em all" isn't just the catchphrase of Pokémon--it's also how a law librarian or lawyer may feel about covering all the bases in a legal research project. However, some law students and lawyers aren't interested in "catching 'em all" or never learn how.

What if legal research were as fun and viral as Pokémon Go? What if law students and lawyers wanted to find the law as much as Pokémon Go fans want to catch Pikachu? What if they wanted to improve their legal research skills as much as they might want to become a Pokémon master?

I imagine that Pokémon Go itself has more use in a law school library than a more strictly professional law library (law firm, courthouse, etc.). I've already heard from one law librarian who is thinking of using Pokémon Go for an orientation. I'm planning to make references to it in a first-year legal research video. (Points & Authorities & Pikachu? Wright, Miller & Wartortle?) :) I envision scavenger hunts for Pokémon merchandise in the stacks. I imagine some libraries are already or will become PokéStops and gyms in Pokémon Go. Pokémon should certainly grab some students' attention.

More generally, can law librarians learn from Pokémon Go how better to market law libraries and make legal research more enjoyable? It would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate exactly what Pokémon Go is doing. But gamification and rewards should have some place in the world of legal information. Lexis and Westlaw recognized that with their law school rewards programs; and many AALL exhibitors recognize that with games, prizes, and swag.

I want more law students and lawyers to associate legal research and libraries with fun. I'd welcome ideas (in comments, on Twitter, by email) on how we can do that.

Appendix: A glossary of Pokémon Go terms and their rough equivalents in law libraries or legal research

  • Pokémon = pertinent legal authorities (e.g., cases, statutes, regulations)
  • Poké Balls = tools that help you find pertinent legal authorities, such as other legal authorities, secondary sources, indexes, and citators 
  • Pokédex (a catalog of Pokémon or your collection of Pokémon) = a library catalog, a table of contents, a list or folder of pertinent research results
  • Egg Incubator (for growing Pokémon eggs into Pokémon) = any resource that allows a researcher to "grow" pertinent authorities by finding related authorities -- e.g., a citator
  • Camera = photocopier, printer, scanner, file download or email, camera -- i.e., whatever provides a copy of research material to the patron
  • Professor Willow (a character who guides players in Pokemon Go) = a reference librarian
  • PokéStops, Gyms = law libraries
  • Incense (which attracts Pokémon and thus people who want to catch Pokémon) = successful marketing of law libraries
  • Potion, Revive (medicines for restoring energy to or reviving Pokémon) = caffeinated beverages, sleep, a break (for restoring or reviving legal researchers)
  • Levelling Up, Powering Up, Evolving = improving legal research skills; finding more useful legal research resources and results

Posted By Scott Frey at 7/14/2016 4:09:56 PM  0 Comments
7/8/2016 6:12:40 PM

Book Review: Of Coueiers and Kings More Stories of Supreme Law Clerks and Their Justices

Edited by Todd C. Peppers and Clare Cushman. Of Courtiers and Kings More Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, University of Virginia Press, 2015. Cloth · 448 pp. · 6.13 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813937267 $34.95.

The J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham young university has been blessed with several faculty members who clerked at the United States Supreme Court. At our monthly all faculty meetings, these onetime clerks will, form time to time, share some of their experiences. The stories are never about the cases, the hours or the draft opinions. Instead, they are funny stories about the human beings on the Court and we often end up nearly out of seats with laughter. Of Courtiers and kings does not aim for that result. It does however offers one of the best sources for understanding what has become an important institution as evidenced by law schools touting clerkships as a crowning achievement of their alumni and which is a pretty sure path to faculty lunch tables, the bench and partnerships. It will be a welcome addition to academic and larger public law libraries.

The book covers the whole history of the institution of Supreme Court Clerkships through historical essays and personal recollections. It is not nor does it purport to be a comprehensive history or an analysis of the institution. It does, however, allow the reader to track the changes over time and form some preliminary opinions on important questions such as what role should they play and do they exert influence over the Justices.

 For example, the historical essays covey the lowly state of the first clerks who were expected to be, well, clerks, by taking are of the mail, bills and other details of life without daring to intrude into legal decision-making. Legal research help was slowly added in. Then came the cert petitions and only in more modern times drafting opinions. In connection with this change of duties, it appears from the various essays and remembrances that the clerkship has become more of an institution and less of an individualized experience. I noted the steady move away from the intense mentoring, almost paternal in nature, that clerks once received and which has been replaced with professional relationships and career and life help ranging form nonexistent to moderate. I noted that some clerks were once expected to be in the home of their justice never venturing to the courtroom whereas now they go to the courthouse and basically live there. I noted that one on one (or even one on four) discussion of cases and opinions have become rare with one justice going so far as to require clerks to drop drafts through a slot and giving written feedback weeks later. I thus was left with the impression that clerks are no longer surrogate children of their justices though clerk’s children (the grandclerks) may be surrogate grandchildren.

As to what influence the clerks have on actual decisions, the essays and remembrances suggest “not much if any". True, Justice Frankfurter, the reader is told by several former clerks, would track down clerks to lobby them for their boss’ vote or berate them if the other Justice voted the wrong way. But as told by these clerks at least, the justices make up their own minds and clerks do not move them away. Examples included Justice Clark flatly refusing to change his vote in case where his vote was not decisive and his clerks feared for the reaction his vote would cause and Chief Justice Warren refusing to vote to outlaw prosecution for public drunkenness as that would just lead states to send alcoholics into civil commitment proceedings. Perhaps the most compelling material on how clerks are not likely to move a justice into a positon he or she does not want to go comes from the accounts of justices, their clerks and sports. Justice White gave no quarter on the basketball court and appears to have allowed his clerks little if any influence on his votes or reasoning. Justice Black was so intent on winning that he willingly ran into a wall dozens of times rather than allow his clerk to win a point. And Chief Justice Rehnquist was so intent on having intense tennis events he declined to add the fourth clerk he was authorized as chief justice to keep his doubles pairings intact. Men and women who won’t yield on something I perceive as rather trivial are not likely to given way on issues of constitutional law or judicial philosophy.

As a mostly primary source, the book does not attempt to reconcile the picture of hard worked young attorneys with limited power or influence with the large signing bonuses, prime post-clerk opportunities in government and the law available to clerks now as opposed to the professional suicide that clerk’s experienced well into the 20th century. We will need to await a scholar to explain why the legal community places so much prestige on people who mostly give recommendations about petitions for review and have been strongly encouraged to recommend no. Until that new work comes out, however, Of Couriers and Kings belongs on the shelf of every academic law library and in those larger public law libraries with room in the budget for important works which are not primary authority or practitioner oriented.

©William R. Gaskill, Reviewer, 2016.  Reference and Collection Development Librarian, Howard W. Hunter Law Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. gaskillw@law.byu.edu

Posted By William Gaskill at 7/8/2016 6:12:40 PM  0 Comments
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