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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. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/3/2012 4:42:02 PM

Book Review - Procedural Law and Economics

Procedural Law and Economics, edited by Chris William Sanchirico. Edward Elgar Publishing Company, 2012. 531 pages. $245.00, hardcover edition.

Procedural Law and Economics is a collection of information detailing the effect of economics on the areas of litigation, legal procedure, and evidence. In this, the second edition of this volume, the authors analyze some important aspects of the law and how monetary issues insert themselves in a variety of ways. The authors look at some of the more mundane aspects of the law (e.g., the economics of class actions and fee-shifting) but also some apparent aberrations (e.g., “negative-expected-value suits,” where the final expected judgment is actually less than the cost of litigation).

This volume begins at the very basics, analyzing the economic benefits of both the adversarial and inquisitorial systems. From this basic analysis, the book sets forth its attempt to deal with theoretical issues (e.g., which system should be instituted to make the most economic sense) as much as practical issues (e.g., the actual costs of each system). The authors of this section, and throughout, justify their conclusions through the use of many equations, some of which are beyond this reviewer’s capacity to fully comprehend. But still, even with limited understanding of these equations, one can follow the thought process of the authors through the detailed narrative analysis.

While the authors analyze the economics of such items as appeals, class actions, evidence, and fee shifting, one of the more interesting chapters (at least to this reviewer) was the chapter on “negative-expected-value suits.” As previously stated, this chapter analyzes suits where the cost of litigation is expected to outweigh the expected judgment. Even with the expected costs outweighing the potential judgment, many Defendants still agree to settle such suits in a manner which makes these negative suits result in a positive gain for the Plaintiff; the authors take an economic approach to this puzzle to determine why Defendants would agree to such settlements.

Procedural Law and Economics is written in manner that is suitable for both economists and lawyers.  Each chapter gives a basic introduction to the area of law in a manner that provides a basic understanding of the area of litigation being discussed; economic formulas are discussed sufficiently in detail to allow lawyers to grasp the concepts that are being discussed.

This volume is a valuable tool for those interested in procedural law, economics, and the convergence of the two. While much of the volume is theoretical, much of Procedural Law and Economics provides tools to understand why parties act certain ways when litigating. Still, a reader of this item must remember at all times while reviewing these chapters that Procedural Law and Economics only analyzes these topics based on financial incentives and disincentives; there may be many other non-economic reasons affecting how parties act throughout litigation, but Procedural Law and Economics leaves these justifications for other authors to analyze.

Posted By Paul Venard at 7/3/2012 4:42:02 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews
6/29/2012 3:33:36 PM

Book Review: The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word 2010

Ben M. Schorr, The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2010, Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2011, 267 pages inclusive of index.  Softcover, $69.95, ISBN 978-61632-949-5

 

The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2010 is an informative, accessible, and eminently useful addition to any law library or law office.  With easy-to-understand explanations and multiple screenshots for the visual learners, The Lawyer’s Guide will help people get everything possible out of one of the most-used applications in Microsoft Office.

Author Ben Schorr has previously written The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2007 (as well as guides to Microsoft Outlook) and brings that perspective to this guide, which opens with a rundown of the ways in which Word 2010 has been enhanced and updated since Word 2007.

As I typed my first draft of this review on Word 2010, I could easily see some of the new and improved features discussed in the book.  Some of them I already knew about and use with regularity, but (just to give one example) the ability to see the full contents of the Clipboard from the Ribbon was an excellent feature, and I’m sure I will make use of it in the future.

After an introduction to the changes and enhancements, we move on to the basics of documents.  This section raises another excellent feature of the guide, the tips and tricks and cautionary points sprinkled throughout the text.  Many of these discuss the mistakes and inefficiencies that lawyers were (and are still) prone to in Word (reusing an existing document for a new client, editing it, and then accidentally saving the new version over the old is a pitfall pointed out in Chapter 3).  From the basic, we continue into the specifics of tools so necessary for lawyers using Word: lists and footnotes, tables of authorities and tables of contents, sharing documents, protecting them, and finding templates to help in crafting the most professional of filings. 

Throughout, the writing style strikes just the right note: casual without being condescending.  Explanations and accompanying illustrations walk the user through new (and previously-undiscovered) features.  For example, Chapter 5 is “Stuff Lawyers Use.”  The first “stuff” discussed is a template for pleadings.  Schorr points out that Word has had a template for pleadings in the past, but that many people did not know this because it was not easy to find.  He then reveals the Word 2010 pleading templates via a quick and easy search in the New Document Window.

That is just one example.  The Lawyer’s Guide assumes that its target audience is not made up of a lot of computer science majors.  Chapter 8 shows how to create Building Blocks and macros, but it is not “required reading,” and the reader is advised to simply skip to the next chapter if the subject does not appeal to those with a less technological bent.  Overall, the book is useful without being burdened with too much jargon that the target audience may not understand (or care about). 

In short, The Lawyer's Guide makes a great “go-to” for the novice Word user, and even the most seasoned of writers will likely find some time-saving tips and techniques to allow them get the most out of Word 2010.  Highly recommended.


Stephanie Ziegler is a reference librarian at Ohio State University’s Moritz Law Library in Columbus, Ohio

Posted By Stephanie Ziegler at 6/29/2012 3:33:36 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews
6/29/2012 9:29:57 AM

Book Review—Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators, Crews, Kenneth D., Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators, 3rd Edition. Chicago, IL, American Library Association, 2012, 192 pages inclusive of appendices and index. Softcover, $57, ISBN 978-0-8

The stated purpose of Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators“ is to provide a basis for understanding and working with the copyright issues of central importance to education, librarianship, and scholarship.” (p. xii)  Mission accomplished!  Kenneth Crews has written an excellent resource, providing effective strategies for both librarians and educators to use to address the complex copyright issues that arise in schools, libraries and other educational settings without sacrificing the teaching and scholarship needs of their patrons.  This book is a must have for all library types.

Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators takes the reader on a “graceful and systematic walk through the principles and functioning of copyright.” (p.1).  It is the authors hope that by reflecting on the entire copyright path from beginning to end, the reader will find various steps along the way that will lead to a more direct and easier answers to their questions and encourage a move away from the often relied upon, and complicated concept of fair use. As such, Part One of this book, The Reach of Copyright, addresses the basics of copyright protections, while Part Two, Rights of Ownership, discusses who owns the copyright, how these determinations are made, and the rights of the copyright owner.  Part Three provides an in-depth discussion of the law’s fair use exception.  In this section the author painstakingly walks the reader through the importance of fair use in the growth of knowledge, the language of the statute, and the four factors used to determine whether the exception applies.  In the final chapter in this section, the author applies the fours factors to common scenarios that arise in the academic and library settings.  In Part Four of the book, Focus on Education and Libraries, the author examines the TEACH Act, Section 108 provisions and how changes in technology, the rise of distance education, and other classroom innovations have affected the application of traditional copyright principles in these non-traditional settings.  Part Five, the Special Features section, discusses the complexities encountered when dealing with musical compositions and sound recordings, the DMCA and its anti-circumvention features, the law’s application to unpublished materials and archives, and obtaining permissions from copyright owners.

From beginning to end, there are many extra features in this book, when used in combination with its straight-forward, clearly written text, makes this an excellent resource on this topic.  They provide the reader with a wealth of information that can be used to clarify the points the author is making in the text.  First, most chapters begin with a list of “key points” the author hopes to convey, making it clear from the beginning which aspects of the law will be explained in that chapter.  Then, throughout the chapter, the reader will find boxes that provide citation to relevant cases, references to other chapters in the book for more detailed explanations, hypotheticals applying the law, and extensive end notes at the chapter’s conclusion.  All of this allows the reader to see how these concepts have been applied both by the courts and in common library and academic situations, making it easier to understand the complexities of this area of law. 

Furthermore, the appendices provided by the author are also very useful.  The first is selected portions of the Copyright Act the reader can refer to while going through the text of the book.  Next are several checklists the reader can use to help apply various aspects of the law.  There is a checklist to make fair use determinations; a checklist for applying the TEACH ACT requirements; and checklists for libraries to use when making preservation or replacement copies, or copies for a private study.  Finally, the author provides a model letter for permission requests, a guide to additional readings on this topic, and a subject index.  This book is more than just theory.  It also focuses on the practical implications of the law and provides the tools librarians and educators need to make informed decisions about the use of the material.

Overall, this is an excellent resource and a must-have for anyone who deals with copyright issues in libraries and educational settings.  The author has succeeded in providing a clear path for the reader that will enable her to make decisions that comply with the spirit of the copyright laws while protecting the interests of the copyright holders.

Posted By Christine Hepler at 6/29/2012 9:29:57 AM  0 Comments