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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.
4/18/2016 2:54:03 PM

Book Review: The Articulate Advocate: Persuasive Skills for Lawyers in Trials, Appeals, Arbitrations, and Motions, 2nd edition

Brian K. Johnson and Marsha Hunter, The Articulate Advocate: Persuasive Skills for Lawyers in Trials, Appeals, Arbitrations, and Motions, 2nd Edition, Crown King Books, 2016, 228 pages, inclusive of appendices, bibliography, and index, Paperback, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-19-939506-03-0

The Articulate Advocate by Brian K. Johnson and Marsha Hunter serves as a welcome how-to-guide for anyone interested in the arena of oral advocacy. The first edition of this book focused only on courtroom communication skills for trial lawyers. In the preface, Johnson and Hunter explained the rationale of expanding the book in the second edition to be more encompassing and reach a broader audience. As a result the second edition includes advice on being successful advocates in a variety of situations, including jury trials, bench trials, mock trials, motion practice, appeals, and arbitrations.

The book is broken down into five discrete parts – your body, your brain, your voice, technique (how to practice), and finally application in practice. Throughout the book, the authors show the reader how to use their, body, their brain, and their voice to communicate with power and effect. They teach you how to stand and use your body effectively and then introduce you to the basics of breathing and then how to use your voice successfully to persuade your audience. Johnson and Hunter create an invaluable guide to effective courtroom communication by providing strategies for public speaking and how to act naturally in stressful situations.

Following the preface and the introduction, the book begins explaining to the reader how to take control of your body and use it to enhance your oral advocacy skills. Not only do they explain to the reader how to place and use your body, the book is full of illustrations on how to control your body, plant your feet, stand still and finally how to move with purpose. The chapter then moves on to explain tactical breathing, or conscious breathing. Conscious breathing helps you feel, speak and think better. The chapter concludes with a discussion on natural gestures and posture alignment.

Next, the book focuses on the brain. The authors focus on the time warp phenomenon created by adrenaline and that it needs to be understood and exploited in order to think and speak under pressure. In explaining this phenomenon, the authors offer very matter of fact advice on how to control silences and to use it your advantage to assist you in thinking on your feet. Once this concept is explained, Johnson and Hunter move on to teach you how to think on your feet. One key element discussed is how to create notes. Notes created for speaking become more useful once the difference between how you write versus how you think, speak, and gesture is understood. The authors offer a simple explanation – you write vertically but you think and gesture horizontally. Therefore, create notes that synchronize with how your brain remembers and how your hands gesture. Hunter and Johnson also address the fear factor – what if I forget? The better question and answer is when I forget, how will I recover?

Following the discussion of both the body and the brain, the authors next turn their attention to the voice. They also instruct the reader about how the power of your voice is created and how to achieve articulation clarity to make the listener’s job easier. They go on to explain how to unlock the intended meaning of words by stressing the key words in sentences. Other areas explored in this chapter are how to to speak in phrases, and avoid thinking words, such as um, etc.

The final two chapters focus on practicing the techniques discussed in the preceding chapters and how to apply those skills at trial. The authors focus on the idea that the only way to improve any skill is to practice and to use everyday conversation as the field to hone these skills and techniques. Each chapter concludes by highlighting the salient points in a chart that serves to emphasize to the reader their importance.

Appendix 1 and 2 provides helpful checklists for the reader to use to prepare and critique their own performance. Appendix 1 is the speaker checklist that highlights for the reader how to coordinate their body, mind, voice, and brain for effective advocacy. Appendix Two is the video self-review checklist for the reader to critique their own performance. Appendix Three and Four round out the book by providing essential delivery skills for sitting for arbitration and to argue a motion or appeal, respectively.

This book is well written and extremely easy to follow. It succinctly guides the reader with easy to follow instructions and illustrations that help them to be comfortable thinking on their feet while they speak. The authors seamlessly blend a mix of science and practical techniques and tips which creates a well-balanced step-by-step guide to improve and enhance oral advocacy skills. It could easily serve as a basic introduction to oral advocacy as well as a refresher for seasoned advocates to brush up on their advocacy skills and would be a welcome addition in any law library.

Review by Whitney A. Curtis is the Associate Director/Head of Public Services at Barry University School of Law.

Posted By Heather Haemker at 4/18/2016 2:54:03 PM  0 Comments
4/14/2016 1:40:38 PM

AALL, AALL, Wherefore Art Thou AALL?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  But would AALL be the same if it had another name? And what about the George Mason University School of Law?

I imagine most readers of this blog are familiar with the AALL name change or lack thereof.  If you're not, well, several months ago the AALL Executive Board proposed a change from "American Association of Law Libraries" to "Association for Legal Information."  A spirited debate ensued; among the issues were what the new name meant or should mean and whether the short form "ALI" would be confused with the American Law Institute.  After much discussion, the membership voted against the new name.

As for George Mason, the school recently announced large donations and a change of name to the "Antonin Scalia School of Law."  In addition to some complaints about renaming the school for a Justice perceived as very conservative, there were snickers about the acronym "ASSLaw."  While the school is still honoring Justice Scalia, it has revised the name to "Antonin Scalia Law School."

So a name is important.  Even the initials are important.  They're among the first things people see when they encounter an organization.  Names and acronyms convey meaning -- whether or not it's the meaning desired by the institution's leaders and members.

Also, members may want a say in the renaming.  AALL did give members a say, though some wanted more.  George Mason simply announced the name.  It might be George Mason's prerogative -- not to mention a requirement of the donations -- to promulgate rather than propose a name.  However, having stakeholders consider a new name before approval could avoid embarrassment and reduce resentment.

A decade ago, Berkeley Law split the difference, using both consultation and promulgation to arrive at "UC Berkeley School of Law."  But the school had a starting point of "Boalt Hall" -- so almost any name that included "Berkeley" and "Law" was destined to be a relative success.

"American Association of Law Libraries" is more informative than "Boalt Hall."  Part of the recent debate was whether it was more informative than "Association for Legal Information."  That isn't a moot point, since several members have suggested "Association of Legal Information Professionals" as a better name.  "Association of Legal Information Professionals" arguably adds to the strengths of "Association for Legal Information" by including the people involved in these legal information issues.  While I hope to see a vote eventually on "Association of Legal Information Professionals," I suppose we'll need to wait a while until the dust settles from the previous vote.

Meanwhile, the AALL rebranding effort continues.  I'm skeptical about rebranding after the vote against the name change.  Will other rebranding be more successful?  (There's a recent lesson in failed rebranding in "Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer.")  At the same time, I know that the world of law libraries and legal information keeps changing.  We probably need some rebranding just to remain relevant.

For now, the AALL is keeping its long-standing name and the associations that people have about law libraries.  But we can show how both traditional law libraries/librarians and variations on those institutions serve the general public and specific clienteles.

We are the American Association of Law Libraries.  But, in a broader sense, we're also anyone (at least in the U.S.) who works to connect people with legal information.  I think we've always been about both law libraries and legal information, and about both law librarians and other legal information professionals.  But now we can make that clear, even if not via the name itself.

Posted By Scott Frey at 4/14/2016 1:40:38 PM  0 Comments
4/13/2016 1:20:36 PM

Book Review: National Survey of State Laws, 7th Edition

Richard A. Leiter; National Survey of State Laws, 7 edition; William S. Hein & Co., Getzville, NY, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-8377-4026, $225.00 (hbd.; incl. online access, single location) /$295.00 (hbd.; incl. online access, multiple locations) /$85.00 add’l. print copies

One of the things that separates law librarian book reviews from, say, The New York Review of Books is that we review titles for their practical value first. After all, we pride ourselves on our research skills and value those resources that make us look great by providing fast, reliable answers.  The better resources, the ones we evangelize to our patrons and colleagues, have staying power. They go through multiple editions; they become, for lack of a better term, traditional. We judge these products as much by their evolution from prior iterations as we do their individual quality. Often, our resources will have digital components ranking from the merely complementary to the absolutely essential, and therefore are also judged on their own merits.

One of these perennial resources is the National Survey of State Laws (NSSL), a mercifully-handy nutshell of the state of the law in all 50 U.S. states on a variety of often-consulted topics. The first edition of NSSL was published by Gale Research in 1993, and reissued roughly every three years until 2008. According to editor Richard Leiter, throughout this period Gale went through a number of organizational changes, including sales to Information Access, Thomson, and then Cengage Learning, a holding company. By 2003, when the book was in its fourth edition, Gale was only barely conscious of NSSL’s existence. The sixth and most-recent prior edition, published in 2008, was part of a catalog attached to Cengage’s business publishing division. Shortly thereafter, Gale dropped the title.

Prof. Leiter reacquired the rights to NSSL in 2013 and reached a deal with Hein, resulting in the publication of the seventh edition in 2015. The base price for the seventh edition includes the digital version with different pricing schemes for single- and multiple-location access. It is also included as part of HeinOnline subscription plans. For reasons which will shortly become clearer, I am reviewing the print and digital offerings as a package.

The purpose of NSSL is to provide a series of 50-state surveys of laws in several broad subject areas—Business and Consumer, Criminal, Education, Employment, Family, General Civil, Real Estate, and Tax. Long-time users will likely be relieved to discover that the coverage is almost identical to that of the sixth edition. Changes include the addition of charts relating to Interest Rates and Defense of Marriage Acts, the shift of the Marijuana chart out of the Illegal Drugs heading and into its own heading (likely a reflection of recent legalization efforts), and the removal of the Topic Cross Reference Table and the Medical Records section. The net result is a roughly twenty-page increase. The removals don't appear too substantial, while the DOMA addition is particularly welcome.

The charts themselves are sometimes extremely detailed, with text descriptions of, for instance, the scope of animal abuse statutes in Vermont proving exhaustive and loaded with inline citations. The topics are easy to locate within the volume, and the categories covered within each seem both appropriate and useful. The time a product like this saves is potentially huge—having to do something like this on your own would quickly prove both tedious and expensive. At typical paralegal billing rates, saving three or four hours of research time would pay for the title. It is hard to imagine a resource that provides more bang for the buck.

It is important to remember that, however useful the print edition is, it is prone, like all print materials, to staleness. As I write this, the laws in the print volume are current only as of June 30, 2015. As if anticipating this concern, Hein bundled the print edition in with the digital product.  According to Hein, they foresee occasional major updates to the digital NSSL as needed, with new print editions appearing roughly every three years. The first update appears to be forthcoming as of this writing.

The digital product is offered in two parts:  a database and a searchable image archive. The database provides instant access to the fifth and seventh editions (2005, 2008, 2015), allowing easy comparison among them. The image archive, meanwhile, provides PDFs of all seven editions. Both greatly increase the utility of the NSSL, and, provided Hein follows through on its pledge to provide major updates throughout the life of the product, there is no reason you should not find this package indispensable to your collection.

David E. Matchen, Jr.

Circulation/Reference Librarian at the University of Baltimore Law Library

* He is trying hard not to jinx a Cubs-Orioles World Series this year.

Posted By David Matchen at 4/13/2016 1:20:36 PM  0 Comments