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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.
3/3/2016 10:00:40 AM

Book Review: The Law Book; from Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law by Michael H. Roffer


The Law Book by Michael H. Roffer is an enjoyable read covering what the author deems 250 of the most important cases, trials, and laws in history. In attempting to summarize these topics, even the author realizes that there will be much disagreement as to what constitutes landmarks in the creation of the law and where certain events rank.

Still, in compiling his list, the author takes a very logical approach and proceeds chronologically through the book—from the oldest written will in c. 2550 BCE through the legal fight for gay marriage in 2015. Intermixed within the chronology are the developments of laws (The Draconian Code, The Justinian Code, etc.), important cases (Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, etc.), and other historical developments (the Emancipation Proclamation, the Nuremburg Trials, etc.).  While many can claim basic knowledge of these developments, the author also includes some lesser studied developments such as the dawning of free agency in Major League Baseball and sheds light on the misreporting of others (the McDonald’s hot coffee case).

By concentrating on a chronological rather than topical organization, it is important for the author to find a way to tie together his themes of how some of these developments relate to each other.  Where applicable, the author includes a “SEE ALSO” in each of his entries directing the reader to other entries in the book that can expound on the topic.

The author also provides notes at the beginning of most sections listing relevant people, cases or laws discussed in that section. Finally, the author provides at the end of the book a section of “Notes and Further Readings,” first with a listing of general readings and then other notes following the chronology of the book.

One of the biggest advantages with this book is also one of its great downfalls: each section is concise and easy to read, providing a general overview on a single development in the history of law. The advantage in this is that the book can be read rather quickly, allowing the reader to quickly glean general points of knowledge on historical legal events. With a format of a one page description for each topic, accompanied by a relevant illustration, this book is very inviting to a general reader.

However, for a researcher looking for more in depth knowledge of the law, this book still provides a relevant starting position. But, a researcher will need to expand much beyond just this book to gain a fuller picture of the topic. While The Law Book does provide further reading suggestions and cross-references within the book, the depth provided just falls a bit short.

Even if not as an in-depth resource, The Law Book most definitely has a place in a Law library.  Working in an Academic Law Library, this resource would find a fitting home in our Leisure Reading material as it is an item that can easily be picked up and enjoyed by most readers. More likely though, The Law Book would be better suited for the Reference Desk, where it could easily be accessed much like a Nutshell on historically relevant legal developments. With the cross-references and introductory information on the topics, this resource provides an excellent starting point for research.

Reviewed by Paul D. Venard, Associate Professor and Reference and Electronic Services Librarian, Zimmerman Library, University of Dayton School of Law

Posted By Paul Venard at 3/3/2016 10:00:40 AM  0 Comments
1/19/2017 10:00:00 AM

DIGITAL EXTRA "Reference Desk: The Learning Curve" | AALL Spectrum | January/February 2016 | Volume 20, Number 3


Recommendations from the Leadership Development Committee | December 2015 

As a leader, you set goals for yourself and for others in order to meet organizational and departmental objectives. You are tasked with guiding your team to meet their goals in order to achieve overall success. When you have team members with varying skills, this can be challenging.
Setting realistic goals for your team members and empowering them to successfully achieve those goals will propel you forward in your organization and in your career. To learn more, here are some suggested articles about this topic:
To encourage all of us to think about leadership, the Leadership Development Committee highlights short articles in each issue of the monthly AALL E-newsletter and Education Update. Next month our focus will be on how effective leaders keep their team members engaged and challenged. Have a suggestion or request for a topic? Email Jennifer Ash.

Posted By Cara Schillinger at 1/19/2017 10:00:00 AM  0 Comments