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South Florida Association of Law Libraries


Newsletter

Fall 2000

A Quarterly publication of the South Florida Association of Law Librarians.
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President's MessageQuill

Terry Seale
Greenberg Traurig

  This has been a warp-speed summer for your SFALL president but I am most encouraged about our Association and about our profession in the coming years.

  I recently returned from the 19th annual meeting of the International Association of Law Libraries in Dublin on the subject of A Common Law for Europe: Legal Systems and Legal Information. The European Union is having a huge impact in Ireland. The Europeans have an entirely new and highly complex superstructure overlaying their law that can be used to trump their local and national law, public policy and precedents. Europeans lawyers will need a great deal of help from legal researchers and law librarians to manage these changes. There will be many opportunities for publishers and law librarians to produce elegant tools, finding aids, and checklists in this challenging regime.

  The IALL group itself was a small but impressive collection of mostly academic and government librarians. At the Conference, participants shared a drink with the Lord Mayor of Dublin in the ancient meeting hall. We also enjoyed a private reception at the Long Room at Trinity College Library.

  The Philadelphia AALL conference was my first opportunity to attend a national AALL meeting.

Terry Seale Many great ideas were harvested from the chapter leadership conference, and I managed to put in a pitch and a handshake agreement for a visit from one of the AALL board members for our Annual meeting that I think everyone will enjoy.

  We made a deal in Philadelphia at AALL with the British Library for our members. BR has a first class document delivery service, and they are willing to waive the $750 sign up charge per password for our members and other AALL members. BR provides a rapid service for searching documents at article level and electronically ordering. BR handles all the copyright clearance and for many scientific and oddball documents it will make a lot of sense to use them. They operate 20 hours a day and have three levels of turnaround time with three price points. They will be invited to come talk to us at our winter meeting in January or February. If anyone wants to learn more about it now, please call or email me.

  We would like to have all the members we can get, and I think we should invite paralegals and other para-professionals in those small law firms and corporate organizations which have no law librarian to get involved with our chapter. These individuals need to assist their institutions with research and can benefit from learning about us, our skill sets, and adding an MLS perhaps to their own resume or staff.

  This will add to our profession and the networking will assist us in or own reference work. I would like to hear your reactions to this idea before I ask our membership chair, Douglas Jones, to go out beating the bushes. With a larger membership and wider interests, we can all benefit in our program and network opportunities.

  Until next time, I love our group and wish you every success.

Terry

 

Florida Legal Materials Via the Internet

Lisa Smith-Butler
Nova Southeastern University

Many of Florida’s recent legal materials can be found on the Internet.

Decisions from Florida’s Supreme Court and Second and Fourth District Courts of Appeal can be found at the Florida State Courts (formerly JOSHA) Internet site at http://www.flcourts.org/. Maintained by the Office of State Court Administration, this site provides access to the full text of Florida Supreme Court opinions from October 1, 1999 to the present. Searching is by date. Information about the Justices as well as the Court’s oral argument calendar is also available here. Archived opinions for the Supreme Court can be found at the University of Florida Levin College of Law site at http://www.law.ufl.edu/opinions/supreme/index.shtml. Opinions are organized and searchable by date from 1995 onwards.

Florida GovernmentThe full text of all opinions published in 2000 by the Second and Fourth District Courts of Appeal are also available at the Florida State Courts site. Again, searching is via date. There are links to Florida’s DCA, Circuit, and County Court Internet sites as well. The mirror site is hosted by the Florida Information Resource Network and can be accessed at http://www.firn.edu/supct/. The Seventeenth Circuit Court (Broward County) can be accessed at http://www.17th.flcourts.org/ . Administrative orders, local court rules, and brief judicial biographies can be located at this site.

Gavel to Gavel, (http://wfsu.org/gavel2gavel), is a site sponsored by WFSU and Florida State University. It provides audio and video of Florida Supreme Court oral arguments from September 1997 onwards. In addition to the audio and video, it provides the full text of Supreme Court opinions and briefs. Searching is by date.

A commercial publication, Florida Law Weekly, is available through the Law Library & Technology Center in both print and electronic formats. This publication contains the full text of Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal decisions. The electronic version provides access to decisions from 1995 to the present. Searching is by keyword. Summaries of Florida Supreme Court decisions are also available with this publication.

Decisions from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal can be found at Emory’s Federal Courts Finder at http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDCTS/. Decisions are available from 1995 on and can be searched via keyword, date, or party name.

Florida’s statutes, pending legislation, Constitution, lists of lobbyists, and Senate and House Journals can be found at Online Sunshine at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/ . This site is maintained by the Florida Legislature. Current statutes can be searched by Table of Contents or keyword. Historical versions (1993-1999) of the Florida Statutes are here as well. Current Florida House and Senate Committees, committee members, and journals are also available at this site.

The Governor’s Office as well as many of Florida’s regulatory agencies can be accessed at My Florida at http://www.myflorida.com/. This site is the State’s new gateway to Florida government information. While you can email the Governor from this site and read the full text of his speeches, there is not access to either current or past Executive Orders.

The Florida Attorney General’s site can be accessed at http://legalfirn.edu/. The full text of opinions from 1974 onwards can be found here. Searching is by year and opinion number.

The Florida Department of State can be accessed at http://www.dos.state.fl.us/. This site’s Corporations Division now provides the full text of several Florida corporation forms but it no longer provides access to the database of information about corporations, including status, address, and Florida Legislative Web Site registered agent. Rather this information must now be purchased.

Finally there are numerous Internet sites for the various bar organizations. Two sites of interest include the Florida Bar Organization and the Broward County Bar Organization.

Information about the Florida Bar Association can be found at http://www.flabar.org/ . At this site, you can search for Florida attorneys by name or city. You can also search for Ethics Opinions by opinion number or keyword. Information about CLE seminars, lawyer advertising, and legal standards is also located here.

The Broward Bar Association’s site at http://www.browardbar.org/ provides assess to the Bar’s calendar as well as the full text of its newsletter, the Broward Barrister.

There are numerous Internet sites with Florida information. If you cannot remember the appropriate URL, use Florida’s new information portal, My Florida, at http://www.myflorida.com/ .

 

Library Catalogs On the Net

Mary Paige Smith
Nova Southeastern University

Library CatalogMost libraries in the United States, and many libraries around the world, now offer their online public access catalogs (OPACs) via the Internet. These catalogs are a great source of information to those who know where to look! Not only can you discover what books, journals and other resources another library owns, you can often access full-text databases as well. University OPACs also contain links to the library and university home pages, offering access to bibliographies, pathfinders and other finding aids, and links to numerous other sources of information.

Here are a few selected collections of library catalogs on the ‘net. Happy searching!

Library Web-Based OPACS

http://www.lights.com/webcats/

This comprehensive site provides geographical, library type and OPAC vendor indexes. This site is hosted by Northern Lights Solutions, and maintained by Peter Scott.

Library of Congress Gateway to Library Catalogs

http://lcweb.loc.gov/z3950/gateway.html

In addition to searching the Library of Congress’s catalog, you can easily search library catalogs around the world. Z39.50 is the American National Standards Institute/National Information Services Organization protocol which enables us to search many different kinds of OPACs using the same search language. This site is maintained by the Library of Congress.

WebLUIS: Library User Information System, State University System of Florida

http://webluis.fcla.edu/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/~fclwlv3/wlv3/CM02/DGgen/DBwebluis/P1home

Created and maintained by the Florida Center for Library Automation, WebLUIS provides access to the catalogs of all libraries in the State University system. You can also access other Florida libraries, and research sites such as the Center for Research Libraries.

 

Law Students’ Views of Lexis and Westlaw

Janet Reinke
University of Miami Law School Library

Law students’ views of Lexis and Westlaw have evolved considerably since the early days of computerized legal research. In the early days of CALR (Computer Assisted Legal Resarch), students felt more comfortable with books and were a bit intimidated by the mammoth Westlaw and Lexis machines they were shown but rarely used during their law school careers. Law students’ views of legal research are important because they indicate the direction legal research and ultimately the practice of law will take in the future.

Today’s law students are extremely computer-savvy, and they routinely surf the web to obtain information. Most law students feel very comfortable with Lexis and Westlaw. In fact, students now prefer computers, and they would rather avoid researching in books. The Lexis system, developed in 1973, gave attorneys the ability to pull legal information from databases. It was a major revolution in legal research because, for the first time, attorneys could search the full text of legal documents to find particular words or phrases. No longer were attorneys bound by the indexing of book publishers.

Lexis was followed by Westlaw. Westlaw, created by the venerable West Publishing Company, became available in 1975. Both used software-based systems for twenty years, introducing web sites for research a few years ago. Law students have readily migrated to the web sites.

Here at the University of Miami Law School, I attempted to gauge law students’ attitudes about Lexis and Westlaw with a voluntary survey. Unfortunately, only 14 of our 1250 law students responded to the questionnaire. However, the responses of the students correspond to my observations of student preferences gleaned from years of teaching them and helping them with their CALR.

The survey results show that a majority of students prefer the web sites over the software. The Westlaw software still makes a very strong showing, with 43 percent of respondents stating that they prefer Westlaw software. An impressive 36 percent of respondents prefer the Lexis web site, and 29 percent prefer the Westlaw web site. None of the respondents prefer the Lexis software. (Percentages total more than 100 percent because some students prefer more than one system).

A number of students stated they prefer the web versions because "I can use the web site from anywhere-no need for software." Law students considered the Westlaw software and web site as well as the Lexis web site to be "user friendly" and "easy to access." Students choose Lexis or Westlaw in part because of their contents. One law student is partial to Lexis because it includes "NALP/Martindale-Hubbell/Shepard’s." A few respondents favor Westlaw because it includes Key Cite, Westlaw’s competitor with Shepard’s. One student remarked, "Lexis needs to become more user friendly. It is difficult to search for information in the format it is set up in currently."

My own experience teaching Lexis and Westlaw shows that students are very receptive to the web site version of Lexis, especially the database links which have a number of databases subsumed under a broad heading like "Secondary Sources." The researcher simply clicks on links, getting more and more specific databases with each click. In this way, the user does not have to memorize or look up database names, and has only a few choices on each screen. Students also like the "Search Advisor" function on the Lexis web site which suggests to them terms to use in their research. The students who seem particularly responsive to the Lexis web site are, as might be expected, students who are uninitiated about law and legal research: new 1L law students and paralegal students.

Established researchers are more likely to gravitate toward the software. One survey respondent who recently graduated from law school (and thus was not included in the survey results) states that he prefers the Lexis software because "it was the first one I used, and it is the most comfortable." It has been my experience that veteran researchers (people who are skilled at Lexis and Westlaw) are sometimes frustrated by the web sites because these experts cannot perform all the functions with the web sites that they could with the software.

Fifty-seven percent of the survey respondents used Lexis and/or Westlaw in their jobs. Forty-three percent of the law students use Westlaw software in their jobs. Twenty-nine percent use the Westlaw web site and 7 percent use the Lexis web site in their jobs. (Some law students use more than one, which is why the percentages add up to more than 57 percent.) Some employers, including law firms, have difficulty accommodating the web versions of the products for various reasons. For example, some law firms’ computer systems cannot support the web sites. For other law firms, billing for the time spent on the web site (hourly pricing) is problematic.

When asked how the services could be improved, the vast majority of the law students gave no suggestions. One student offered only praise of the Westlaw representative: "excellent service by the representative¼gracious and available always." The recently graduated attorney suggested that the services could be "cheaper," a point well taken since some databases are priced at as much as $9.00 per minute.

Students answering the survey used anywhere from 0 hours per week to a whopping 34 hours per week of Lexis and/or Westlaw. All but one of the respondents used at least two hours of Lexis or Westlaw per week

CALR is driven by law students who eventually become attorneys. It is interesting and worth noting, particularly for the vendors, the issues that students perceive about CALR.

 

News From the Vendors

Lexis-Nexis

According to Deidra Payne, Southern Regional Information Manager for Lexis, Lexis has added the following enhancements to its service:

LEXIS began to move law review footnotes to the end of each article! There is a link to "jump" you to the footnote at the end of each article. The following law reviews have the new enhancements on both Classic LEXIS and lexis.com:

  • Harvard Law Review
  • Yale Law Journal
  • Stanford Law Review
  • Columbia Law Review
  • California Law Review
  • University of Chicago Law Review
  • Virginia Law Review
  • Cornell Law Review
  • New York University Law Review
  • Vanderbilt Law Review
  • Texas Law Review
  • Ohio State Law Journal
  • UCLA Law Review
  • Northwestern University Law Review
  • Georgetown Law Journal
  • Minnesota Law Review
  • Washington & Lee Law Review
  • William & Mary Law Review
  • Arizona Law Review
  • Tulane Law Review
  • Alabama Law Review
  • University of Tennessee Law Review
  • Wake Forest Law Review
  • Arizona State Law Journal
  • Utah Law Review
  • University of Cincinnati Law Review
  • Connecticut Law Review
  • Baylor Law Review
  • Georgia Law Review
  • Hastings Law Journal
  • Brigham Young University
  • Washington University Law Quarterly

This is a work in progress. LEXIS will be adding approximately 10 law reviews each day until all journals are in this new format. As of August 4th, the top fifty law reviews will have this new format. How big is that? Well, the top fifty law review files contain 600 -1000+ articles each. I was told that by the end of this week, 30-40% of the 108,000 retrospective articles in this project will have the new footnote format.

Westlaw

According to Mitza Djulvezan, Westlaw Account Manager, Westlaw celebrates 25 years of incredible innovation and growth this year. According to Mitza and her West colleagues:

Not too long ago, libraries acquired Westlaw terminals and printers; users learned the Westlaw Terms and Connectors search method to search West headnotes-only databases. Today, Westlaw comes to you on your terms. Natural Language is spoken. Newswires, cases, bills and other documents can be clipped while you sleep. Results are printed, downloaded, faxed, sent by e-mail or distributed on law firm intranets. Westlaw access has grown from WALT® to Web to wireless and beyond.

Here are a few of the extraordinary Westlaw innovations from our recent past:

KeyCite®

In the last three years, citation checking has been transformed-KeyCite has breathed new life into citation research. When a case or statute is displayed, the researcher is warned by a KeyCite status flag if history is available that should be investigated.

westlaw.com

West Group offered the first full-featured research service on the Web.

WESTNEWS

Westnews sources on Westlaw include 6,900 newspapers, magazines, newswires, trade journals, investment analysts’ reports and other business news and information.

WestCiteLink

With WestCiteLink, you can turn the citations in your brief into links to the original documents on Westlaw.

Unprecedented access

ComputerSince 1998, you can access Westlaw from any computer connected to the Internet, whether it be a laptop, PC or Macintosh®. You can even connect to Westlaw on the hand-held, wireless PocketParalegal.

So what does the immediate future hold for Westlaw? Some exciting developments are already in the works, including

  • more powerful searching, faster rendering and more intuitive navigation of westlaw.com, through enhancements personalized to the user
  • further integration of Westlaw and Westlaw services (such as WestFind&Print, WestNewslink and WestIntraClip) into law office intranets, word processors and document management systems
  • a new Westlaw Directory, including features personalized by the user

And the next 25 years? A few things are certain. In both design and content, Westlaw will be form-fitted to the information needs of our society-to-be. It will be compatible with the technology of the era. It will reflect the structure of daily life of tomorrow's lawyers.

A quarter-century of innovation stands behind these predictions.

 

 

The Internet and Online Ordering

Diane Altimari
Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center

Online ordering via the Internet is a dream come true for most Acquisitions Librarians. We no longer have to depend on the US mail, telephone calls where you get automated messages, fax machines where numbers are often busy or modems that require direct analog telephone connections. At Nova Southeastern University Law Library, we use several web sites in addition to our INNOPAC system known as Novacat. We connect to Novacat via the Internet so all of our online ordering is actually done via the web.

NOVACAT

Some of Nova’s online ordering is done through the Acquisitions module in Novacat. The Acquisitions module is part of the Innopac system that includes, Circulation, Cataloging and the OPAC. All of these modules are integrated to form what is commonly know as our Catalog or Novacat. In the Acquisitions module, records are downloaded from the Library of Congress’s online catalog system known as OCLC. Once the records are in Novacat, they are sent electronically to the vendors via email. The records show the items as ordered in the OPAC until they are cataloged. Once the items are cataloged, the OPAC informs the public of their locations and call numbers.

Ordering Online via the Web

Amazon.com is a web site that is designed to order all kinds of material online. In this web site orders can be made for; music, DVD’s, videos, electronics, software, toys, video games, and home improvements. They even have an auction and a zshop where diamond rings can be purchased. All it takes to order is to register in their web site at www.amazon.com. After registration, a password is issued and used whenever shopping is done at Amazon.com. Nova primarily uses this system to order books and/or videos. Amazon has a comprehensive collection that is easily accessed by using a dependable search engine; the program is very intuitive and no real training is necessary. First time users need to fill out a customer profile where payment and shipping information is recorded. The profile even includes information for shipping requirements. The profile can be marked in order to ship the material in regular, express or overnight mail. The site uses a secure server, so credit card information should be safe. Credit card companies have good policies when fraudulent purchases are made so there shouldn’t be any problems with entering the information in the profile. Once this is done, orders can be sent electronically with simply one click of a button. Amazon confirms the orders with an email that gives the appropriate invoice and shipping information to the customers.

Barnes and Noble also has a web site where shopping online is available for books, music, ecards, prints & posters, software or magazines. They are located at www.bn.com and registration for password protection is also necessary. Profiling, searching and one-click purchasing are very similar to Amazon.com. The differences seem to be in the products offered by each web sit. At Amazon you can purchase home improvements and participate in an auction while at Barnes and Noble you can send electronic greeting cards, purchase prints and posters. The service and inventory with regards to books, videos and CD’s are excellent in both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Technology has made ordering materials faster, easier and more efficient. The future will enable us to practically eliminate telephone calls that are time consuming, the use of fax machines that are often busy, and the costly paper purchase orders. More and more vendors and companies are offering web sites where one can purchase everything needed to enhance and update a library. The Internet and online ordering will keep improving as more Vendors offer these services and technology keeps improving speed and access.

 

Chapter Information

Call For Papers Committee Announcement

Have you been thinking about writing an article about law librarianship? Or are you already writing an article and just need an incentive to finish? If yes, read on! The AALL/LEXIS Publishing Call for Papers Committee eagerly solicits your articles for its annual competition. Up to three winning authors will receive a prize of $750, generously donated by LEXIS Publishing, and the opportunity to present their papers to their colleagues at the Annual Meeting. Winning papers also are considered for publication in the Law Library Journal, the scholarly journal of the law library profession. Visit AALLNET at http://www.aallnet.org/about/award_call_for_papers.asp for more information, including selection criteria and application procedures. Submissions are due by March 1, 2001. Good luck!

Questions? Contact a member of the Call for Papers Committee: Adeen Postar (chair) at ajp@dejlaw.com, Karen Beck at beckka@bc.edu, or Maria Protti at Maria_Protti@ci.sf.ca.us.

 

Information for the Newsletter

Sfall Newsletter is the official publication of the South Florida Law Librarians Association. It is published quarterly and distributed free to all Sfall members. Editorial comments or submissions should be sent to:

Lisa Smith-Butler, Associate Law Library Director
Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center
Law Library & Technology Center
3305 College Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314
(954) 262-6215
954.262.3838 (F)
smith-butlerl@nsu.law.nova.edu

 


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