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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.

The AALL Spectrum blog is no longer published. Previous posts are archived on this page.
10/26/2012 3:18:01 PM

Book Review -- Texas Legal Research: Revised Printing

Spencer L. Simons, Texas Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press, Revised Printing 2012). 262 pp, paper, ISBN: 978-1-61163-195-1, $26.00. Link to Publisher Website

I’m a fan of Carolina Academic Press’s Legal Research Series, and Spencer Simons’s “Texas Legal Research” is no exception. Aimed at the novice researcher (or expert who needs a refresher), it methodically discusses the process of legal research focused on Texas legal materials. It would make a fine textbook for a Texas-based research class or a welcome addition to a reference collection.

As a Textbook

The book is clearly organized around the research process and could be adapted into a course syllabus easily. Whatever one’s preference for structuring the class, the chapters are clearly delineated and could be presented in a different order without trouble. In fact, the Table of Contents reads like a checklist of any diligent, thorough researcher. The text is presented in an easy and plain style; easily accessible to the uninitiated researcher. The matter-of-fact guidance gets straight to the heart of the most common and important research issues.

As a Reference Work

As a reference work, there are plenty of gems for the advanced or foreign-to-Texas researcher including references to the Greenbook: Texas Rules of Form and a discussion of the Texas codification project. Although it does provide many helpful checklists and tables, the main strength of the book is in its discussion of the research sources and processes. Thus, it doesn’t scan as easily as other reference works. The robust Table of Contents and Index make scannability less of a concern.

The New Printing

The 2012 Revised Printing includes updates from the ongoing Texas codification project, Supreme Court Rules about unpublished opinions, Bluebook Rules and the ever-changing online research platforms. (Too, the image of the State of Texas on the cover is a bit larger; something seldom large enough for us native Texans.) Though the updates are small, they could be important for some researchers.


A search of WorldCat suggests many academic law libraries hold some edition of “Texas Legal Research.” The 2012 Revised Printing updates are small, but an upgrade is probably warranted. Any library with potential Texas law researchers would make a happy home.

G. Patrick Flanagan, Reference Librarian, Columbia Law School

Posted By G. Patrick Flanagan at 10/26/2012 3:18:01 PM  0 Comments
10/23/2012 4:47:59 PM

Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum

Sutton, Victoria, Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum. Lubbock, TX: Vargas Publishing, 2012. 129 pp. Available on Amazon.com (Kindle edition) $9.99 and BarnesandNoble.com (paperback) $18.99.

Are you looking for a little humor in your substantive law collection? Perhaps, you are looking for a book that introduces potential law students to legal concepts? Then, Halloween Law by Victoria Sutton is for you. Halloween Law gives a broad overview of the legal issues arising from Halloween related incidents following the general curriculum of law school from first-year courses to advanced legal concepts. The book addresses substantive law areas, including Constitutional Law, Torts, and Property Law, with short entertaining quizzes at the end of each chapter. One chapter touches on the many aspects of First Amendment law using cases addressing un-neighborly final sentiments placed on Halloween tombstone decorations in the front yard. The entire book is filled with bite-size snippets of legal and non-legal history. In the criminal law chapter, the reader learns the sad origins of the (mostly) urban legends involving razors and poisons in Halloween candy. I think the most entertaining chapter focuses on Torts and assumption of the risk. To illustrate assumption of the risk the book discusses cases related to haunted houses where visitors become so frightened they hurt themselves and then claim the haunted houses were too frightening. This lighthearted book will provide laughs, or at least some chuckles, and a concise overview of the standard law school first-year curriculum. While it might not make or break a decision to go to law school, it will give a glimpse of what is in store including some of the laugh out loud moments that await new law students.

Reviewed by Kelly Leong, Reference Librarian at Duke Law Library

Posted By Kelly Leong at 10/23/2012 4:47:59 PM  0 Comments
10/16/2012 11:48:11 AM

Breach of Confidence: Social Origins and Modern Developments

Breach of Confidence: Social Origins and Modern Developments

By Megan Richardson, Michael Bryan, Martin Vranken, and Katy Barnett


Edward Elgar Publishing Limited

170 pages


Available on Amazon for U.S. $110

As the title implies, this monograph is a tour through the history and development of the law concerning breach of confidence. The authors take us on a survey of domestic cases from common law countries stretching from the 1700s to current day, international law, and leading treatises. This title would be a good addition to any collection that supports historical legal research, particularly in the areas of privacy, intellectual property, and employment law. It would also be helpful, not just for law libraries, but for the libraries of educational institutions that offer various professional degrees.

The authors, all of whom are associated with University of Melbourne, give a good multinational perspective on their subject. Megan Richardson is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne and Co-Director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law. Michael Bryan is an Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne. He specializes in restitution, equity, trusts and commercial law. Martin Vranken is a Reader in Law at the University of Melbourne. He is primarily a labour lawyer. Katy Barnett is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Melbourne. She was awarded her PhD in 2010 and has previously published regarding breach of contract.

The authors trace the doctrine of breach of confidence from equity to tort law in England, the development of trade secrets and privacy torts in the United States, and a sort of sui generis privacy law in Canada and New Zealand. The book is arranged chronologically. We are informed how the doctrine’s beginnings are shaped by small business, private and domestic relations, and master-servant dealings typical of the time period, up through the modern urbanized capitalist society. As society shifts, so does the doctrine of breach of confidence. Along the way, much thinking is borrowed from the principles of contract law, privacy and publicity rights, public interest exceptions, freedom of speech, and whistle-blowing.

No matter how the doctrine shifts, it persists. It is shaped and applied in varying ways according to the time and culture in which it is used. But one thing is sure, breach of confidence is just as crucial a concept to us now in our information based, 24/7, instant news society as it has ever been. It is more important now than in any other time in history that we both protect information privacy and also insure access to information. The correct balance is the key, and these authors give us much to think about.

The text is presented in eight chapters. In addition there are eight pages of index and an appendix containing a table of both English and American cases. The appendix presents a chronological collection of cases including the case citation, subject matter, and digest for each. This is a great tool for the legal practitioner who wishes to use this text as a reference.

Wanita Scroggs

International Law Librarian

Stetson University, College of Law

Posted By Wanita Scroggs at 10/16/2012 11:48:11 AM  0 Comments