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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.
3/18/2016 10:33:00 AM

DIGITAL EXTRA "Tips for Associate Success" | AALL Spectrum | March/April 2016 | Volume 20, Number 4

Tips for Success

1)      Ask Questions!

If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask. No one expects you to know everything right off the bat. Get clarification for anything you don’t understand in an assignment. Ask about sources that might be helpful. Find out if the assigning attorney wants you to use a particular source.

2)      Go to training.

Any time it is offered

3)      Remember the Ten-Minute Rule.

If you’ve spent more than ten minutes on Westlaw or in a book and haven’t found anything that looks right, STOP! It might be time to get some clarification.

4)      Remember to keep track of your time as you go.

It’s easier to keep track of time up front than to try to reconstruct. It will also help you figure out if you need to stop and try something different because you’ve spent a while going down a path that is not leading to answers.

5)      Try a book.

Westlaw and Lexis aren’t always the best place to start. If you know nothing about a topic, find out if there is a treatise or article that gives you an overview. Footnotes can lead you to good starting places. Don’t forget to try Am Jur or CJS to get started.

6)      Watch for repeats.

If you’ve seen the same case or found the same thing several times, you might be done. Once you’ve come back to the point where you started, it’s usually a good clue that you’ve found what you’re going to find.

7)      Remember that there might not be an answer.

Not every question you are asked has a definite answer. If you feel like you’ve looked everywhere, checked all of the obvious sources, asked for clarification, asked me for help and still haven’t found anything, it’s possible that there is no answer. Don’t be afraid of the possibility.

8)      Don’t rely exclusively on full-text searching.

Remember to use headnotes and topics and key numbers to find cases. The opinion writer may have used a different term or terms than you are searching. Don’t get too hung up on matching a fact pattern exactly.

9)      Have Fun!

Posted By Heather Haemker at 3/18/2016 10:33:00 AM  0 Comments
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