Presentation & Course Materials

2014 Instructional Resources Kit

  • Advanced Legal Research

    Sara Sampson
    Deputy Director & Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
    Kathrine R. Everett Law Library
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    160 Ridge Rd. CB#3385
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3385
    (919) 962-6202
    sasampso@email.unc.edu 

    The Advanced Legal Research syllabus is for a 3 credit course offered at University of North Carolina.  The course is one of many that fulfills the Law School’s skills requirement.  The course is designed to teach the students about the sources, skills, and strategies an expert legal researcher must have.  This includes traditional legal research topics (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.) as well as an introduction to other important topics such as finding support for factual and policy arguments or finding information about people and businesses.  The class culminates in a research project where students are expected to do comprehensive research on a narrow legal issue, often comparing how the issue is resolved in several jurisdictions, and summarize their results in a memo and their process in a research log.

    The Research Practicum is an in-class exercise designed to take the entire class period (one hour and 25 minutes) in the class following our discussion of overall research strategy.  For my Advanced Legal Research class, it occurs after we have finished traditional legal research and are moving into more practice-focused topics.  The exercise is designed to simulate solving a client’s problem and could be turned into a formal assignment by requiring the students to write a letter or memo.  It is also a good review before an exam or final project in which they will have to do comprehensive research to solve a legal problem.

  • Citator Exercise

    Jodi L. Collova
    Reference & Electronic Services Librarian, Adjunct Professor
    Golden Gate University Law Library
    536 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    (415)442-6683
    jcollova@ggu.edu

    I designed this exercise for an advanced legal research course. The case used, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969), is a famous U.S. Supreme Court case with thousands of citing references. Some students lacking sophistication with citators initially looked at the vast number of cases citing Tinker and felt unsure of how to review the results. Students had to narrow the results by jurisdiction (U.S. Supreme Court) and by treatment type (negative treatment only), which narrowed the number of citing cases considerably. After students worked on the exercise in small groups, I facilitated a class discussion in which members of each group shared how they used their assigned platform (Westlaw, Lexis Advance, or Bloomberg Law) to determine the status of the case. I emphasized the importance of considering whether cases listed with “negative treatment” apply to the particular issue being researched, rather than blindly relying on the signal assigned by the citator. In addition to teaching use of citators and reviewing jurisdictional authority, this exercise also demonstrates differences between research platforms (WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law) and teaches students about viewing research platforms critically. Moreover, it allows students to practice working collaboratively, a necessary lawyering skill often underemphasized in law school.

  • Cloud Computing, Mobile Tech & Legal Apps

    Stosh Jonjak
    Research Services Librarian
    Reed Smith
    225 Fifth Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222
    ajonjak@reedsmith.com 

    Cloud Computing, Mobile Tech & Legal Apps

    The overarching goal of this presentation is to give its audience an understanding about the macro innovations that have shaped modern technology and, through reviewing and discussing the latest mobile legal research apps, how these innovations are affecting law librarianship.

    The presentation starts with how “The Cloud” has fundamentally changed our technological environment. Next, we examine how “The Cloud” led to the rise of mobility, how mobility led to the production of apps, and how apps have impacted the practice of law. We examine mobile apps by first focusing on the approach the following big vendors are taking with their deployments: Westlaw, Lexis, CCH & Wolters Kluwer, fastcase, Bloomberg Law, Bloomberg BNA, and Hein Online. After that, we examine a bevy of independently-produced apps that fit into the following categories: current awareness, organization & presentation, jury selection, docket research, eReading, news aggregation, and more. Lastly, we cover general-interest apps and information sources that provide reviews and updates on late-breaking legal research apps.

  • Federal Legislative History Assignment

    Stacy Etheredge
    Reference & Instruction Librarian
    George R. Farmer, Jr. Law Library
    WVU College of Law
    101 Law School Drive
    Morgantown, WV 26506
    stacy.etheredge@mail.wvu.edu 

    This assignment on federal legislative history was given in the Advanced Legal Research course at the West Virginia University College of Law.  It is meant to be a guided exercise to give the student hands-on experience in a variety of formats, including print, free web sources, and Westlaw or Lexis.  Although there are three open-ended questions that allow for distinguishing between students, the guided nature of the assignment usually results in high grades.  Two documents accompany the assignment – some pages from a Supreme Court writ of certiorari and a tip sheet on using FDSys and THOMAS (the next semester will switch to Congress.gov).

  • Federal Statutes Assignment

    Stacy Etheredge
    Reference & Instruction Librarian
    George R. Farmer, Jr. Law Library
    WVU College of Law
    101 Law School Drive
    Morgantown, WV 26506
    stacy.etheredge@mail.wvu.edu 

    This assignment on federal legislative history was given in the Advanced Legal Research course at the West Virginia University College of Law.  It is meant to be a guided exercise to give the student hands-on experience in a variety of formats, including print, free web sources, and Westlaw or Lexis.  Although there are three open-ended questions that allow for distinguishing between students, the guided nature of the assignment usually results in high grades.  Two documents accompany the assignment – some pages from a Supreme Court writ of certiorari and a tip sheet on using FDSys and THOMAS (the next semester will switch to Congress.gov).

  • Introduction to Empirical Legal Research

    Sarah E. Ryan
    Empirical Research Librarian & Lecturer in Legal Research
    Lillian Goldman Law Library
    Yale Law School
    127 Wall Street
    New Haven, CT 06511

    This PowerPoint was originally created as supplemental content for students enrolled in Advanced Legal Research at Yale Law School. It is aimed at students and researchers with Humanities and Arts backgrounds. It covers introductory quantitative terms of art and research methods. It also links to key data websites, mostly maintained by the United States federal government.

  • Local Government Law

    Sherry Leysen
    Reference Librarian
    Loyola Law School
    William M. Rains Law Library
    919 Albany St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211

    This lecture was prepared as one topic in an intersession course on California Legal Research, but also can be used for a Bridge the Gap session or as a topic in advanced legal research. The goal of the lecture was to introduce students to the notion that local government laws, regulations, and policies can have a tremendous impact on business and commerce, and often need to be considered and evaluated along with state and federal law and regulation. The lecture is in four parts: Quick Facts, Research Tools, an In-Class Hypo, and an Exercise. Quick facts introduce students to the structure of local government. Research tools introduce selected research guides, treatises, and a few online databases where local government charters, ordinances, and codes can be found. The in-class hypo uses an example of a fictional entrepreneurial business, which by its nature (a food truck) requires the business owner to comply with the local law of more than one city and county, illustrating the potential complexities of local law compliance. The hypo is used to identify secondary sources that reveal the broader policy issues, followed by an in-class demonstration of how to navigate one city’s online municipal code.

    The goals of the exercise (which can be used either in or out of class) were (1) to have students consider local law and its impact on business decisions, and (2) to practice navigating two different municipal code databases. Using a current hot topic and a fictional business, students are asked to conduct a research task beginning with secondary sources. The exercise also asks students to find and read a state statute and find a case where a local ordinance is a topic of litigation. Then, students practice navigating two city’s databases (each city uses a different municipal code database) to answer the research question. The exercise can be expanded by requiring the preparation of a short research memo or a draft letter to the fictional business client.

  • Online Search Fundamentals

  • Research Practicum

    Sara Sampson
    Deputy Director & Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
    Kathrine R. Everett Law Library
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    160 Ridge Rd. CB#3385
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3385
    (919) 962-6202
    sasampso@email.unc.edu 

    The Research Practicum is an in-class exercise designed to take the entire class period (one hour and 25 minutes) in the class following our discussion of overall research strategy.  For my Advanced Legal Research class, it occurs after we have finished traditional legal research and are moving into more practice-focused topics.  The exercise is designed to simulate solving a client’s problem and could be turned into a formal assignment by requiring the students to write a letter or memo.  It is also a good review before an exam or final project in which they will have to do comprehensive research to solve a legal problem.

  • Secondary Sources Exercise

    April M. Hathcock
    Reference Librarian
    University of South Carolina School of Law
    701 Main Street
    Columbia, SC 29208
    ahathcoc@law.sc.edu 

    I created the Secondary Source Speed-Dating exercise as a fun way to get first-year law students engaged in using print secondary sources. In particular, I chose two national legal encyclopedias (Am. Jur. 2d and C.J.S.), three state legal encyclopedias from our circuit (4th Circuit: S.C. Jurisprudence, Georgia Jurisprudence, and Strong’s North Carolina Index), and the A.L.R. I chose the state sources from our circuit because our law school is located in South Carolina, and most of our students remain in the area to practice after graduation. The topic, emancipation of minors, was a fairly broad one that made for easy searching in the indexes of each of the different sources. Our “client,” a future version of Honey Boo-Boo from the TLC reality show, provided a comical pop culture reference to engage the students’ interests while getting them to do the work. Finally, all of the sources were presented in print form so as to encourage the students to learn how the sources are organized and used in their physically published form, in the hopes of adding to their skill set and aiding their understanding when using these same sources electronically. Because I could not realistically bring all volumes of all the sources to class with me, I brought the indexes and three or four sample volumes (including the volumes they would need for their answers) for each source. Students were divided into groups and given about 3-5 minutes to look for the topic in each source. They then had to provide the proper Bluebook citation for what they found.