Prepare to Practice Research Review

If you weren’t able to make the Prepare to Practice research sessions in April, we will offer an encore session on Wednesday, May 9th from 12:00 – 2:00 pm in RB203 (lunch provided). If you can’t make it to campus, the session will also be streamed online (join meeting at https://bluejeans.com/359940842)  and the materials are available on our Prepare to Practice Research Guide.

For research help all summer long, reference librarians are available to answer your questions Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 5:00pm.  You can email us at law-reference@law.northwestern.edu or call the reference desk at 312-503-8450.  We are also available to respond to quick questions via chat.

Posted in Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Gun Regulation and Legislation in America

The best researchers know that you can spend your time advancing your own good ideas if you leverage the work of others.  So let’s say you have some good ideas about gun control or you want to have good ideas about gun control.  Hein’s new database, Gun Regulation and Legislation in America, is an excellent tool to get you started.  Hein has gathered scholarly articles, congressional hearings, CRS reports, Supreme Court briefs, legislative histories, and more relating to the topic of guns in America.  There’s even a bibliography to help you find additional materials at libraries and elsewhere online.

The power of a collection like this is to surface information that you might not have otherwise seen and to search across documents for terms or concepts.  For example, a researcher getting started with the topic of gun control might know that the assault weapons ban was contained in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  This Hein collection, unsurprisingly, has a legislative history of that act.  But when a researcher goes to find that legislative history, she is a tab away from a CRS report titled, “Assault Weapons Ban: Review of Federal Laws Controlling Possession of Certain Firearms.”

A researcher could also search across multiple documents at once to see, for example, every instance in which the AR-15 rifle is mentioned.  Here is my results page for that search:

Search results for search of Gun Regulation and Legislation in America database returns 165 results for "AR-15" across several document types

You can see how this search surfaces discussion of the AR-15 in CRS reports, hearings, and elsewhere.  This search is faster than searching individual documents one by one and searches information that you might not have known even existed.

Although I think this collection is a powerful tool for research, I think that Hein could have made the collection more usable.  For example, the “Supreme Court Briefs” tab within this collection is organized by title of the brief without any reference to what case it was filed in.  The first entry is titled “Brief for Asista Immigration Assistance . . . in Support of Respondent.”  If I click into it, I can see that it was filed in support of the respondent James Alvin Castleman in United States v. James Alvin Castleman.  The collection contains several briefs filed in that case.  It would be helpful to see them all listed together.  Listing all of the documents alphabetically means that the researcher has to rely more on full-text search.

If you are looking to research guns in America, I highly recommend that you start with Hein’s collection.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

New Resources in April 2018

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The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 180 new items to our collection in April 2018.  Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

 

Posted in Library Resources

Resource Spotlight: Foreign Law Guide

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Looking for a place to start when researching the law and legal system of a country outside the United States?  Start your research with Foreign Law Guide.

Under the general editorship of Marci Hoffman, associate director at the University of California, Berkeley, Law Library, and updated by a global team of experts, this resource covers the law and legal systems of approximately 190 worldwide jurisdictions.  It offers relevant information on both current and historical print and online sources of foreign law, including complete bibliographic citations to legislation, the existence of English translations and selected references to secondary sources.

Users can search for desired concepts and countries, or may browse by country name or by one of over 60 subject categories.  The subjects provide a useful entry to comparative law between and among different jurisdictions.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

Student Library Assistant Positions Available for Summer

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk in the evenings and on Saturdays during the summer. Duties include the following:

  • Check out and check in books, journals, reserve books and other library materials
  • Answer basic informational, directional and library policy questions, help patrons locate materials in the stacks, provide basic printer and copy machine assistance
  • Help troubleshoot public computers according to directions
  • Record and tally usage statistics
  • Search the stacks for books reported missing
  • Assist with opening and closing procedures

Interested students should send the completed application form and resume to James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager.

Posted in Employment

Spring Break Hours

The Pritzker Legal Research Center will be open the following hours during Spring Break:

  • Saturday, March 24: 9am-5pm
  • Sunday, March 25: CLOSED
  • Monday, March 26-Saturday, March 31: 9am-5pm

Northwestern Law faculty, students and visiting scholars will continue to be able to use library facilities after the circulation desk closes.

Regular academic year hours will resume on Sunday, April 1.

Have a wonderful spring break!

Posted in Access, Holidays

PowerNotes: a tool to organize your research

Northwestern Law students, faculty and staff now have access to PowerNotes.  This tool helps you organize your research and keep track of your sources.

Organize Research Sources: With PowerNotes, you can gather information from any online resource.  You highlight the relevant text, add any wanted annotations and PowerNotes will save the content to an online research project, similar to a folder on Westlaw or Lexis.  But with PowerNotes, you can save content from any website or subscription databases such as Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, HeinOnline, etc. in one place.

PowerNotes image

Quickly Create and Revise Research Outline: As you are adding sources to your research project in PowerNotes, an outline will be built for you as you go.  As you are working, you can easily restructure your arguments by dragging and dropping sources to move them around within the outline. When you are ready to start writing, you can download your outline to Microsoft Word.

Manage Citations: PowerNotes saves the links to all your sources so you won’t forget where the information came from and you have all your citations saved in one place.

To get started, visit powernotes.com and download/install the PowerNotes extension into your Chrome browser. Create an account using your northwestern.edu email address.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

New Resources Added in February

We added over 150 new books, journals and government documents to our collection in February. See them all at: http://www.library.law.northwestern.edu/collections/new-books

Posted in Library Resources

Legal Analytics Tools Available Through the PLRC

Did you know that the Pritzker Legal Research Center provides access to numerous legal analytics tools?  Researchers can use these tools to, among other things, (1) learn more about the writing and decision patterns of judges, (2) review the litigation portfolio of law firms, and (3) make sure their briefs and memoranda are not missing any important cases or citing cases that have been reversed.  In this post, I will describe a few of these tools in detail and explain how to access them.

Ravel Judge Analytics, available at https://www.ravellaw.com is a resource that allows you to review all of a judge’s opinions on a particular topic, as well as the other opinions, courts, and judges she cites most frequently.  This information is available for every U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Court judge ever appointed, sitting U.S. Magistrates and U.S. Bankruptcy Court judges, as well sitting state appellate court judges for cases from 1999-present.  Using this site to research Judge Jorge Luis Alonso of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, for example, we can isolate his 40 opinions on employment law issues, 4 of which contain the phrase “hostile work environment.”  We can also learn that, in employment law disputes, Judge Alonso has granted 52% of summary judgment motions and, in his opinions on these motions, he has most often cited Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986).  To access Ravel Judge Analytics, visit https://www.ravellaw.com and select “Sign Up” in the top-right corner.  Make sure to create your account using your Northwestern Law email address.

Ravel Judge Analytics

Ravel Judge Analytics

A second useful resource is Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics, available at https://www.bloomberglaw.com/product/blaw/litigation/analytics/new.  Using this tool, researchers can obtain data-driven insights for companies, law firms, and judges.  For example, a search for Tesla, Inc. reveals that both Morrison & Foerster LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC have represented the company in litigation.  A search for Kirkland & Ellis LLP, meanwhile, shows that the firm has represented BP extensively in federal litigation.  Finally, a search for Ruben Castillo reveals that he has been affirmed on appeal 59.7% of the time, has presided over 297 ERISA cases, and that those cases last, on average, 55 days.  The link provided above will take you directly into Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics after you provide your username and password.  If you’ve yet to create an account, you can do so at https://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate, using your Northwestern Law email address.

Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics

Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics

Finally, two brief analysis tools, CARA by Casetext and EVA by ROSS, allow you to upload a piece of legal writing and receive feedback.  To use CARA, you will need to first create a Casetext account at https://www.casetext.com, using your Northwestern Law email address and indicating that you are a Northwestern Law user.  After creating your account, visit https://casetext.com/cara/upload.  After you upload a document, CARA provides a list of cases not cited in your document which the system deems relevant.  Not only is this a helpful check on your own research, but it is also a potentially useful tool for locating cases opposing counsel omitted from their brief.  Meanwhile, EVA by ROSS helps researchers (1) ensure the cases cited in their document are still good law and (2) find cases with language similar to that in the brief.  To access EVA, you will need to create an account at https://eva.rossintelligence.com.  Once you have created an account, simply log in and upload your document.  A list of cases cited in your document that have received negative treatment will appear at the top of the page.  Moreover, to locate cases containing similar language as your brief, highlight a passage and select “Find Similar Language.”

Casetext CARA

Casetext CARA

 

ROSS EVA

ROSS EVA

In a recent blog post, Jean O’Grady, Sr. Director of Information, Research & Knowledge at DLA Piper US, LLP, posited “in five years legal analytics will become a core competency demanded by state bar associations – similar to the recent adoption of standards for technology competence in many states.”  Jean O’Grady, LexisNexis Acquires Ravel Law: A Tipping Point for Legal Analytics and the Second Wave of Legal KM, Dewey B Strategic (June 9, 2017), http://www.deweybstrategic.com/2017/06/lexisnexis-acquires-ravel-law-tipping.html.  Whether or not Ms. O’Grady’s prediction comes to fruition, patrons of the Pritzker Legal Research Center will increasingly have access to advanced tools that provide data-driven insights.

Posted in Instruction, Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Tech, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Ancestry.com

Although it’s often used for genealogy, Ancestry can also be a valuable tool for legal research. Containing census records, military records, and immigration records, it can be helpful when looking into the history of a person or place, and especially when working with historical legal documents.

For example, in preparation for our last exhibit, which featured historical legal instruments from the Dean Hansell Collection, I used Ancestry to locate and verify some of the people and places mentioned in the items on display. This particular document mentions the names of several several justices serving on the Common Bench in 1657 (underlined in yellow):

Ancestry verified that the I had transcribed the document correctly and that there was, indeed, an Oliver St. John, Edward Atkyns, Mathew Hale, & Hugh Wyndham in London (Westminster) at the time. Noting their full names and life dates, I was able to discoverusing resources such as Google, Wikipedia, and the Dictionary of National Biographythat these men were renowned and influential jurists, lending prestige to this particular document. It also lent it an element of humanity when I was able to find a picture of the first one listed, Oliver St. John:

Of course, Ancestry has more recent records, too. If you’d like to use it for your own research, you can find simply by typing in “Ancestry” on the main search bar:

And, finally, if you’d like to see any of the items in our special collections and archives, just fill out the form below!

Posted in Uncategorized