Friday, April 18, 2014

Chat/IM with a Law Librarian

Nothing makes a librarian’s heart happier than helping, and the law library has recently added a service we hope will help you. Need a quick answer but can’t make it into the law library with your legal research question? Or are you in the law library but reluctant to pack up your books and laptop to come to the reference desk lest you lose your spot? Perhaps you’re a clinic student and working downtown for the afternoon in court.

Great news: the Moritz Law Library now offers live chat during reference hours! You can quickly and easily type a quick question and get a response. Just go to our Ask A Librarian legal research guide and start chatting. A law librarian will be available to respond to your questions Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm and Sundays from 1pm-5pm. In the event we are unavailable to chat (for example, if the librarian has stepped away from the desk for a moment to assist someone), you’re of course still welcome to call 614-292-9463 and leave a voicemail, or you can email the reference desk at We will respond as quickly as possible to your inquiries.
Consider for a moment how helpful this service might be to you, especially as you head off to summer employment. If you’re still flummoxed by the catalog but wonder if we have a certain book, feel free to just chat and ask. Need  a couple of starting points for interdisciplinary articles? We can quickly point you to databases on the libraries’ websites that might have what you need. Curious if we have an old version of an Ohio statute on the shelves or if we know how to find it online? Send your quick question and get a quick response. If your inquiry is a little more involved, we’d be happy to call or send an email with more detail as needed.
This service is not limited to law students; we’re also happy to answer the queries of faculty and law school staff. Feel free to send us a message, and we’ll do our best to help!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baseball Season is in Full Swing

Yes, you read that heading correctly: librarians do enjoy puns. It's been said that baseball is America's favorite pastime, and traditionally pastime has been narrowly defined as some sport or other. Alas for baseball, pastime has a broader definition, and I'd argue watching sports bloopers and/or public shaming on the Internet generally is something Americans love more than baseball. So here's to bringing all of these pastimes together: Phillies Fans' Reactions To Dan Uggla's Grand Slam Are Amazing.

My favorite pastime, of course, is reading. Here are a few baseball books in our collection for your pastime pleasure:
  • The Little White Book of Baseball Law
  • The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption
  • Legal Decisions that Shaped Modern Baseball
  • Curt Flood in the Media: Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist-Athlete
  • One Man Out: Curt Flood Versus Baseball
  • Legal Issues in Professional Baseball
  • May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy
  • Courting the Yankees: Legal Essays on the Bronx Bombers
  • Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust
  • Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law
  • Baseball Economic and Public Policy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Casetext and Ravel

Meet a pair of remarkable next-gen research tools: Casetext and Ravel.

Casetext provides the full text of cases for free accompanied by crowd-sourced annotations and links to secondary sources. Anyone can annotate the cases, and those annotations found most valuable can be up-voted. The site also has annotated contracts for those interested in insights from practitioners indicating which terms have fared best in court and other key pieces of information you might need as you draft agreements.

Ravel Law also provides the full text of cases for free, but its primary value is a visual representation indicating which cases are significant for the points of law you are researching.

Casetext is free, period. Ravel Law is free to law students; sign up with your .edu email address to get full access to all of the cases in the Ravel Law database.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Who Owns Jokes?

Some jokes are as old as Methuselah. Actually, the oldest joke book is from the 4th century. It's a little text called Philogelos, and yes, we actually own a copy here at OSU.

You can imagine, then, that joke theft is also an old practice, and where there is theft, there is litigation. Where there is litigation, there is of course a law faculty member or two interested in studying the matter. Check out the newsy version of the faculty analysis, or read the Virginia Law Review article on the subject. As a brief note on the article, the faculty authors distinguish between joke theft and copyright infringement, which should be something warranting a "hmm..." from our blog readers who are also copyright enthusiasts.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Hollywood Interns Suing

No, the title of this blog post does not refer to the poorly rated film The Internship (though I admit, I've seen worse films). Unpaid Hollywood interns  have filed a class action lawsuit seeking "back pay, damages and an order barring use of unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight Pictures and other units of Fox Entertainment Group." The interns contend Hollywood studios are violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, "which mandates that unpaid internships benefit the interns, not the employers."
How many times have you toyed with the idea of volunteering (taking an unpaid internship) to develop relationships and get experience in an effort to get your foot in the door? Should the Hollywood interns expect more if it's the case that this is just the way film business is run? You might be surprised at what distinguishes interns from employees:

For interns
  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Cartooning at the Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court decisions have been coming out en masse, it seems (though SCOTUSblog does not expect any decisions this week).

According to a Washington Post reporter, "Any information that emerges from big Supreme Court hearings feels like it’s been smuggled out of the edifice on First Street." The reporter then makes a case for cartoonists, i.e., "someone in the room who specializes in interpreting personal presentation and interpersonal interactions."

Curious to see a cartoonist explain the latest Supreme Court decisions via gifs and videos? See the work of Ann Telnaes here.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Occupational Employment Statistics, courtesy of Business Insider, provides a map showing which jobs are the most unique in each state. The map illustrates which "state has far more of [each job] per capita than the nation as a whole." Ohio has far more foundry casters than any other state per capita. New Mexico is awash with physicists; Virginia is packed to the gills with "Legal Support." Legal Support is a group that includes paralegals, legal assistants, court reporters, title examiners, and other miscellaneous legal support workers. All of this data is derived from a recent report on Occupational Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How many people identify "lawyer" as their occupation? 592,670. And the number of judicial law clerks? 10,890.

The mean (average) hourly wage for lawyers is $63.46/hour with a median of $54.95. The mean salary is $131,990.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Printing Wikipedia

I admit it: I use Wikipedia as a starting point for research. If I need to know an estimated population for Peru, it's a quick and easy source. If I need to confirm that population (including how current it is), I'll likely turn to the CIA's World Factbook (also available in print). Why? Because Wikipedia is crowd-sourced, I have no idea how reliable or accurate the data is.

Enter PediaPress, a group with plans to print Wikipedia in part to assuage librarians' fears. Said one librarian when told of the project, "[A] lot of people — including many librarians — are skeptical of Wikipedia as a reliable research tool. But...seeing the encyclopedia in print might change some of those attitudes."

While this may be true, librarians are not often judges, so for now, don't rely on the print version of Wikipedia for your legal arguments. Instead, just spend time marveling at how much content Wikipedia houses: "One thousand volumes, 1,200 pages each — more than one million pages in all — about 80 meters of shelf space."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Congress Recognizes Ohio State

We’ve blogged before about Ohio State’s fabulous marching band.  Now, the band really has made the big leagues – a citation in the Congressional Record.  If you search the Congressional Record in, you will find Representative Pat Tiberi’s remarks honoring the band, in part for “use of cutting-edge technology.”  Read The Lantern to discover how the band used iPads this year.

And that’s not the only reference to Ohio State in the Congressional Record of late.  This list of search results includes congratulations to Gordon Gee on his retirement, a recognition of Woody Hayes’ 100the birthday, and a recognition of the law school’s recently established Grassbaugh Veteran’s Project.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rap Lyrics & the Law

I recently came across an article pairing rap lyrics with more formal poetry. Here are a couple of samples:

We hold these truths to be self-evident
Say hi to the Ritalin regiment
("Declaration of Independence" and "Pigions")

Whose woods these are I think I know
Creep with me through that immortal flow
("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "Thug Passion")

On a more serious note, there is a growing body of law surrounding the use of rap lyrics as confessions or other evidence in criminal trials. In the past two years, rap lyrics have formed the basis of convictions in more than three dozen cases.

For more on this subject, check out Confessions in the Courtroom; Silence, Confessions, and Improperly Obtained Evidence; The U.S. Court of Appeals and the Law of Confessions; and Confessions, Truth, and the Law.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bar Association Assistance for Law Students

Don't forget that networking includes being involved in your local bar associations. The Ohio State Bar Association makes it easy for you with its Law Student Hub. The Columbus Bar Association runs Columbus Bar Inc., "a program intended to accelerate the successful development of new lawyers in an environment that provides an array of business support resources."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Time is Now - Practice with the Online Case Research Tools Real Live Attorneys Use!

Four years ago, we wrote on this very blog about the case research tools bar associations make available to members: State Bar Association - Members Legal Research Tools. Here's a quote: "For example, Ohio State Bar Association members have access to Casemaker. Members of the Illinois and Iowa bar associations have Fastcase."

Great news: Now you can access both CasemakerX and Fastcase (via HeinOnline), so you can practice with these tools before you become an attorney. Sure, you know Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg, but those tools aren't available at every law firm. Taking time now to build your skill set with Fastcase or Casemaker will make you a more efficient (and consequently more valuable) researcher when you work this summer.

Need another reason to practice with these tools? Take a look at this helpful map showing which state bars provide access to which services: Duke Law Blog. (Incidentally, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar also provides access to Fastcase.)

The Fastcase/Hein partnership is the newest partnership the Moritz Law Library brings you. In a nutshell, Fastcase content is integrated directly into Hein, "allow[ing] Hein to provide federal and state case law powered by Fastcase to HeinOnline Core subscribers via inline hyperlinks. Users will also have the option to retrieve case law by citation."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Micro Constitution

Straight from SXSW, meet the printer that can produce a copy of the U.S. Constitution in six seconds on a strip of paper only slightly bigger than a receipt from a spending spree at the Jeffersonville Outlets on Black Friday.

h/t 1L David Walsh

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fame! I'm Gonna Live Forever...

"[Y]ou are legitimately famous, the M.I.T. team has decided, if a Wikipedia page under your name exists in more than 25 languages." "Pantheon, a new project from the Macro Connections group in M.I.T.’s Media Lab...has collected and analyzed data on cultural production from 4,000 B.C. to 2010. With a few clicks on its website, which just went live, you can swing through time and geography...."

Alas! Only one attorney made it into the top ten most famous people from the U.S. since 4000 B.C. Actually, there is only one in the top twenty! Itching to know which attorney is more famous than Britney Spears and Jimi Hendrix? Take a look at Pantheon, search by Rankings, and limit the search to "United States" for "Place of Birth."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is Your NCAA Bracket Pool Legal?

Find the answer here. You may think to yourself, "Who cares? It's not a crime for which I will be arrested!" While that may be true, consider whether it's the wisest response for a person pursing a legal career. Consider, for example, whether this kind of thinking evidences
[t]he ability to exercise good judgment in conducting one's professional business [and] the ability to conduct oneself with a high degree of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness in all professional relationships and with respect to all legal obligations.
(From the Ohio State Eligibility Requirements for the Practice of Law.)

I hate to be a downer, but with great power comes great responsibility. Keep that in mind next time you speed, download music or movies via suspect channels, or otherwise undermine the legal system. As if losing actual money on that NCAA bracket wasn't enough!