Friday, June 30, 2006

Independence Day

Twenty four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. Learn more interesting facts about this document and see an image of the original and contemporary reproductions at the Charters of Freedom online exhibit.

If you dare, "pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom" and sign the original document.

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Scholar

While Google Scholar isn't as comprehensive as other databases, it can be a good place to start (to get ideas) or to finish (to see what you've overlooked) looking for law review articles or other scholarly articles.

Legal Researchers who are affiliated with a university or college library should be sure to set their Google Scholar preferences to reflect these affiliations.

To set up your preferences , look for the "Library Links" section of the preferences page. If you're on-campus and Google has detected your library, just check the box next to it. If not, you'll need to type your school's name in the "Find Library" search box to add your library.

Once your preferences are set, Google will be able to direct you to your library's subscriptions for articles rather than the publisher's webpages where you will be asked to pay for the article.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Advanced Web Searching

Are there times that you wish that you had the preciseness of a Westlaw or Lexis search when you're searching the Internet? If so, check out Exalead's advanced searching or add the term "NEAR" to your Exalead search.

For example, to find information about Supreme Court Justice Alito, the words Supreme and Court should be near each other but don't necessarily have to be near the word Alito. The search would be constructed like this: Supreme NEAR Court and Alito.

Exalead offers other features useful to legal researchers:
  • Along the left hand side of the results screen information that may help refine the search appears (e.g. related terms, document type and language,
  • With one button, the results can be limited to audio, video, or RSS results
  • A thumbnail preview appears next to each result

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lobbying Database

InSite recently wrote about the Lobbying Database from opensecrets.org. The Lobbying Database tracks campaign contributions made to elected officials by lobbyists. From Insite:
The Lobbying Database is one prong of the "Who Gives" menu from opensecrets.org. The website is a product of the Center for Responsive Politics, a not-for-profit non-partisan organization that "tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy." The Lobbying Database, funded by a grant from the Sunlight Foundation, tracks spending by lobbyists since 1998 in their attempts to influence Congress and federal agencies. The database can be searched by name, industry, issue, bill number, federal agency, or foreign entity. Data is compiled from required semi-annual public disclosure statements filed by lobbyists, and presented in easy to read charts and graphs. This site provides a simple and effective tool for researchers interested in lobbying in the United States.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Full-Text Searching of EDGAR filings

There have been some recent changes to the available search options on EDGAR. EDGAR is the system used for searching SEC filings. Amy Wright at Heafey Headnotes gives a nice summary of the new search capabilities of EDGAR:
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently unveiled a new search page that allows researchers to search the full text of all EDGAR filings from the past two years, including attachments. After experimenting with this search page, I recommend skipping the basic search and moving directly to the advanced search page, which gives you the option to limit your search by date, by company, by central index key, and by form type (10-K, 10-Q, etc.). For those of you who are new to legal research and aren't sure what EDGAR filings are, EDGAR stands for the SEC's "Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval" system. The SEC decided to require electronic filings over a decade ago so that investors would have easy access to the most current financial information about public companies. You can find additional EDGAR search options as well as descriptions of SEC form
types
on the SEC website.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Globalcourts.com

InSite recently wrote about the Globalcourts.com website. The purpose of the website "is to serve as a guide for researchers and legal practitioners seeking information on Supreme Court decisions from around the World." From Insite:
The product of Chief Judge Stein Schjøberg in Norway, GlobalCourts also provides information on e-filing, e-courtrooms, and e-judicial decision support systems, although the emphasis of the site remains on court opinions. These are organized both alphabetically, and by geographic region. Due to the rapidly changing Internet environment, some of the links are broken. However, the author encourages suggestions and comments and his email is freely given (use the Moss Tingrett address). This site is a welcome tool for locating Supreme Court jurisprudence around the globe.

Friday, June 16, 2006

e-Qaeda

The Washington Post has created it's e-Qaeda page. This is "[a] special report on how jihadists use the Internet and technology to spread their message." The site includes video clips and related document.

From Librarians' Internet Index.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Searchable Database of Congressional Documents

Rutgers School of Law has recently announced the launch of a new searchable archive of selected U.S. Congressional documents. From the site:
This is a full-text archive of selected documents of the United States Congress from the collection of the Rutgers - Camden School of Law. Hearings included in this online collection date from the 1970's to 1998.

This is an ongoing work in progress. We will be adding new material from out print collection as it becomes ready for the next several years.

From beSpacific.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

List of U.S. Supreme Court Law Clerks

A list of U.S. Supreme Court law clerks, including clerks for current and past Justices, has been compiled on Wikipedia. The list many not be entirely complete, and the usual reliability concerns about Wikipedia should be kept in mind; however, it's a very interesting resource.

From beSpacific.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Presidential Signing Statements

A presidential signing statement is a statement made by the president when he approves or vetos a proposed bill. You can find these statements (along with other presidential documents) in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. The Weekly Complilation is available back to 1993 online from GPO Access. HeinOnline subscribers have online access back to volume 1 (1965).

Signing statements are also included in the Public Papers of the Presidents and the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.).

Want to learn what all of the current controversy over Presidential Signing Statements is about? Then check out Vox Bibliothecae's collection of recommended readings.

Friday, June 09, 2006

CIA Releases Additional Nazi War Crimes Documents

The National Archives Website describes the second document release:
CIA Name Files and Subject Files compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency in response to the Disclosure Acts. These files are comprised of documentation from several CIA filing systems and are organized under the names of individuals and subjects. As of May 2006 this group consists of approximately 27,000 pages of files on individuals and subjects, including biographies, correspondence, reports, memorandums, messages, telegrams, publications, clippings, dispatches, translations, transcripts, legislative records, legal documents, statements, lists, and other records. Many of the records relate to people in one, or both, of two categories: Axis personnel accused of committing war crimes, or of belonging to criminal organizations, during the World War II; and former Axis personnel who were used by the U.S. as intelligence sources during the Cold War.

From beSpacific.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Finding Legal Blogs

Moritz Alum, Ian Best, has made it easier to find blogs on a wide variety of legal topics. Check out his Taxonomy of Legal Blogs. Other ways to find a legal blog:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Amending the Constitution

The Senate is currently considering an amendment to the US Constitution. How would a legal researcher find the proposed amendment? Proposed amendments are introduced as joint resolutions and are available on Thomas. You can browse bills and resolutions here. You can search for a specific amendment using Thomas' bill text search. If you can too many results, it may help to include the terms "proposing an amendment."

Learn more about the process of amending the constitution and failed constitutional amendments from Lexis.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Court Webcasts

This blog keeps track of courts that webcasts proceedings (look along the right hand side of the page). Why should legal researchers watch these webcasts?
  • Determine whether the court is "hot" (asks many questions) or "cold" (asks few questions) to prepare for oral argument
  • Find similar cases (from your state or another state) to determine what issues concerned the judges
  • Learn about the etiquette and procedures for a court before appearing there

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why use a Secondary Source?

Now that many of our students are out doing research in law firms and other legal settings, they are learning the real value of secondary sources. Why should a legal researcher use a secondary source?

  • a secondary source may provide an overview of the law. This is important so that the researcher uses the right terms while searching and will know what's important while sifting through the cases.
  • a secondary source might provide the answer to your question. Do you need to know what the exceptions to the statute of frauds are? I bet your state encyclopedia has a nice summary of the rule along with its exceptions.
  • secondary sources provide links or references to important cases. Sure it's great if you find a recent trial level case that proves your point, but it's even better if you can find the state supreme court case that established the rule.

Top 10 List for New Law Firm Associates

An article on Law.com offers the Top 10 Things Law Librarians Want New Associates to Know. It's a nice list. Law students and new attorneys should definitely check it out.

From Santa Clara Heafey Headnotes Blog.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Inclusion International

InSite recently wrote about the Inclusion International website. It looks like a nice resource for international disability information. From InSite:
Inclusion International (II) is "a global federation of family-based
organizations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide." II, one of the largest non-governmental organizations devoted to disabilities, is officially recognized by the United Nations. Working with numerous international agencies, including the International Labour Organization, II promotes inclusiveness in policy, practice, and investment strategies. The II website is organized into numerous sections describing the group's various projects and initiatives, and offering its publications and other documents. One of the significant initiatives is the International Disability Alliance (IDA), in which II networks with several other international organizations. On the page devoted to the IDA, users will find numerous links to full-text United Nations and other international documents pertaining to disabled persons. Links to II's priority areas are listed in a separate section and include poverty reduction, inclusive education, and self-advocacy. On each priority area page, users will find explanation and links to additional documents, such as slide presentations, reports, and briefing notes. Be sure to use the site guide and site map for help negotiating the extensive content. The II site is available in English, French and Spanish.