Reference Services Survey – Win a Prize!

We need your help. We are assessing the Law Library’s reference services during these unprecedented times. We want to ensure you are receiving the help you need, whether it is finding a resource, using databases, citation help, or anything else. Your feedback on this short survey will enable us to serve you better. 

Take the survey here: Reference Services Survey

If you take the survey and provide us with your email address, you will be entered into a drawing for the prize of your choice. 

The deadline to complete the survey is November 3rd.

Thank you for your help and have a great rest of your semester. 

The Law Library is Here for You Over Fall Break

The reference librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are happy to help you find or navigate research resources. You can connect with us via Zoom, Chat, and Meet with a Librarian. You can also send us an email or give us a call.

Zoom Reference
Meet with a Librarian
Chat with a Librarian
Email a Librarian
Call Us: 480-965-6144

Have a great fall break!

Five Reasons Why You Should Make CALI Your Study Partner

CALI Lessons are online interactive tutorials that cover narrow topics of law. CALI publishes over 1,000 lessons covering 40 different legal subject areas. These lessons have been used over 10 million times by law students over the years. To access CALI, click here.

#1- CALI Lessons are another way to learn the law.
CALI Lessons are another way to learn the law. They are interactive web-based tutorials that both teach and apply your understanding of what you just read. You learn the law from casebook readings, faculty instruction, and from supplements. Many commercial supplements are not written by law faculty and are simplified and watered down versions of the law. CALI Lessons are not. CALI Lessons present hypothetical situations and then quiz you on your understanding using follow-up questions and branching to make sure you got the right answer for the right reasons.

#2- CALI Lessons are a formative assessment for you.
Do you want to make sure you are understanding what you study? The only way to be sure is to assess and CALI lessons provide a form of self-assessment. You get feedback on every question – whether you get it right or wrong – and you get a final score that tells you how you are doing on a specific legal topic.

#3- CALI Lessons are interactive and engaging.
CALI Lessons are not videos that you passively watch. The material is modeled on Socratic Dialogue where a question is asked, you answer the question, and then various aspects of the topic are explored. CALI Lessons are written by tenured law faculty with many years of teaching experience (law librarians author the legal research lessons). The lessons purposefully steer you into thinking about the topic in a nuanced way.

#4- CALI Lessons are rigorous.
It is difficult to get a perfect score on most CALI Lessons the first time through. Law is complex and CALI lessons dive into that complexity. Each lesson covers a specific topic without getting too broad in scope. The questions are tough and require serious thought from the student. A typical lesson takes 20 to 40 minutes for a student to complete. You can take lessons multiple times to improve your understanding.

#5- CALI Lessons are a good learning appetizer or an excellent learning dessert.
CALI Lessons are an excellent learning experience as a first bite at the material. They prepare you for class or subsequent readings. The material is brief and rigorous exposing you to the concepts and nomenclature of a topic without being drilled and practiced to death. In addition, CALI Lessons are excellent for study after class (alone or in a study group), after the casebook readings, or for studying for the final exam. They provide immediate and substantive feedback that can direct you to the places where further study is required.

Racial Justice Resource Guide

This past summer we launched the new Racial Justice Resource Guide. The guide focuses on resources provided to you by the Ross-Blakley Law Library and also to external resources to support our community in considering racial justice and reconciliation. The guide’s focus is on resources concerning racial justice in the United States including information about:

National Social Justice Organizations
Local Social Justice Organizations and Government Entities
Resources for Protesters
Research Resources including Databases, Books, Law Reviews and Journals
U.S. Federal Government Hearings and Reports

We are always here to help you. If you have questions about accessing resources or want to discuss these subjects in more depth, feel free to Ask a Librarian or make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian via Zoom.

Making the Most of Midterms

Midterm season is just around the corner. Too soon, you say? I remember the olden days of 2016 when I was a law student walking into my torts final with only an outline, some grim prophecies, and uncertainty, because newfangled midterms hadn’t spread to my section yet.

Midterms are your crystal ball showing your future exam-taking self, and a window to the essence of your learning style. They may be more important in informing and adjusting your study habits to achieve your academic apotheosis in December than their nudge to your final grade. Some students have taken them without much extra study just to see how well they can do on just regular, daily reading. But, of course, many of us are type-A achievers, so here are some tips from the Ross Blakley Law Library to help you excel.

  1. Study aids for exam practice: The book Getting to Maybe has helped many budding lawyers learn to thrive in a field laden with slippery “it depends” answers instead of familiar, concrete facts. Crunch Time, on Wolters Kluwer provides flow charts, multiple choice, short answer, and essay exam questions. West Academic’s Exam Pro Series provides practice questions for multiple-choice and essay exam practice, and Mastering the Law School Exam for tips that will help you throughout law school. CALI offers podcasts featuring panels of experts on outlining, time management, exam prep, and the grading process.

  2. Meet with a Librarian about your open memo to buy yourself valuable study time for other classes: We can help you navigate Westlaw and Lexis to find all relevant good law efficiently and thoroughly.

  3. Take past exams to prepare: Thinking like a lawyer involves more than just repeating memorized knowledge. Unexpected scenarios will test your ability to apply and analyze the law. The library’s Past Exams archive can help; even if it’s not from your professor, authentic issue-spotting exams offer invaluable practice in Civ Pro, Torts, Contracts, and upper-level classes. (Of course, when you come across questions that might be clearly outside the scope of your class, don’t sweat them and move on!)

  4. Refine your outline: Making an outline is probably the best way to study legal doctrine and make the connections between the rule of law and the court’s reasoning. ASU’s past outlines are most useful to check your own work as you process your notes and readings. Your classes’ teaching assistants can help you resolve discrepancies.

  5. Breathe: Remember that no one exam will make or break your professional dreams, not even the ones you’ll take in December. Good luck!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Blazing Your Research Trail: Tracking the Law as You Read It

We’ve all been there.

An ember of a memory of the perfect case we read a few days ago faintly glows. It’s the tantalizing last vestige of a good things whose value we failed to recognize as we allowed it to drift, unmoored to the abyss and become the buried treasure in the mental junkyard of jurisprudence.

Cases we too hastily reject may not be lost forever. We can find traces of them through labor-intensive analysis of our research history on our commercial research databases, or we might wade into the depths of our internet browsing history. We might have names at the tip of our tongue: Hammer v. SafewayAnnoyer v. Peff? But mining the lost, mislaid, or abandoned gems becomes especially taxing as all of our free time dries up and pressure to outline and submit drafts begins to mount.

There are ways to make sure you don’t wander lost along your research trail again!

  1. Keep a research log. This can be handwritten or recorded in. Even if you cross off a case or other source because it doesn’t seem to have much connection to your legal issue at first blush, the law can take you strange places, and you may want to revisit them later. Pro tip: Track the case name, key facts, holding, and key reasoning to create explanatory parentheticals efficiently later.
  2. Follow a trusted secondary source. It’s dangerous to go alone! Long, convoluted case opinions are trying to resolve a legal dispute, where legal treatises, encyclopedias, and hornbooks succinctly and efficiently explain how legal rules operate in practice. Researching beginning with cases can lead you down unfortunate rabbit holes.
  3. Highlights, notes, folders, and sharing. Legal research databases function similarly. You can access materials saved in your folders by clicking “folders” from the Westlaw homepage. To highlight and take notes in Westlaw, just select a passage of text and when you let go, you’ll have an option to highlight or make a note. You can then save your highlighted, annotated case into a folder, where your notes will be preserved. Lexis has similar features, with the history button on its homepage and in the top bar on every page, and with the “Folders” button hidden under the “More” option in the top right corner. Both databases enable you to copy passages into Word or Excel documents by highlighting them and clicking on Copy with Reference (Westlaw) or Copy (Advanced) (Lexis).
  4. You can Meet with a Librarian to get tips on how to use secondary sources, folders, highlights, and notes to preserve important discoveries from your journey toward a completed memo or the graduate writing requirement.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Connect with Us via Zoom, Chat, and Meet with a Librarian

The reference librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are happy to help you find or navigate research resources. We are now available to help you virtually. Watch these quick videos to learn how you can connect with us.

Connect with us today!

Zoom Reference
Meet with a Librarian
Chat with a Librarian
Email a Librarian
Call Us: 480-965-6144

Seven Reasons to Meet with a Librarian About Your Open Memo

  1. We can help you navigate research resources and identify relevant information quickly: We are here to show you ways to narrow down search results to cases and statutes pertaining to your legal issue without tedious, time-wasting trial and error using search bars. Taking advantage of tools such as annotations, headnotes, and secondary sources on Lexis and Westlaw can save you valuable time for your other classes.

  2. We have J.D.s, and we understand the process. The librarians have all been through law school, and understand the process of writing open memos. Our primary focus at the library is you, and we can help you succeed. Use our Meet with a Librarian form to set up an appointment in our private offices behind the circulation desk on the third floor.

  3. We are within the bounds of the Honor Code: We won’t read your writing, and your professors are happy to let us help.

  4. We can help you get used to Bluebook’s blue rules, white rules, and tables: Legal citation will become second nature as you practice during your 1L year, but we understand that it has a lot of unfamiliar intricacies. We can identify resources that will be helpful in your citation practice, such as the Interactive Citation Workstation exercises, Examples & Explanations (see Appendix B), and Legal Citation in a Nutshell. We can also guide you through the Bluebook’s rules and help you answer questions.

  5. CRuPAC, CREAC, IRAC, or IREAC? We can help you find resources, such as textbooksstudy aids and examples to organize your writing, whether you have a single, in-depth issue or need to analyze a variety of sub-issues.

  6. You will likely start working this summer or next fall: The lessons we provide in efficiently and thoroughly researching only the relevant legal issues will help you in practice. For now, it might seem like the only concern is reading and going to class—and that should be your primary concern—but our research tips will help you long after you turn in your research memo and start looking to build real-world legal experience for your resume.

  7. We can introduce you to materials that can help you succeed in your other classes too! Struggling with Civ Pro? Concerned about Contracts? Troubled by Torts? Need some peace of mind? Learn better with audio you can listen to on the light rail? The law library has a wide variety of study aids to appeal to your particular learning style, and you can make an appointment with the librarians for help.

Take if from someone who could have used a lot more efficiency during her 1L research projects: You should Meet with a Librarian early on for your open memo. The time you save trying to navigate Westlaw and Lexis alone will be more than worth the 20-30 minutes for your appointment!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Find What You Need: One Search and the Library Catalog

In the video below, we will explain how to perform searches and interact with the library’s catalog. This will cover library borrowing policies and the (enormous) scope of content available to you as both a member of ASU community and Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. We cover keyword searches, course reserves, the catalog of print and online items ASU Library owns, and microform materials.

If you need assistance, you may chat with us, send us an email, or make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian via Zoom.

Speedy and Thorough: Research Tips for Time-squeezed 1Ls

At the end of June 2017, I finished my 1L year at ASU by sleepily turning in my final memo for Intensive Legal Research and Writing. After the All-Journal Write-on Exam, thirty writing assignments in one month instilled a sense of urgency in my legal research: I want it done fast and I want it done well the first time. My friends and I pulled off several all-nighters in that great class working on objective memos, persuasive motions, informative client letters, and tough-talking demand letters to learn the following lessons:

Look for ambiguities: A lot of the most interesting discussions in law come in the gray areas—where the law and the facts are not entirely settled or clear. This “it depends” territory can create interesting analytical puzzles for you to solve in your memo: you will want to show that you can see both sides to an argument, and you will want to demonstrate the critical reasoning skills to form a solid conclusion.

Seek secondary sources: If they’re available, secondary sources on your legal issue can quickly set you on the right path for your research. Not only can they provide a quick explanation of the law and an overview of the factors courts consider in deciding on those legal issues, but they list primary law that you will want to analyze. It’s tempting to want to “save time” by diving into the statutes and case law directly, but a little advance reading can make research a lot faster, easier, and more complete.

For relevant case law, use headnotes, KeyCites, and Citing Decisions rather than trying to “Google” everything: Lawyers at Lexis and Westlaw have analyzed cases and the legal issues they contain and have grouped together related authority to help legal researchers perform faster, more thorough research than keyword searching alone. In Lexis, when you find your legal issue, you can click “Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote” to find more relevant authority. In Westlaw, KeyCites will arrange the legal areas and issues that a headnote addresses, from general to specific. Click on the KeyCite codes for more relevant authority.

For statutes, start by looking at the statute, and find secondary sources from there: Underneath the statutory text, Lexis will break apart the statute into the key legal issues it addresses. If you find one of the issues that your memo is intended to address, you get a quick, one-line summary of a judicial interpretation of the statute, along with a link to a case that could be super-relevant. In Westlaw, you can find similar information in the Notes of Decisions tab at the top of the page, and navigate to helpful secondary sources that will collect relevant case law, such as the ALR Library, underneath the Context & Analysis tab.

CREAC tips: When you’re explaining a precedent case, it may not be enough to list the facts the court considered and tell the reader how the court ruled. You want to analyze why the court ruled the way it did on a variety of factors. Contrasting and comparing the facts in your writing prompt will then much more clearly indicate to the reader whether or not a particular ruling will further the legal principle at issue.

We are here to help. Meet with a Librarian today!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian