New Law Library LibGuide: Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School

CalmingIn the frenetic rush toward Thanksgiving and finals season, it may seem like you have no time for anything, but don’t forget to take a moment clear your mind, and take a deep breath. Lawyers increasingly are turning to mindfulness and meditation to relieve stress, to help them focus their attention on the present and their clients’ needs, and to stay in control in difficult situations. The Ross-Blakley Law Library’s new research guide on Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School helps Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law students join this beneficial professional trend, sharpen your focus for finals, and feel better about yourself and others. It offers information about fully secular meditation practices, with resources to explain how and why it works, and how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine. Guides for mindful study and writing can help students succeed academically through improved focus. Organizations such as the Zen Law Students Association (ZLSA), as well as resources such as guided meditations, can make meditation part of students’ routine.

Exams, seminar papers, grad writing requirements, and final memo drafts are igniting signal flares to demand focused attention. But, try as we might to devote ourselves to study, we all find ourselves mentally juggling family and professional obligations, social commitments, personal interests, and mental noise—from innocent pop song earworms to destructive self-doubt.

It is natural to feel some pressure during law school, just as it’s natural for the mind to wander. Without grades to indicate how well we have mastered the law, what would motivate us to push as hard as we do to succeed? It’s challenging training to prepare for a challenging, rewarding profession.

Regular meditation practice can reshape your mind in many ways, improving concentration, awareness, and compassion while reducing stress and anxiety. Even if you’re not regularly practicing, taking a break to breathe can help you manage in times of increased pressure. Here are instructions to get you started, adapted from The Anxious Lawyer co-author Jeena Cho on the legal blog Above the Bar:

  1. Sit on the floor or a cushion with your legs crossed in front of you, upright with your spine straight. Your arms should be relaxed with your hands resting on your knees. (Palms may face downward or upward depending on your preference.) Alternatively, you may sit in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your feet firmly on the floor. You can also meditate lying down if that is most comfortable.
  2. Close your eyes or allow their focus to soften, and take a deep breath or two. Feel your body make contact with your surroundings, and feel the tension in your shoulders relax as you exhale deeply.
  3. Pay attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of the air.
  4. Your mind will likely wander. Don’t fret or mentally reprimand yourself; visualize the thought dissipating and return your focus to your breath. Our brains are made to produce thoughts, and law students will have a lot on their minds, particularly around finals.
  5. Alternative methods of focusing the brain include mentally expressing gratitude, repeating a word or phrase, or focusing attention on sensations throughout the body.
  6. You can set a goal to meditation for 5 to 10 minutes or more, but even short, calming breaks can provide rest and peace.

For more, stress-relieving help with your studies, memos, papers, and employer research, make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian. Some of our librarians on staff regularly engage in mindfulness and meditation practices, and Andrea Gass (algass@asu.edu) would be happy to provide more information on how ZLSA and our mindfulness resources can help you.

Andrea Gass, Law Library Fellow

Metadata: A Short Practical Primer & Why It Is Important to a Law Student or Lawyer

MetadataWhat is it?
For e-discovery purposes, the term metadata generally refers to information about an electronic file (email message, MS Office document, audio/video file, etc.) that is stored in the underlying contents of the file. While some of this information may appear on the face of a document, such as the file date or file name, there can be hundreds of additional metadata values that are not readily accessible without the use of technology to extract them. Some metadata values are easily updated by a document’s custodian, such as the file author or file name for an MS Word document. Other metadata values, such as a file’s date last modified, are computer generated and not available for manual input or manipulation. Diane Quick, Don’t Forget about Me(tadata), 25 Pretrial Prac. & Discovery 9 (2017).

Why is it important to a law student or lawyer?
Metadata can be exceptionally useful at a later date if you’ve organized it properly.  In fact, metadata was how they captured the famous BTK Killer in 2004.  It can tell you when, who, and where a piece of information was created or modified.  Actually, it can tell you basically anything – there’s no limit to the number of fields that someone could record in the metadata of (for example) a document or picture.

The problem arises when you unknowingly pass metadata to someone who you would prefer did not have that information.  Here are a couple of hypotheticals to illustrate:

  • You are working for an attorney during your first internship. The attorney emails you an MS Word pleading to use as a template for a declaration you’re about to prepare.  In that template’s metadata fields there is confidential information about another client.  You email the declaration to opposing counsel who opens it and now has access to that confidential information.
  • Your client provides you with electronic information (pictures, MS Word documents, etc.) for your case. During the eDiscovery process, your supervisor has you send hundreds of files to opposing counsel.  You did not remove the metadata from the files and end up sending along incriminating, sensitive, or privileged evidence to the opposition.
  • Your supervisor gives you a PDF contract template to prepare a contract for a new client. You spend hours meticulously drafting the perfect agreement to impress the client and your supervisor… but you forget to remove the metadata from the old agreement.  The new client sees the other client’s name and exclaims, “You attorneys are all crooks!  You’re just reusing the same boilerplate contract and charging me thousands of dollars!”

Note: If you’re working in Arizona, the State Bar has explicitly stated that opposing counsel cannot mine for embedded metadata to bring as evidence…. but how would you ever know if they had?

Current Legal Issues:
Can you take advantage of opposing counsel’s laziness regarding metadata during the discovery process?

Riccardo Tremolada, The Legal Ethics of Metadata: Accidental Discovery of Inadvertently Sent Metadata and the Ethics of Taking Advantage of Others’ Mistakes, 25 Rich. J.L. & Tech. 1 (2019).

Bulk biometric metadata and police surveillance:

Margaret Hu, Bulk Biometric Metadata Collection, 96 N.C. L. Rev. 1425 (2018).

Regulation by metadata-mining algorithms (robots):

Cary Coglianese; David Lehr, Regulating by Robot: Administrative Decision Making in the Machine-Learning Era, 105 Geo. L.J. 1147 (2017)

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

New HeinOnline Database Alert: State Constitutions Illustrated

The State Constitutions Illustrated database is a treasure trove of information on constitutional histories.  It has a clean, simple interface that allows the user to find primary documentation about how the United States acquired each state in the union.  This new database is the helpful, local friend of the World Constitutions Illustrated that you may have seen in the Advanced Legal Research classes.

From HeinOnline, “Containing the text of every constitution that has been in force for every state with the original, consolidated and current texts and an extensive collection of documents from before statehood, State Constitutions Illustrated provides comprehensive coverage and allows researchers to compare multiple editions from multiple sources. It currently has nearly 9,000 historical and current constitutions and constitutional documents.”

heinLooking for more information about how a state came into being?  This database has an archive on each state that includes pre-territorial documents relating to other nations.

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Would you like to read materials from pre-statehood, including colonial charters, laws, and royal instructions for the original thirteen colonies; treaties, territorial laws, and federal acts for the other states?

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Here’s how to navigate to the database from the Ross-Blakley Law Library’s homepage:

Our Arizona Constitutional History Bibliography is also a great resource for researching Arizona constitutional history.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

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

Blazing Your Research Trail SmallerWe’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. Safeway? Annoyer 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, Law Library Fellow

Our Law Librarians’ Reach is Far

Our law librarians’ reach is FarThis past summer a group of students at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law participated in the Timor-Leste internship program. One of the interns, Alexandria Saquella, was working under the Parliamentary Watch Project. Her specific assignment involved anti-corruption legislation. Even though she was 8,395 miles away from the law school, feeling pressure from the gravity of the work, she turned to Reference Librarians Tara Mospan and Beth DiFelice for expert assistance. I was so afraid of making a mistake or giving the wrong information, Saquella said. But thankfully, we have amazing librarians here at the law school who know how to do international research. This is information that doesn’t just come up on Google. There are specific ways to find these laws and see how they’re applied. So I was communicating with our librarians a lot and they were incredibly helpful.

Via Zoom and email communications, the law librarians provided the help Saquella needed to make her internship impactful and successful. So whether you are on the other side of the globe, at home, or studying in the law school, the Law Library staff is available and happy to help you: Meet with a Librarian, Ask a Librarian, Reference Desk Hours.

You can read more about Timor-Leste internship program here:  International internship gives ASU Law students opportunity to impact democracy in developing country

Five Reasons Why You Should Make CALI Your Study Partner

caliCALI 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: Using CALI

#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.

To access CALI, click here: Using CALI

Holistic Student Development: Studies, Social Events, and Professional Development

HolisticStudying, cold calls, and exams constitute just one important aspect of the law school experience. Landing a dream clerkship, government placement, or law firm associate position will be easier for students who get involved with your fellow students and professors at the law school, as well as with practicing attorneys and judges.

Getting prepared for your mixers and interviews is an important skill to develop during your law school career. You have already begun to form the professional networks that will help you succeed in the profession. And it’s important to make a good impression in the classroom, through the student organizations, and—especially—at the interview table.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library provides a number of tools to help students fulfill their professional dreams.

  1. Background research for professional opportunities: We understand how to use the research tools of the trade, including the new litigation analytics tools within Westlaw and Lexis, to help you land and prepare for a big clerkship or job interview.
  2. Study and research aid: We have an extensive collection of study materials and the expertise to help students select the proper guides for their situations. For students with a commute on the light rail, CALI’s podcasts may be the right fit. For students with plenty of time to build a thorough understanding of the material, Examples & Explanations is a perfect fit. For those who need a faster, more accessible overview, the Acing series can help. Before a midterm or a final, Crunch Time helps visual and experiential learners thrive.
  3. In-depth understanding of your practice area: We have tools geared toward specific areas of law you can use to build expertise in your field to improve your performance on the job, in interviews, and in the social scene. Meet with a librarian to get started!
  4. Research skill building: After you land in a placement, your attention will turn to making a good impression and building your professional career. We provide student-driven, efficient training tips that can help you make a splash as a thorough, efficient researcher and writer. Meet with a librarian to get an edge.

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has numerous resources to help all of its students thrive academicallysocially, and professionallyCareer Services provides amazing support to help students enter the profession, from fashion tips to interview guidance.

Andrea Gass’s office is Room 350E, behind the Law Library circulation desk on the third floor. She welcomes visitors and questions: algass@asu.edu, 480-965-2521.

Making the Most of Midterms

My Post (2)Midterm season is just around the corner. Too soon, you say? As a law library fellow and self-described 4L, I remember the olden days of 2016 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 provides Exam Pro practice questions for multiple-choice and essay exam practice, and Mastering the 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!)
  1. 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.
  1. 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, research fellow, doesn’t have to take midterms or finals anymore, but she still gets all the fun of life at ASU law. How great is that?

Spotlight on New Law Library Resources: BLASE – Sports and Entertainment Law

Greetings from your resident ELECTRONIC Resources Librarian for a Spotlight on New Law Library Resources.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. – Muhammad Ali

Want to be a sports law champion?  Then you need to train your research skills to be able to competently represent your clients. Luckily for you we’ve added an all-star player to our database roster and I think you’re going to like the way they perform in the upcoming seasons: BLASE.

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What is it?
A massive database of information all centered around sports and Entertainment law.  It has books, scholarly articles, congressional documents, important cases, legislative histories, etc.  It intended to be a one-stop-shop for all of your sports law needs.

How to I get to it?
Please see the video below.  Soon many of these titles will be integrated into the ASU catalog.  Until then, you must access them through HeinOnline:

How do I use it?
That’s a great question and it depends on your purpose.  If you’re looking for case law, they’ve got a meticulously sorted list of sports topics that you can choose from:  everything from Agents, to Horseracing, to Olympics and Golf.  They’ve collected these cases into neat categories so you don’t have to scour Lexis and Westlaw to find them.

Looking to drill-down on the Athlete Agents Act NCCUSL?   They’ve got a mini-collection of committee meeting reports, agendas, state by state violations, and (of course) drafts of the final act.

If you’re looking to stay up-to-date on current events, they have a robust collection of sports law periodicals and magazines.

(Pro-Tip: if you click the image box, it will convert the PDF original to a text format so you can cut-and-paste.  This works for nearly all HeinOnline PDFs.)

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And take a look at the Law Library’s Sports Law LibGuide.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Demaine and the Law Behind the Mind

In addition to teaching her first-year Torts classes and upper-level courses on Cults & Alternative Religions and seminars, Professor Linda Demaine has developed a body of published work on liability issues and the interplay between the human mind, the law, and the court system.

In The Psychology of Intellectual Property Law, A book written with ASU Law Professor Aaron Fellmeth and due to be published this year, Professor Demaine explores how the law of intellectual property—names, artworks, trademarks, and inventions of the human mind—tracks (and departs from) the science of psychology. Earlier this year, Professor Demaine provided the preface to the book The Psychology of Family Law. There, she discussed the unfortunate limitations on the legal profession’s ability to embrace scientific research in other fields despite the remarkable improvements to judicial understanding of eyewitnesses, confessions, and its potential to improve legal doctrine governing marriage, divorce, and parenthood. Previously, Professor Demaine contributed to The Civil-Military Gap in the United States, a book that explores the potential impact of divergent views between military leaders and civilian elites on U.S. military effectiveness.

Professor Demaine has produced numerous law journal articles. Most recently, in Seeing Is Deceiving: The Tacit Deregulation of Deceptive Advertising, Professor Demaine discussed the potentially misleading impact of federal regulations that concentrate mostly on the truthfulness of words in advertising despite advertisers’ increasing reliance on less-regulated visual images. In Navigating Policy by the Stars: The Influence of Celebrity Entertainers on Federal Lawmaking, she analyzes the problems associated with entertainers testifying in Congress to influence policy. In Search of the Anti-Elephant: Confronting the Human Inability to Forget Inadmissible Evidence examines the threats to justice associated with judicial reliance on instructions to juries to disregard evidence they should not have known of, a practice whose merits are hotly debated but potentially dubious.

Earlier, in “Playing Doctor” with the Patient’s Spouse: Alternative Conceptions of Health Professional Liability she analyzed the effects of refusing to extend to all medical professionals a ban on sexual relations that stands between psychiatrists and psychologists with regard to their patients. Reinventing the Double Helix: A Novel and Nonobvious Reconceptualization of the Biotechnology Patent, a Stanford Law Review piece she co-authored with Professor Fellmeth explored the scope and purpose of patent law, and whether including biochemicals such as naturally occurring DNA sequences that are “isolated and purified” by human ingenuity should be considered intellectual property.

You can read Professor Demaine’s scholarship in the Law Library’s Faculty Scholarship Repository. If you have interest in tort, legal-scientific, or intellectual property research, the reference librarians can help you get started on an article of your own. Stop by the third floor reference desk or make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Law Library Fellow