3L Walter G. Johnson Wins Highly Respected Burton Award

Walter Johnson Burton Award

A huge congratulations to 3L Walter G. Johnson on winning the most revered and highly respected Burton Award. The Burton Awards program is designed to reward major achievements in the law, ranging from literary awards to the greatest reform in law. The Burton Awards academic board selects ten law school students a year to honor with their distinguished legal writing award. Johnson won the Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award for his paper Governance Rules for Second Quantum Revolution, 59 Jurimetrics 487 (2019). He also won first place for the same paper in last year’s Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research.

Winning authors of the Burton literary awards display a true understanding and mastery of the law as well as clear, cogent, and concise writing. The Burton Awards program is held in association with the Library of Congress, presented by lead sponsor Law360, and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association. The awards are generally selected by professors from Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, and Columbia Law School, among others. The award ceremonies are held annually in the spring at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Well done Walter!

New Law Library Guide Helps Job-Seeking Law Students Do Homework on Employers

Job GuideNo matter how glorious your resume and transcript or how many glowing recommendations you collect, you have to know a lot about a job opportunity to let your employers know that you want it and are right for the position. Success in the legal job market, as in law school, takes a lot of homework.

And we at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are here to help! Our new Law Employment Research Guide job seeking law students and graduates, Employment Research, compiles resources to help get tabs on law firms, to land a clerkship with a judge, or just to build essential lawyering skills such as networking and compiling contracts.

The Researching Law Firms tab gathers resources to help you get a feel for how your potential employer operates, and how you can set yourself up to be its most appealing interviewee. Litigation analytics tools give you insight into practice areas, specialties, biographical details about attorneys. Legal news resources can help you brush up to keep the conversation flowing. Books give you background information on legal employment opportunities, and advice on your application materials and interviewing strategies. Online resources provide general career tips, and other online tools help you get a more complete picture of the life and culture of a law firm before you try to dive in.

The Clerkship Interviews tab features litigation analytics on judges, their histories of motions, and the practice areas in which they tend to work. Books and legal news will help you connect with your judge on a human and intellectual level, and advice on finding your judge’s opinions will help you get more personal. Online resources help you find openings and land your clerkship.

Finally, the Professional Development tab includes resources to help you build the skills to be a more effective attorney, and to be a better-known job candidate. Networking opportunities resources will help you connect with different facets of the legal community to build a higher profile that can translate into job opportunities. Books will help with the transition from law school to legal practice, keeping yourself happy and balanced as you meet the challenges of life as an attorney. Finally, practical job preparedness and practice tools can give you a leg up on the job, gathering resources that can help you operate effectively and efficiently.

If you make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian, we can give you some pointers on research tools to uncover the information you will need to wow your future employers in cover letters and interviews. And make an appointment with Career Services for more detailed assistance on landing a job and developing professionally. Good luck on all your interviews to come!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Congratulations to the 3L Haiku Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered. The judging was difficult but we did manage to pick two winners.

Drum roll…and the winners are:

Haiku Contest Winner 2020

Thank you to Prof. Noreuil for his inspiring Haiku and for signing the prizes which are copies of his book The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam. All the entries are below. Good luck to everyone taking the Bar Exam. We know you will do great!

What is the bar, friend?
Studying, books, law law law
But in truth? Coffee.
-Nick Walter

Let’s pass our finals,
Kill it on the Bar Exam,
And be great lawyers.
-Heather Martin

Oh the dread I feel
But hope’s on the horizon
I’m prepared to win
-Austin Cromack

Become a lawyer.
All it takes is two days, right?
Really — stop whining.
-Jenny Adams

Want to graduate,
but I know waiting for me
is a big gut punch.
-Austin Marshall

The bar will be hard
It is stressful and tricky
but lunch will be free
-Basil D’Souza

Oh god oh god oh
God oh god oh *coffee* god
Oh god oh god oh
-Andrew Weber

Was it all worth it?
Countless hours, books, funds, and tears
The bar will decide
-Andrew Weber

The Monkey Bar, Hang
A life in Cartoon Motion
The Bar Exam, BANG!
-Salvador Navarro

It is time to shine.
The bar test will be just fine.
Trust in you this time!
– Jordan Buckwald

West Academic Study Aids: New Interactive Study Resources Provide Instant Feedback

West Academic has a new, interactive resource to provide instant feedback as you prepare for final exams. The popular Exam Pro Objective series, featuring multiple choice practice questions for core law school subjects, now has an interactive quiz feature that provides a modern spin on exam prep.
exam pro
Click on “Take Quiz” in the bottom right corner of the gray box containing the book title and image. This opens the page containing multiple practice exams of twenty-five questions each. Click on “start” or “continue” to take a quiz.

There, you will find the multiple-choice questions that students have long used to prepare for multiple choice exams in a different format. You may skip questions and return to them by clicking “back” or “next,” or end the quiz early to view feedback. Each time you submit an answer you will get instant feedback on whether you chose the best answer, and an explanation for why your selection was or was not correct.

This format can help you prepare for your final exams in law school, and possibly the biggest exam of all: the bar. Some bar preparation materials have a similar online format, so you can get a jump-start on clearing the final hurdles on the way to becoming an attorney.

If you need any help accessing West Academic, or advice on research for your brief, journal note, or grad writing requirement, feel free to Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Update on Wolters Kluwer Study Aids: New 1L Videos and More

If you haven’t visited Wolters Kluwer Study Aids in a while, you should.  They have completely modernized and retooled their user-interface to improve your experience.


In addition to revamping the interface, they have created a series of Quimbee-style videos on a number of 1L topics: Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Business Organizations, etc.  The videos are broken down in bite-sized topics (e.g. Criminal Law > Conspiracy) and are usually around 2-5 minutes in length.  They are a great way to supplement your studying with audio/visual materials . The “Videos” tab is directly below the search bar.


Wolters Kluwer is also home to the famously popular Examples and Explanation Series.  Many professors recommend this series to their students and it is a favorite student study aid whether in print or online. The law library provides you with access to both Wolters Kluwer and West Academic so save your hard-earned money and create accounts for these two services before you purchase a study aid.


If you are looking to test your knowledge before finals and are struggling to find model essays (with answers) to practice on, Wolter Kluwer hosts the Friedman’s Practice Series.  This series has eBooks for all of your 1L courses (and many 2L/3L courses) and has both practice multiple choice questions and practice essays – with model answers and issue-spotting outlines for the essays.


Remember: To access this resource you must go through the proxy link (below) and create an account while on the ASU campus wi-fi before you will be able to access the eBooks at home.  This is the proxy link you must use (bookmark it!):


If you have any trouble accessing these resources don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  If you’d like an in-person demonstration to any of these resources, Make an Appointment with a Librarian for a  one-on-one walk-through.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Practically Attorneys: Tools for Efficient Legal Work

Pratically AttorneysBy now, all of us in law school are familiar with using Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg to find case law, statutes, and secondary sources. But all of the Big Three can do so much more to help you at your internships, externships, and clerkships.

The databases have compiled practical information on the substance and procedures of practices in various specific areas of law, from civil litigation to commercial real estate transactions. They each feature practice guides to help familiarize legal professionals with the substance and procedure of legal tasks. Standard documents consist of form agreements into which a client’s data may be entered to craft legal documents. Similarly, standard clauses provide customizable provisions to insert into other agreements. Checklists in all three databases compile the specific tasks necessary to complete transactions.

In Westlaw, click on “Practical Law” under “Content Types” on the homepage, or click on the black circle with the white arrow nest to the name “Westlaw Edge” to navigate to Practical Law. Here, you will find three main tabs:

  1. Practice Areas: Gathers resources for various legal practice areas, such as antitrust or international arbitration. Each link leads to key information specific to each area, such as market data, news, and common topics.
  2. Resource types: Enables users to browse compilations of resources, including customizable Standard Documents, resource compilations known as Toolkits, and State Q&As that enable users to compare and contrast the laws of different jurisdictions.
  3. Jurisdictions: Includes all states, the District of Columbia, and national/federal entries.

In Lexis Advance, click on the tic-tac-toe box at the top left and navigate to “Lexis Practice Advisor.” Here you will find five main tabs:

  1. Practice Area: Gathers resources that attorneys in particular fields, such as Corporate and M&A Law and Tax will often need to use. Each area offers up-to-date guidance, news, and information on legal developments.
  2. Content Type: Enabling users to browse for resources such as practice notes or forms.
  3. Jurisdiction: Includes the states, territories, and District of Columbia.
  4. Industry: Compiles legal resources related to established and booming industries, such as financial services and cannabis.
  5. Tools and Resources: Additional resources such as state law comparisons can also improve attorneys’ accuracy and efficiency.

In Bloomberg Law, click on the Browse icon at the top left and open the “Practitioner Tools” link. There, you will find “Practical Guidance Home.” Here, you will find resources arranged in a variety of practice areas, along with a search bar to find specific documents. Each practice area includes links to specific, commonly performed tasks and legal issues.

Bloomberg Law also offers:

  1. Chart builders that enable users to compare and contrast the laws of different jurisdictions.
  2. transactional precedents that enable users to browse or search resources such as bylaws and real property mortgages.
  3. EDGAR, a searchable compilation of business performance and financial information.

If you’re a 1L looking for your first job, schedule a time to Meet with a Librarian to get a leg up on researching your employer and finding the information that you need to prepare for interviews, especially that most dreaded query: “Do you have any questions for us?”

Speaking of that: Do you have any questions for us? Let the law librarians know if you need access to any of the databases or if you have any questions about how practical legal tools can help in your next placement.

Andrea Gass, Law Librarian

Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

Paper ContestDo you want to win $500?  Do you want something special to add to your resume? How about all the pats on the back you will get from family and friends if you win this prestigious award?  You better get to work!  The deadline to enter the annual Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research is March 30th at 9:00am.

The purpose of the award is to encourage students to focus on practical skills and to refine their research abilities beyond ordinary proficiency to achieve their personal best. We are most interested in your research process. Submissions may be, but are not limited to, papers written for a class or as a journal note.

Two award recipients will be selected.  The first place winner will receive $500.00 and a Certificate of Recognition.  The second place winner will receive $250.00 and a Certificate of Recognition.

A panel composed of two Law Librarians and one Legal Writing Instructor will judge submissions based on how well they demonstrate the following:

  • Sophistication, originality, or unusual depth or breadth in the use of research materials, including, but not limited to, online and print resources, search engines and databases, primary and secondary legal resources, interdisciplinary resources, and empirical resources
  • Exceptional innovation in research strategy, including the ability to locate, select, and evaluate research materials with discretion
  • Skillful synthesis of research results into a comprehensive scholarly analysis

To learn more about the award including eligibility, acceptable papers, selection criteria and application procedures, please visit: Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

And remember, if you need help with your research, don’t forget to Meet with a Librarian.

Good Luck!

Cite Check: Just Do It

Cite CheckWhy do law librarians and legal writing professors make such a big deal about the cite-checking process? In this blog post I will give some examples of legal research and cite-checking (or shepardizing) gone horribly wrong.  Imagine that you’re standing before your legal writing professor and arguing your appellate brief, or that you’re being shadowed by your supervising attorney during your first court appearance, or that you’re presenting your brief to a senior partner that you greatly admire.  Now imagine that you didn’t take the time to properly check your work and missed a crucial piece of information.  As a law librarian, these terrifying scenarios cause me to break out in a flop-sweat.

Example 1: The classic, often-cited example of a failing to shepardize comes during the biggest pop-culture trial of the last 50 years – the OJ Simpson trial.


Marcia Clark was center-stage during a trial where around 95 million people across the world tuned in daily to see if OJ Simpson would be convicted of murder.  To give some context, that’s nearly how many people watched the Superbowl last year (this was before streaming services when most people had basic cable).  The stakes were high and the pressure was incredible for Ms. Clark.  During this clip we see Judge Ito probe Ms. Clark about a law that (he knows) has been applied in a criminal context, despite her claim that it has not.  Ms. Clark’s claims end up being wrong because it turns out that she’s relying on second-hand information from one of her junior associates – and that associate has not performed thorough research.  To be fair to Ms. Clark, this trial was enormously stressful for her for a number of reasons.  Regardless, this is a situation that could have been avoided if a proper research plan had been executed.

Example 2: Court clerk’s failure to shepardize results in defendant’s conviction being reversed.


[The case was subsequently recalled and vacated… but I bet this clerk got an ear-full.]

Example 3:  Attorney is sanctioned and later sued for malpractice because they did not adequately research the law.

McCandless v. Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., Inc., 697 F.2d 198 (7th Cir. 1983)
(Westlaw password required.)

“Before filing suit, it would seem to be a reasonable expectation that the attorney do some basic research on the applicable law.”  – Judge Pell


Example 4:  Ostrich-syndrome related to subsequent rulings results in sanctions.

Precision Specialty Metals, Inc. v. US, 315 F.3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2003)

“Counsel’s ‘ostrich-like tactic of pretending that potentially dispositive authority against [his] contention does not exist[] [is] precisely the type of behavior that would justify imposing Rule 11 sanctions.’”

CaseText provides a useful analysis of various automated cite-checking resources (to double check your work).  Keep in mind that CaseText is a software company that is trying to sell their product.  If you want a more neutral take, please refer to our Legal Citation  research guide.  This guide is in progress and is likely to see substantive updates and the semester continues so make sure to check back in once we get close to the end of the semester (and your papers are due).

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian


3L Bar Exam Haiku Contest!

Haiku ContestWould you like to win a copy of Prof. Noreuil’s book The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam?  We will be giving away two copies to two 3Ls who write the best haiku about the bar exam.

What is a Haiku?
A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression. We want you to focus on the bar exam. To get you started, here is an example from our very own Prof. Noreuil:

You will pass the bar.
Create your reality.
Breathe… Believe… Repeat.

We are going to share your entries on our social media outlets so get ready for fame and fortune.

Enter here: 3L Bar Exam Haiku Contest Entry Form

The deadline to enter is February 14th.

Good Luck!


(W)rites of Passage: New Library Research Guide for First Year Oral Arguments and Briefs

May You Please the CourtOral arguments force first year law students to look, sound, and act like lawyers, many for the first time. And they’re graded.

Our new law library research guide dedicated to First Year Legal Writing will ensure you’re ready to stand before your academic-judicial panel.

Probably the best way to start planning for your own presentation is to observe the pros in action. We have gathered audio and video recordings of appellate arguments in front of courts including the Arizona Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States—including all of Professor Paul Bender’s SCOTUS appearances. It will help give a sense of the arguments’ pace. In SCOTUS, the advocates barely have time to introduce themselves before being peppered with judicial questions.

We have gathered many of the books about talking to the judges, some of them smaller than others. Scholarly and professional articles will help you prepare for your specific courtroom tasks. Blog posts break it down even more, with tips, tricks, and just a little welcome reassurance.

Of course, the heart of good oral advocacy (and your Legal Advocacy class) is good writing, so our guide provides more resources to help with all of your briefs and memos in addition to your oral arguments.

We have gathered resources from the American Bar Association and experts such as Bryan Garner and ASU Law Professors Judith Stinson, Charles Calleros, and Kimberly Holst to help you improve your legal analysis, clarity, and structure, whether you are writing for a professor who swears by CREAC, CRuPAC, or even IRAAAPC.

Of course, the best ways to maximize your chances at a beautiful Legal Advocacy grade, graduate writing assignment, and legal career are to practice and seek expert guidance. The reference librarians have experience with these rites of passage at the Ross-Blakley Law Library. Librarian Sean Harrington and Research Fellow Andrea Gass, who work most closely with 1Ls, both have JDs, public speaking experience, and legal research expertise. Click here to make an appointment. It might be the most productive half-hour you can invest for your Legal Advocacy class. Persuasive legal writing for courts and journals requires very different research strategies than objective memos, and we have the expertise to help you shine. May you please the court!

Andrea Gass, Law Library Fellow