Your Professional Obligation Not to Overlook the MPRE

While the MPRE, or Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, is the smaller and less grueling of the two exams required for admission to the bar in Arizona and most other states, failure to respect its significance can cost you valuable time.

The MPRE is administered only three times per year, in spring, summer, and fall, so students who miss the minimum 85 score required to pass in Arizona could face a long wait to retake it. And the spring and fall exams can become a burden in the middle of a law school semester. To help you avoid this potential speedbump, the Ross-Blakley Law Library has updated its Bar Exam and MPRE Resources Library Guide to highlight MPRE study resources and exam preparation courses.  

In addition to valuable resources in the print Study Skills collection on the third floor in front of the circulation desk, the library subscribes to online study resources to help you master legal ethics. Wolters Kluwer offers Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, which provides tips and dozens of practice questions to help you prepare for the two-hour MPRE, which includes sixty multiple choice questions. West Academic, for its part, offers an efficient resource for last minute MPRE preppers, The Weekend MPRE, which includes two full length practice exams.

For students seeking more depth in their knowledge pool of professional responsibility, CALI offers a series of lessons highlighting specific issues arising under the law governing lawyers. Wolters Kluwer, in addition, provides detailed guidance in solving legal ethical problems in Examples & Explanations: Professional Responsibility.

For perhaps a preview of the bar exam preparation course to follow, a number of exam preparation companies offer free MPRE preparation courses (see box at top right). Finally, we have compiled Web resources including the full texts of the rules and commentary governing attorney and judicial conduct, as well as resources offering valuable advice on study and exam taking skills.

For additional help choosing materials to prepare for the MPRE, the bar exam, or law school exams or research projects in general, please Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Bluebook 21: The Most (Foot)Noteworthy Updates

Despite its spiral binding, the Bluebook is not known for flexibility.

It’s A Uniform System of Citation, and that uniformity means usually requires demanding attention to detail and rigidity. For a long time, legal writers had to turn to their well worn Rule 1.4 to check out the order of authorities for their string citations. It always followed a strict pattern roughly approximating the persuasive weight of the source material, from constitutions at the front end to secondary sources at the back end, with books always preceding periodicals, student written journal pieces always following professional works, and websites always bringing up the rear.

The new 21st Edition of the Bluebook gives us a rest. One of the big changes in the new citation manual is a major simplification of Rule 1.4. Now legal writers simply use their judgment and prioritize the most relevant materials in a string citation.

We are staying on top of these changes at the Law Library so we can help you produce the best, most up to date footnotes and citation sentences. We can also suggest study materials and online lessons to help you bring your citation A-game.

In other modernizations, the Bluebook is opening up to online resources, as Rule 12.3 has shifted to more readily accept unofficial federal codes from Westlaw or Lexis. Rule 12.5(b) follows suit, welcoming more online state and municipal codes into legal citations. And we no longer need to determine the release date of the last print edition of the United States Code: Rule 12.3.2 eliminates the date parenthetical from federal code citations.

International lawyers and students also have a wider range of online materials at their disposal, as Rule 21 now acknowledges the wider availability of treaties and other international materials. And in an increasingly visual online world, Rule 18.8 gives photographers and other visual artists their due, providing more concrete guidance on citing photos and graphics.

In a move that journal editors will cheer when they’re cite checking, Bluebook no longer includes separate tables for abbreviations in case names and common words in periodical titles: All of that information is now in the expanded Table 6, with Table 13 continuing to provide abbreviations of institutions such as universities and law schools.

The Bluepages have a few updates as well, with updates to Bluepages Table 2 to keep up with rules changes in various jurisdictions. And if you are practicing in a jurisdiction that limits the number of words that can appear in a document, the new Rule B6 provides a welcome change, providing the option to close spaces in the abbreviations of case reporters to conserve space, like so: F.Supp.2d.

And those changes are just some of the highlights to the new Bluebook, which also omits the bulky Table 2 on foreign materials from the print edition and places it on the website for free access.

Whether you’re adding footnotes to your graduate writing requirement or crafting a memo for your externship, the reference librarians are here to help. Feel free to make an appointment to meet with us via Zoom. For simpler questions, email us!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

DACA Resource Guide

The Ross-Blakley Law Library’s DACA Resource Guide has been updated. It provides general information and links to resources about DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and is maintained by reference librarians at the ASU College of Law. The guide includes information on the history of DACA, recent DACA developments, ASU resources for students, a list of local agencies offering DACA assistance, and a list of national advocacy groups. You can view the guide by clicking on the link below.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) LibGuide

Racial Justice Resources – New Research Guide

Racial Justice Resources is a guide to resources provided by the Ross-Blakley Law Library and 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 via Zoom.

Practical Research Skills Workshop Series: Get the Edge on How to Exceed Your Employers’ and Professors’ Expectations

The librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library have prepared a video series for you. Our Practical Research Skills Workshop Series will help you get the edge on how to exceed your employers’ and professors’ expectations. We share our expertise on legal research, in a friendly, fast-paced format that you can watch at your own pace. We help you navigate primary law including statutes and regulations as well as help you build your practical skills by sharing our insights on topics like litigation tools and legal search algorithms.

Practical Research Skills Workshop Series

What the series covers:

Federal Statutes & State Statutes

Learn how to find and navigate statutes in research databases and on government websites. We highlight case law that courts rely on to resolve disputes concerning statutory interpretation to help you perform professional statutory research for your employer.

Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register, Arizona Regulations 
Master how to navigate and use the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, and Arizona’s regulatory frameworks so that you can master interpreting and applying regulatory rules on the job.

Search Algorithms, Data Analytics, Ravel & Advanced Searching
Not all databases are transparent about how they return results based on your search terms but understanding how the search tools operate can help you research more effectively and efficiently.

Practice Tools: Settlements Data & Litigation Analytics, Litigation Tools, Standard Documents & Transactions, Practice Notes & Checklists
Practical tools can help you impress your assigning attorney. These include resources to learn the law, to manage a legal project, to efficiently draft legal documents, and to compare the client’s situation to past deals and cases.

We are always here to help you whether you are a current student or a graduate. If you have questions or want to discuss these subjects in more depth, feel free to Ask a Librarian or make an appointment to meet via Zoom.

Spotlight on Law Library Resources: Award Winning BLASE – Sports and Entertainment Law Database

Back in October 2019 we highlighted a new (at the time) database hosted at HeinOnline: Business and Legal Aspects of Sports and Entertainment (“BLASE”).

Since then, this database has received industry acclaim by receiving the Joseph L Andrews Literature Award for 2020.  The Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award recognizes a significant textual contribution to legal literature.

HeinOnline makes heavy use of the LibGuides platform to provide detailed explanations of their databases and they have a guide for BLASE.

What does it contain?

  • 1.3 million pages of sports and entertainment related content.
  • 120 landmark sports law cases.
  • 65 landmark entertainment law cases.
  • A collection of important articles on both of these topics, curated by the editors, after reading over 8,000 scholarly works. 

When would I use it?

Essentially any time you are starting research in these bodies of law.  This is a great place to start your research since it is a curated databased, created specifically for these two topics.  It can help you ensure that you’re not missing any big cases or articles.  It can also help you interpret complex statutes.  You can build your research on the foundation laid by two experts in these areas

This database also has a useful topic index for the categories that it covers – so that you can weed out the irrelevant hits you might receive if you did a keyword search (or if you simply don’t know which terms to use).

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:

(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.)

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

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

SCOTUS Oral Arguments Audio to Go Live for the First Time in the History of the Court

For the first time in history, people outside the U.S. Supreme Court’s walls will be able to hear oral arguments as they happen. SCOTUS will be livestreaming ten arguments over the next two weeks. The live audio will begin at 7:00 a.m. Arizona time on Monday, May 4th on C-SPAN and other networks. C-SPAN is making the oral arguments available live on its main network as well as on the C-SPAN Radio app, its radio station, and on its website.

Historically SCOTUS has not had cameras in the courtroom or same-day audio. Oral arguments have been open only to the public but with very limited seating. Since the court is closed to the public right now due to the coronavirus, we will have, for the first time in the 231 year history of the court, the opportunity to witness the oral arguments as they happen.

To learn more about the Supreme Court, please consult the Law Library’s Supreme Court LibGuide.

Hit an Internship Gap? Try Taking This Bridge to Practice

Summer is a golden opportunity to fortify the legal skills that will make employers notice you. But 2020 is different, and some opportunities to practice law have drifted away because of lifesaving social distancing to limit the spread of covid-19. But the outbreak doesn’t need to put learning on hold.

West Academic can help keep your head in the game even if you are staying home during the pandemic. One series is specially geared toward building practical legal skills by simulating legal assignments. The Bridge to Practice series includes twelve volumes, covering broad doctrinal areas of law such as property or specific practice areas such as immigration law.

The introduction to each of the twelve volumes explains the series’ premise: Simulating the progression of cases and clients’ needs from start to finish. The chapters provide students with learning objectives and introduce the legal doctrines governing the clients’ legal issues. Narratives introduce the client or issue, and many of the simulations also display the documents that lawyers will commonly encounter. Dialog reveals how lawyers tailor their language to respond to requests from clients and to make demands from others on behalf of clients. Appendices in each volume gather documents related to particular clients and other key players.

Cases progress throughout the books. For example, in the immigration book, client Susan Vasquez’s legal concerns arise in Phoenix, where she is arrested on theft and immigration-related charges after visiting a hospital. Chapter 2 includes a client interview with Vasquez that raises new legal questions. In Chapter 3, Vasquez faces an emergency as she reports being transported for deportation, which raises ethical concerns and highlights the need for lawyers to be able to rapidly digest problems and find solutions. Remaining chapters involve legal proceedings and distill the experience of advocating for Vasquez in front of a judge and how attorneys collaborate and share their expertise on particular legal issues.

Throughout many of the volumes, questions and research prompts challenge students to engage directly the key primary and secondary authority in the practice area. Further, the cases emphasize the nuances of particular legal tasks and impart lessons on the variety of skills that students should develop to achieve success as attorneys. They also provide excellent reviews of common legal doctrines, such as offer, acceptance, consideration, and defenses in contract law. Criminal Law Simulations: Bridge to Practicefeatures lessons such as the principles of punishment, the elements of crimes in general, particular crimes, and special issues such as accomplice liability.

The Bridge to Practice series includes the following subjects:

To access the Bridge to Practice series and other study resources, go to West Academic’s webpage. You must use your ASU email address to create an account. West Academic will recognize you as a member of the ASU community and allow you to create an account when you use your email address as your username. Once you create an account, your West Academic login will ensure off-campus access to the study aids and will also enable you to print, download, highlight, and take notes. You can download the West Academic Library Mobile App and study anywhere. West Academic distributes additional resources on developing professional skills. If you have questions about accessing study resources, finding materials to help with legal tasks, or researching legal issues in general, feel free to make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian via Zoom or email.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Annotations: SCOTUS and Law Librarians Cherish These Research Tools

“Terrorism” has many legal definitions, with Black’s Law Dictionary defining no less than a dozen terms including the word. But when the State of Georgia tried to stretch the meaning and label free distribution of state law annotations as an element of a “strategy of terrorism,” the Supreme Court snapped it back.

The contentious, 5-4 victory for a nonprofit seeking to provide free access to Georgia’s state code prevents the pay service LexisNexis from claiming exclusive rights to distribution of the statutes and their Lexis-produced annotations. Lexis had agreed to limit the price of the annotated Georgia code and freely distribute the code without annotations in exchange for exclusive copyright. Even the state’s governmental websites direct users to Lexis’ 2020 Georgia statutes. Although the public may find current print statutes in libraries and older versions online, until the recent holding that statutes as well as annotations are not-copyrighted as “government edicts,” Lexis had been able to restrict access to the current, annotated Georgia Code.

By contrast, although Arizona’s Legislature has agreed to credit West’s Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated as the official state code, the current statutes are freely available online without channeling through a publisher’s website. Current and superseded versions of the statutory code are available in print in the Ross-Blakley Law Library.

As for Georgia, the Supreme Court, through Chief Justice John Roberts, held that officials who create law, such as legislators in this case, and judges in previous decisions, may not copyright legal materials they produce in line with their duties. When a nonprofit posted the annotated statutes online, Georgia sued. After the state saw its district court victory overturned in the circuit court, the Supreme Court crushed the state’s copyright claims by reasoning that legislators cannot be the “authors” of official works. This official distinction extends to annotations in legislative works just as it does to headnotes in judicial works. If the law can presume, as it does, that everyone has a duty to know the law, the Court reasoned, decisions that exclude the entirety of legal works are necessary to preserve important legal principles. Copyright barriers to annotations might keep important information from people, such as whether provisions are unenforceable, and might empower states to monetize their codes at the expense of legal integrity.

In dissent, Justice Thomas emphasized that annotations do not necessarily represent the will of the people, and that it should be a legislative and not judicial decision as to whether to copyright them. He worried that lack of copyright protection might discourage states from investing in annotations. Justice Ginsburg, furthermore, dissents on the grounds that annotations are not official lawmaking duties, merely summarize nonbinding commentary, and are mere conveniences—“they aid the legal researcher” but being included alongside noncopyrightable statutes “does not alter their auxiliary, nonlegislative character.”

Here at the Ross-Blakley Law Library, we have a strong appreciation for how much annotations, commentaries, and summaries of cases can “aid the legal researcher.” Whether or not they are subject to copyright and free to all, secondary materials make research more efficient and thorough. As Chief Justice Roberts’ controlling opinion indicates, they quickly provide valuable information that readers of plain case law or statutory text would likely overlook. Regardless of their stance on whether copyright applies, all three opinions underscore the importance of annotations. If you’d like to know more about how to use them to improve your legal research, Meet with a Librarian! We’ll be happy to chat over Zoom or email.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Brent Bihr, 2L & Olivia Stitz, 2L Honored for Exemplary Student Research

The Ross-Blakley Law Library at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research.

Brent Bihr is the first-place award recipient for his paper: Dark Patterns, Warcraft, and Cybersex: The Addictive Face of Predatory Online Platforms and Pioneering Policies to Protect Consumers.  Bihr is a second year student. Olivia Stitz is our second-place winner for her paper: Comity, Tipping Points, and Commercial Significance: What to expect of the Hague Judgments Convention.  Stitz is also second year student.

Their papers demonstrate sophistication and originality in the use of research materials, exceptional innovation in research strategy, and skillful synthesis of research results into a comprehensive scholarly analysis.  A review panel comprised of librarians Beth DiFelice and Tara Mospan and Clinical Professor Kimberly Holst selected the winners from a number of very competitive entries. We received more submissions this year than in any other year.

To read more about the winning papers, please follow this link: The 2020 Recipients of the Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

Congratulations to our 2020 Winners!

You can view all past award winners here: Ross-Blakley Award for Exemplary Student Research Winners