Author Archives: Andrea Gass

MPRE Jubilee: Library Resources to Help You Pass the MPRE

The MPRE, or Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, is a preview of the bar exam to come. And it’s your opportunity to get a preview of a bar prep course for free as you study the rules of professional conduct.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library highlights MPRE study resources and exam preparation courses, including free professional responsibility/MPRE courses from bar prep providers Barbri, Themis, and Kaplan, as well as resources from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

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. To help you avoid this potential speedbump, 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.

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

Feeling the Rush? Meet with a Librarian to Save Time

Law school instills important time management skills for all who enter. Developing efficient study and research methods to maximize time for networking, extracurriculars, personal time, and a competitive job search prepare students for successful legal careers. 

When you’re fighting against the clock and calendar, the Ross-Blakley Law Library can back you up. The JD holding reference librarians have been through the whole law school experience and developed efficient research strategies that can help you find time to land a dream job, write a powerful paper, and just breatheMeet with a Librarian to get help with any of the following tasks:

  • Midterm prep. We can tailor advice on study aids for your particular classes, whether you are a 1L looking for help with Criminal Law and Property or a 3L trying to master the Federal Rules of Evidence. And we have a bevy of materials to cater to every learning style. The Exam Pro series on West Academic puts learners to the test with challenging multiple choice or essay  questions and explanations of right and wrong answers. The Crunchtime series on Wolters Kluwer provides practice questions as well as flowcharts to help you visualize, for example, the intricacies of whether statements fall in the scope of hearsay and whether exceptions will enable them to be admitted in court. We can provide flashcards or even help you make your own. And we can assist in finding audio or video resources to help train your particular brain.
  • Research projects. If you are a 1L, we can offer feedback on your research process if you’re feeling stuck. If you’re in a seminar or writing an independent study or journal note, we can help you narrow down a topic and navigate the rich array of ASU Library research resources.
  • Job search. We can help you use cutting edge analytics tools and other efficient research strategies to help you crush your interviews for an externship or law firm placement.
  • Citation mastery. We know the Bluebook inside and out and can help polish your footnotes to improve your grades or your publication chances.

Reference librarian meetings typically take about a half hour. But meeting with a librarian can save you hours of research time and help you approach your projects with more confidence and preparation.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Research and Reference Resources to Support Your Journal Ambitions

At the end of the semester, you will have the opportunity to take a marathon write-on exam to test your Bluebook and writing skills under challenging conditions. The reward could be a staff position on Law Journal for Social JusticeJurimetricsSports and Entertainment Law JournalCorporate and Business Law Journal, or the Arizona State Law Journal

Working on a journal is a great educational experience, giving you the opportunity to work with professional legal and policy arguments by law professors and legal practitioners while honing Bluebook skills. And it can help employers appreciate your resume.

So, how can you boost your chances of getting on Journal? The Law Library has resources to give you a leg up.

At the end of a marathon of oral arguments, final briefs, and four final exams, you may all be welcoming the opportunity to wave goodbye to 1L. But, our First Year Legal Writing Guide provides many great resources to help you prepare for the written portion of your exam. So, just think of the All-Journal Write-on exam as your last act as a 1L. Resources for brushing up on memo writing will be critical, because this time you have only hours, not weeks, to polish a solid piece of legal writing. 

We recommend Legal Method and Writing by Professors Charles Calleros and Kimberly Holst. This resource is particularly useful for refining your logical demonstrations of why the law applied to your facts would create a particular outcome. Examples & Explanations: Legal Writing, which Professor Judy Stinson co-authored, helps you demystify the process and write fast, clear, efficient CREACs (or IRACs or CRuPACs). One of the big challenges will be organization: this will help you craft a logical, coherent, modular argument that marshals unfamiliar resources quickly. You can find this E&E on the Wolters Kluwer study aids website. Professor Stinson’s own The Tao of Legal Writing provides a framework for achieving your full potential as a legal writer—and most importantly for write-on purposes, an efficient strategy for outlining and writing your response that will leave you plenty of time for revising and polishing to help you stand out to the journals.

You will also face a test of your citation acumen, and we have you covered there, too. Our Legal Writing library guide can help you navigate the Bluebook in the Legal Citation section, which features books and online resources that provide examples and explanations of the rules. Speaking of that, Examples & Explanations: Legal Research can help you brush up on the principles of citation in its appendices, so that you can better understand why we cite the way we do and begin to make complex citation decisions second nature. We recommend Understanding and Mastering the Bluebook to help you make sense of some complicated rules in the white pages of the Bluebook, which are the main focus of law journals but not first-year writing courses. 

The Interactive Citation Workstation on Lexis will put your skills to the test in advanceof the write-on. The Bluebook can be notoriously finicky, so the instant feedback and machine precision that the workstation provides can help you get accustomed to the cite checking life. By clicking on the different topics, you can practice forming citation sentences, and the program will check to ensure compliance with standards for italics, small capitals, spacing, and abbreviation, and it can help you practice citing to unfamiliar sources such as administrative regulations, legislative histories, and law journals.

Finally, our Journal Cite Checking Research Guide will help you with one of the tasks most dear to the hearts of librarians—finding older or obscure resources in print or online. We have resources in place to help you do your research for cite checking, from interlibrary loan, to digital book repositories, to research databases, to government archives. And when you get stumped, our reference librarians are here to help.

Feel free to Meet with a Librarian; we can help you walk through complicated citation problems and get you started on research for your note or comment. 

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Black History Month: Law Library Resources to the Past and Future

Black History Month, or African American History Monthcelebrates the accomplishments of Black Americans who have pressed for elusive equality and otherwise improved life in the United States. That ongoing struggle for civil rights and equal treatment is central to American legal history, with important advances, as well as significant setbacks, attributable to the legislative and executive branches, as well as the judiciary.

Arizona State’s Law Library gathers resources to guide students of the history of the civil rights movement, as well as the activists and allies protecting advancements of equality and pushing for needed change. Our Racial Justice Resources guide gathers a bevy of resources for researchers, organizers, and protesters. It stores the statements by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the law school’s dean, and the John P. Morris Black Law Students Association expressing commitment to racial justice.

The National Racial Justice Organizations page lists dozens of racial justice organizations and introduces their scope and mission. It also provides essential resources for news and information on legal developments regarding racial equality movements. The Local Racial Justice Organizations page introduces more than a dozen more government and private groups from Arizona.

For those taking to the streets to push for change, the Resources for Protesters page can help. It gathers information on the legal rights of protesters, tips on interacting safely with law enforcement officials, and bail funds.

For students and scholars examining equality as an academic pursuit, the Databases, Books, and Journals page combines essential treatises, dedicated journals, and research databases into a convenient hub for research. The ProQuest Black Freedom Struggle in the United States database examines the events through key people, data, and legal documents in six eras of the civil rights movement, beginning with the fight to end slavery in the United States’ early decades. The Law Library’s Racial Justice guide also includes a page of U.S. Federal Government Hearings on matters including the legal landscape of racial discrimination, law enforcement practices, and voting rights.

Furthermore, the library’s Seminar Topical Research Guides include focused guides dedicated to particular aspects of the struggle for equal treatment tailored for courses taught at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The Race and the Law seminar guide includes books, journals, databases, and web resources regarding racial and ethnic equality. The Law and Social Change seminar takes a broad approach, including other branches of the movement for equality, including feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. A More Perfect Union: Membership and Belonging includes resources that discuss inclusion beyond an abstract legal concept and more as an ongoing real world project, examining the inequalities in social systems including education and the prison system.

Two more important resources are HeinOnline’s Civil Rights and Social Justice database and Proquest’s Black Freedom Struggle in the United States. HeinOnline’s Civil Rights and Social Justice database brings together a diverse offering of publications covering civil rights in the United States as their legal protections and definitions are expanded to cover more and more Americans. Containing hearings and committee prints, legislative histories on the landmark legislations, CRS and GAO reports, briefs from major Supreme Court cases, and publications from the Commission on Civil Rights, this database allows users to educate themselves on the ways our civil rights have been strengthened and expanded over time, as well as how these legal protections can go further still. A curated list of scholarly articles, a varied collection of books on many civil rights topics, and a list of prominent civil rights organizations help take the research beyond HeinOnline.

Proquest’s Black Freedom Struggle in the United States website features select primary source documents related to critical people and events in African American history. The website contains approximately 1,600 documents focused on six different phases of Black Freedom.

  1. Resistance to Slavery and the Abolitionist Movement (1790-1860)
  2. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era (1861-1877)
  3. Jim Crow Era from 1878 to the Great Depression (1878-1932)
  4. The New Deal and World War II (1933-1945)
  5. The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1946-1975)
  6. The Contemporary Era (1976-2000)

The library’s JD holding reference librarians are happy to guide and support your research on racial justice, or any other topic. Use our Meet with a Librarian form to schedule an appointment.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Advanced Legal Writing Guide: Take Research to the Next Level

By the end of the 1L year of law school, students attain a level of mastery of research on the most popular online primary law platforms that will serve them and their clients well. But the rest of law school brings seminars, journal assignments, and graduate writing requirements that open students to a vast world of legal and interdisciplinary academic writing, as well as employment opportunities that reward effective written and oral communication.

Navigating the vast holdings of ASU Library takes strong, professional guidance. And the Law Library’s new Advanced Legal Writing Research Guide identifies many of the best resources to help students and scholars contribute to the academic conversation involving an important area of law, and to further enhance their written and oral communication mastery.

The guide’s home page leads writers to expert advice on how to choose a topic and ensure that the topic is providing new information to the field, as well as advice on style and formatting of articles.

The Advanced Legal Writing: Indian Law page identifies important law journals that researchers can use to strengthen their understanding of ongoing legal controversies and identify areas in which further scholarship is needed. It also introduces ASU’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center, which collects the works of indigenous scholars and explains legal regimes governing indigenous people. It further identifies essential treatises and reference works.

Furthermore, it selects the essential databases from ASU Library’s collection of hundreds of research databases to help explain the history, law, and culture of the people. Finally, for students seeking more recognition and exposure for their completed works, the guide links to American Indian legal writing competitions.

The guide’s other major component, Advanced Legal Writing: Persuasion, contains a trove of useful information for writers in any legal discipline. It identifies databases from ASU Library that can help writers hone their style to help advance an argument, to tailor their messages to connect with particular audiences, and to find essential academic and scientific knowledge to advance new scholarship. Books and articles help writers of scholarly arguments as well as court documents to win over their audiences.

And persuasion is not limited to paper and computer screens. Oral argument resources help legal communicators build their conversational skills to maximize their presentations’ impact to judges (as well as legal writing professors). We point to archived arguments to help students and professionals learn from real world court proceedings.

For further guidance on research strategies for an academic paper, an internship assignment, or a first year legal writing assignment, feel free to Meet with a Librarian. The JD holding reference librarians can help you navigate the library’s resources to research effectively and efficiently.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Flash Cards and Flowcharts: Optimizing Study for Your Learning Style

With stare decisis imbuing law and legal study with a sense of tradition, you might hesitate to deviate from the well worn strategies to prepare for your finals. But the law is a dynamic beast, and if something isn’t working for you, it’s up to you to make a change.

Study aids are increasingly catering to the vast diversity of learning methods that suit different law students best, from visual aids such as flow charts to practice questions to audio and visual resources.

MAKE YOUR OWN FLOWCHARTS

Flowcharts guide you through a legal issue, asking questions about the facts each step of the way to determine whether an element applies, and whether the analysis should continue. The structure of arrows and boxes is a big help for visual learners who quickly absorb information in tools such as graphics and maps. It can also help break down a complicated legal analysis into manageable, bite size bits, demystifying questions about estates in land or the Erie doctrine.

You can make your own flowcharts in Google Slides. You can choose shapes with the shapes tool that symbolize steps along the way of a legal analysis, such as rectangles for yes or no questions and ovals for the various potential outcomes of the analysis. The line tool includes an option with arrows to help you organize a complicated analysis, including curves and angled lines to help you fit all elements of a rule into your document. Making your own flowchart helps you process the rules yourself, and understand the process in a different way from traditional distilling of the rules into words alone.

MAKE YOUR OWN FLASHCARDS

It’s no secret that part of the challenge of studying law is memorizing vast swaths of information. It’s a big part of the bar exam. Your outline is an important part of that process of committing the law to your memory, but reading and rereading does not always work optimally for everyone. Sometimes we want to hide the ball from ourselves and see if we can remember what res ipsa loquituris all about without seeing the answer right underneath, and that’s where flashcards come in handy.

The Law Library has a collection of flashcards in its study skills section, and online study aid platforms have a few more resources that may be helpful. Writing your own cards can help you process the information on a much deeper level, though, as you process the law and craft your own rule statements. Here again, Google Slides can help, with a template that helps you quickly craft slides with the title of a legal doctrine, say, promissory estoppel, on one side and the explanation or rule statement on the other. This also enables you to add images that you associate with particular concepts—say, a shoe for personal jurisdiction, or a barrel for res ipsa loquitur.

TRADITIONAL OUTLINING TIPS

  • Organize your outline by topic. Your syllabus may be a good guide. Write solid rule statements that you can quickly transcribe or modify to use on your exam. As we can see from past exams on the library website, you won’t always have lots of time to reinvent good rule statements on test day.
  • Write a one page attack outline just listing all of the legal doctrines you discussed in class and studied in your casebook. Test conditions can push your brain into overdrive and legal issues may be well hidden in a fact pattern. Just glancing at your sheet and seeing the rule that you should be analyzing can be the difference between spotting an issue before time runs out and realizing you missed an issue while watching Emily in Paris after you turn it in.
  • Again, know yourself! You won’t have a lot of time to review your outline during the exam, so you want to be concise. Focus your attention on areas that might not be intuitive to you. Trying to rewrite your casebook, however, might just be an exhausting distraction from more productive study activities, such as running through practice questions.

Meet with a Librarian for more study tips. Good luck!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

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

Studying, 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 railCALI’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, 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