Monthly Archives: March 2021

Seeing Red Over Bluebook? Get Clarity at the Law Library

The basic rule of abbreviating, ignored by the authors of The Bluebook, is to avoid nonobvious abbreviations. The words of living judicial legend Judge Richard A. Posner in The Yale Law Journal ring out clearer than ever with the 21st Edition of the Uniform System of Citation.

The Bluebook lists a litany of newly updated abbreviations, which may be more intuitive in some instances, such as the upgrade of the shortened “professional” from “prof’l” to “pro.” and “evntl.” to “env’t.” But they can trip up legal researchers: a seeker of case law involving professional conduct rules may need to complicate their terms with a clunky (prof’l OR pro.) in parentheses. Moreover, keeping track of all these changes can be infuriating for longtime legal writers who have internalized the now obsolete abbreviations.

Leaving aside the 21st edition’s refresher of rules and abbreviations, the Bluebook is inherently complicated.  It runs to hundreds of pages of rigid commands, and they are divided into two overlapping sets of rules: blue pages for professional documents, and white pages for academic writing. New 2Ls facing their first round of Journal cite checking must not only learn a new citation system, but unlearn certain rules from their first year writing courses: case names are not always italicized in academic writing—only sometimes. (Italicize when using a short case citation but not a full case citation in an academic footnote.)

Even for a citation specialist, the complexities and inconsistencies can be infuriating. The rules on altering quotations can be so arcane and intrusive that even the Supreme Court has decided sometimes to just forgo them for a cleaner approach. Nevertheless, proper citation is important. Footnote formatting can affect your grade and publication chances. Other commentators note that consistency and clarity of citations can help legal readers notice the nature of information sources at a glance, easily distinguishing primary case law from secondary books and articles. Plus, learning the vast assortment of rules can be useful for instilling certain concepts of legal reasoning. Learning the Bluebook, and understanding the logic at play behind citation signals such as see and cf., turns law students into better lawyers, as painful as the process may be.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library can make that process less painful. The reference librarians have the know-how to walk you through the most complicated citation conundrums and confidently turn in quality, polished footnotes even if they reference materials that the Bluebook does not explicitly explain. While we cannot check all of your footnotes and make them conform, we can shine a light even into the most obscure corners of the reference tables.

Whether you are a 1L gearing up for the Journal Write-on Competition, a 3L polishing a graduate writing requirement or Journal note, or a tenured professor more familiar with earlier editions of the citation manual, Meet with a Librarian so we can make the Bluebook’s gray areas a little clearer.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Reliable Sources: Law Librarians Can Help You Identify Sources to Boost Your Article’s Credibility

For the academic researcher working on a law review article, book, or graduate writing requirement, traditional, academic sources continue to have advantages over websites. Namely, they offer more reliable, complete, and professionally vetted information that can be and often is superior to more convenient Internet resources. (please see reference at the end of this post)

The Internet is unquestionably an important tool for all legal researchers and all academics. Yet, for all its benefits in bringing forth up to date, widely accessible information, it can and does lead writers astray. False information can flourish online, and researchers might struggle to identify questionable resources. Websites can change or disappear, even in an age of permalinks and Internet archives. And, perhaps most importantly, experts who publish academic books and articles have a depth of expertise and a level of detailed knowledge that popular Internet pages cannot match.

The reference librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are specialists in finding these academic materials written by experts. We understand the allure of using reading accessible Internet information. We even can point you toward more reliable Internet resources (.edu and .gov websites) and away from more suspect resources (Wikipedia and purveyors of “fake news”). We also understand that overreliance on suspect materials can make your grade and your publication chances suffer.

We cannot do your research for you, but we can show you the way. The Law Library offers a series of specialized legal databases that can help you ensure that your article is reliable. We can also help you navigate the vast array of interdisciplinary databases that ASU Library offers to elevate suspect footnotes in your research. And yes, sometimes dusty old books (or dust free digital ebooks) will give your paper more credibility and authority.

We can help you at every stage of your research process, from choosing a paper topic to beginning your legal research, upgrading the sources you cite, and formatting your citations in conformity with the Bluebook. If you’re noticing too many .coms and .orgs in your citations, Meet with a Librarian to learn where to find information that your academic audience can trust.

[1] See, e.g., Carrie W. Teitcher, Rebooting the Approach to Teaching Research: Embracing the Computer Age, 88 L. Libr. J. 555 (2007).

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research: March 29th Deadline Approaching

Do 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 29th 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

You can read about past winners here: Ross-Blakley Award for Exemplary Student Research Winners

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

Good Luck!

Celebrating Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History Month and the law library would like to help you celebrate by highlighting some of the women who have helped to make Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law such a wonderful place to learn and grow.  If you’re interested, you can see our series from last year where we highlighted some of notable women who have been associated with our school: Sandra Day O’Connor, Justice Mary M. Schroeder, Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Justice Ruth V. McGregor, and more!

A recent project took reference librarian, Andrea Gass into the archives of the Arizona State Law Journal where she noticed that we have had many successful women at the helm of the ASU Law Review, starting with Patricia A. Metzger in 1975-1976.  In fact, our last eight Editors-in-Chief have been women!  Here is a list of all of the women who have served as Editor-in-Chief since 1975:

2020-21: Delilah Cassidy

2019-20: Sarah Pook

2018-19: Paloma Diaz

2017-18: Lauren Podgorski

2016-17: Tracy Olson

2015-16: Julie Hedberg

2014-15: Keelah Williams

2013-14: Hayleigh Crawford

2011-12: Melissa Posner

2010-11: Megan K. Scanlon

2007-08: Carolyn V. Williams

2006-07: Melissa Bengston

2004-05: Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe

1999-00: Ann L. Merry

1994-95: Jennifer B. Wuamett

1989-90: Shirley Ann Kaufman

1988-89: Patricia Ann Hubbard

1983-84: Patricia A. Nolan

1980-81: Victoria S. Lewis

1979-80: Barbara J. Torrez 

1977-78: Judith E. Sirkis

1975-76: Patricia A. Metzger

If you’re currently working on an article for law review and would like an overview of the available databases, help researching your topic, or simply a sounding-board for research ideas, make an appointment with a law librarian.  We can give you 1-on-1, personalized feedback and care.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Services Librarian

Talk the Talk: Law Library Resources Enhance Oral Advocacy

Lawyers and librarians alike have a way with words, spending much of their time with books and internet databases, reading, researching, and writing. But we also must step up and let our voices be heard. Whether law students are undergoing the first year rite of passage of delivering oral arguments in their finest legal attire or honing their presentations for a moot court championship, the librarians can help budding public speakers maximize their persuasiveness.

Students preparing for the Legal Advocacy argument should check out the Law Library’s First Year Legal Writing page. This research guide points to useful resources for modeling and enhancing oral arguments. Our print study skills collection includes the updated classic Little Book on Oral Argument, which can help students nervous about public speaking channel their energy into a powerful oratorical performance. Other resources include commentary from legal communication experts and a late U.S. Supreme Court justice.

We point you to resources such as an online treatise titled Art of Advocacy—Appeals, which provides tips on presenting and engaging and persuasive case, with full length, annotated examples of effective oral arguments from which students can draw lessons about tone, style, and structure. It also helps prepare students preparing for a career in litigation for what to expect in navigating judicial procedures at courthouses.

The library also provides links to archives that enable students to observe real world court proceedings across the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Arizona. Students may learn from the examples of the professionals, and get a sense of how quickly the judges will begin peppering them with questions.

The library’s Advanced Legal Writing: Persuasion guide includes further resources to help orators prepare persuasive presentations. Books include discussions of cognitive science as the basis for recommending certain persuasive techniques, and provide concrete examples of effective rhetorical tools to employ in writing as well as oral argument.

For critiques of your oral argument’s content and technique, contact your professor or teaching assistant. And for more guidance on library resources, feel free to Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

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

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:

When the mind is full
relax and let go, maybe
we don’t need civ pro?
– Caitlyn Haitaian

Sunlight kiss my eyes
Is this dawn or dusk I see?
One more practice test.
– Mike Uchrin

Here are two more favorite Haikus:

Stressful May and June
Brings an exam that leads to
Triumphant July
– Megan Manning

Idle waiting? No.
Unlike leaves falling from trees,
I pull the tide. Go.
– Aspen Miller

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. Good luck to everyone taking the Bar Exam. We know you will do great!