Monthly Archives: December 2021

Research certifications keep you in business during winter lulls

Bloomberg Law, a research platform best known for its extensive collection of court dockets and for integrating business and legal research, has a new certification program. This program, along with similar offerings–Westlaw’s Knowledge Center and Lexis Learn—provides opportunities to hone your research skills and stand out to employers. They’re perfect for downtime during winter break.

Bloomberg’s training program gives students guidance on research fundamentals including primary and secondary sources. Other subjects include legal ethics, litigation practice, transactional practice, and subject specific lessons on tax research. Likewise, Westlaw provides basic and advanced legal research along with litigation and transactional training. Lexis Learn delves into constructing keyword searches, the basics of case and statutory research, and drafting legal documents.

Bloomberg’s new BLAW Skills Center contains more than just the certification program, with recorded webinars on legal research and career preparation. It provides checklists on handling a legal research assignment from beginning to end, along with a handy flowchart of the research and writing process. How-to guides help readers unlock the full potential of Bloomberg’s search tools, including dockets, EDGAR (a collection of filings the Securities and Exchange Commission uses), and litigation analytics.

All of these skills will be invaluable to law students making their early forays into externships or associateships in the legal profession. Moreover, all three platforms’ training programs require minimal commitment. They’re free with your academic login, and students can complete prerecorded video lessons and quizzes at their own pace.

For more guidance on advanced legal research, researching businesses, and preparing to enter the legal job market, Meet with a Law Librarian!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

New Titles in the Law Library Collection – Indigenous Peoples

In January the Indian Legal Program (ILP) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the American Bar Association (ABA) are hosting the Intersection of Tribal Rights with Environmental, Energy and Resources Development Conference. The conference will focus on natural resource development, water quality and water rights, clean energy and climate change resiliency, and international best practices. The Law Library’s Indian Law collection has a number of books relevant to the subjects that will be explored at the conference – we have highlighted two new titles in this collection below.

A Nation Within: Navajo Land and Economic Development (Ezra Rosser, 2021)
In A Nation Within, Ezra Rosser explores the connection between land-use patterns and development in the Navajo Nation. Roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia, the Navajo reservation has seen successive waves of natural resource-based development over the last century: grazing and over-grazing, oil and gas, uranium, and coal; yet Navajos continue to suffer from high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rosser shows the connection between the exploitation of these resources and the growth of the tribal government before turning to contemporary land use and development challenges. He argues that, in addition to the political challenges associated with any significant change, external pressures and internal corruption have made it difficult for the tribe to implement land reforms that could help provide space for economic development that would benefit the Navajo Nation and Navajo tribal members.

Indigenous Peoples, Consent and Rights: Troubling Subjects (Stephen Young, 2021)
Analyzing how Indigenous Peoples come to be identifiable as bearers of human rights, this book considers how individuals and communities claim the right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as Indigenous peoples. According to international human rights discourse, ‘Indigenous peoples’ have the capacity to claim ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) to influence and control decisions that concern First Nation Peoples. The book argues that the subject status of Indigenous peoples emerged out of international law in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then, through a series of case studies, it considers how self-identifying Indigenous peoples, scholars, UN institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs) dispersed that subject-status and associated rights discourse through international and national legal contexts. It shows that those who claim international human rights as Indigenous peoples performatively become identifiable subjects of international law – but further demonstrates that this does not, however, provide them with control over, or emancipation from, a state-based legal system.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

The Law Library Can Help with Homework on Employers

No matter how glorious your resume or how many glowing recommendations you collect, you have to know a lot about a job opportunity to let a potential employer know that you are the right person 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 Law Employment Research Guide compiles resources to help you get tabs on law firms, land a clerkship with a judge, or just build essential lawyering skills such as networking and compiling contacts.

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.

Make an appointment with a Law Librarian so 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. Career Services will also be an invaluable resource for career information and assistance with developing professionally. Good luck on all your interviews to come!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

New Titles in the Law Library Collection – Animal Law

The descendants of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s four captive hippos have made their way to the Magdalena River and now number nearly 100 animals, becoming a major problem for Colombian officials. A Colombian court case, in which the Community of Hippopotamuses Living in the Magdalena River is the plaintiff, is considering officials’ plans for the hippos. An American animal organization asked a U.S. federal court in Ohio to allow the attorney for the hippos to gather expert testimony in the U.S. – the court granted the request, and in doing so, recognized the hippos as legal persons, a first in the U.S. You can read more about this case via Bloomberg Law News, and if you are interested in animal law issues like this, you should check also out the two new titles in the Law Library collection described below!

Animals in International Law by Anne Peters (2021)
Anne Peters is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, as well as the director of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. In her book Animals in International Law, Peters takes a global perspective, identifying and analyzing the top international laws and treaties addressing animals, as well as those regarding international trade law and laws of armed conflict, in terms of their impacts on animals. Ultimately finding that the current body of international law creates more harm than good for animals, Peters proposes new legal strategies for ensuring animals are protected.

The Future of Animal Law by David S. Favre (2021)
David S. Favre is a professor at Michigan State University College of Law and founding officer of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. His forward-looking book The Future of Animal Law focuses on the legal rights of animals in the future, with an eye towards how to think about obtaining legal rights. While briefly recounting the historical path that has led to the current animal rights framework, the book centers on dogs as companion animals that are the most likely vehicle for increased protections, with the ultimate goal of creating a legal framework that views animals as more than property and recognizes their feelings and needs. The book looks at laws of the U.S., as well as those of other countries, and includes model language for new laws and suggested legal reforms.

Dan Kimmons, Reference Librarian

Exam Time – Stay in Control During Times of Stress

Medical studies indicate that staying aware of the present moment can improve your focus and performance in stressful situations. It doesn’t take a deserted forest lake (although that sounds really nice), perfect lotus posture, or hours of a silenced mind to achieve mindfulness. It’s a skill useful for everyone, and particularly worthwhile for law students who maintain a busy schedule with overlapping work and academic deadlines as well as networking and social commitments.

Awareness of the present moment can not only dull stinging worries about the future. It can improve an attorney’s concentration, active listening, and understanding when meeting with clients or representing them. And although it might sound like a luxury or one more task for an already bloated schedule, mindfulness can actually save time, with improved attention and performance. In fact, some experts suggest that simply taking a minute or two to calm the mind can calm stress, and lead to a more focused practice that can clear a cluttered mind and improve health and wellbeing.

The Law Library has compiled resources that can help you build this skill on our Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School research guide – we have provided information on, and links to, academic studies, guided meditations, and brief guides to improve your attention and awareness. We also encourage you to check out the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience at Arizona State University, which focuses on deepening ASU’s culture of healthfulness, personal balance and resiliency among students and employees.

As the semester winds down, the reference librarians are here to help with research questions, legal citation, or to bolster research you’ve already done. Click on Meet with a Law Librarian to schedule a brief, efficient, time-saving appointment with a JD reference librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Graphics of Legal Research – Part 3: Ravel Law

When conducting legal research in Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law, you will encounter a number of graphics and symbols that are simultaneously helpful and confusing. In this last entry of our three-part Graphics of Legal Research series, we take a look at Ravel View for case search results, exclusively on Lexis.

Ravel View on Lexis provides a unique visual tool for understanding case search results and incorporates Shepard’s treatment so you can see whether a given case has been treated positively or negatively. To access Ravel View after running a keyword search of cases in Lexis, click on the search view on the far right that shows circles connected by lines.

The resulting graphical view of your top 75 case search results organizes the cases by court level and year of decision. Each case is represented by a circle on the graph – the graph’s Y-axis shows the level of court (with higher level court cases represented towards the top of the graph) and the X-axis shows the date of each case (with more recent cases toward the right of the graph). Further, it displays which cases have been cited to the most via the size of the circle – the bigger the circle, the more that case has been cited by other cases. Lines connecting the circles detail the citation relationship between cases and use color-coding to show either positive, neutral, or negative treatment. The most important color to watch for is red, which indicates that the later case treated the earlier case severely negatively.

Below is a Ravel View representation of federal and Arizona state cases retrieved by searching for “dram shop”:

Here you can see that state court cases are represented at the bottom of the graph, with federal trial court cases above them, appellate court cases above the trial courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States above all. If your search includes only state courts, you will not see the same level of separation of court levels. Below is a representation of just Arizona state cases retrieved by a keyword search for “dram shop”:

This Ravel View of the resulting cases has clearly identified a single most frequently cited, or seminal case, on this topic in Arizona – it is the largest circle (indicative of citing frequency) and located at the top of the graph (indicative of court level).

Hovering over the circles highlights the citation relationship between the case you are examining and other cases within your search results, and it will show whether the case has negative treatment in subsequent cases in your search results. To find the text of a case, simply click on the circle and find the case in the panel to the right.

Clearly, we love Ravel View – it is a fast, user-friendly tool that will be of particular benefit to visual learners and researchers. It should not be the only tool you rely on for accurate searching of case law, however, as it will not show all negative citation history for every case and only shows the cases retrieved by your keyword search. Thus, the utility of the results is highly dependent on how good your keyword search was to begin with. For guidance on how to craft a great keyword search, see our previous blog post on the topic here. We also encourage to you Meet with a Law Librarian for help with crafting keyword searches and/or navigating Ravel View in Lexis!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian