Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports now freely available online


The Library of Congress announced today that it is providing Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports to the public. CRS reports are analytical, non-partisan reports produced by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, for members of Congress.  They are excellent tools for legal researchers as they provide authoritative and objective information on topics of legislative interest. Providing public access to the CRS reports is a big policy shift, as in the past reports were only available to the public when released by a member of Congress.

This policy change was directed by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which requires that the Library of Congress make CRS reports publicly available online. The result is a new public website, which allows reports to be searched by keyword. This website will include all new or updated CRS reports; the Library will add previously published reports “as expeditiously as possible.”

The Socratic Method and You

“I cannot teach anybody anything.  I can only make them think.”
– Socrates

As a law student you have no doubt experienced the Socratic Method instructional model, which is based on the asking and answering of questions in class with the goal of stimulating critical thinking.  You can thank Christopher Columbus Landell for that, who as the Dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895 introduced this method to legal education.  Before Landell, legal instruction was based on the lecture model, in which students memorized material from an instructional textbook and were lectured on that material in class.

Many law professors now combine the Socratic Method with the Case Method, in which they question students about appellate-level court cases to help them explore the rules that can be derived from those cases.  While this instructional model has a fair number of critics, it is something that you will need to become comfortable with in law school.  Below are a few ideas from the Law School Academic Support Blog on turning the Socratic Method into a more positive experience:

1) Recognize what questions the professor almost always asks about each case during class.  Think about the answers to those standard questions during your class preparation.

2) Before class, consider the case from 360 degrees.  In addition to understanding the case deeply (its separate case brief parts and details), consider the case more broadly (how does it fit with the other cases read for that day and into the larger topic).

3) When called on, think about the question asked and take a deep breath before answering.  Many mistakes are made because students blurt out something they immediately realize is wrong or answer a different question than actually asked.

4) Remember that most people in class are not judging you when you are the student called on for Socratic Method.  About a third are relieved it was not them.  About a third are looking ahead frantically because they realize their turns are coming up.  About a third are busy taking notes and looking for the answers.

Be sure to also check out Cracking the Case Method: Legal Analysis for Law School Success or 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School , both are available in the Study Skills Collection of the Law Library, for more ideas on how to master the Socratic Method.

New Self-Checkout!

Have you ever found yourself deep in thought while at the Law Library and then suddenly you realize the library staff have gone home and you need to check a book out? Have you dozed off in a study room and shook yourself awake at midnight knowing you needed to checkout just one more study skills book? Fear not, the Law Library now has a self-checkout station located at the Circulation desk on the third floor. You can check-out and renew items using your ASU Sun Card. There are screen instructions to guide you while using the self-checkout station.  Please contact Carrie Henteleff at if you have any self-checkout questions.


Summer 2018 and Post-Graduation Use of Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Westlaw

Wondering which research tools you can use this summer?  We have outlined both summer 2018 access and post-graduation use policies for Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Westlaw below.

Remember that you also have unlimited access to many other legal databases in addition to hundreds of interdisciplinary databases through the ASU Library this summer! The library staff is also here all summer long to help you with research. Call, e-mail, or stop by for assistance during reference hours.

Bloomberg Law
Bloomberg Law provides unrestricted summer access to all law students for any research purpose, whether academic or commercial.  You do not need to take any additional steps to secure summer access to your registered Bloomberg Law account.

Graduating students: Graduating students will automatically have full access to Bloomberg Law for six months after graduation. You do not need to take any additional steps to secure this post-graduation access.

Please contact our Bloomberg Law representative, Tania Wilson, with questions.

LexisNexis provides unrestricted summer access to all law students for any research purpose, whether academic or commercial.  You do not need to take any additional steps to secure summer access to your registered Lexis Advance account.

Graduating students: Graduating students will automatically have full access to Lexis through the end of December 2018.  You do not need to take any additional steps to secure this post-graduation access.

Please contact our LexisNexis account executive, Alan J. Mamood, with questions.

Westlaw offers full access to Westlaw, Practical Law, Drafting Assistant, and Doc & Form Builder to current ASU law students who are participating in select academic pursuits over the summer. Permissible uses include the following:

  • Summer classes and study abroad programs
  • Law review or journal research
  • Research assistant assignments
  • Moot court research
  • Externship sponsored by the school

You do not need to do anything to gain summer access to these tools. Students with any other type of summer employment must use their employer-provided password for Westlaw access.

Graduating students:  Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law graduates now have 60 hours a month of Westlaw access for 18 months after graduation; this access can be used for either commercial (paid) or educational purposes. Graduating students will need to activate their 18 month password extension within their Westlaw account for this extended access.

Please contact our Thomson Reuters Academic Account Manager, Jeff Brandimarte, with questions.

Prodigious Honor for Ross-Blakley Law Library Director

Dean Victoria Trotta is the 2018 recipient of the American Association of Law Libraries Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1984 to recognize exemplary service to the Association. The Award is given in recognition of a career of outstanding, extended, and sustained service to law librarianship and to AALL. This award is the Association’s highest honor.  We are so happy for Tory and her well-deserved accolade. Tory Award Slide

Steven Perlmutter, LLM & Celeste Robertson ’19 Honored for Exemplary Student Research

The Ross-Blakley Law Library at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of The Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research.

Steven Perlmutter is the first place award recipient for his paper High Times Ahead: Products Liability in Medical Marijuana. Perlmutter received his JD degree from ASU Law and is now pursing an LLM degree. Celeste Robertson takes second-place honors for her paper When Bitcoins Buy Opioids: Why Amending the Federal Money Laundering Statutes is Necessary to Combat the Opioid Crisis.  Robertson is a 2L. 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 Victoria Trotta and Beth DiFelice and Clinical Professor Kimberly Holst selected the winners from a number of very competitive entries.

To read more about Steven and Celeste’s papers, please follow this link: Announcing the 2018 Recipients of the Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

Congratulations to our 2018 Winners!

Last Call for Library Student Research Award Submissions

April 2nd will be upon us in just a few days. Submit your paper for the Ross-Blakley Law  Library Award for Exemplary Student Research before the deadline which is Monday, April 2nd at 9am.

The award offers a $500 first place prize and $250 second place prize for a piece of scholarly writing that exhibits exceptional research. To learn more about the award, including eligibility and application procedures, visit:

Ross-Blakley Law  Library Award for Exemplary Student Research 

Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

Do you want to win $500?  Would you like to have your work published in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Faculty Scholarship Repository?  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 April 2nd 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. Winners will be invited to publish their paper in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Faculty Scholarship Repository.

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, print resources, electronic 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 Ask a Librarian.

Good Luck!

Offline Reading – A New Feature of the West Academic Study Aids Subscription

Two exciting features have been added to the West Academic Study Aids platform:

  • Offline reading via the free West Academic Library Mobile App: this is a free app that is compatible with Apple and Android devices.  You can now read, highlight, and take notes while offline. The ability to download audio lectures will be added in early March.
  • Updated e-Reader: the e-reader has been revamped to make it easier for you to read, take notes, and highlight content.  It’s also compatible with the new mobile app, so annotations automatically sink between platforms.

More information on these new features is available here: SAS Mobile App.

Free Access to PACER Opinions and Orders via

A new resource for free access to federal court opinions and orders is now available online at This resource, known as the RECAP Archive, allows users to search approximately 3.4 million orders and opinions from approximately 1.5 million federal district and bankruptcy court cases dating back to 1960. New opinions are downloaded in to the Archive every night to keep the collection up to date.