Topical Swarm: Law Library Introduces New Guides for Student Scholarship

TOPICAL SWARMOur law has roots that stretch back ages to Medieval England, and at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, students break new ground each year with seminar papers, law journal comments, and graduate writing requirements.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library has an enormous collection of texts and treatises in its catalog, access to countless law reviews and journals, and more than a dozen legal research databases beyond Westlaw and Lexis Advance.

It might seem difficult to get a good start, particularly with casebooks to read. But our research guides can help you dive in to the hot-button legal issues ripe for new perspectives. In particular, we have recently added entries for the Spring 2020 semester to our Topical Seminar Research Guides to help students who will be writing about legal developments in a variety of areas of law.

Our Artificial Intelligence guide, for example, includes publications dedicated to advancing knowledge of “thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines.” Education and the Law links students to several blogs and news services capturing the latest trends in school policy. Global Approaches to Immigration and Citizenship opens reveals foreign legal materials that may not be readily available on some legal research services. And Law and Social Change incorporates dozens of resources involving a variety of social concerns, from racial and gender discrimination to mass incarceration.

We have topical library guides available to you if you’re enrolled in the following classes:

Arbitration: Alternative Dispute Resolution
Advanced First Amendment
Artificial Intelligence
Criminal Sentencing Seminar
Cults and Alternative Religions
“Dangers” of the Modern Administrative State
Education and the Law
Genetics and the Law
Global Approaches to Immigration and Citizenship
Indian Energy
International Law of Armed Conflict
International Environmental Law
International Human Rights
Law and Psychology
Law and Social Change
Medical Error
National Security Law
Neuroscience, Law & Ethics
Privacy, Big Data & Emerging Technologies
Professional Sports Law
Race and the Law
Reproduction, Reproductive Technologies, and the Law
Special Topics in Water Law
Sustainability and Law Research Seminar

For further help with choosing a topic or starting your research, feel free to Meet with a Librarian. We have extensive experience retrieving information on all manner of legal topics, and can help set you on a productive research trail.

Andrea Gass, Law Library Fellow

Creating Logical Arguments for Essays and Exams

logicHaving trouble in legal writing?  Is it because your arguments are illogical?  Nobody wants to admit that they have trouble putting together a logically coherent argument but logic, like many things, is a skill you can improve with practice.

Students that come from backgrounds in Philosophy, Poli Sci, and Math may get this type of training included in their undergraduate education.  Other undergrad disciplines (like my English Literature B.A.) may gloss over this information or assume that students understand these concepts intuitively.  Regardless, you can get this training on your own if you have a good guide.  Luckily for you, the Ross-Blakley Library has your back:

At they have a resource called “Teach Yourself Logic 2017: A Study Guide.”  This is a free PDF that will lead the reader from novice to expert.  It also gives thorough explanations of the resources so that you can jump in mid-stream if you already have previous training.  Guides like this are the next best thing to taking formal classes.

Many of the resources in the guide are available through the ASU catalog; either in print or digitally (and some are even free – like the Modern Formal Logic Primer).  Also remember that we can get materials from other institutions through the Interlibrary loan (ILL) so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it at the ASU libraries.  Just fill out the form and we do the rest.

If your issues are more stylistic/format-centered, then we have a host of useful resources in-house to help you with these problems:

The 1L Resource Guide has general recommendations for structuring law school answers and how to approach questions.  The Legal Writing Guide will give you more directed advice on finding a book that is specific to the type of writing you want to do.  For example, Eugene Volokh has a fantastic book if you are specifically writing an article for Law Review.  West Academic has many study guides on the subject of legal writing (that hyperlink will take you directly to the Legal Writing materials).  On Wolters Kluwer we have the Examples and Explanations for Legal Writing (which was written by ASU’s phenomenally talented Judy Stinson).

West Academic even has audio lessons in the form of Sum and Substance Audio on Exam Skills: Essay Writing.  You can download the mobile app and stream this in your car, on the light rail, or at the gym.

Don’t hesitate to make an appointment to come see us.  We’ll help you in any way we can.  If you can’t make it to campus, you can always email us.  Also don’t forget to decompress with our Mindfulness and Meditation guide.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Justice in the Kitchen

Finals are over, students are enjoying break, and so I thought it would be a good time for a light-hearted blog post.  In this edition of the Ross-Blakley blog we are adventuring into territory that is not routinely covered by law libraries: gourmet cuisine.
Frog cover

Some Background
A small collection of personal artifacts from our namesake, Sandra Day O’Connor, was generously donated to the law school.  Part of that collection came to the Ross-Blakley law library so that we could display some of the books and artifacts in the law library.  Resident technical services wizard, Karen Scoville, discovered a treasure that I thought I would share.

The Cover of Justice in the Kitchen
This cookbook was created by the spouses of Arizona law students, attorneys, and judges.  However, it also features submissions from law faculty, deans, senators, and judges.  I do not have an exact date of publication but I estimate it to be late 1960’s (Barry Goldwater and Spiro Agnew references).

Besides having an adorable frog-judge on the cover, it’s got some recipes that are prototypical of that time period.  (Note: I have not been able to discover why they chose a frog but there are many frog drawings in the book – frogs with gavels, frogs wearing aprons, frogs with wigs, frogs playing sports, etc.)

Senator Barry Goldwater’s recipe for Black Walnut Stew:

Former ASU President G. Homer Durham provides the “recipe” for his favorite afternoon snack:
People in the 1960’s appreciated gelatin a lot more than we do.Apricot



















My personal favorite because it’s one of the few that I can cook with my limited abilities. 










If anyone has information about this that they would like to share, please feel free to email me at

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Library Student Reference Assistant Position for Spring 2020

The ASU Ross-Blakley Law Library is seeking a 2L or 3L student to help provide reference and research assistance in the Spring 2020 semester.

Rate of pay: $15/hour

Work hours: Flexible; 5-15 hours per week (scheduled 9am-4pm, Monday-Thursday)

Please apply online by 3pm on 12/27/19 using the instructions below:

  • You can apply online by clicking on the following link:
  • Next, click on the “Search On-Campus Jobs” box
  • In the search bar, type 57599BR and then click “Search”
  • Click on the job title link to open job posting
  • Click on the “Apply to job” button at the lower part of the screen
  • Fill out the appropriate fields and attach your resume, etc.

Contact Tara Mospan at with any questions.

Resource Spotlight: U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library

Impeachment is in the news and, if you’re like me, you may wonder if journalists are misstating this fairly complicated legal doctrine’s history and application.  Fortunately, the Ross-Blakley Law Library is here to help.  We collect many resources that cover the doctrine of impeachment but I would like to highlight one specific resource in HeinOnline:  U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library.


You can also read historical documents from past Presidential impeachment hearings to get an idea of the historical precedent for these types of proceedings:


The guide also has recent legal journal articles on this topic so you can see what scholars in this field are saying about the current state of this doctrine:


From HeinOnline:

Now, one of these rare impeachment proceedings has been brought against the 45th president of the United States. For now, Donald Trump’s fate remains unknown as subpoenas are issued and testimony given. To help researchers understand these rare but always fascinating historical events, HeinOnline now offers a new collection, U.S. Presidential Impeachment. Organized by the four affected presidents, this collection brings together a variety of documents both contemporaneous and asynchronous to each president’s impeachment, presenting both a snapshot of the political climate as each impeachment played out and the long view history has taken of each proceeding. Congressional Research Service reports round out a general discussion of presidential impeachment and a curated list of scholarly articles, external links, and a bibliography provide avenues for further research on this topic. We are especially pleased to include the ever-growing resource Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine, compiled by Kelly Smith at UC San Diego, which brings together official documents related to the whistleblower complaint and impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. This collection will continue to grow as we add new material, particularly as it becomes available for the current investigation into Donald Trump. Research not just the past but our fascinating present with HeinOnline.

Here’s how to navigate to the database from the Ross-Blakley Law Library’s homepage:

U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library in HeinOnline

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Exam Prep: The Law Library Can Help

Test Taking

The Law Library has an abundance of resources to help you prepare for your exams.

  • Our online study aids subscriptions will help build your confidence.
    WK Online Study Aid
    West Academic Study Aids
  • CALI tutorials are written by law faculty and librarians from American law schools. They are reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The lessons are designed to help you become accustomed to taking multiple-choice examinations and provide feedback to your answers.
  • Our print Study Skills Collection is located on the third floor of the Law Library across from the Circulation Desk. The collection brings together an array of study aids to help you prepare for your exams. All the materials in the Study Skills Collection may be checked out for two weeks and are renewable twice. We also have a print collection of Exam Preparation Guides you may find useful.
  • You may access Law School Past Exams from the Law Library’s web site. Many faculty members make their past exams available to students as a teaching aid.

If there is anything specific you might need help with as you prepare to study for your exams, please don’t’ hesitate to schedule an appointment to Meet with a Librarian.

We wish you the best of luck!

New Law Library LibGuide: Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School

CalmingIn the frenetic rush toward Thanksgiving and finals season, it may seem like you have no time for anything, but don’t forget to take a moment clear your mind, and take a deep breath. Lawyers increasingly are turning to mindfulness and meditation to relieve stress, to help them focus their attention on the present and their clients’ needs, and to stay in control in difficult situations. The Ross-Blakley Law Library’s new research guide on Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School helps Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law students join this beneficial professional trend, sharpen your focus for finals, and feel better about yourself and others. It offers information about fully secular meditation practices, with resources to explain how and why it works, and how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine. Guides for mindful study and writing can help students succeed academically through improved focus. Organizations such as the Zen Law Students Association (ZLSA), as well as resources such as guided meditations, can make meditation part of students’ routine.

Exams, seminar papers, grad writing requirements, and final memo drafts are igniting signal flares to demand focused attention. But, try as we might to devote ourselves to study, we all find ourselves mentally juggling family and professional obligations, social commitments, personal interests, and mental noise—from innocent pop song earworms to destructive self-doubt.

It is natural to feel some pressure during law school, just as it’s natural for the mind to wander. Without grades to indicate how well we have mastered the law, what would motivate us to push as hard as we do to succeed? It’s challenging training to prepare for a challenging, rewarding profession.

Regular meditation practice can reshape your mind in many ways, improving concentration, awareness, and compassion while reducing stress and anxiety. Even if you’re not regularly practicing, taking a break to breathe can help you manage in times of increased pressure. Here are instructions to get you started, adapted from The Anxious Lawyer co-author Jeena Cho on the legal blog Above the Bar:

  1. Sit on the floor or a cushion with your legs crossed in front of you, upright with your spine straight. Your arms should be relaxed with your hands resting on your knees. (Palms may face downward or upward depending on your preference.) Alternatively, you may sit in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your feet firmly on the floor. You can also meditate lying down if that is most comfortable.
  2. Close your eyes or allow their focus to soften, and take a deep breath or two. Feel your body make contact with your surroundings, and feel the tension in your shoulders relax as you exhale deeply.
  3. Pay attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of the air.
  4. Your mind will likely wander. Don’t fret or mentally reprimand yourself; visualize the thought dissipating and return your focus to your breath. Our brains are made to produce thoughts, and law students will have a lot on their minds, particularly around finals.
  5. Alternative methods of focusing the brain include mentally expressing gratitude, repeating a word or phrase, or focusing attention on sensations throughout the body.
  6. You can set a goal to meditation for 5 to 10 minutes or more, but even short, calming breaks can provide rest and peace.

For more, stress-relieving help with your studies, memos, papers, and employer research, make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian. Some of our librarians on staff regularly engage in mindfulness and meditation practices, and Andrea Gass ( would be happy to provide more information on how ZLSA and our mindfulness resources can help you.

Andrea Gass, Law Library Fellow

Metadata: A Short Practical Primer & Why It Is Important to a Law Student or Lawyer

MetadataWhat is it?
For e-discovery purposes, the term metadata generally refers to information about an electronic file (email message, MS Office document, audio/video file, etc.) that is stored in the underlying contents of the file. While some of this information may appear on the face of a document, such as the file date or file name, there can be hundreds of additional metadata values that are not readily accessible without the use of technology to extract them. Some metadata values are easily updated by a document’s custodian, such as the file author or file name for an MS Word document. Other metadata values, such as a file’s date last modified, are computer generated and not available for manual input or manipulation. Diane Quick, Don’t Forget about Me(tadata), 25 Pretrial Prac. & Discovery 9 (2017).

Why is it important to a law student or lawyer?
Metadata can be exceptionally useful at a later date if you’ve organized it properly.  In fact, metadata was how they captured the famous BTK Killer in 2004.  It can tell you when, who, and where a piece of information was created or modified.  Actually, it can tell you basically anything – there’s no limit to the number of fields that someone could record in the metadata of (for example) a document or picture.

The problem arises when you unknowingly pass metadata to someone who you would prefer did not have that information.  Here are a couple of hypotheticals to illustrate:

  • You are working for an attorney during your first internship. The attorney emails you an MS Word pleading to use as a template for a declaration you’re about to prepare.  In that template’s metadata fields there is confidential information about another client.  You email the declaration to opposing counsel who opens it and now has access to that confidential information.
  • Your client provides you with electronic information (pictures, MS Word documents, etc.) for your case. During the eDiscovery process, your supervisor has you send hundreds of files to opposing counsel.  You did not remove the metadata from the files and end up sending along incriminating, sensitive, or privileged evidence to the opposition.
  • Your supervisor gives you a PDF contract template to prepare a contract for a new client. You spend hours meticulously drafting the perfect agreement to impress the client and your supervisor… but you forget to remove the metadata from the old agreement.  The new client sees the other client’s name and exclaims, “You attorneys are all crooks!  You’re just reusing the same boilerplate contract and charging me thousands of dollars!”

Note: If you’re working in Arizona, the State Bar has explicitly stated that opposing counsel cannot mine for embedded metadata to bring as evidence…. but how would you ever know if they had?

Current Legal Issues:
Can you take advantage of opposing counsel’s laziness regarding metadata during the discovery process?

Riccardo Tremolada, The Legal Ethics of Metadata: Accidental Discovery of Inadvertently Sent Metadata and the Ethics of Taking Advantage of Others’ Mistakes, 25 Rich. J.L. & Tech. 1 (2019).

Bulk biometric metadata and police surveillance:

Margaret Hu, Bulk Biometric Metadata Collection, 96 N.C. L. Rev. 1425 (2018).

Regulation by metadata-mining algorithms (robots):

Cary Coglianese; David Lehr, Regulating by Robot: Administrative Decision Making in the Machine-Learning Era, 105 Geo. L.J. 1147 (2017)

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

New HeinOnline Database Alert: State Constitutions Illustrated

The State Constitutions Illustrated database is a treasure trove of information on constitutional histories.  It has a clean, simple interface that allows the user to find primary documentation about how the United States acquired each state in the union.  This new database is the helpful, local friend of the World Constitutions Illustrated that you may have seen in the Advanced Legal Research classes.

From HeinOnline, “Containing the text of every constitution that has been in force for every state with the original, consolidated and current texts and an extensive collection of documents from before statehood, State Constitutions Illustrated provides comprehensive coverage and allows researchers to compare multiple editions from multiple sources. It currently has nearly 9,000 historical and current constitutions and constitutional documents.”

heinLooking for more information about how a state came into being?  This database has an archive on each state that includes pre-territorial documents relating to other nations.

Hein 2

Would you like to read materials from pre-statehood, including colonial charters, laws, and royal instructions for the original thirteen colonies; treaties, territorial laws, and federal acts for the other states?

Hein 3

Here’s how to navigate to the database from the Ross-Blakley Law Library’s homepage:

Our Arizona Constitutional History Bibliography is also a great resource for researching Arizona constitutional history.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian