Author Archives: Andrea Gass

Summer at the Library: Research Heats Up

Summer is not a vacation for the librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library. The end of spring semester only renews our focus on research and study services. Meet with a Librarian to get professional, expert advice from JD holding research experts on the following:

Summer classes and bar exam prep

Summer employment and externships

  • Summer job/externship research project assistance.Our work is not done when classes are dismissed. We can meet with you to discuss non-confidential questions related to your internship, externship, or clerkship
  • Evaluate and strengthen your sources. We can critique your research and suggest stronger academic sources if you fear your paper may be too dependent on less than reliable materials. 

Academic and professional development

  • Prepare for journal work. We can show you some tricks of the trade for finding resources you’ll need for cite checking. When all else fails, give interlibrary loan a try! We can provide lessons to ease the citation transition from the Bluebook’s practice oriented blue pages to the academic white pages. 
  • Be a star research assistant. If you’re working for a new professor for the first time, the librarians can get you up to speed. We work closely with most law school faculty members and can help you become a shining academic aide.
  • Land your next job. We know the ins and outs of evaluating employers and gathering intel on what they value in job candidates. We can show you the latest tools to get a sense of an employer’s operations and needs.

For your reference

  • Clarify Bluebook citation. Sometimes, the Bluebook gives clear, unambiguous guidance on citation questions. We are here to help for the many times it does not.
  • Get answers. We will continue to provide reference services through Ask a Librarian, and our circulation staff will be on hand to help you track down and manage library resources.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

It’s Never Too Late to Research Efficiently: Meet with a Librarian

Legal researchers should never let a late semester time crunch let them get sloppy. Taking shortcuts in legal research can slow you down and add confusion, pressure, and tedium.

The law is a vast web riddled with complexities and exceptions. Going without a plan can lead a researcher to struggle through an enormous list of largely irrelevant results, misunderstand the law, or even select the wrong database altogether, missing important resources.

Meetings with reference librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are short, sweet, and efficient. We have the expertise to quickly identify appropriate legal research databases and suggest efficient research strategies that can help researchers craft quality writing projects, even in a time crunch at the end of the semester.

We can help you appreciate the time savings and increased certainty that comes with consulting quality secondary sources. And we can help you improve your search strategies. For example, HeinOnline is a vast database of databases in which search results commonly number in the thousands due to its vase holdings of current and historical legal materials. We can help you focus your searches: Instead of skimming a vast sea of irrelevant results for the valuable nuggets interspersed within, we can reduce the volume of noise and concentrate the legal wisdom.

We can also help you find appropriate interdisciplinary research databases to help you supplement your legal research with materials in related academic fields. We can critique your research strategies so far, and help you ensure that you are using reliable sources for your final submission. We can even demystify the Bluebook and help you find solid answers to time consuming footnoting conundrums.

In fact, we have already done a lot of the legwork ahead of time, and turning to our collection of research guides can help you identify helpful resources for your particular topic.

Meet with a Librarian to get expert advice on all of your research projects, from office memoranda to seminar papers to graduate writing requirements and Journal notes.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Stay in Control in Times of Stress

Staying aware of the present moment can improve your focus and performance in stressful situations, mindfulness and meditation studies indicate. It doesn’t take a deserted lakeside forest, perfect lotus posture, or hours of a silenced mind to achieve mindfulness. It’s a skill—a secular skill–useful for everyone, and particularly useful for lawyers and 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. Law schools and universities are increasingly recommending mindfulness training and offering mindfulness programs to help students cope in times of increased academic pressure. 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.

Mindfulness is not a luxury for people with lives of leisure or an all consuming experience that must dominate a busy person’s time. 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.

Whether you are a regular attendee of the student Zen Law and Mindfulness Association at ASU Law or you have never considered a mindfulness practice before, the law library has compiled resources that can help you build this skill. Check out our research guide Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School for academic studies, guided meditations, and brief guides to improve your attention and awareness.

And 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 Librarian to schedule a brief, efficient, time saving appointment with a JD holding reference librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

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

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

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