Category Archives: Law Library Services

The Law Library Can Help You Shine for On Campus and Virtual Interviews

Law students send resumes far and wide with the hope of landing their dream placement. During On Campus Interviews, or OCI, you won’t have to venture far, or maybe you’re interviewing via Zoom or similar software. The Law Library can help you highlight the knowledge and skills that will help you stand out from the crowd.

The Library’s reference librarians are happy to meet with job seekers to help you research firms and other employers. We can help you identify cases that attorneys have argued to assemble talking points, find judges’ past decisions, and gather details such as the types of cases that law firms tend to handle most frequently. This can help you keep a steady rapport with your interviewers when they ask you what you’d like to know about the placement.

We can also help you identify ways to stay up to date on developments in your field. Reading through blogs and other legal news, as well as engaging with expert commentary, are ways you can highlight your mastery of and dedication to your particular field during interviews and networking events. We can help you set alerts on your favorite research databases so you can be sure that you’ll have the latest information when you need it.

In addition, we can introduce you to tools of the legal trade, including materials in the library collection that practitioners frequently consult. Online practice guides and document templates can help you impress interviewers, and then produce professional work efficiently. We have experience using specialized tools and research databases for particular practice areas, which can give you a leg up over competitors with more baseline research skills.

Furthermore, our Law Employment Research Guide assembles tools job seekers can use to tailor your resumes and cover letters and to prepare for interviews. Books from the library’s collection provide focused advice on landing particular jobs and thriving in the legal profession. Legal news websites can help you stay current. We have focused advice on researching law firms, with websites and litigation analytics tools that provide data on employers.

The guide also has advice if you are seeking a clerkship. It lists texts and blogs that provide tips on standing out, as well as resources on finding job openings and reading up on judges’ work. Finally, within the Professional Development topic, we introduce networking opportunities, such as specialized legal associations in Arizona as well as student organizations at ASU. The law librarians have firsthand experience navigating the legal employment landscape, and the skills and experience that can help you land your dream job during OCI. Meet with a Librarian to get an edge before you button up your best interview suit.

Andrea Gass, Reference 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

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

It’s Never too Late to Research Efficiently

Legal researchers should never allow a late semester time crunch lead to disordered research. Taking shortcuts in legal research can slow you down and add confusion, pressure, and tedium to the process. In addition, going without a plan can lead you to struggle through an enormous list of irrelevant results, misunderstand the law, or even select the wrong database altogether, missing important resources.

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

A few specific examples of what the reference librarians can help you with:

(1) showing you how to access and navigate the many available legal secondary sources so that you feel more confident in your search results

(2) identifying databases, both legal and interdisciplinary, outside of Westlaw and Lexis that may have relevant content for your inquiry

(3) providing tips and strategies for reducing the volume of irrelevant or unhelpful search results

In addition, we may already have a research guide that can help you identify helpful resources for your particular topic. We have guides on Bankruptcy Law, Tax Law, International Law, and much more!

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

Online Research: The Domain of Skepticism

Your writing and your research will be put to the test if you try to publish an article you write during law school. Most law students are strong writers, and professors or librarians can help you find a worthy topic. But research is another matter. It’s sometimes easier to find things online than in books or legal databases, which require Shepardizing and Keyciting and other labors. But it could be unreliable—much of the Internet has no place in a good law review article. Below is a guide to domain extensions to help you evaluate online resources and determine if you need an alternative or to shore up subjective claims with objective data. The extensions are ranked from most to least reliable.

.gov/.mil: These extensions indicate that a resource has a highly reliable government body or military institution at its controls. These generally provide among the most reliable information, but be sure information is timely and remember that even government agencies do engage in positive spin as well. Objective data may be reliable without further inquiry, but researchers will want to be skeptical of analysis and commentary.

.edu: This website belongs to an educational entity, which provides some objective data about subjects of research. However, even schools will engage in positive spin about themselves. Turn to reliable print resources or objective third party resources if information from a school may be presented in a less than objective way.

.org: This extension indicate that an entity is either a nonprofit institution or simply any private entity,. The website could belong to a private individual or for profit business. Thus, .org provides little extra assurance of reliability, and you will want to vet any information with more reliable government or objective data. You can trust legal research databases such as HeinOnline.org to present data objectively; never cite to Wikipedia.org, although you may want to use it as a starting point and cite to some of the materials to which the Wiki article cites.

.com/.net (and similar): These domain extensions indicate that a resource is controlled by a private entity or individual, including business names. Although they can be reliable for information about a particular business, keep in mind that information will likely be presented with a positive spin for businesses and certain other entities. Check resources on HeinOnline to see if other reputable authors have relied on materials you plan to use. Take a similarly skeptical view toward information with second generation extensions such as .biz or .dev.

Meet with a Librarian for tips on how to shore up your research for maximum reliability and, we hope, publication potential.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Adding terms and connectors searching to your legal research toolkit

Have you ever searched on Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg and found that your “Google”-like keyword searching is bringing up an overwhelming list of 10,000+ resources, and worse, none of those resources seem useful? When this happens to you, we recommend terms and connectors searching. Terms and connectors searching, also called Boolean searching and advanced searching, will enable you to take charge of your search. It is a way to ensure your search results are comprehensive and precise. We’ve mapped out steps below to help you become comfortable with making terms and connectors searching your default search strategy.

1. Assess the problem
Before you search, consider:
What’s the area of law? Am I familiar with it, or do I need to get some background?
What words (jargon, terms of art) are used in this area of law?
What type of materials do I want to search?

2. Write an issue statement

3. Turn the issue statement into a search query
A mnemonic for doing this is TARC:
Terms
Alternatives
Root expander
Connectors

T = Terms — Identify key terms
Which terms in the issue statement represent the most legally relevant facts and/or issues?  

A = Alternatives — Identify alternatives to the key terms
Brainstorm words that legal writers might use in place of the key terms you identified. Helpful options include listing synonyms and related terms, which may be broader or narrower in scope than the main key term (ex. if the main key term is car, alternative terms could include automobile and vehicle). You can connect these within parenthesis in your search using the OR connector, discussed below.

R = Root expander
Using the ! character (root expander) can help account for different word endings/variations.
– Ex. constit! = constitute, constitution, constitutional…  
– Plurals: the singular will retrieve the regular plural.

C = Connectors
Use connectors to dictate the relationship between the search terms you enter. The two main connectors are OR and AND.
OR expands search results
When used between two words, OR means that the results may contain either or both words.
AND limits / restricts search results
When used between two words, AND means that the results must contain both words.
Variations of AND:
w/s — within the same sentence
w/p — within the same paragraph
w/# — within # words (e.g., w/4 equals within 4 words)
The connectors w/s and w/p are particularly useful in issue-based searching. If words are in same sentence or paragraph, there is a greater chance they’ll relate to one another and to your issue, and therefore that the document will be relevant.

Phrase Searching
Always put phrases in quotation marks.

4. Write out your search query with all the terms, alternatives, root expanders, and connectors in place
Here is an example of how an issue statement related to drunk driving can be crafted into a terms and connector search:

Issue statement: Is an individual who was found asleep in his car, which was parked on the side of the road with the engine off but the keys in the ignition, guilty of driving under the influence?

Terms and connector search: (asleep OR unconscious OR “passed out”) AND (“drunk driving” OR DUI OR intoxicated OR inebriated) AND ((car OR vehicle OR automobile)/s (park! OR stationary))

When running a terms and connectors search, what you are doing is specifying the relationships that must exist between the terms in your retrieved documents, instead of letting the database search algorithm determine those relationships for you. In Westlaw, a space between terms is by default interpreted as an “OR” connector (first amendment = first OR amendment); in Bloomberg Law, a space between terms in interpreted as an AND connector (first amendment = first AND amendment); in Lexis, it depends on the other connectors in the search as to how the space in interpreted by default. Don’t let the databases push you around! Using terms and connectors searching puts you in control of your search.

For individualized help with terms and connectors searching, make an appointment with a law librarian!

Blazing Your Research Trail

We’ve all been there. An ember of a memory of the perfect case or statute we read a few days ago faintly glows. It’s the tantalizing last vestige of a source whose value we failed to initially recognize.

Cases and other resources we too hastily reject may not be lost forever. We can find traces of them through an analysis of our research history on our commercial research databases, or by wading through our recent internet browsing history. We might even have names at the tip of our tongue: Hammer v. SafewayAnnoyer v. Peff? But mining the lost, mislaid, or abandoned gems can become very taxing, and it takes up precious research time.

The Ross-Blakley reference librarians have suggestions for keeping track of your research (often referred to as a research trail) to make sure you don’t wander lost again!

  1. Keep a research log. This can be handwritten or electronic – choose a method/tool that works best for you. We have seen Excel work for this, as well as simple Word docs, or even printouts of cases stored in a tabbed binder. Even if you cross off a case or other source because it doesn’t seem to have much connection to your legal issue at first blush, the law can take you strange places, and you may want to revisit those sources later. Pro tip: Track the case name, key facts, holding, and key reasoning to create an explanatory parentheticals efficiently later.

  2. Follow a trusted secondary source. It’s dangerous to go alone! Long, convoluted case opinions are trying to resolve a legal dispute, where legal treatises, encyclopedias, and hornbooks succinctly and efficiently explain how legal rules operate in practice. Researching beginning with cases can lead you down unfortunate rabbit holes so we recommend starting with a secondary source 100% of the time. Westlaw and Lexis have excellent secondary sources; the ASU Library catalog is another resource for accessing secondary sources such as legal treatises, journals, and more.

  3. Utilize highlights, notes, folders, and sharing. Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg all have folder systems in which you can save materials to access easily later. To highlight and take notes in Westlaw, just select a passage of text and when you let go, you’ll have an option to highlight or make a note. You can then save your highlighted, annotated case into a folder, where your notes will be preserved. Lexis has similar features, with the history button on its homepage and in the top bar on every page, and with the “Folders” button hidden under the “More” option in the top right corner. Both databases enable you to copy passages into Word or Excel documents by highlighting them and clicking on Copy with Reference (Westlaw) or Copy (Advanced) (Lexis).

  4. Meet with a Law Librarian to get tips on how to research efficiently and confidently. We can help guide you to secondary sources, help you navigate folders, highlights, and notes, and discuss best practices for research to help you on your journey toward a completed memo or GWR paper.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Feeling the Rush? How the Law Library Can Help Save You Time

When you’re fighting against the clock and calendar, the Ross-Blakley Law Library can back you up. The JD reference librarians have been through the whole law school experience and know the best methods for conducting research efficiently and effectively, and they want to share those skills with you! Make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian and 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. Our study aids subscriptions also include both audio and video resources for auditory and visual learners.

  • 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 paper 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 and can help you polish your citations to improve your grades or your publication chances.

Reference librarian meetings typically last about 30 minutes and can save you hours of research time, as well as help you approach your projects with more confidence and preparation.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Wolters Kluwer and West Academic Online Study Aids – Your Keys to Success

Welcome to all our new students and welcome back to our continuing students. The Law Library is pleased to make available to you two online study aids services.

Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aids provides unlimited online access to hundreds of titles. Some series that are available include:

  • Examples & Explanations (a law student favorite)
  • Emanuel Law Outlines
  • Glannon Guides
  • And much more!

Use this link to create an account: WK Online Study Aids Click register to create an account. Once you create an account, your WK login will ensure off-campus access to the study aids. You will also be able to print, download, highlight, and take notes. You can download the iPublishCentral Reader App and study anywhere

West Academic Study Aids offers you easy online access to hundreds of study aids, treatises, and audio lectures to help you succeed in law school. To access the collection, click here West Academic.

You must use your ASU email address to create an account. West Academic will recognize you as a member of the ASU community and allow you to create an account when you use your email address as your username. Once you create an account, your West Academic login will ensure off-campus access to the study aids and will also enable you to print, download, highlight, and take notes. You can download the RedShelf App and study anywhere (available in iTunes and Google Play for Android).  Note: You must follow the directions provided by West Academic precisely in order to use Redshelf.

If you have any questions, please contact Electronic Services Librarian, Sean Harrington.

Have a great semester!

How Do I Know Which Study Guides are Right for Me?

Are you rudderless in a sea of books, guides, and online materials? Do you need help taming an onslaught of resources? Help is here. The Law Library’s Electronic Services Librarian, Sean Harrington has prepared a succinct study skills materials chart to guide you through the semester:

Study Aids Chart

Sean says, primarily the reason we collect such a wide range of study material is because they present (usually similar) material differently – we want to accommodate for different learning styles. To determine which you like the most it is best to skim the content (either in the library or online) to see which sparks your interest.

Secondarily, some of the materials serve different functions: One title may restate class materials in a summary form (Examples & Explanations), while another may give you a boatload of practice multiple choice questions (Q&A), and another may be audio lectures for your commute (Sum & Substance).

We hope the chart helps and please remember you can always Meet with a Librarian.