Category Archives: Law Library Services

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

Internship, Externship, New Job: Stand Out from the Crowd on Day One

Starting a new internship, externship, or job during law school can be nerve-wracking.  We want our work product to stand out so that we looked especially competent. To help you prepare, the Ross-Blakley Law library has put together a handful of resources from our legal research databases so that you can look your best on day one!

1 – Interactive Videos from Hotshot Legal:

Hotshot Legal is a company that makes attractive training courses for law students and junior associatesMany Am Law 100 firms use these training courses to prepare their new associates to be “practice ready.”  These courses are also implemented by Harvard and Stanford to get students ready for clinic work and Big Law internships. 

As an ASU Law student, you can sign up for a selection of entry-level courses like Civil Litigation Basics, Depositions, Mergers and Acquisitions, and more.  All you need is your @ASU email address. 

https://www.hotshotlegal.com/

2 – Lexis

Lexis has recently started to provide updated Summer Associate Resource Kits.  These extensively hyperlinked guides, “review the fundamentals of key transactions within a practice area with step-by-step guides, checklists, practice notes and forms, giving you a starting point and confidence to tackle assignments from senior associates and partners.”

There are currently 78 kits available and they cover a wide range of areas of law:

Link to all available kits:
https://plus.lexis.com/api/permalink/e653f284-e398-4454-bb7d-7509cf46f545/?context=1530671

3 – Westlaw

Westlaw provides year-round access to their legal research certifications through their Knowledge Center:

https://trainingtools.thomsonreuters.com/

If you’re working at an institution with Westlaw, they are a great way to get prepared so that your research stands out for your supervisors.  In addition to generic research certifications, they also provide narrower instruction on areas like transactional research and litigation. 

4 – Bloomberg Law

Bloomberg Law has developed an In-Focus Center called “In Focus: Core Skills – Litigation” dedicated to getting future litigators ready to practice.  The Core Skills Toolkit provides Practical Guidance on research, writing, document review, and other key aspects of litigation practice.  In addition to providing useful BLaw content for new associates, this resource has infographics of work processes so that you can make sure you’re doing a thorough job.

If you are graduating this Spring, make sure to check our Summer 2021 & Post-Graduation Use of LexisNexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law post so you know when your accounts will close.  As always, if you have any problems with access or want personalized, 1-on-1 training with any of these tools Make an Appointment with a Law Librarian

Sean Harrington, Electronic Service 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

Study to Your Strengths with the Law Library

Everyone learns a little differently. While mastering the Socratic method helps most lawyers optimize their professional performance, when it comes to acing a law school final, studying with tools that work particularly well for you can be critical.

Above all, pay attention to your professor. The one who wrote your test likely knows best.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library also provides a wide variety of study tools in print and online to help you master course materials and put your skills to the test before exam day. Here are some suggestions for particular learning styles:

  • In-depth explanation: The Examples and Explanations series provides detailed discussions of how the law operates. It also tests learners’ understanding with problems that can help a reader apply the law to a variety of fact patterns. E&E can be particularly useful to review any concepts that may have been more challenging in class.
  • Flashcards: Many students respond well to the challenge of recalling definitions, elements, or factors of legal concepts. Ask at the circulation desk about the law library’s collection of flashcards.
  • Audio/video: Video lectures and audiobooks can help students replicate the interpersonal, human approach to learning during Reading Week.
  • Visual learners: The Crunchtime series provides flowcharts, which help students break down the often complicated procedures for analyzing facts into a series of simple steps.
  • Practice questions: The Exam Pro series provides an extensive array of practice questions to help students prepare for multiple choice finals, and the Friedman’s Practice Series challenges students spot issues in large fact patterns before essay exams.

Meet with a reference librarian for help finding the best resources for your learning style. Good luck with finals!

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

Celebrating Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History Month and the law library would like to help you celebrate by highlighting some of the women who have helped to make Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law such a wonderful place to learn and grow.  If you’re interested, you can see our series from last year where we highlighted some of notable women who have been associated with our school: Sandra Day O’Connor, Justice Mary M. Schroeder, Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Justice Ruth V. McGregor, and more!

A recent project took reference librarian, Andrea Gass into the archives of the Arizona State Law Journal where she noticed that we have had many successful women at the helm of the ASU Law Review, starting with Patricia A. Metzger in 1975-1976.  In fact, our last eight Editors-in-Chief have been women!  Here is a list of all of the women who have served as Editor-in-Chief since 1975:

2020-21: Delilah Cassidy

2019-20: Sarah Pook

2018-19: Paloma Diaz

2017-18: Lauren Podgorski

2016-17: Tracy Olson

2015-16: Julie Hedberg

2014-15: Keelah Williams

2013-14: Hayleigh Crawford

2011-12: Melissa Posner

2010-11: Megan K. Scanlon

2007-08: Carolyn V. Williams

2006-07: Melissa Bengston

2004-05: Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe

1999-00: Ann L. Merry

1994-95: Jennifer B. Wuamett

1989-90: Shirley Ann Kaufman

1988-89: Patricia Ann Hubbard

1983-84: Patricia A. Nolan

1980-81: Victoria S. Lewis

1979-80: Barbara J. Torrez 

1977-78: Judith E. Sirkis

1975-76: Patricia A. Metzger

If you’re currently working on an article for law review and would like an overview of the available databases, help researching your topic, or simply a sounding-board for research ideas, make an appointment with a law librarian.  We can give you 1-on-1, personalized feedback and care.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Services 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