Tag Archives: 3L

Your Mindful Reminder: New Book on Harnessing the Inner Voice and Upgraded Mindfulness Guide Can Help You Succeed

The Law Library’s Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School guide has been newly updated and upgraded to help you succeed even in the most stressful circumstances your studies have to offer.

One new library title featured in the guide is Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It (Ethan Kross, 2021).

This book illustrates how Introspection is not always a good thing. Author Ethan Kross discusses how reflection can help us learn valuable lessons, but can also poison our thinking when our inner critic takes up too much of our mental bandwidth.

Negative self-chatter can rob us of our comfort—the mental anguish can often manifest as physical pain—and the confidence that we need to succeed. It can lead us to overthink situations and provoke us into ineffective or even ridiculous responses when we are stressed or scared.

Of course, talking to ourselves and listening to what our inner voice has to say is not always a bad thing. And the author, an experimental psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, has suggestions to help you tap into the good that your inner voice has to offer without indulging its tendency to rip you down over and over.

Taking certain actions, even looking at particular photos or using particular placebos, can give your inner voice a more helpful outlook. These actions include:

  • Mentally distancing ourselves from our problems so they appear external and manageable rather than overwhelming.
  • Using second person pronouns or our proper names to refer to ourselves to cultivate this benefit.
  • Talking in a healthy way to others, being aware of the traps of negative thinking that might also develop if we’re not careful.
  • Detaching from the notions that we are the center of the world, and look toward bigger things to remind us to stay humble and healthy.

Read this slim, sub-200 page book for additional insights into cultivating a healthier inner voice. In addition, check out this new content on the Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School guide:

  • Video guided meditations
    New videos help students release tension from their bodies and otherwise wind down from the stress of law school. Features tips on setting up a regular meditation practice, including how to avoid falling asleep while relaxing with your eyes closed. Guided meditations, many more of which can be found (for free) on the Mindfulness guide, are the best way to start.
  • Updated text resources
    New articles on mindfulness and meditation include instructions on meditation while walking. Mindfulness can also build useful skills for law practice in addition to stress relief and self-compassion. And, with some lawyers and law students being averse to mindfulness techniques, a new article discusses other ways to relieve stress, such as managing to-do lists and analyzing the sources of stress to disarm them.

For additional resources on mindfulness or any legal research topic, make an appointment to Meet with a 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

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

New Titles in the Law Library Collection – Indigenous Peoples

In January the Indian Legal Program (ILP) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the American Bar Association (ABA) are hosting the Intersection of Tribal Rights with Environmental, Energy and Resources Development Conference. The conference will focus on natural resource development, water quality and water rights, clean energy and climate change resiliency, and international best practices. The Law Library’s Indian Law collection has a number of books relevant to the subjects that will be explored at the conference – we have highlighted two new titles in this collection below.

A Nation Within: Navajo Land and Economic Development (Ezra Rosser, 2021)
In A Nation Within, Ezra Rosser explores the connection between land-use patterns and development in the Navajo Nation. Roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia, the Navajo reservation has seen successive waves of natural resource-based development over the last century: grazing and over-grazing, oil and gas, uranium, and coal; yet Navajos continue to suffer from high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rosser shows the connection between the exploitation of these resources and the growth of the tribal government before turning to contemporary land use and development challenges. He argues that, in addition to the political challenges associated with any significant change, external pressures and internal corruption have made it difficult for the tribe to implement land reforms that could help provide space for economic development that would benefit the Navajo Nation and Navajo tribal members.

Indigenous Peoples, Consent and Rights: Troubling Subjects (Stephen Young, 2021)
Analyzing how Indigenous Peoples come to be identifiable as bearers of human rights, this book considers how individuals and communities claim the right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as Indigenous peoples. According to international human rights discourse, ‘Indigenous peoples’ have the capacity to claim ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) to influence and control decisions that concern First Nation Peoples. The book argues that the subject status of Indigenous peoples emerged out of international law in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then, through a series of case studies, it considers how self-identifying Indigenous peoples, scholars, UN institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs) dispersed that subject-status and associated rights discourse through international and national legal contexts. It shows that those who claim international human rights as Indigenous peoples performatively become identifiable subjects of international law – but further demonstrates that this does not, however, provide them with control over, or emancipation from, a state-based legal system.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources 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

Graphics of Legal Research – Part 3: Ravel Law

When conducting legal research in Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law, you will encounter a number of graphics and symbols that are simultaneously helpful and confusing. In this last entry of our three-part Graphics of Legal Research series, we take a look at Ravel View for case search results, exclusively on Lexis.

Ravel View on Lexis provides a unique visual tool for understanding case search results and incorporates Shepard’s treatment so you can see whether a given case has been treated positively or negatively. To access Ravel View after running a keyword search of cases in Lexis, click on the search view on the far right that shows circles connected by lines.

The resulting graphical view of your top 75 case search results organizes the cases by court level and year of decision. Each case is represented by a circle on the graph – the graph’s Y-axis shows the level of court (with higher level court cases represented towards the top of the graph) and the X-axis shows the date of each case (with more recent cases toward the right of the graph). Further, it displays which cases have been cited to the most via the size of the circle – the bigger the circle, the more that case has been cited by other cases. Lines connecting the circles detail the citation relationship between cases and use color-coding to show either positive, neutral, or negative treatment. The most important color to watch for is red, which indicates that the later case treated the earlier case severely negatively.

Below is a Ravel View representation of federal and Arizona state cases retrieved by searching for “dram shop”:

Here you can see that state court cases are represented at the bottom of the graph, with federal trial court cases above them, appellate court cases above the trial courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States above all. If your search includes only state courts, you will not see the same level of separation of court levels. Below is a representation of just Arizona state cases retrieved by a keyword search for “dram shop”:

This Ravel View of the resulting cases has clearly identified a single most frequently cited, or seminal case, on this topic in Arizona – it is the largest circle (indicative of citing frequency) and located at the top of the graph (indicative of court level).

Hovering over the circles highlights the citation relationship between the case you are examining and other cases within your search results, and it will show whether the case has negative treatment in subsequent cases in your search results. To find the text of a case, simply click on the circle and find the case in the panel to the right.

Clearly, we love Ravel View – it is a fast, user-friendly tool that will be of particular benefit to visual learners and researchers. It should not be the only tool you rely on for accurate searching of case law, however, as it will not show all negative citation history for every case and only shows the cases retrieved by your keyword search. Thus, the utility of the results is highly dependent on how good your keyword search was to begin with. For guidance on how to craft a great keyword search, see our previous blog post on the topic here. We also encourage to you Meet with a Law Librarian for help with crafting keyword searches and/or navigating Ravel View in Lexis!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Study to Your Strengths with the Law Library

Everyone learns a little differently and when it comes to acing a law school final, studying with tools that work particularly well for you can be critical. The resources listed below address a number of learning styles and format preferences across a broad range of legal subjects, and we hope they will prove helpful as you begin to prepare for final exams. We want to emphasize that above all, however, pay attention to your professor and the direction he or she provides. He or she is the one who wrote your test!

  • 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 and check out our October post about creating your own flashcards.

  • Audio/videoVideo lectures and audiobooks can help students replicate the interpersonal, human approach to learning during Reading Week.

  • Flowcharts: 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

Flash Cards and Flowcharts: Optimizing Study for Your Learning Style

Legal study aids are increasingly catering to the vast diversity of learning methods that suit different students best, from visual aids such as flow charts to practice questions to audio and visual resources. Below we have highlighted tools for creating and accessing flow charts (great for visual learners) and flashcards (useful when you need to memorize a lot of information). We highly recommend adding these study tools to your class and exam prep process.

FLOWCHARTS
Flowcharts guide you through a legal issue, asking questions about the facts each step of the way to determine whether an element applies, and whether the analysis should continue. The structure of arrows and boxes is a big help for visual learners who quickly absorb information in tools such as graphics and maps. It can also help break down a complicated legal analysis into manageable, bite size bits, demystifying questions about estates in land or the Erie doctrine.

You can make your own flowcharts in Google Slides. Check out this short how-to video from our Electronic Resources Librarian, Sean Harrington, to learn more. You can choose shapes with the shapes tool that symbolize steps along the way of a legal analysis, such as rectangles for yes or no questions and ovals for the various potential outcomes of the analysis. The line tool includes an option with arrows to help you organize a complicated analysis, including curves and angled lines to help you fit all elements of a rule into your document. Making your own flowchart helps you process the rules yourself, and understand the process in a different way from traditional distilling of the rules into words alone.

The Law Library also offers access to commercial resources with flowcharts through its online study aids subscriptions and print study aids collection; specifically, check out the Emanuel Crunch Time series (available electronically on Wolters Kluwer).

FLASHCARDS
It’s no secret that part of the challenge of studying law is memorizing vast swaths of information. It’s a big part of the bar exam. Your outline is an important part of that process of committing the law to your memory, but reading and rereading does not always work optimally for everyone – that’s where flashcards come in handy.

The Law Library also has a collection of flashcards in its study skills section, and our online study aid platforms have additional resources that may be helpful. Writing your own cards can help you process the information on a much deeper level, though, as you process the law and craft your own rule statements. Here again, Sean Harrington has a video on how Google Slides can help.

Meet with a Librarian for more study tips!

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!