The Future of Law Reviews

An article by Walter Olson in the Atlantic titled Abolish the Law Reviews! adds another chapter to the debate about the value and future of scholarly legal journals.  Membership and publication in a law journal no doubt remains a valued credential.  But will this continue to be the case?  Olson posits that the real future for valuable academic scholarship is the blawgosphere and other virtual forums.

Olson also cites GMUSL’s Professor Ross Davies’s report, Law Review Circulation 2011: More Change, More Same.  Davies finds that diminishing subscriptions “have ranged from near-freefall to mere steep-slide.” He notes that in the last year “no major law review had more than 2,000 paying subscribers.”

One positive aspect of the law review saga is the growth of freely available content. Many journals—including those produced by so-called “top tier” law schools— make at least the most recent issue of their publication available free online.  Here are some resources for locating this content:

  • ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.  Search more than 400 online full-text journal/law reviews and related sources, including Congressional Research Service Reports.  Coverage varies.
  • BePress.  Browse or Search over 90 law journals published in the Digital Commons open access repository.
  • Dragnet. Browse or search approximately 150 law journals that provide free online content, including their most current issue.  Searches may be limited to International or Environmental Law.
  • Google Scholar.  Limits Google search to academic journal articles, conference papers, dissertations, theses, indexes articles and abstracts from major academic publishers.  Coverage and access to full-text varies.
  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Widely used by scholars to share papers and articles in several topical networks.  Legal Scholarship Network includes over 130,000 papers searchable by keyword, title, author or date.

 

Survey Response: Why Are Virginia Materials in Multiple Locations?

The main collection of Virginia materials is located on the second floor, shelf ranges 228 and 229. In that area you can find: the Virginia Code (both Lexis and West editions), the Virginia and West Virginia Digest, Michie’s Jurisprudence, form books, rules, jury instructions, court opinions, legislative materials, treatises, and Virginia Continuing Legal Education materials.

As a convenience to patrons, the library also has a small Virginia quick reference collection on the first floor, Range 121, providing duplicate copies of frequently used items, including:  the Virginia Code (Lexis edition), Virginia Forms, Rules, Michie’s Jurisprudence, and the Virginia & West Virginia Digest. Some heavily used Virginia titles are on permanent or faculty reserve behind the circulation desk

 

 

Summer Access: Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law

If you need summer access to the major legal research platforms, take note of the following. If you registered your Lexis Advance password, you can use Lexis Advance for academic purposes without taking further action. For Lexis and Westlaw (including WestlawNext), you will have to fill out the form for summer access by June 1. The link is on the right on Westlaw and is the 3rd “story”/button on the top of the Lexis page. Bloomberg Law is available for you to use all summer with no restrictions (e.g., you can use it at work) and you don’t need to take any action to have summer access.

 

World Intellectual Property Day 2012

Since 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has designated April 26 as “World Intellectual Property Day.”  This year’s theme is “Visionary Innovators”:

Behind every great innovation, either artistic or technological, is a human story – a tale in which new pathways open as a result of the curiosity, insight or determination of individuals.

The WIPO is an agency of the United Nations focused on “developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system.”  It administers a number of international treaties focused on copyright and related rights.  World Intellectual Property Day was established to increase public awareness and understanding of the significant role of IP in fostering “music, arts and entertainments” and “all the products and technological innovations that help to shape our world.”

Resources on the WIPO website include an overview (including links to PDFs) of United States IP-related statutes and regulations, and WIPO-administered treaty membership.  Please consult the law library’s Intellectual Property Research Guide to locate additional useful resources related to copyright, trademark, and patent law.

Law and the Titanic Tragedy

One hundred years ago today, the RMS Titanic sank, tragically costing more than 1,500 people their lives.

In Custodia Legis blog has a very interesting post about this disaster from a legal perspective, specifically the then applicable laws related to lifeboats–with which the Titanic was in compliance.  Under UK shipping laws at the time, lifeboat capacity was based on ship tonnage rather than numbers of passengers.  According to a Senate Report issued after 18 days of hearings, the Titanic exceeded those requirements by having a lifeboat capacity of 1,176.  The ship had more than 2,200 passengers and crew, but fewer than a quarter of that number survived.

There were lawsuits for personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. Claims against the ship’s owner in a U.S. courts, however, were severely limited under U.S. Admiralty Law. See Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Mellor, 233 U.S. 712 (1913). Ultimately, cases filed in both the United States and England were resolved by a consolidated settlement. See Robert D. Peltz, The Titanic’s Legacy:  The History and Legal Developments Following the World’s Most Famous Maritime Disaster, 12 U.S.F. Mar. L.J. 45 (1999). 

After Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreckage, Congress passed the R.M.S. Titanic Memorial Act of 1986 designating the site “an international maritime memorial to the men,women, and children who perished aboard her.”

Some of the the resources available to GMUSL readers to learn more include:

In addition, the International Maritime Organization website has information on the history of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) adopted in response to Titanic tragedy.

 

 

Encyclopedia Britannica Ends Print Edition

It would be impossible to count how many school papers were written, family squabbles resolved, curiosity satiated, and book shelves decorated with the help of the print Encyclopedia Britannica.  But in the digital age, if using a print encyclopedia isn’t already a distant memory or a quaint piece of nostalgia, it soon will be.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Inc. announced today that it will become a completely digital product (its primary format for the last 20 years). According to a press release“to mark the retirement of the print set, the entire contents of the Britannica.com website will be available free for one week beginning today.”

13 Steps of Successful Academic Legal Research

Scholarly Writing students, this short article describes 13 steps to researching and writing a good academic article or note. The author writes clearly, succinctly, and with humor. I highly recommend it. Of note, he emphasizes talking to others about your topic, getting help from librarians, using the library catalog, and dividing your time as follows: 60% research, 30% writing, 10% editing.

Do you Ctrl+F?

According to an article in The Atlantic, 90% of web users don’t use Ctrl/Command+F to help find specific words in a Word document or on webpages.

The article cites a study conducted by Dan Russell, a search behavior expert at Google.  Russell discovered this inefficient search behavior based on sampling “thousands” of people.  Most people skimmed through long documents trying to find the one thing they were looking for rather than using Ctrl+F to save time.

Sounds like a short cut worth remembering!

Spading Guide

If you are working on a journal spading assignment, you might like the assistance of the Library’s Scholarly Writing & Spading Guide, which is linked from the Library’s homepage. The second half of the guide is designed to help you find materials for your spading assignment. Of course, don’t hesitate to ask a law librarian for help. Our contact information is here.