Category Archives: Law

Library Highlights: African Americans and the Law

It worked for me

It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

Colin Powell

E840.5.P68 A3 2012

From the Publisher: It Worked for Me is filled with vivid experiences and lessons learned that have shaped the legendary public service career of the  four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. At its heart are Powell’s “Thirteen Rules”—notes he gathered over the years and that  now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell’s short but sweet rules—among them, “Get mad, then get over it” and “Share credit”—are illustrated by revealing personal stories that introduce and expand upon his principles for effective leadership: conviction, hard work, and, above all, respect for others. In work and in life, Powell writes, “it’s about how we touch and are touched by the people we meet. It’s all about the people.”

Courage to Hope

The Courage to Hope: How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fear

Shirley Sherrod and Catherine Whitney

E901.1.S54 A3 2012

From the Publisher: In this “inspiring memoir about the real power of courage and hope” (Kirkus Reviews), lifelong activist Shirley Sherrod explains why she was fired from the USDA under false charges and how she stood up against the politics of fear.

End of the pipeline

The End of the Pipeline: A Journey of Recognition for African Americans Entering the Legal Profession

Carla D. Pratt and Dorothy Evensen

KF299.A35 E94 2012

From the Publisher: This book had its beginnings in a simple question: How have some African-American attorneys, recently admitted to the bar, successfully navigated what research suggests is a very precarious pipeline to the legal profession? The response to this question entailed a journey that spanned some three years, over fifty informants, and a dozen or so researchers and scholars who study the intersections of education, race, and efforts to achieve social equity.

Moving Diversity Forward

Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing

Verna A. Myers

KF300 .M94 2011

From the Publisher: “If you believe that your organization has done everything it can to enhance its diversity, and if you are still frustrated at how little progress you have made, Moving Diversity Forward is for you. It is an instructive read for all of those who wish to live and work in a multi-cultural world where everyone has a fair chance to succeed and contribute.”

parodies of ownership

Parodies of Ownership: Hip-Hop Aesthetics and Intellectual Property Law

Richard L. Schur

KF4757 .S38 2009

From the Publisher: Parodies of Ownership offers a broad analysis of post–Civil Rights era culture and provides the necessary context for understanding contemporary debates within American studies, African American studies, intellectual property law, African American literature, art history, and hip-hop studies. Weaving together law, literature, art, and music, Schur deftly clarifies the conceptual issues that unify contemporary African American culture, empowering this generation of artists, writers, and musicians to criticize how racism continues to affect our country.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

RC265.6.L24 S55 2010

From the Publisher: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all  HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Library HighLights: Natural Disasters & The Law

Disaster Law & PolicyDisaster Law and Policy

Daniel A. Farber

KF3750 .F37 2010

 

From the Publisher: Disaster Law and Policy examines the growing field concerned with disaster prevention, emergency response, compensation & insurance, human rights, and community recovery. The first book on disaster law to appear in the wake of Katrina, this fascinating text provides the key building blocks for a thoughtful analysis of the issues that surround disaster-relief policy and procedure.

Law of EmergenciesThe Law of Emergencies

Nan D. Hunter

KF5900 .H86 2009

 

From the Publisher: The Law of Emergencies introduces the American legal system as it interacts with emergency management and public health issues. Hunter engages with and debates some of the most important Constitutional issues of our time, such as the tension between civil liberties and national security. She also shows how the law in this area plays out in the context of real life emergencies where individuals often have to make split-second decisions.

Children Law and DisastersChildren, Law, and Disasters: What We Learned from Katrina and the Hurricanes of 2005

ABA Center on Children and the Law

KF3735 .C475 2009

 

From the Publisher: This book, a collaboration between the American Bar Association and the University of Houston Law Center, examines the intersection of children, law and disasters like Hurricane Katrina. It looks at the experiences of children during the disasters and the first response to the events in order to demonstrate how we can do a better job for children. It acknowledges the considerable stress on systems such as juvenile justice, foster care, and education before the disasters and what needs to happen in a post-Katrina world.

CatastropheCatastrophe: Law, Politics, and the Humanitarian Impulse

Austin Sarat (Ed. )

KF3750 .C38 2009

 

From the Publisher: From 9/11 to Katrina, from Darfur to the Minnesota bridge collapse, ours is an “age of catastrophe.” In this era, catastrophic events seem to have a revelatory quality: they offer powerful reminders of the fragility of our social and institutional architectures, making painfully evident vulnerabilities in our social organization that were otherwise invisible. By disrupting the operation of fundamental mechanisms and infrastructures of the social order, they lay bare the conditions that make our sense of normalcy possible.

Emergencies and the limits of legalityEmergencies and the Limits of Legality

Victor V. Ramraj

K4700 .E46 2008

 

From the Publisher: This collection of essays – at the intersection of legal, political and social theory and practice – explores law’s capacity to constrain state power in times of crisis. The global response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States was no exception, and the wave of legislative responses is well documented. Yet there is an everpresent danger, borne out by historical and contemporary events, that even the most well -meaning executive, armed with extraordinary powers, will abuse them. This inevitably leads to another common tendency in an emergency, to invoke law not only to empower the state but also in a bid to constrain it. Can law constrain the emergency state or must the state at times act outside the law when its existence is threatened? If it must act outside the law, is such conduct necessarily fatal to aspirations of legality?

When Nature StrikesWhen Nature Strikes: Weather Disasters and the Law

Marsha L. Baum

KF3750 .B38 2007

 

From the Publisher: Shows us the human side of the weather by explaining how the law and weather interact. Both law and weather affect us every day of our modern lives, yet most people do not know how the weather has affected developments in the law, nor are they aware of how the law has attempted to develop ways to affect the weather. When Nature Strikes is the first book to examine the various areas in which law and weather meet and affect each other. This one-of-a-kind work describes the law related to weather in the United States in the context of specific cases, legislation, and administrative legal action.

Library Highlights: Law Practice Management

The Associate as Rainmaker: Building Your Business

Brain David King Keller

KF316.5 .K45 2011

From the Publisher: An associate’s mid- and long-term success relies on building a foundation of rela-tionships that are created during a lawyer’s early years. This book is your guide to specific actions for mastering the game, offering attorneys of all experience levels useful insights into how a rainmaker gets results. Broken into four thorough sections–Being a Rainmaker, Brain Basics, Rainmaker Tech-niques, and Tips from the Front Line–The Associate as Rainmaker contains specific techniques for busi-ness development, including: business development time slots, the art and science of selling, creating an optimal performance state, business development for shy attorneys, the art and science of rapport, thirty-four steps to grow any practice. The book also includes a business development checklist that contains tips for each year you’re an associate, as well as several appendices with exercises, goals sheets, and time management forms.

Moving Diversity Forward: How to go from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing

Vernā A. Myers

KF300 .M94 2011

What People are Saying: “The numerous publications about diversity render it difficult to offer a new perspective, but Vernã Myers has done so. Moving Diversity Forward takes head on underlying challenges to successful diversity and inclusion efforts that often are left unspoken-and she has done so without being inflammatory.” — William A. Von Hoene, Jr., Executive Vice President, Finance and Legal, Exelon Corporation “If you, like me, are a white male who believes in inclusion but sometimes feels on shaky ground in how to achieve it, this book is for you. Ms. Myers reveals the unconscious biases that inhibit inclusion, debunks the well-meaning but misguided arguments often used against inclusion, and provides clear and concrete steps we can take to move from well-meaning to well-doing.” — Mark E. (Rick) Richardson, VP & Associate General Counsel, GlaxoSmithKline

The Lawyer’s Guide to Increasing Revenue

Arthur G. Greene

KF316.5 .G74 2011

From the Publisher: The vast majority of law firms continue to leave dollars on the table. Now you can ensure your firm isn’t one of them. The Lawyer’s Guide to Increasing Revenue, Second Edition offers practical tips and step-by-step plans for evaluating, tracking, and ultimately enhancing your firm’s revenue stream. Significantly updated and expanded to address issues facing law firms in the twenty-first century, this new edition demonstrates how to avoid short-term solutions, look beyond cost-cutting, and develop a multi-year strategy for achieving financial growth. Using your firm’s existing resources, you will discover how to best maintain client relationships, boost staff morale, and augment your bottom line.

Federal Criminal Discovery

Robert M. Cary, Craig D. Singer, Simon A. Latcovich

KF9650 .C37 2011

From the Publisher: In nearly every criminal case, information is at a premium for both sides. Discovery plays a major role in federal criminal cases as it includes recordings, documents, electronic data, or tan-gible objects as well as unwritten information such as witness statements that have not been recorded or memorialized in writing. The rare value of information in a criminal case lies partly in its inaccessi-bility, as the parties’ right to discovery is relatively narrow. Because discovery rights in charged crimi-nal cases are limited, the parties often must litigate vigorously and creatively to obtain significant infor-mation. Federal Criminal Discovery thoroughly covers each of the different methods of discovery available to the parties in federal criminal cases. It serves as an invaluable resource for judges, academics, prose-cutors, and defense lawyers by providing an exhaustive discussion on the statutory and constitutional bases for discovery, and by covering the existing law fairly while examining both sides of the issues.

The Forensic Accounting Deskbook: A Practical Guide to Financial Investigation and Analysis for Family Lawyers

Miles Mason

KF8968.15 .M37 2011

From the Publisher: Forensic accounting can help family lawyers win case and help clients keep mon-ey which might otherwise be taken from them by a difficult and confusing divorce process. To help you understand the practice of forensic accounting and business valuation in family law caes, [This book] provides a basic introduction to the core financial concepts in divorce, such as asset identification, classification, and valuation, income determination, and expenses. It provides a step-by-step explana-tion of these “how to” mechanics and explores higher-level strategic concerns appropriate for high-asset and high-conflict cases. It connects the dots and fills gaps among the interrelated topics of sub- poena practice, accounting concepts, depositions, reports, methodology, financial statements, tax re-turns, reports, and testimony.

Premarital Agreements: Drafting and Negotiating

Linda Ravdin

KF529 .R38 2011

From the Publisher: To begin the book, Linda Ravdin, an experienced family lawyer well-known for her knowledge of premarital and marital agreements, focuses on the law related to creating a valid agreement. […] Information about validity covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Other chapters address terms regarding nonfinancial issues, terms regulating the ongoing marriage, spousal support and attorney’s fees. The second part of the book examines the lawyer’s role in the process. Chapters consider both the critical ethical issues presented in drafting and negotiation as well as more practical aspects of negotiating the terms. In the next part, Ravdin discusses the most common issues that can arise after the agreement has been executed.

Preliminary Relief in Patent Infringement Disputes

Robert H. Resis

KF3155 .P745 2011

From the Publisher: The book begins with an overview of how preliminary relief is addressed in patent cases. Topics include legal and business considerations in seeking preliminary relief, the types of pre-liminary relief, pre- and post-filing considerations, and the likelihood of success on the merits. Other factors, such as irreparable harm, balance of hardships, and public interest, are also addressed in this introductory chapter. The balance of the book examines the Federal Circuit Court cases and 112 select-ed district court cases to show how preliminary injuction requests have been treated since the Supreme Court’s 2006 eBay decision. The book identifies the judges in the Federal Circuit and district court cas-es. Tables identifying the Federal Circuit and the district court cases in chronological order are also provided.

2Ls: Consider Advanced Legal Research

As the the time draws near to begin selecting courses for the Spring 2012 semester.

2Ls may want to consider two things:
1. Legal Research is in the top 10 skills needed to succeed in the legal field

2. Advanced Legal Research will be taught in the Spring

Do you know the difference between a statute and a regulation?

Do you know how to find administrative law materials?

Can you find out the lawmakers’ intent with respect to a particular statute?

Do you know the difference between court rules and local rules?

Do you know how to find a brief that has been filed in a federal or state case?

How will you conduct research if your firm does not have access to Westlaw or Lexis?

What is a Case Digest?

How do you make sure the law you have found is the most recent version of the law?

Do you know how to Shepardize all the citations in a document at once?

You can learn all this and more in Advanced Legal Research. Sign-up and find out what all the fuss is about.

The video below was made by law students to showcase the kinds of legal research tips that can make your research experience more successful.

Tips for Using CalJur in Print

Recently many 1Ls have been coming to the library and using the legal encyclopedia. Some users have reminded me greatly of the classic Sesame Street clip where a boy gives an alien directions to his mothership. In their haste to get to the answer, some law students have been rushing to search for their keywords in the text itself, or rushing to look in the text for the reference given in the index without following the steps to do so. The result is that students have been becoming frustrated unnecessarily because they are not using a step by step procedure.

Step By Step Flow Chart for using CalJur in Print (pdf)

Scenario

Let us say that you have been hired at a small law firm that does not have a subscription to Westlaw or Lexis, or that does not allow new associates to use the online databases for fear that they will unwittingly run up huge bills. You are tasked with looking up in the print legal encyclopedia, a particular issue related to your case.

Key Words

You brainstorm and come up with the terms:

  1. Controlled Substances
  2. Children
  3. Forfeiture of property

Index

You look them up in the Index in that order (If you look up Children first, when you get to where Controlled substances would be located as a subheading under children it will send you to the Controlled Substances and Drug Abuse heading in the index).

You find that the section on forfeiture of property belonging to children and minors is referred to as: CLCADM § 149

Table of Abbreviations 

Since you do not know what CLCADM stands for, you flip to the beginning of the index where there is a table of abbreviations. You look up the abbreviation CLCADM and you find that it stands for “Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice”

Encyclopedia: Alphabetic Order

You then look for this entry in the set of encyclopedia. You browse the volumes looking for where this entry falls alphabetically.

You find that the term “Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice” is written on the spine, and you look for your entry in the volume labeled:

“Criminal Law: Core Aspects

to

Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice and Public Order”

Now, what if the term were not visible on the spine.

For instance, let’s say you were looking up the reference INVESTSEC § 39

INVESTSEC refers to Investment Securities and if you browse the volumes of Cal Jur, you will see that the volume you need is

“Interference with Economic Advantage

To

Judges”

The term “Investment Securities” falls alphabetically between these two terms, so you know that you can find the term “Investment Securities” in this volume.

 Topic first; Section second

Going back to our Example of CLCADM § 149 which we know refers to Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice § 149, you open the book that contains this reference, and then you first need to find the right topic. There is more than one topic in this book and therefore possibly more than one § 149. First look at the top of the page and make sure you are looking at the Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice topic. Then look within this topic for section 149.

 Footnotes for citations to Primary law

When you find the part of this section that discusses your issue, you may need to find the primary source that supports that particular answer. To find the primary source, you need to see if there is a footnote related to the sentence discussing your issue. Footnotes will be at the bottom of the page, Look first in the footnotes for the Section number, eg [Section 149] then for the specific footnote. Numbering for the footnotes for each individual section begins with 1. This means you must be careful to find the right section before you look for the numbered footnote.

Update in Pocket Part

Once you have found your entry, your task may not be over, you still need to update your research. Recent changes in the law will be reflected in the pocket parts. These are softbound publications placed in the back pocket of the relevant encyclopedia volume that indicate changes in the law between the time when the hardbound edition was published and the time when the softbound pocket part was published.

For the CLCADM § 149 entry, there is no pocket part and no update available at this time. However for INVESTSEC § 6, we find that there is an entry in the pocket part. To determine when the pocket part was published, look at the first page of the pocket part. It will say “ISSUED” followed by the date of publication. Stamped on the pocket part is the date it was received by the library. If you need information that is more up to date than the Issued date, you will need to examine the online database version of CalJur from Westlaw or Lexis.

 Video Tutorials 

Here is a video tutorial from USD on Using CalJur and Witkin’s.

TJSL Video on Using Secondary Sources

Understand the Legal System, Find the Law

This is the first in a series of blog posts based on the Law Student Research Competency Principles as developed by the American Association of Law Libraries.

The first principle is:

Principle I: A successful researcher should possess fundamental research skills.

  • Law students should have an understanding of the complexities of the legal system. They should know the processes and the hierarchical relationships between the three branches of government and the legislation, regulations, and case law they yield.” http://researchcompetency.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/26/

Although the above legal research principle only mentions three branches of government, it is slightly more complicated than that.

The three branches referred to are:

  • The judicial branch
  • The legislative branch
  • The executive branch

But there are actually more like 6 branches for any given U.S. state, since these branches exist for both Federal and State Law.

So, now we have the:

1. Federal Judiary– This consists of the federal courts:

2.  Federal Legislative Branch – This consists of the U.S. Congress

3. Federal Executive Branch – The law that is produced by this branch, is referred to as administrative law, and is generated largely by federal agencies. It is called administrative law.

At the State Level, for California, the three branches of government are:

4. The California Judicial branch – this refers to the California Courts,

5. The California legislative branch – This includes the California State Assembly and the State Senate

6. The California  executive branch – The law that is produced by this branch, is generated largely by the California agencies such as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It is called administrative law.

Beyond these six branches of Government, it is important to be aware of two other levels of government that affect you and your potential clients. The county government and the city government.

For San Diego Law students, we are looking at:

San Diego County Government: The County Government generates government documents, many of which are available online at the San Diego County Website.

City of San Diego – Mayor and other City Officials. Government documents produced by the  city government officials are in the care of the City Clerk. These documents include City Attorney Legal Documents.

By analogy to state government and the legal documents generated by the state government, what would be called statutes, generated by the California State Assembly, are at the city level, known as Ordinances and are adopted by the City Council.

Similarly, at the state level, administrative law refers to state regulations that are generated by state agencies such as the CPUC. At the city level, it is the city agencies such as the City of San Diego Redevelopment Agency, that produces administrative law in the form of agency resolutions that are adopted by a particular agency.

The judicial branch at the city level is the City Attorney’s Office. The Mayor, the City Council, or any of the City Agencies or City Officials may ask the City Attorney’s Office a legal question either on a specific or more general issue, and the documents generated are analagous to the Case Law produced by State Courts.

It is important for attorneys to understand how government entities are related to each other and to the government information that they produce. Competent legal research goes beyond merely plugging in key words into database search boxes.

One fundamental research skill is the ability to think methodically about which government entity or entities creates the law that covers a particular issue, and to determine where to look to most cost effectively locate the relevant law. Sometimes, it will be freely available on the government website, and sometimes, it will be easy to quickly search the government website for that information.

At other times, it may be more cost effective to use the search tools available on a commercial database such as Westlaw or Lexis, but whether you need to find the right database first as you would with Classic Westlaw or Lexis, or search first and limit your results afterwards to the documents published by the right branch of government, having an awareness of the interrelation of government bodies and government information is essential to conducting legal research in a competent manner.

In general, Federal law preempts state law, State law preempts County codes, and County Codes preempt city codes. A recent example of this in the news lately is that San Francisco is not permitted to consider a local regulation banning circumcision of male babies because it would violate a state law.

The table below provides links to the freely accessible law produced by each of the government entities described in this blog post.

For researching legislative history materials at the federal and state level, there will be separate blog post.

Law Online

Jurisdiction Judicial branch Legislative branch Executive branch
Opinions Rules
Library of Congress Research Help On Finding Federal Court DecisionsFind State Court Decisions Federal Court Rules – Compiled by Cornell Legal Information Institute Find Federal Statutes Find Federal Administrative Law
Federal:
Highest Court
U.S. Supreme Court Opinions U.S. Supreme Court, Court Rules U.S. Code Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (not official)
Federal:
Appellate Courts
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Opinions and Orders United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Rules of PracticeFederal rules of practice, procedure and evidence
Federal:
Appellate Courts with jurisdiction over CA
Federal 9th Circuit Courts
Published Opinions (Posted 01/03/05 +)Published Opinions (Posted prior to 01/09/2009)Unpublished Opinions (11/10/2009 +)Unpublished Opinions (12/08/2008 – 11/10/2009)

Unpublished Opinions (Prior to 12/08/2008)

Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP), Ninth Circuit Rules
Federal Trial Courts Opinions are not generally available online for free California Southern District (Federal Trial Court for San Diego), Local Court Rules
California – Highest court and appellate courts CA Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Opinions CA Rules of Court CA Statutes (Browse or Search) CA Code of Regulations (Browse or Search)
California – Trial Court (San Diego) Opinions are not generally available online for free San Diego County Superior Court Rules
San Diego County San Diego County Counsel Other San Diego County Government Documents (Not an exact analogous mapping onto Court Rules) County Ordinances Code of Administrative Ordinances & Code of Regulatory Ordinances
San Diego City City Attorney Legal OpinionsCity Attorney Memorandum of Law City Attorney Legal Documents (Not an exact analogous mapping onto Court Rules) City of San Diego Municipal CodeCity Council Resolutions and Ordinances Agency Resolutions and Ordinances

Responsibilities of a Lawyer: Complete, up-to-date legal research

“As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client’s legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications” (Preamble:  A Lawyer’s Responsibilities,  Model Rules of Professional Conduct).

The primary task of a lawyer is to explain to clients how the law applies to their case.

After passing the Bar Exam, and becoming a lawyer, how will you know the practical implications “of the client’s legal rights and obligations” (MRPC)? You will have to research it. In order to be sure that you are correct in your assertions to the client, you need to be sure that you know all the law applicable to the situation. This could mean finding a statute and the relevant cases interpreting it, and then ensuring that the information is complete and up-to-date.

How will you know whether the research you have done is complete and up-to-date?

Research Strategy and Research logs

You need to have a research strategy and a research log so that you can tell what research you have done, and what you still need to do to be sure your research is complete and up to date. For billing purposes, you will want to log the time spent doing research, in addition to the cost of the legal research. For cases that take place over a long period of time, it helps to log the date of your research, so that you will know when enough time has passed that you may need to update your research.

Ways to Improve Research Skills

There are several ways to build your legal research skills. One way is to do an internship with a law firm, often partners will give you legal research tasks related to actual cases. It is a good idea to consult reference librarians to get help with your research.

At TJSL, the law librarians teach brief workshops and full length courses that you can take to improve your legal research skills. Look for advertisements for these brief classes at the Fourth Floor Circulation Desk, in the Advisor and on the touch screens.

  • June Mac Leod’s mini-classes
  • Hadas Livnat’s – Working Tour of Library Resources
  • Catherine Deane’s – General Tour of the Library

TJSL also offers an Advanced Legal Research course for two credits. It will be offered this Fall 2011, and the sections will be taught by Interim Director Patrick Meyer, and Reference Librarian Catherine Deane.

If you are unable to attend any of these classes, you can still brush up on your legal research skills by taking CALI Quizzes. These Quizzes vary in length, and cover a wide range of topics. Maybe pick a short one to start with, some are as brief as 20 minutes. Start to work this into your routine. For instance, when you are working on something challenging and you want to switch to something else while still being productive, do a short Quiz on a legal research topic and improve your skills. Alternatively, you could set aside one hour a week to take a quiz or two on a legal research topic.

Email Reference Librarian Catherine Deane to get the Student Registration Code to access the CALI Quizzes.

 

Which class will you work into your schedule to improve your legal research skills?

 

The Next Mini-Classes are offered on Tuesday July 19th at 10:30 am and cover:

  • How to Research

And

  • How to Find Cases

News You Can Use

Reliable Sources of Legal, Political and Economic News for San Diego Law Students and Legal Professionals

 

There is a new Guide to News sources for law students at TJSL created by Reference Librarian, Catherine Deane that supplements the Current Awareness page created by Interim Library Director, Patrick Meyer.

Let’s think a little about why you might want to pay attention to the news, what kinds of news you should keep an eye on, and how you can incorporate news reading into your day.

As a law student, you have already entered your profession on the first day of law school. Investing time, money and brain cells into a legal education is only the bare minimum, and once you have done this, it makes sense to back that up with an understanding of the lay of the land.

The good news is that even if you have been doing nothing in your free time but reading comic books, watching reality TV and playing Halo for the last four years of college, you still have three years to catch up with the rest of the adult world and to figure out what the lay of the land looks like. You may be a student, but you are not a kid. You are a professional in training.

Politics

This is not to say that you need to set aside Rock Band completely in favor of watching C-SPAN   and listening to NPR 24/7, but if you know what city you intend to live in when you graduate, or at the very least what state, it makes sense to start paying attention to local politics. Figure out who the key players are and what their policies are.

History and Culture

Beyond that, laws are not created in a vacuum. The law, and particularly the common law created as it is by judicial precedent and the decisions of 12 hopefully not-too-angry men, is shaped by history and culture. Not culture in the sense of museums and the ballet, but culture in the anthropological sense of how people think; what people do with their time; how they spend their money and what they think is moral. For instance, there are two sets of genital mutilation laws recently in the news, male and female. One type is culturally accepted in the U.S. the other is not. So it makes sense to pay attention to cultural battles over legal issues. And of course, you want to keep an eye on what the Supreme Court is doing, because their decisions change the law everywhere in the U.S.

Economics and Job Trends

The legal profession also does not exist in a vacuum, it is influenced by the U.S., state, and local economy. It makes sense to keep an eye on the economy, when you are ready to graduate, you may need to move to another state to find an economy that supports lawyers. Also, there are many ways to use a law degree other than being a lawyer at a law firm. You may want to keep an eye on the types of legal jobs that are cropping up. This allows you time to find and network with people who use their JDs in a nontraditional way and to see if this might be a career path that you prefer, and if it is, you can start networking in that field and shoring up the other skills that you would need for that career.

But I’m already so busy, how do I find time to gather and read more information?

Phone

Trade out a small portion of useless activities for a small portion of news acquiring activities. For example, your phone is with you all the time. If you have a smart phone, download a few news apps and trade out 10 minutes of Angry Birds for 10 minutes of listening to NPR.

Facebook

According to nielsenwire individual Facebook users spend an average of just over six hours a month on Facebook. Use 10 minutes of your FB time to read news. Just hit the like button on a few news sources and they will push news to you, all you have to do is scan your feed and read/listen/watch a few news items and you will be better informed than if you spent those ten minutes playing Farmville. It will also irritate your nonfarmville playing friends much less.

Email

You can also have news items delivered into your email by signing up for RSS feeds. Or subscribing to newsletters and blogs.

Bookmark this News Resource

Also, there is a bookmark bar at the top of your browser. I have created, especially for you, a one stop shop for any kinds of news that you might want to read, (yes, I even put some entertainment news on there, it’s important for you to be able to chat about silly things as well as being informed about that War in that far away country that that environmentalist grad student you have a crush on won’t shut up about). When you are networking, people don’t always want to talk about the heavy stuff. So it’s a good idea to bookmark into your Favourites Bar this News Link so that when you are bored, it’s just as easy to pull up the News pages crafted just for you, by your librarians, Catherine Deane and Patrick Meyer as it is to pull up Facebook.

So go ahead, check it out, bookmark it today, empower yourself, and take charge of your development as a knowledgeable, professional adult pursuing a career in law.

U.S. News: The Osama Post

Given the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, here are some resources to learn more about what this all means and doesn’t mean.

Commentary on the death of Osama Bin Laden (Dudziak)

Books

Major Reliable News Sources

San Diego Legal News: Medical marijuana dispensaries to be shut down in San Diego

In the news this week, is our own, Alex Kreit, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Law & Social Justice. Professor Kreit is also chairperson of the city of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. His remarks, quoted in San Diego CityBeat, suggest that the de facto ban on medical marijuana dispensaries for the next year is the most reasonable compromise that could be made with the current city council members (Lamb). However, in Professor Kreit’s opinion, based on extensive empirical research in the San Diego community, the majority of San Diego residents would likely prefer to have well-regulated and conveniently accessible dispensaries.

In a letter to the City Council, published in San Diego Citybeat, Professor Kreit, on behalf of the City of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force, urges Council members to reconsider the excessively restrictive zoning regulations that would prohibit medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives from operating in large portions of the City of San Diego, to include central areas where the presence of dispensaries is supported by the majority of the local residents. The letter asks that Council members take into consideration the needs of patients who rely on convenient legal access to doctor-prescribed medication. “Those who will be hurt most by the draft ordinance will be the sickest patients, including the elderly and the disabled, who cannot travel long distances for their medicine and are unable to undertake the time and labor intensive process of attempting to grow medical marijuana for themselves. Indeed, the California legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Program Act in 2003, which makes medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives legal, in order to protect the rights of patients like these.” (Maass).

What do you think about the new regulations?

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