Monthly Archives: November 2010

TJSL Library News: Arnold Josafat is a cool catalog librarian

Law Librarians are cool… At least, we think so.

This month, our own catalog librarian, Arnold Josafat, was honored by the San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL) for his professional and personal accomplishments.

Each month, the SANDALL COOL Award is given to SANDALL members in appreciation for their contributions to the profession and to their colleagues’ daily lives.

As if there hasn’t been enough excitement in the library with the current move to downtown, all of the librarians crowded into Arnold’s cave-like office singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”  In the library we work together as a team, and having a team member like Arnold makes all the difference to us.

A week after Thanksgiving seems like the perfect time to say “Thanks” for Arnold’s friendly professionalism.

Thanks, Arnold.  Stay Cool!

World News: Egypt parliamentary elections

In Egypt, the local government recently held parliamentary elections. While protesting that they had adequate local rights groups and did not need international elections monitors, it seems that this may have been a cover for implementing widespread election fraud which has left the ruling party in power and has wiped out the majority of their opposition. To read more about the issue and the ensuing violence that is taking place, see the following articles and audio files from Jurist, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

No international elections monitors before:

Accusations of fraud after:


U.S. News: Don’t ask, don’t tell, outdated policy?

There have been many articles in the news lately about the Don’t ask don’t tell policy.

According to an NPR news report, while the older generation of Marine leaders still believe things like:

  • openly serving Gay Dutch troops are responsible for a 1990s massacre of Muslims in the Balkans; and
  • homosexuality is immoral

The new generation currently serving in the Marine Corps have been polled, and more than half support the Congressional repeal of don’t ask don’t tell.

Meanwhile, a blog post from a deployed gay Marine sergeant, known only as At War, suggests that queer troops, while they appreciate that the policy is being changed for human rights reasons, are not civilian activists, and whatever the decision, however the hoped-for repeal may be implemented, because they choose to serve, they must also behave in such a way that they “continue to prove that there are no risks associated with repealing D.A.D.T.” (

You can listen or read online three recent NPR news reports on this issue:

See Also, from the New York Times and the Washington Post:



Legal Research News: Legal research competency standards and the value of new associates with good research skills

What is the value of strong legal research skills, the kind that law firm and academic law librarians have?

A recent news article by Patrick Lamb, Does It Pay to Hire a Law Firm Librarian? reminds us that what law firms need, and will be looking for are new hires that know how to identify relevant sources of information, and how to wade through the information universe that they have access to in an efficient manner. This is how you bring value to the law firm, whether you are a law firm librarian or a new associate.

If you are a 3L, and you do not know how to use one of the major databases that law firms use, or worse yet, you do not know how to do research at all without access to one of these major databases, you should be concerned.

Many of you will be hired by small law firms with limited access to resources. The partners will not be impressed if you have never used Lexis before and the first time you use it, you waste firm money by performing inefficient searches in multiple databases. Are you aware that some databases within your firm’s Westlaw or Lexis package may cost much more than others to search in, depending on the pricing structure.

Some of you will be hired by law firms that have no access to Lexis or Westlaw, and you will be expected to use local public law libraries and free online resources. Do you know where you would start?

The article, Who Needs a Librarian Anyway? is Mark Gediman’s  response to Lamb’s article. According to Gediman, the value that Law firm librarians offer is of knowing how to approach legal research. Law firm librarians know that many sources are NOT available online, and that the most efficient way to search for information may not be by beginning online.

  • “Print is not obsolete for four reasons (at least):
  1. Some specialty treatises are only available in print;
  2. It is more efficient to use the print materials in some cases (such as the Rutter Guides);
  3. Attorneys still prefer to use the codes they reference daily in print;
  4. It’s easier to bring book when a visiting a client than going online.
  • Librarians are not only research consultants.
  1. We may not know the answer but we do know how to find the answer, quickly and efficiently.
  2. We can identify opportunities for savings through elimination of redundant resources and contract expertise
  3. We know how the firm works as a whole as well as its parts. We can tell you who knows what or where to find what.”

While the value of law firm librarians, may be, as Gediman describes, “high-speed [information] retrieval and analysis [that leverages] the vast knowledge base of the firm, both internal and external, online and print” (, many law firms do not have law librarians and instead rely on new associates to perform legal research tasks.

As Lamb, and those responding to his article have noted, “associates who do the research at law firms are NOT information professionals and are floundering.”

So let’s get back to the point of Lamb’s article, which as he explains is not particularly about librarians, but about the value that is offered. What is the value then of law librarians at academic law libraries, and how can  students leverage this value to ensure that they are able to bring valuable legal research skills to the law firm?

Academic reference law librarians can see the lay of the land. Where you know what you know about legal research (and studies have shown that law students believe that their legal research skills are stronger than they really are), your reference librarian knows what you don’t know and can help you to learn how to approach legal research so that you do not make avoidable errors. Law librarians can teach you where to start looking when you are faced with a new research task, regardless of what subscription databases are or are not available to you.

Notice my wording, “avoidable errors” this sounds very much like the language of “competency” which is what all lawyers are ethically expected to have. Competency with respect to legal research is expected of lawyers.

Not everything that you need to learn in Law School will be taught in a classroom. Lawyers are professionals, and part of being a professional is being responsible for yourself, including your education. Academic reference law librarians bring value in many ways, one of these ways is by being available to teach law students. Reference librarians teach  one-on-one as students bring questions about classroom assignments, and Law Review. Reference librarians at TJSL also teach courses on how to conduct legal research in an efficient and effective manner. Are you taking full advantage of the assistance that can be provided by your reference librarian?

If you want to know what law firm’s will be expecting of you, check out the following three documents and see if your legal research skills measure up.

Law Firm Legal Research Requirements for New Attorneys*

by Patrick Meyer

Research Skills for Lawyers and Law StudentsWest-Thompson Publication

Great Expectations: New Associates’ Research Skills from Law School to Law Firm by JILL L. K. BROOKS

California News: Do Californians want to legalize Marijuana?

Even those who support the already legal industry in its current incarnation, may not support Prop 19.

As if the law as it stands were not confusing enough since it contradicts Federal law, which as we know trumps State law, the culture, in places like Humbolt County makes  it challenging to obey the law. Amy Steward explains in the New York Times Article Leaves of Grass, the difficulty she had returning “eight ounces of premium bud” to the local police.


US News: Human Rights – Will Oklahoma use veterinary drugs to execute inmates?

This Death Penalty World Map from Wikipedia:

Death Penalty World Map

illustrates an important point, that the U.S. is the only first world country that still intentionally and legally executes its own citizens in the name of justice.

Oklahoma would now like to use a drug formerly used only on animals to carry out the death penalty. You can listen to the full story on NPR.

Okla. Considers Using Vet Drug To Execute Inmate by Kathy Lohr

U.S. News: Ground Zero Settlement

I recently moved into a new apartment, one that has a fireplace, score one for me. In my excitement to try out my new fireplace, I burned some empty boxes that were probably coated with some kind of chemical, and before long, my new place was filled with acrid smoke.

I can only imagine, the horror that must have been the air at ground zero in New York City, and the ill-effects that inhaling this air has had, and continues to have on the health of our heroes, the firefighters, police officers and construction workers whose jobs placed them at ground zero, where they inhaled the fumes and particulates generated by the destruction of entire buildings.

This week, NPR provides us with an audio account (and transcription) of the settlement accepted by over 10,000 plaintiffs, who have each been awarded a sum between 3,200 and 2 million dollars.

Thousands Join Ground Zero Settlement
by Robert Smith

Note that NPR has apps for mobile devices: