There is a distinct emphasis on outcome based education across higher education. This is what I started to write about for my blog post. But then our Advancement department called me – can we help with Alumni day? Did I know what had happened at any past Alumni Day, or what type of template they should follow? We will, and I did. I dutifully emailed the information I had and started planning an activity.
I started again to look at how legal research outcomes could be formed from the top down when I got a call about Orientation. Was the Library participating and did I have a copy of last year’s schedule somewhere? The Library is and I did – again, an email and a save the date for the Library staff.
Once again I turn to papers on Bloom’s Taxonomy and boot camps to think about what outcomes our students and their employers need. And again my phone rings, Admissions wondering if the Library had given a presentation for them before and if I knew what it was about? They were thinking that would be a good thing for the prospective students. Yes, we had presented and of course, we have notes.
I have given up on outcomes at this point (for those of you who are disappointed, do some of your own research – here are the articles on a boot camp, the stance from the ABA, some thoughts on the ABA, and a couple on outcome based legal education generally) and instead want to talk about one of the library’s other positions in a scholarly institution – that of institutional memory keeper.
The library can, and perhaps should, be a repository of institutional knowledge. How can we be information professionals if our answer to any question is “I don’t know.” We think of some of the questions as perhaps not our job. But all information is our job. I like knowing where the nearest water fountain is and sharing that information. I want to tell the students where to find career services as well as where to find Martindale-Hubbell information. Both are invaluable resources.
Now I am going to overgeneralize. Librarians tend to save information. We tend to archive notes and schedules. When faculty and staff have information needs, or when there is a new coordinator for orientation, we want to be able to share our information. We can keep people from recreating the wheel and redeveloping programs and researching information over and over again.
So, a couple of things to do – keep schedules and organize information so that it accessible and transferable. Volunteer on law school and university wide committees if possible. These are not only helpful as professional development but as a resource for information for students, other staff, and faculty.
And what to do with this mass of information on process and practical application? Make an IR for it. We do it for scholarship (there is lots of information out there, including concerns about process of collection and implementation), but not always for the practical information. Some of us may use Outlook or folders for our records management, but that is not the best way to do it, nor can others access it. Try for something more accessible and searchable (University of Oregon has some of this in their Scholars’ Bank). That way, when we need to know how last year’s orientation went, we won’t have to reinvent the wheel, just do what we are best at – a little research.
Development of new student services is often at the top of the topic list as librarians continue to discuss and sometimes debate how to remain relevant in the eyes of our users and institutions as the 21st century marches on. Print collections certainly will continue to dwindle while electronic resources increase. The secret librarians know is that our students need us even more in the electronic age because locating the best resources in the sea of information at our fingertips is not as easy as many think. Thus, the task before us is to get the message out to students that we can help them – Google really doesn’t have ALL of the answers. Budget constraints often make the idea of developing new student services seem as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest as a novice climber. However, a little creative thinking can go a long way.
Call it innovation. Call it forward-thinking. Call it what you will. Just keep the following four pillars of innovation in mind when considering how to get the message out about the expertise your law librarians can provide.
Think Different – This is sometimes the most difficult part. We go along from day to day and get so focused on our routines that it becomes hard to think about what might work better. You may have wonderful services in place already, and that’s a starting point. Some of us might be able to build on what we have, while others may be able to make improvements on things that just aren’t working well. Don’t be afraid of different. Embracing change is the only way to move forward.
Think Big – Consider what services you’d like to implement if staff time or budgets were not an issue. Try brainstorming without any limitations in mind. Your best ideas may be ones only possible in an ideal world… not one in which you’re living and working. Once you develop those Ideal World Ideas, you can then scale them back to something more realistic. Don’t let reality deter you when coming up with ideas. The sky is the limit at this stage of the process.
Think Useful – It’s important to maintain awareness of what the law students are working on. This knowledge will make it easier to put yourself in their shoes and think, “What do I need?” This is the most critical of the four pillars and arguably the most critical in the librarian relevance discussion. If the services we provide aren’t adequately useful for our students, they simply will not come to us for help. We have to show them and tell them how we have knowledge and tools that can make their researching lives just a little bit easier.
Think New – Though similar, it is not the same as thinking differently. The difference lies in whether you’re improving upon current practices or dreaming up a completely new service or method to reach your library users. Revisit thinking big, and just let yourself go. Don’t think about what services you have in place or about what other libraries are doing. This is your chance to think totally outside the box.
Now that you’re armed with the four pillars of innovation, go forth and develop new services.
A few resources for further reading:
White Paper on Library Marketing and Outreach by the ALL-SIS Task Force on Library Marketing and Outreach
Great Innovators Think Laterally from Harvard Business Review Blog Network
Your client is a black market firearms dealer.
The U.S. government is hot on her trail and is about to catch her. To avoid extradition, she is looking for a country to escape to with her millions of illegally acquired dollars. She wants to flee to one of the following countries:
- Trinidad and Tobago (T & T)
I recommend starting with an online treaty research guide:
- American Society ofInternational Law electronic resource guide (ASIL ERG)
- Treaties by Jill McC. Watson
- This research guide contains a section called Finding US Treaties: Old and New.
- UPDATE: An Introduction to Sources for Treaty Research - By Mark Engsberg and Mary Beth Chappell
- Locating Treaty Texts, - good overview of how to find US treaties
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few major print publications that may help.
- International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook. Second Edition by Marci Hoffman and Mary Rumsey
- Hoffman and Berring ‘s International Legal Research in a Nutshell
- A Basic Course in Public International Law Research by Anthony S. Winer, Mary Ann E. Archer
- somewhat dated
Treaty Research Checklist
To guide the students in answering this question, I gave them a treaty research checklist, which I adapted from
Boston College Law Library.
The questions to ask:
- Does a treaty exist on the subject?
- Can you find the text of the treaty?
- Who are the parties, and is the U.S. a party?
- Is the treaty in force? What is the treaty’s effective date?
- Are there any reservations, understandings, declarations, or other conditions made by the relevant parties?
- Has there been any subsequent modification to the treaty
- Can you identify the rules for treaty interpretation that are used by signatory states?
General web searches are often a good place to start research. For this hypothetical, one might search things like: extradition treaty U.S. or countries with no extradition treaty with the US. It turns out that Wikipedia and the US Department of State both have pages that sort of answer this question. But to be certain, you would want to examine something official and up-to-date.
Official finding tool
Treaties in Force provides citations to the official full-text of U.S. Treaties.
- updated annually (2012
Back to the Hypo
Let’s go back to our arms dealer for a minute. She wanted to go to:
- T & T
To find out if there are extradition treaties in force between the U.S. and these countries there are 5 places we need to look in the most recent Treaties in Force publication.
1. Multilateral Treaties in Force (TIF) in the extradition section. From the contents page, we can see that this is on page 369 and we can go to that page and see which of our 4 countries has an extradition treaty with the U.S.
When we go to page 369, we realize that none of our countries are listed, but that does not mean that they did not sign a bilateral extradition treaty.
2. We still need to look at the sections that reference bilateral treaties with the specific countries of interest.
We now know that as of January 1, 2012, the date of publication of the most recent Treaties in Force, there were extradition treaties with all of the desired countries, except for Bhutan.
Our arms dealer doesn’t believe that there really is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and T & T so she wants to see not just the text but the official text of the extradition treaty. However, you will note above that the TIAS citation is incomplete. This is because it has not yet been published in TIAS.
Official Full-Text Sources
The official sources are
- Treaties and other International Acts Series (TIAS)
- United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST)
- Unfortunately, both of these sources are about 10 years out of date.
To find official versions of treaties that have not yet been added to TIAS or UST, you will need to search the Senate Treaty documents.
Senate Treaty Documents
In my albeit limited experience, the easiest way to locate Senate Treaty documents is through the Library of Congress Website Thomas.gov Treaty section.
As shown above, if you use the name of the country in the Word/Phrase search bar and limit the type of treaty to Extradition and Criminal Ass., you will find records of relevant treaty documents.
Notice that this includes a link to the full-text pdf of the relevant treaty on the Government Printing Office’s website.
Our arms dealer really doesn’t want to go to Bhutan and really does want to go to T & T, so she asks you to verify that there has been no change to the Bhutan or T & T extradition treaty status since Jan 1, 2012
Official Up-to-date Index of Treaties in Force
The most up-to-date Index that I could find for free online is the U.S. Department of State web page on Treaty Actions . The Treaty Actions documents shown below are those available in March 2013.
They are not cumulative, you need to check each one individually to ensure that there have been no changes to the extradition treaty status with Bhutan and T & T since Jan 1, 2012.
Looks like our arms dealer will be heading to Bhutan.
Did everyone read the email a couple of weeks ago? The one from Lexis on March 7th? Did your students read it?
We have a problem every year explaining what students can use their Lexis and Westlaw accounts for in regards to school, work for credit, and just plain work – and now Lexis Advance has added a new wrinkle!
Here is the pertinent part of the email (in case you didn’t save it) –
“We have an exciting new Summer Access program this year for law students that will permit them to use Lexis Advance® not only for academic work, but any research conducted on behalf of their employer whether working in a paid or unpaid position at a law firm, court, government agency, or public interest organization. They will have unlimited access using their Lexis Advance ID. … We appreciate your assistance in ensuring that all law students working this summer know they have unlimited access to Lexis Advance for work and academic purposes and that they should take advantage of all training opportunities prior to starting their summer positions.”
Contrast this to Westlaw’s User Agreement - which makes it clear that they still only allow use of Westlaw for educational purposes.
So, that means that there are now several levels of usage that students must keep in mind, depending on what or who they are doing research for. Where does that leave the student who has access to Westlaw and Lexis through their law school? When can they use what?
Let’s review a basic synopsis of the possible ways that a student may want to use their accounts for research:
For academic purposes – examples: writing papers, researching for legal writing classes – students may use Lexis, Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and WestlawNext.
For educational purposes – examples: for credit internships, moot court competitions – students may use Lexis, Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and WestlawNext.
For not educational but not paid purposes (only for not for profit or governmental entities) – examples: working pro bono for a not for profit legal aid group for experience – students may not use Westlaw or WestlawNext. Students may Lexis and Lexis Advance.
For 2013 summer work purposes (paid, not educational) – examples: working for a firm for the summer, volunteering for a firm but not for educational credit – students may not use Westlaw, WestlawNext, or Lexis. Students may Lexis Advance. (Note: My representative told me that students can begin using both Lexis and Lexis Advance immediately for even paid work – but how would the students know that?)
For those of you with Bloomberg – they allow open access as well. The competitive issues may prove interesting (and might – I am crossing my fingers – lead to more uniformity) in the long run.
Make sure you know the limitations of the student’s activities, especially as the rules change and different rules apply to different resources – things are changing quickly (don’t even get me started on the copier situation).
Why do we care? – To prevent things like this (click on the image for full size):
or to prevent a phone call to you from Westlaw or Lexis asking if you know what your students are researching. Trust me, Lexis and Westlaw know what they are researching. Librarians do get the call – “did you know so and so was researching something that looks personal?” or “was researching something that is currently being litigated.”
And finally, because attorneys will try to abuse it too, students need to know to protect themselves (and the library’s Lexis or Westlaw account). Keep them informed – and make sure they read their email from Lexis!
Although this post is not specifically about a legal research or teaching topic, it is a topic of paramount importance for our law students and for ourselves. The official law school National Mental Health Day has passed (it was in March), but it is always a good time to share information.
The statistics on mental health among law students are staggering and concerning. According to the Dave Nee Foundation, entering law students have a psychological profile similar to that of the general public, but upon graduation, between 20% and 40% of them will have some form of psychological dysfunction. There are many resources of which we should be aware so we can work together to decrease stigma and create an environment where these issues may be discussed.
The following resources are useful ones to learn about and to share with our students:
American Bar Association’s Mental Health Initiative – The Mental Health Initiative is a law student division initiative that provides a toolkit for law schools planning to increase awareness of mental health issues. The website also provides links to a number of resources on several mental health issues, including gambling, internet, and sex addictions as well as substance abuse, stress, depression, and anxiety.
Law Lifeline – A project of the Jed Foundation and the Dave Nee Foundation, Law Lifeline is a brand new resource that debuted in late 2012 designed specifically to provide law students an “anonymous, confidential, online resource center” for information regarding all aspects of mental and emotional health. Topics include depression, anxiety, suicide, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-injury, and more. This resource also provides a Help Line law students can call 24 hours per day. In addition, the site provides a search tool so law students across the nation can find their specific school’s resources for mental and emotional health needs.
Active Minds – Active Minds is a non-profit student organization that promotes open discussion of mental health among college students at all levels. Interestingly, a search for chapters on the site suggests the University of Michigan Law School is the only law school with a chapter. Perhaps we can encourage our own students to start a chapter. One way we can help is by volunteering to be a faculty advisor to the student group.
Grad Resources – Grad Resources is a faith-based, non-profit organization that supports the emotional and spiritual health of graduate and professional students of all religious affiliations. The website also provides a Crisis Help Line in addition to a function to connect students with a mentor.
These invaluable resources will only help our students or us if we make sure people are aware of them. What actions does your law school take to promote emotional and mental wellness among students, faculty, and staff?
The new board members are:
Head of Research & Faculty Services
Fredric G. Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Austin Martin Williams
Reference/Student Services Librarian
Georgia State University College of Law Library
Director of Content Development
Please congratulate our new board members. They will be excellent leaders for RIPS.
The nominations committee and current Executive Board would also like to thank Laura Ax-Fultz, Joanna Butler, and Shawn Friend for their willingness to serve and represent RIPS.