Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ranking Congressional Liberals and Conservatives

The National Journal's 2005 Congressional Vote Ratings, an annual rating of how members of the House and Senate "vote relative to each other on a conservative-to-liberal scale," is now available. The scores cover votes in three areas--economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy--and all ratings are available in a searchable and sortable database. You also can search the vote ratings of a particular individual. Additional PDF charts provide lists of the most conservative and most liberal members of each chamber (the "Fringes"), members at the ideological center of each chamber (the "Centrists"), "strange Senate voting patterns," and composite scores by class. Finally, past voting ratings are provided for the years 1995 through 2004.

SOURCE: Moritz Legal Information Blog

107 Years and Out--Berghoff's in Chicago Closes Today

Thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for alerting us to a Chicago Tribune 2 1/2 minute flash-based tribute, Berghoff Memories, created by photojournalist Bonnie Trafelet who "recorded the voices and photographed the faces of patrons and employees during the last days of this famed Chicago eatery."

Another Trib article reports that "Herman Berghoff, the 70-year-old grandson of the restaurant's founder, and his wife, Jan Berghoff, 68, are retiring. Herman Berghoff, who's been working at the German-style restaurant since 1952, owns the building at 17 W. Adams St. and will lease it to his daughter Carlyn Berghoff's catering company. She plans to reopen the bar this spring under a slightly different name but convert the elegant dining room to a private banquet hall, thus ending the reign of one of Chicago's oldest and most fattening restaurants."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Law Dog of the Week

photo of law dog of the week

This week's SIU Law Dog is Samson. He is an 8-month-old yorki/poo mix puppy, who lives with Joy Krohne, a 3rd-year law student.

Join us next week for another Law Dog of the Week. We will feature a dog each week until we run out of photos.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Final Report of Katrina Bipartisan Committee Available

From GPO Access: "GPO Access is providing a link to a preprint version [PDF] of A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina that is hosted on the servers of the Committee. Users should note that this version is not final and is subject to changes and updates at unknown frequencies. The final, official version of the Report, expected in early April and coinciding with the delivery of the official printed version of the Report, will be hosted on GPO Access servers."

Congressional Bloggers

Tom Mighell at InterAlia alerts us to an interesting CNET news.com article about the 11 Congressional weblogs that currently exist (out of a possible 535). "Congress Catching on to the Value of Blogs" lists each of the 11 blogs and indicates whether they allow readers to post comments. Among the eleven are two from Illinois's Congressional delegation: Representative Dennis Hastert's Speaker's Journal and Senator Barack Obama's blog, neither of which allow reader responses.

NYT Article Describes Security Risks of High Tech "Gadgets"

In "Too Many New Gadgets, Too Much Information at Risk," New York Times writer David S. Joachim explores the security risks for businesses inherent each time an employee begins using a "shiny new gadget that combines a cellphone with all sorts of features you used to find only on your computer" (including such features as "get e-mail messages, surf the Web, manage contact lists and calendars, and even create Word and Excel documents that can run on a conventional PC"). He notes that [f]or one, they are configured to hop from Wi-Fi to cellular networks easily, exposing them to deliberate thievery of data. But a bigger threat, analysts say, is that small things are easier to lose, raising the prospect that confidential business files will get in the wrong hands."

Joachim details some of the security options businesses are using to combat the growing problem.

SOURCE: beSpacific

Monday, February 20, 2006

Internet and Word Processing Text Tip: Paste Special

Copying (or cutting) and then pasting text (using the standard command of Ctrl+ V) typically reproduces the spacing and font attributes of the original text. If your goal is to strip out the different font, colors, hyperlinks and spacing of your copied (or cut) text, then use paste special instead of using the standard paste command.

Instructions: using your mouse, select the text you want, then either cut (Ctrl + X or Edit, Cut) or copy (Ctrl + C or Edit, Copy) as usual. Position the cursor at the point in your document where you wish to insert your cut or copied text, and choose paste special (Edit, Paste Special). Depending on your text destination(i.e., word processing choice, etc.), you will be given a number of choices of formats in which to paste the text: unformatted text is usually the safest since it will copy the cut or copied text into the default format of whatever text document you are currently using.

Single Source for Federal Forms

Forms.gov is the "U.S. government's official hub for federal forms . . . provid[ing] citizens and businesses with a common access point to federal agency forms." In addition to a key word search, you can locate forms by form number, agency, and title. There are also links to frequently used forms for tax, small business assistance, social security administration, veterans benefits, and FEMA.

SOURCE: Law Librarian Blog

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Law Dog of the Week

photo of law dog of the week

This week's SIU Law Dog is Chloe. She lives with Jane Miller, who works in the law library.

Join us next week for another Law Dog of the Week. We will feature a dog each week until we run out of photos.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Procrastination and Time Management

David Swanner has an excellent post about making more time at the South Carolina Trial Law Blog. His conclusion:

In reality, when we say that we don't have time for something, we’re saying "It's not a high enough priority to get to".

His post reminded me of a study I posted about a year ago on Why We Overcommit. The authors of the study found that we always expect to have more time in the future than we have in the present.

But as Dave points out, "Everyone gets the same amount of time." And even though you can't make more time, you can make better choices about how you spend your time.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't Let This Happen to You

Read this story from the Boston Globe about a recent law graduate who declined a job by email. Her would-be employer chided her, also by email. Emotions escalated, and the final email was a short one from the graduate: "bla bla bla."

Soon the exchange was traveling around the world at the speed of – well – email. Have you ever sent an email you would rather not see in a newspaper? Enough said.

Thanks to Betsy McKenzie for pointing out this story at Out of the Jungle.

Update: See also The email that roared from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Great Resource for Pre-Law Students

Most law professors who work with first-year law students have probably wished for a resource that would give incoming law students a head-start on their first semester of law school. But we never seem to find the time to do much about it.

CALI (the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) is working on just such a resource, Learnthelaw.org. Parts of the new site are still under construction, but you can find information about CALI and CALI lessons, links to other online resources, and book recommendations. A pre-law-school set of CALI lessons will be offered for $50.

There is also a Pre-Law Blog on which CALI podcasts and other material relevant to incoming first-year students will be posted. The first set of podcasts gives incoming students insight on how law school exams work, how to prepare for and take a law school exam, and what professors expect from students on law school exams.

Westlaw's RegulationsPlus Offers Annotated CFR

Westlaw has just launched RegulationsPlus which, among other things, fills a longstanding gap in the legal researcher's arsenal of tools by providing what amounts to an annotated version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). As described by the West product announcement, "More than 600,000 editorially created Notes of Decisions outline and summarize federal case law interpreting CFR sections. Each note includes links to the case itself, as well as to West’s Topic and Key Number System, to help you find related cases."

Other features of West's enhanced federal regulations database include an online CFR Index newly created by West editors ("more than 1.4 million references, arranged by topic and linked directly to CFR sections"), links to related to code sections ("CFR sections are linked to cited sections and sub-sections of the U.S. Code"), links to prior versions of current CFR sections ("know how a CFR section appeared at a specific point in time"), and access to administrative materials ("While viewing a regulation, link to relevant agency manuals, guidelines, bulletins and other agency content that help you interpret the regulation") and agency decisions ("While viewing a regulation, link to relevant administrative decisions. Covers decisions from more than 150 agencies.).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Guide to Finding Web Sites You Can Trust

The January 2006 issue of Google's Newsletter for Librarians contains a concise and helpful guide titled "Beyond Algorithms: A Librarian's Guide to Finding Web Sites You Can Trust " by Karen G. Schneider, the director of Librarians' Internet Index (LII). She describes a "a five-point system for separating the wheat from the chaff" that focuses on availability, credibility, authorship, external links, and legality. The guide briefly describes each of these "big five show-stoppers" and provides shortcuts for testing each area. For example, in considering external links, "[l]ook for evidence that the web site maintains its links, such as notes indicating when a page was last updated, and beware of student project web sites and personal web pages with many, many links!"

SOURCE: BarclayBlog

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Website for Common Errors in English

English professor Paul Brians of Washington State University has a great website describing a large number of "Common Errors in English" in very readable (and frequently funny) prose. He describes his intention: "Here we’re concerned only with deviations from the standard use of English as judged by sophisticated users such as professional writers, editors, teachers, and literate executives and personnel officers. The aim of this site is to help you avoid low
grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and titters of amusement at the way you write or speak." He also notes that his site "is dedicated to errors in usage. This is not a site dealing with grammar in general."

There are literally hundreds of entries (e.g., reign/rein, if I was/if I were, premier/premiere), arranged alphabetically.

source: MoLIB

Law Dogs of the Week

photo of two dogs

This week's SIU Law Dogs are Stoli and Asti Tosti. They live with two SIU law students who choose to be unnamed.

Join us next week for another Law Dog of the Week. If you haven't already sent in your dog photo, there is still time. We will be post all photos received, featuring one each week.

Audio Introduction to Researching Administrative Law

Listen to Introduction to Researching Administrative Law. This summary does not include step-by-step instructions, which will be covered in later podcasts. Duration of audio: ~5.3 minutes. Transcript of the recording.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Appellate Practice Tips from the North Dakota Supreme Court

The North Dakota Supreme Court has had one of the best court websites for years. It includes the Court's opinions from the beginning of 1970 to the present, feeds for news and opinions, webcasts of live and recorded oral arguments of cases, and much more information for attorneys and the public.

You might be interested in the Court's compilation of Appellate Practice Tips. The tips include general advice, such as:

Summary judgment can't be reversed on appeal based on what you wish you had presented in the trial court, only on what was presented as competent evidence in the trial court.

There are also tips specific to the record, stays, briefs, the appendix, mootness, oral argument, petitions for rehearing, and the Administrative Agencies Practice Act.

My favorite five tips on briefs are:

  • Don't make your brief a mystery. Tell the reader what the case is about right up front. ...
  • The word "clearly" is no substitute for authority or logic.
  • Never use many words when a few will do. A longer brief is not necessarily a better brief.
  • Cite only cases you have actually read.
  • Clear language—not pompous or ponderous language—is most effective.

I will highlight some of the tips about oral arguments closer to first-year oral arguments.

Thanks to Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog for his tip about these Appellate Practice Tips.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Law Librarian Blog

The Moritz Law Library at the Ohio State University has unveiled its Moritz Legal Information Blog. Reference librarians Sara Sampson, Rachael Smith, and Matt Steinke will focus on legal research topics, general legal information, and Ohio specific legal issues. Check it out at http://moritzlegalinformation.blogspot.com/ and subscribe to their feed. Congratulations Sara, Rachael, and Matt!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chipper Is Law Dog of the Week

photo of two dogs

photo of two dogs

This week's Law Dog is Chipper. He is shown here with his neighbor, Lilly. Chipper is the taller of the two.

Chipper is about 13 months old, and he lives with Nate and Sharon Bailey. Nate is a 2L.

Join us next week for another Law Dog of the Week. If you haven't already sent in your dog photo, there is still time. We will be featuring one each week all year.