The Round-Up: What I’m Reading

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Initiatives to Counter Fake News via the Law Library of Congress’s Index of Legal Reports, examining how 15 different countries are addressing the worldwide “fake news” epidemic in mass and social media and its impact on the political process. The U.S. isn’t one of the featured countries, but these reports reminded me of the existence of ABA Legal Fact Check. It’s non-governmental and doesn’t really keep up with the breakneck speed of new info these days, but it’s a great start!

What if We Get Rid of Law Librarians by David Whelan, imagining a world where we take the law librarians out of law libraries and replace them with commercially-motivated legal information product-pushers. The post was inspired by Washington, D.C.’s own Apple Carnegie Library, which hosts free daily programming coupled with a fully functional Apple store. Bad idea for the academic law library world, if you ask me — law librarians tend to act as gatekeepers and neutral parties divorced from commercial interests. Very interesting to think about!

Public Art Meets Courthouse Navigation by The Harris County Law Library, detailing how an intern used her graphic design skills to help them transform a legal navigation flowchart into pop art for their law library’s wall. You’ve gotta see it – the wall art even has tiny little paper buildings to represent the real buildings! I’d imagine it’s popular with self-represented patrons.

Access-Driven Calif. Reforms Likely to Spur Big Pushback from Law360’s Access to Justice newsletter (subscription required), all about the reform of the state’s attorney rules governing non-lawyer ownership, non-lawyer fee-sharing, and more. The rules take direct aim at mitigating the state’s access to justice crisis, but some fear reforms will make the law “more of a business than a practice”. I wonder how much Kim Kardashian has to do with this (and I’m only mildly joking here).

Law Librarians: The Missing Link As Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Adapt to Artificial Intelligence by Carolyn Elefant. A brief but excellent two-part introduction to AI for law librarians, as curated for a AALL 2019 session on “Artificial Intelligence in Legal Research and Law Practice”. Really fun to read, especially as more and more AI is being introduced in the legal arena (see: “How Tech is Helping Courtroom Newbies Become Virtual Pros,” for example, highlighting how places like San Francisco are training new attorneys using virtual reality.)

Some good news on the prisoner-rights-to-legal-information front: inmates at the Danville Correctional Center recently had more than 200 books on African-American history, race, and social change returned after the facility removed them; and Pinal County inmates in Arizona can now use tablets for educational and career advancement.

Self-Represented Litigants are assisted by law libraries across the country by the Ramsey County Law Library Blog via the Self-Represented Litigation Network, displaying highlights from a 2019 survey that measured services to self-represented litigants. You can also view more interactive survey results here. Fun fact: 98% of the law libraries surveyed provide some type of reference and research assistance to self-represented litigants.

Law to Fact podcast by Professor Leslie Garfield Tenzer, discussing lots of legal topics of relevance to law students. Of particular note for incoming 1Ls: How to Brief a Case and How to Read a Legal Opinion.

GOALI: Global Online Access to Legal Information for Developing Countries via the Boston College Legal Eagle, announcing a new platform encouraging open access to law in developing countries. GOALI will provide free or low-cost online legal information in 115 developing countries. It was created as a public-private partnership with the International Labour Organization, Cornell Law School Library, and the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale.

Legislative History on Trial by Jamie R. Abrams via the Law Librarian Blog, highlighting a simulation course on legislative history and its value. As a new reference librarian, I really enjoy these “behind-the-scenes” takes on unique teaching strategies.

 

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