Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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October Link Roundup

Do these things to avoid post-vacation stress at work Seven great tips for bringing your sense of “inner peace” back with you post-vacation. Very smart of WPLLA Member Joel Fishman to send this link out the day after Labor Day!


How to Create a Professional Online Presence Authentically Marketing expert and entrepreneur Vana Koutsomitis gave a thoughtful Q&A with goop.com. She outlined some interesting suggestions for maintaining an authentic online image and how to promote yourself, your skills, and your brand using social media.


New on LLRX – Three TextExpander Snippets You Should Be Using to Save Time Immediately


Try http://www.textexpander.com to create Snippets that plug in your email address, phone number, and office mailing address. Save some time where-ever and when-ever you can!
Historical California legislative publications Check out the “California Legislative Publications 1850-2009” on HathiTrust for historical bills, statutes, bill histories, constitutional amendments, final calendars, and other materials.


LexisNexis sued for breach of contract by Ohio county law library The Medina County Law Library in Ohio has contracted with LexisNexis since 2002 to provide search services for approximately 100 attorneys not otherwise affiliated with the County or the Law Library. The library paid for access privileges; however, LexisNexis recently cancelled this license because “. . . the listed subscribers were not government professional users employed by the subscriber.” The library, in turn, filed suit.


May I finish? The case against interrupting The author suggests that this is a real problem – especially for women. Learn why people interrupt and how to handle the interruptions.


Save the Date: “The Past, Present, and Future of Libraries,” September 27-29, 2018, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA If you’re reading this on the WPLLA website, the event has already passed – but thanks to WPLLA member Joel Fishman for sending this to our attention! This free event focused on the history of libraries, the present opportunities for libraries, and the potential future for libraries as they continue to evolve in the 21st century. It also featured two keynote events. First, a panel discussion moderated by Sarah E. Thomas (Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) with comments from Mary Lee Kennedy (Executive Director, Association of Research Libraries), Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Suzanne Young Murray Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies), and Michael Witmore (Director, Folger Shakespeare Library). Second, a presentation from Deanna Marcum (Senior Advisor, Ithaka S+R) and Donald J. Waters (Senior Program Officer for Scholarly Communications, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation).

If you attended, shoot someone on the WPLLA Board a quick message; we’d love to hear from you.


Supreme Court Appointment Process: Senate Debate and Confirmation Vote beSpacific linked to a timely (and recently updated) CRS Report called, “Supreme Court Appointment Process: Senate Debate and Confirmation Vote.” Though the U.S. Constitution provides instruction for appointment in only a few brief words (“the President ‘shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court'”), the process has undergone many changes over the past two hundred-or-so years. Click through for more info and the link!


12 Things You Absolutely Won’t Regret Doing at Work Today As the article so deftly notes, “Have you ever had one of those days when absolutely everything went wrong? When it felt like the universe was not only against you—but actually laughing in the face of your misfortune?” It then goes on to suggest 12 different quick-and-easy projects to tackle at work when you really need a “win” (like cleaning off your desk or tidying up your email inbox).


Wolters Kluwer Partners with U.S. Legal Forms On September 12, 2018, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. announced its partnership with U.S. Legal Forms, Inc., “. . . the leading online publisher of state-specific legal documents.” Additional features of Wolters Kluwer’s Legal Forms will now include the following: “[a]ccess to a wide range of forms (mostly state-specific) across many practice areas; [r]emote access to forms, allowing professionals to work on the go and edit the forms according to specific needs,” and customizable options tailored to specific practice areas or specific states.


LII Announces U.S. Constitution Annotated The Legal Information Institute’s (“LII”) U.S. Constitution Annotated “. . . links to Supreme Court opinions, the U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations” and provides “. . . enhanc[ed] navigation through search, breadcrumbs, linked footnotes and tables of contents.” Though the Congressional Research Service initially prepared the content, LII’s version provides “. . . a hypertext interpretation of the CRS text, updated to the currently published version.”


New bill would finally tear down federal judiciary’s ridiculous paywall ArsTechnica notes that “. . . Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would require that the courts make PACER documents available for download free of charge. . . . [as] federal courts have used PACER revenues as a slush fund to finance other court activities.” The author of the post doesn’t anticipate the proposed legislation to become law during this specific session, but it does indicate Congressional willingness to at least take up the issue.


New Corpus Linguistics Platform Lets Legal Researchers Explore the Meanings of Words and Phrases The Law and Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform, developed by BYU Law in Provo, Utah, is a “. . . first-of-its-kind technology platform” that “. . . allows legal researchers to examine large collections of historical texts to help determine the meanings of words and phrases in the contexts in which they historically were used.” It launched with three primary text collections:

·         Corpus of Founding Era American English (a collection from years 1760 to 1799);

·         Corpus of Supreme Court of the United States (all SCOTUS opinions through the 2017 term); and

·         Corpus of Early Modern English (a collection from years 1475-1800).

This project is already receiving accolades from distinguished sources, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; it definitely seems worth a few minutes of curious exploration!


Trending: Congressional Research Service Reports Now Available Online Per the Library of Congress’ blog, “[t]he Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 directs the Library to . . . make CRS reports publicly available online.” The reports are now available at crsreports.congress.gov. Developed by experts, “. . . the reports present a legislative perspective on topics such as agriculture policy, counterterrorism operations, banking regulation, veteran’s issues and much more.” Please note that, “[m]oving forward, all new or updated reports will be added to the website as they are made available to Congress.” The CRS back catalog will be added as quickly as possible.


Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing And Clinical Learning Through Transference An article linked by TaxProf Blog questions why “. . . highly competent and hard-working law students struggle to apply what they learn in legal writing to later clinical courses and law practice.” Check out the article to find strategies that help students “. . . become reflective practitioners engaged in the life-long learning necessary for excellent legal practice.”


How to Prepare for an Interview: The Ultimate Guide An article published in the “Ask a Boss” column of The Cut (a style blog maintained by New York Magazine, and one of my guiltiest pleasures) promises to be the “. . . ultimate guide on how to prepare for an interview.” If you’re thinking about switching jobs anytime soon, give this a once-over!


Introducing Vincent: the first intelligent legal research assistant of its kind vLex recently introduced Vincent, the first AI-powered intelligent legal research assistant to analyze documents in two languages (English and Spanish) from 9 countries. Vincent can also incorporate content from vLex’s global collection, “. . . but also from internal knowledge management resources, public sources and licensed databases simultaneously.” Software engineers parsed vLex’s global collection of 100 million+ legal documents, and built the program “. . . on top of the Iceberg AI platform.”


Top 9 Writing Tools to Create Your Perfect Legal Resume The quality of a legal resume must be superlative because, “. . . as a lawyer, you are expected to present facts, as well as yourself, in the best way possible, as well as to pay attention to detail.” Review this Legal Research for web-based services and apps to help you get your resume in tip-top shape!


Important update about LC Public Access Portal for CRS Reports An update with important information about the Public Access Portal to Official CRS Reports:

First, “[t]he public versions of the reports are lightly redacted to remove the author’s contact information, and to add some boilerplate language about CRS.”

Second, currently, “. . . CRS is only posting its primary ‘R series’ reports” including reports like American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics and Congressional Primer on Responding to Major Disasters and Emergencies.


Pennsylvania’s Potential Gift to American Democracy As quoted by The Legal Intelligencer:

“On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case of immense political consequence, regarding fairness in elections, that almost no one has heard of. Both the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the basic citizen rights enumerated in Article I of the Constitution of Pennsylvania suggest that the plaintiffs have a very strong case.”


8 ideas for empowering jurors in complex trials Attorneys attempting to persuade jurors during a long and complex product liability trial usually focus on the clarity of their argument and the witness’ testimony. But what about “. . . informing and honing the thinking of the jury?” Some attorneys are now working to “. . .  develop jurors who are better prepared and better equipped to carry out the difficult tasks we place before them.” Click through the article for suggestions on how to better train jurors.



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WPLLA Business Meeting

WHERE: Allegheny County Law Library

WHEN: October 11, 2018: Noon -1:30

WHAT: Lunch will be provided by WPLLA and catered by Eadie’s


1.         Introduction of the New Board
2.         Presentation of state of WPLLA
3.         Treasurer’s Statement
4.         Event planning
5.         Other business

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September Link Roundup

New Mexico Law School Librarians’ Fight For Faculty Status And Equal Voting Rights A recent TaxProf Blog post highlights a new Law Library Journal article, published by AALL. “Based on research of over sixty years of archival records, this article presents a case study of the University of New Mexico School of Law librarians’ fight for respect, professional recognition, faculty status, and voting rights in the face of persistent opposition from law school administrators, faculty, and head librarians.” It poignantly acknowledges the “. . . challenges law librarians have confronted as they have sought to obtain rights and privileges within their institutions that their academic credentials and professional responsibilities warrant.”


Is Wikipedia A Reliable Legal Authority? (2018 Update) The answer, as any good lawyer would tell you, is “it depends.” But links from a beSpacific post to articles on Associates Mind and the Chronicle of Higher education provide a more nuanced analysis!


The Citeable Opinion: A Quantitative Analysis of the Style and Impact of Judicial Decision In a research paper available for download on SSRN, and linked in this beSpacific post, Nina Varsava provides a quantitative analysis judicial legal writing style and the “legal impact or precedential power.” Using regression analyses, Varsava suggests “. . . that readily measurable elements of style have strong associations with a decision’s precedential power.”


  WPLLA member Joel Fishman forwarded an email on August 8, 2018 from the Legal Office Guru. The post provides multiple helpful links on the basics of the relatively new Microsoft Word function, Styles. Check the email for more info!


AALL 2018 Recap: 25 Free Technologies for Law Libraries: Second Edition Avery Le (Emory University School of Law) and Eliza Fink (University of Tennessee College of Law) presented the top 25 free technologies they use, divided into three categories (instructional, practical, and cost). The list includes:
– KnightLab (to make timelines or side-frame comparisons),
– YouCanBook.me (appointment scheduler),
– SlickPie (accounting software),
– and our old favorite, Grammarly (corrects grammatical mistakes).
Check out the blog post for the full list!


Are Targeted Ads Stalking You? Here’s How to Make Them Stop Online ads have become “stalker ads,” as the tech piece from the New York Times claims. Ads are targeted and persistent. They use web cookies to collect information about our browsing activities; the data is compiled to target us across web-connected devices. This raises a host of privacy concerns. For ways to “sidestep” targeting ads, clear your cookies periodically and follow the rest of the suggestions in the article.


Automatically Create Website Citations For a Bibliography With This Chrome Extension LifeHacker (a great website; check it out if you’re not already a regular) reviews Cite This For Me. This Chrome extension “. . . automatically creates website citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard style with a quick click on its icon on your browser’s toolbar.”


New Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines “Newly-revised Classification Guidelines for the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system are now available.” Updates include:
– updated SuDocs link to Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (“CGP”) catalog records,
– new Table of Contents structure,
– printer-friendly format,
– and more.
If you like what you see, or if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, send emails to Caroline Hassler or Fang Gao.


The Art and Science of Lawyering: Law 3.0 Law Technology Today, in a post highlighted by beSpacific, laments that “[l]egal organizations have a well-deserved reputation for using technology and implementing business processes ineffectively at scale.” The issues can be traced back to “partner-focused business entities.” Read on for more info!


New CRS Reports – Judge Kavanaugh’s Jurisprudence, Supreme Court Nomination, Records, Papers and Decision beSpacific links to five distinct articles analyzing not only the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justice-nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh but also judicial ethics, fact-finding, and criminal sentencing. Click through each link for more detailed information.


Hardly living on a UC librarian salary The University of California’s librarians’ union (UC-AFT) and the university system are currently in the middle of contract negotiations. This op-ed details some of the struggles UC librarians live with as their salaries seemingly shrink in the face of rising cost-of-living expenses in some of the most expensive areas of the country.


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August Link Roundup

President’s Selection of a Nominee for a Supreme Court Vacancy: Overview Following Justice Kennedy’s departure from the U.S. Supreme Court, the website “Every CRS Report” provides info on the process for selecting a new Justice. It also links to CRS Report R44235, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee.


The Longform Guide to the Supreme Court beSpacific links to a cache of in-depth stories on the Supreme Court hosted by Longform.org. Article authors include Jill Lepore, Thomas L. Dybdahl, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Jeffrey Toobin.


14 editing tips Wayne Schiess shares fourteen editing tips on his blog, legalwriting.net. They include “build in ample time for editing” and “employ an editing checklist—a list of mistakes you make, of required parts the document needs, and of formatting and other matters to check.”


Explaining the First Citation in Every Supreme Court Slip Opinion This statement is at the top of the original form of every Supreme Court opinion:
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
Why? Orin Kerr on reason.com explains; it stems from a 1906 property dispute. Click through to the blog post to learn more.


Getting a password manager is the most important way to improve your online security The Washington Post recommends Dashlane, used by over 10 million people, as the best password manager available today. Free for use on a single device, and $3.33 per month for multiple devices, it can securely sync your passwords across computers, phones, and tablets; it also sends you a new password via an app each time you try to log into a password-protected program. It hasn’t been hacked since 2015 – and even then, no passwords were stolen. This beSpacific blog post links to both the Washington Post article and the Dashlane website itself.


13 New Exhibitors at AALL Annual Conference: ILS Software, Data, Training Vendors Jean O’Grady of the Dewey B Strategic blog highlights the 13 “first time exhibitors” who attended the AALL Conference in Baltimore, held July 14-16th. Companies included Gobi (a web-based acquisition tool for managing both print and e-books) and Tyler Technologies (court workflow and records management services).

If you attended the AALL Conference, let us know if you chatted with reps from any of these companies! We’d love to get your opinion and schedule a Fall 2018/Spring 2019 lunch-and-learn program with anyone who knocked your socks off!


Win for Public Right to Know: Court Vacates Injunction Against Publishing the Law A win for those dedicated to preserving public, equitable access to information: “A federal appeals court today ruled that industry groups cannot control publication of binding laws and standards. This decision protects the work of Public.Resource.org (PRO), a nonprofit organization that works to improve access to government documents. PRO is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the law firm of Fenwick & West, and attorney David Halperin.” Click the link for more info and the full opinion.


The last 22 years of UK politics just became searchable online In an email from WPLLA member Joel Fishman, the new UK politics archive “contains over 1.4 billion web pages, documents and social media posts, from the ‘dodgy’ Iraq dossier to ministers’ tweets.” Though the main link requires a user account, the links in the body of the email to the UK Government Web Archive and GOV.UK are free and open to the public.
Congress.gov New, Tip, and Top for July 2018 The second set of enhancement to Congress.gov went live in June 2018; one area of focus “is on enhancing committee data.”


Beware the Hidden Costs of Bad Formatting “The Legal Office Guru has heard every excuse in the book for why law firms skimp on training, and reader Roberta Gelb forwarded an article illustrating how firms could be losing up to $400,000/year on basic editing mistakes that need to be painstakingly corrected. The post also includes a downloadable Word Skills Checklist so you can make sure you’re one of the competent, capable ones in the office!


One more time – No, Amazon Cannot Replace Libraries After Forbes magazine published the article, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” the world erupted. Folks were especially upset with the author “. . . picking Amazon—notorious for its horrible treatment of employees, and accusations of ruining the cities it opens warehouses in—as a potential replacement.” “[T]he notion that libraries aren’t worth their value to taxpayers—one that fails to take into account the financial returns of a library and expenses of buying these items on one’s own—fails to address the vast importance a library has on its community as a physical space open to anyone in the public.” Forbes has since removed the anti-free-libraries article from its website.


The Librarian And The Astrophysicist As WPLLA member Rita Young noted, Forbes quickly followed up their anti-free-libraries article with a pro-library article; “[a] bit of an ‘oops, we’re sorry.” This new mea culpa was written by an astrophysicist/library-enthusiast.


Three Technologies Transforming the Legal Field “Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market surmised that declining profit margins, weakening collections, falling productivity, and loss of market share to alternative legal service providers are chipping away at the foundations of firm profitability.” But there are ways to “counteract these market pressures and to differentiate . . . from competitors.” Review this beSpacific post linking to a Law Technology Today article to learn more about analytics, blockchain, OCR, and other cost-effective services.


Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and his very bigly paper trail Coordinating three articles from the Congressional Research Service, The Hill, and the Washington Post, this beSpacific post analyzes Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the nearly 1,500 decisions he has adjudicated. Some suggest his paper trail “tops a million pages.”



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July Link Roundup

Bye, Chrome: Why I’m switching to Firefox and you should too In an interview with Madhava Enros, the senior director of Firefox UX, and Peter Dolanjski, a product manager for Firefox, the two explain how Mozilla’s browser builds privacy into its architecture.


Bringing Harassment Out of the History Books Anne Ford, in a long form article posted on the American Libraries Magazine website, “address[es] the troubling aspects of Melvil Dewey’s legacy.” Ford’s research highlights troubling aspects of Dewey’s career and personality, calling it “tainted” by sexism and racism.


5 Tools to Help You Search the Archived Internet As Adam Rowe of Tech.Co noted, “keeping the internet a stable and reliable network isn’t all about data security – it’s also about data preservation.” This article reviews five websites, apps, and tools to help “preserve, protect, or search through your online footprint.”


What got breached this week? The List Keeps On Growing A beSpacific post links to a weekly cybersecurity column detailing corporate, social media, government, academic, e-commerce, and health care breaches.


Casetext Survey Finds ‘Shocking’ Level of Missing Relevant Cases in US Courts Artificial Lawyer (an AI and Legal Automation news and opinion blog), in conjunction with Casetext, found that ” that 83% of US judges and their clerks find that lawyers’ briefs are missing relevant cases that could impact the trial ‘at least some of the time’.” Click through the link to learn more statistics and info.


Librarians: Embrace the Career Revolution! Following the recent British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (“BIALL”) Conference, attendees have decided to continue discussing its theme: “Designing our Future.” Because people should now plan for “plan for five careers in a lifetime,” this post discusses changes to the law librarian profession and things you can do to keep succeeding (or pivot).


Best web browsers 2018: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head PCWorld reviewed various web browsers to make sure you’re using “the best tool for the job,” Read this post to find out if you should be using Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.


Breaking News: Practicing Law Institute and Fastcase Alliance Adds Case Law Links to PLI Plus Platform Starting in July 2018, the PLI Plus platform user will have access to all United States federal and state case law citations; they will be linked to Fastcase documents as the result of a new alliance between the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) and Fastcase.



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June Links Roundup

Gmail’s Smart Compose will write emails for you Smart Compose, a feature now available in the new Gmail re-vamp, “suggests complete sentences in your emails so that you can draft them with ease.”


Use Google Scholar’s Advanced Search for Narrow Case Law Searching This Texas Tech Law Library’s blog post provides interesting “tricks” for getting the most out of Google Scholar, a free case law search tool. These tricks “will help you narrow your search results to relevant cases.”


From Slip Law to United States Code: A Guide to Federal Statutes for Congressional Staff A CRS Report released on May 2, 2018 “provides an overview of federal statutes in their various forms, as well as basic guidance for congressional staff interested in researching statutes.”


3 Easy Ways to Convert Webpages Into PDFs If you could convert a webpage into a .pdf, “you could read any webpage offline in no-internet zones, making it easy to read articles and other pages offline.” This blog post details three easy, user-friendly ways to complete such a task! (Now, we can take even more reading home with us when we leave the office each weekday!)


Guide to Gmail’s new ‘confidential mode’ According to Business Insider and beSpacific, “[c]onfidential mode is available to users with personal accounts who opted into the new version of Gmail last month, when Google announced the latest changes to its email application.”


How To Improve Pennsylvania’s Tax System As noted by a professor at George Mason University, “Pennsylvania ranks near the top in tax burden and near the bottom in business friendliness in the nation. While much good can be said about the state’s personal income tax rate and relatively low sales tax rate, Pennsylvania’s business taxes are in serious need of reform.” This blog post reflects on potential improvements.


New on LLRX – 2018 New Economy Resources and Tools Linked by beSpacific, this guide “provides researchers in multiple disciplines – law, economists, academia, government, corporate, and journalism – the latest, most reliable web resources for discovering sources to meet the multifaceted needs of time sensitive, specific, actionable work product.”


Paper – Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency Reflecting on “an increasingly polarized electorate, concerns about ‘fake news,’ and a greater use of social media” as well as the Trump Administration’s utilization of “disintermediation of information consumption by communicating directly to the public and going around the ‘experts,'” this new book examines the impact on government information librarians especially  their concern “with the production, distribution, consumption, and preservation of government information, and impact the public’s understanding of—and trust in—government information.”


Public can now search UK government’s entire digital archive For the first time, “[t]he British government’s entire online presence comprising billions of web pages has been indexed and digitally archived to the cloud for the first time. Manchester tech firm MirrorWeb has devised an all-new indexing to create an accessible, searchable and user-friendly resource for the public.” This web archive collection is 120TB and includes every government department website and social media account from 1996 to the present.


  In a May 21, 2018 email, Rita Young shared her response from the Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia regarding the redistribution of civil filing fees (thus imperiling the Jenkins Law Library). The stinging message read, in part, “law libraries, including Jenkins, do not serve the same function today as they did years ago.”


CRS – False Statements and Perjury: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law The Mueller investigation’s interest in potentially investigating President Trump begs the question: “whether a sitting President, consistent with the separation of powers and Article II of the Constitution, may be required to comply with a subpoena for his testimony as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”  This CRS Report goes into detail about the type of subpoena Mueller could issue and thoughtfully questions issues regarding separation of powers between the various branches of government.


INSTANTLY CREATE AND SHARE A BIBLIOGRAPHY WITH ZOTEROBIB – EVEN IN BLUEBOOK A helpful post from the WisBlawg (the University of Wisconsin’s Law Library Blog) recommends “Zotero,” “an incredibly powerful citation manager that helps you collect, organize, cite, and share research.” The site is open source (so it’s free!), “perfect for large research projects where you’re researching over a period of days, weeks, [or] months,” and supports multiple citation styles, including Bluebook. The post also includes info on other citation sites, including EasyBib and ZoteroBib.


New edition of Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators published by ACRL


Follow the links provided in this Law Librarian Blog post for a “thorough introduction to Zotero.”