Archive for August, 2009

AALL2go Opens This Week

AALL President Catherine Lemann announced today that AALL2go, the Association’s new online learning center, is open for business! The new site offers law librarians specialized continuing AALL2GO LOGOeducation programs in a convenient online format. The new site allows legal information professionals to expand their knowledge base and gain new skills right from their desktops—no travel is required, and it’s open 24/7. Also, AALL2go is fully searchable, so one can quickly find material targeted to his or her areas of interest.

The site includes:

  • Audio recordings from the 2009, 2008, and 2007 AALL Annual Meeting and Conferences
  • Seven free videos from this year’s Annual Meeting and Conference
  • Coming soon: archived webinars and other recorded continuing education program from 2006 to present, including more than 50 free programs for AALL members

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges

JUSTICE SCALIA TO ATTORNEYS: PERSUADE ME…

By Claudia Cook
Claudia Cook is a Reference Librarian at the
Bernard E. Witkin Alameda County Law Library
She can be reached at Claudia.Cook@acgov.org.

      
Making your case: The art of persuading judges, Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan E. Garner, ThomsonWest, May 2008

“Don’t underestimate the importance of facts.”

This volume discusses both the substance and style of legal writing designed to persuade judges. The judicial perspective is from Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia is known for his keen wit and trenchant legal reasoning and writing. The co-author is Bryan E. Garner, Editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, among other works, who certainly knows his legal vocabulary.

The book covers general principles of argumentation, legal reasoning, briefing and oral argument. The authors maintain a conversational tone, using idioms and anecdotes and quotes from Cicero to present day jurists. It is an entertaining read like Woe Is I and other good for you books. It succeeds by all its own criteria. The authors argue that this style would benefit legal writing and advocacy in general, especially in briefs and oral arguments.

It is well organized and even the index uses the same breezy yet informative tone, including such terms as “emotion”, “stopping when judge interrupts”, “words and phrases to avoid” and “voir dire, pronunciation of”.  It is also very thorough; the subheadings under “briefs” are almost a full page long.  It also speaks to authority, including headings of “court rules”, “case law” and “citations”.

Stylistically, some suggestions are to avoid jargon, clichés and unnecessary Latin terms. (See Index heading “words and phrases to avoid”.) Doesn’t “in the instant case” simply mean “in this case”? Use “this or that action” instead of “such action,” replace “hearinbefore” with “earlier” and “pursuant to” with “under.”

 You can make persuasive arguments without using archaic phrases.

“Make it interesting” by considering more colorful words, mixing up sentence length and structure. Short sentences can pack a punch. All of this is to make your stellar legal arguments stand out and be memorable, but not at the expense of the substance of your case.

Pronunciation counts. The comedian Lenny Bruce said that if Einstein had pronounced it “nucular” fission, no one would have taken him seriously. (Although Jimmy Carter did call himself a “Nucular” engineer.)

They explore what motivates judges and equally what irritates, annoys and is “most likely not to succeed with judges.”  Common wisdom is that a “jury argument” will almost certainly not be a good “judge argument”.  Juries may be persuaded by blatant appeals to emotion and sentimentality whereas these authors characterize this kind of tactic in front of judges as “misconduct”.  Many judges also find such appeals insulting to their intelligence, assuming as it does that judges are on the same level intellectually as a juror or other layperson.

What does motivate judges is that, for basics, attorneys understand and convey forcefully and convincingly what they want the court to do, they understand and articulate whether this is within the court’s power to do, and attorneys convince them that what they are asking for is the best solution for now and for the future.

While appeal courts are not “fact courts”, “facts should not be overestimated.”  But appellate judges unlike trial judges are concerned not only with justice for the individual but also with public policy and how this decision may play out in the broad picture down the road.

They point out the fallacy that oral argument is not nearly as important as briefs and other pleadings. During oral argument, attorneys should maintain a presentation style that projects a respectful equality with the judge. They should listen closely, and restrain emotions such as anger or contempt toward other parties. Employ the masterful use of a pause.

And finally, never, ever ask for extra pages!

Book Review of Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction by Nigel Warburton

Warburton, Nigel: Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2009. ($11.95|116 pages|978-0-19-923235-2|paperback).

 Free speech has continued to be a highly debated topic.  “Should all speech be protected at any cost?” is often the question.  There are some who would advocate that without an uncensored and uninterrupted freedom of speech, society will eventually move towards a non-democratic environment.  Still there are others who are supporters of free speech but feel that in certain circumstances the right to free speech should be limited.  With his book Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction, Lecturer Nigel Warburton provides a very careful and efficient inspection of this area by discussing the central arguments as they are related to the idea of free speech while examining the need for limitations.

Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction is a new release from Oxford University Press in their Very Short Introduction titles.  It is organized into five chapters.  The book starts with a general overview of free speech in the first chapter.  The chapters that follow provide brief explanations of several key points in the free speech debate, including, but not limited to, the censorship of pornography and a chapter on the internet.  Warburton concludes the book with his speculations as to where we may see the future of free speech lead.  He also provides a section of books that would be helpful about free speech.

Warburton provides a brief look into what free speech is and why it is important.  Being that it is a short introduction to the area of free speech and not a comprehensive textbook or how to guide, the title will be a useful addition to any library seeking to acquire titles that will assist in explaining this idea in a concise manner, but would appear to be most useful in an academic setting.  The title will be great for students who have been newly introduced to the idea of free speech and need a to the point look at free speech without feeling overwhelmed by mounds of legal jargon.  Although not intended as a study guide, the book does serve as a brief snap shot of the important ideals surrounding free speech and would compliment lecture materials.  It will also be useful as a great starting point for those individuals who are developing or have an interest in this hot topic area and need a quick read to introduce them to the highlights of free speech.  The book can be a great learning tool.  I would recommend this title to professors in the area of first amendment law as a way of introducing their students to the idea.      

As a researcher in the area of First Amendment law, I found Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction a very well written and easy to read beginning to the topic of free speech.  The organization of the book provided a straightforward discussion that readers could follow effortlessly.  Warburton’s writing proves that he is well versed in the area and provides support to back up his findings.  His use and inclusion of some key figures, such as Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in the area of free speech only adds to the book’s appeal.  Warburton’s discussion of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty provides readers with intriguing and thought-provoking insight.  I found Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction to provide exactly what the title series set out to accomplish by introducing the free speech in a brief and easy to read format. 

 –Tiffany R. Paige, Esq., Acting Acquisitions Librarian, Mississippi College Law Library.

Washington, D.C. 2009-Review of Program F-1-Getting to Yes: Developing Effective Salary Negotiation Skills

Washington, D.C. 2009-Review of Program F-1-Getting to Yes:  Developing Effective Salary Negotiation Skills

Date:  Monday, July 27 – 10:45am – 11:45am

Speaker:  Nan Siemer, BREAKERS

Coordinator:  Femi Cadmus, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Library

Femi Cadmus and Nan Siemer led an interactive discussion on salary negotiation.  The program began with Ms. Cadmus giving an overview of the Economic Survey.  She explained that private law libraries have been most affected by the poor economy.  She also explained how academic universities have had to battle with reductions in endowments.

Next, Ms. Siemer transitioned the discussion to negotiation.  Ms. Siemer said several things that challenged the way I thought about my career and negotiation.  People negotiate for cars and houses every day, and people should also negotiate compensation packages.  First, she began by stating that you do not have to just be thankful you have a job during the poor economy.  Your duties or your position may change, so you should try to negotiate a better compensation package.  Ms. Siemer also took the time to explain that compensation can come in forms other than salary.  For example, she suggested asking the company to pay for your parking, which may work better in a firm environment, or asking for a matching 401K contribution.  Further, Ms. Siemer stated that you need to take into account quality of life factors that make a job desirable, such as distance from daycare, a laptop for home use, or even pet insurance. 

Additionally, it was stated that doing more with less is not the answer.  Instead, libraries should not shy away from reprioritizing and changing how things are done.

Further, Ms. Siemer suggested that you should not take negotiating personally.  Negotiation is part of business, and don’t be afraid to hear “no” or to say “no.”  You have to be willing to walk away for negotiating to be effective.  Also, it is possible for you to negotiate with your current employer.  

Ms. Siemer also discussed negotiating separation agreements.  In addition to money she stated that employees should ask for letters of recommendation and other placement support and extensions of professional memberships.  She also said that you should not sign a letter of resignation.  You should not give up your right to unemployment.

Most importantly, Ms. Siemer said that you cannot lose sight of why you are working.  Also, remember to negotiate as an individual.  Negotiation can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is necessary. 

I thought both Ms. Cadmus and Ms. Siemer were very dynamic speakers.  Additionally, I liked how they allowed questions throughout the program, instead of just leaving time at the end for questions.  Several colleagues asked questions during the program

For additional information about salary negation, see the AALL Salary Negotiation Wiki http://aallnet.pbworks.com/Salary-Negotiation.

Discover the Real Value of Your Information Contracts

You know what you pay for your subscriptions, but what is the real value of the content within your contracts? With more information available electronically, the content of the contracts—as well as how we negotiate them—has changed significantly in the last 10 years. Discovering the Real Value of Your Information Contracts, a webinar to be held on September 16, from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Central, will review changes in contracts, past and present, and arm you with tactics and techniques so that you have the information to negotiate intelligently.

 Webinar attendees will learn:

  • How contracts are done from the vendor’s side (aka, learn to translate vendor justification tactics)
  • Practical tips and techniques for reviewing your own contracts
  • Action steps to evaluate the value of your contracts

Register by September 9.

Book Review: Intellectual Property in Government Contracts, by James G. McEwen, David S. Bloch and Richard M. Gray

McEwen, James G, David S. Bloch & Richard M. Gray. Intellectual Property in Government Contracts. Oxford University Press, 2009. ($185.00  ‌  616 pages  ‌  Paperback:  9780195338560).

An unwritten rite of passage for law librarians is certainly learning what the acronym FAR stands for and researching the labyrinth of processes unique to federal and state government procurement. Helpful research tools of course include the American Bar Association’s recent book on Government Contract Law and the ABA Public Contract Law section periodical entitled The Procurement Lawyer.  However, McEwen’s book is an essential addition to any public or law firm library whose patrons sell emerging technologies to the federal government or any of its state counterparts. In addition, since more than half of the book is devoted to intellectual property rights and procurement laws in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, it would add great value to the next update of Nyberg and Boast’s Subject Compilations of State Laws, which is now accessible through HeinOnline.

McEwen’s book delivers on its promotional promise to explain the confusing process of government procurement to “high-tech contractors looking to do business with the government sector.” However, having been written by a team of public and private practitioners, it provides a balanced description of the intellectual property issues driving  both sides to these contracts.

The book is incredibly well-organized and easy to follow. Realizing that government procurement is a niche industry with its own specialized jargon, the authors lay a careful foundation by thoroughly defining all terms and concepts before explaining how parties variously address intellectual property rights in contracts that federal and state governments make as consumers. As a result, a separate glossary is totally unnecessary. Throughout the first four introductory chapters, I kept finding myself, admittedly a novice in this area of the law, asking mental questions that the authors would either answer in the very next paragraphs or cross-reference to entire chapters later on in the book. The authors also provided extensive and authoritative footnotes akin to an annotated atlas of information revealing the secret rules to government contracting.

Much more than a how-to-guide, the book also addresses procurement relationships full circle by devoting an entire chapter to remedies and damages in contract breach actions where governments have waived their sovereign immunity from claims for patent, trademark, copyright, or trade secret infringement. Finally, the information in the stand-alone state chapters deftly parallels that provided for federal contracting, with the added bonus of relevant comparisons between the states. Since this book is bound to get a lot of practical use, the authors might want to consider a hard bound version if they ever publish a second edition.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Sasala, Esq., Director, Cleveland Law Library Association



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