Archive for September, 2010

September/October issue of Spectrum online

Threats & Opportunities

We face threats/opportunities everywhere.  A threat can often become an opportunity; a mishandled opportunity becomes a threat. See below for some interesting examples I’ve recently found.

Unbundling legal services and document assembly services LegalZoom change who use lawyers and in turn how law libraries are viewed and ues.

Hiring private companies to run public libraries not only those in dire financial straits but also those doing ok.

BlockBuster filing for bankruptcy – failing to respond to changing competitors and letting 2 key factors slip: quality & quantity of inventory and customer service.

Big law firm upheavals - a consultant suggesting thousands of jobs may be lost, may or may not be realistic conclusions.  What is certain that the practice and business of law – and of all of those supporting the profession, the business and the education must change to cope.

Seizing the opportunity to distinguish oneself: Ace Hotels based in Seattle and succeeded with starting a hotel in a down economy

Libraries adapt technology to serve their users and the University of Scranton library explores smartphones and information literacy

Banned Book Week

While few books get banned from law library collections, Banned Book Week should be one of the weeks in our law library lectionary. Halfway through the week, take a short break and watch some videos on the topic.

Book Review: U.S. Antitrust Law and Enforcement: A Practice Introduction

Broder, Douglas.  2010.  “U.S. Antitrust Law and Enforcement: A Practice Introduction.”  New York: Oxford University Press.  312 Pages.  $185.00.

In the forward to Douglas Broder’s introductory text “U.S. Antitrust Law and Enforcement”  he writes that there is a “need for a one-volume book, written in plain English and readable in a sitting (admittedly a fairly long one), that surveys and categorizes the United States antitrust laws and the cases interpreting them, describes how and by whom these laws are enforced, and introduces the reader to the practice of antitrust law.”

The book consists of roughly 200 pages of text broken up over eight chapters: (1) Overview and History of U.S. Antitrust Enforcement; (2) Federal Antitrust Statutes; (3) Agreements in Restraint of Trade–Sherman Act, Section 1; (4) Monopolization and Attempted Monopolization–Sherman Act, Section 2; (5) Mergers, Acquisitions, and Joint Ventures–Clayton Act, Section 7; (6) Premerger Notification–The Hart-Scott-Rodino Act; (7) Price Discrimination–The Robinson-Patman Act; (8) Antitrust Enforcement.  In addition, it includes over 100 pages of Appendix materials, which includes a very basic description of the U.S. federal legal system, common law, and case procedure in federal courts.  There is also an extensive glossary of antitrust and other legal terms and a table of cases.

Broder’s prose is simple and his summaries of antitrust law are clear.  He has accomplished what he set out to do, which was to provide an introductory text that is accessible for law students, attorneys, and I would also add undergraduates and international students.  In fact, antitrust law is so simplified in this text that I believe the target audience should be international students who come to the U.S. to study for an LLM.  Among other things, the appendix includes very brief summaries of such broad topics as the bill of rights, the constitution, and the three branches of government.  All 1L’s will learn about these topics in far greater detail during their constitutional law course, so the addition to this text of these topics cannot be for their benefit.  However, students from foreign countries studying for their LLM and who have had none or very little exposure to the U.S. legal system would benefit from the straightforward summary and facts provided in the appendix.  The glossary of antitrust terms is filled with hundreds of defined terms that is helpful for JDs, LLMs, and beginning practitioners.

One final note, two weeks after I first commenced writing this review I was walking through the Harvard Law School Library’s reading room when I noticed someone reading “U.S. Antitrust Law and Enforcement: A Practice Introduction.”  I walked up to him and I told him that I was writing a review of this book and I wanted to know what he thought of it.  He was a visiting scholar from Germany and he needed an introductory text on antitrust law.  He said that the book was perfect for him as he knew very little about antitrust law.   So, at $185 this book is expensive but I would recommend it highly to any library with a sizeable international student body.

George Taoultsides

Research Librarian and Student Services Coordinator

Harvard Law School Library

Resources related to new Sustainabile Law Librarian Column

Resources and Conversation on Sustainability in Law Libraries

I am the author of the new Sustainability Law Librarian column published in the Spectrum. Please join the conversation and share ideas about column articles and sustainability in general.

I intend top publish additional information related to each column article to help individuals understand and take action relating to sustainability in their library’s/organizations. In addition, I hope the blog will help us share and discuss issues relating to sustainability.  I hope you will join the conversation!

The first article in from the new column is: “The Triple Bottom Line and Why We Care about Sustainability.”

See my Diigo list of resources on topics covered in this article at the bottom of this post.

Topics covered in this article:

What is Sustainability?
See the article for 2 definitions. Do you have something to share?

Why do we care about sustainability?
We care because scientific consensus says human caused climate change is happening and the world is warming at an unprecedented rate. We face a 5 to 10 degree rise in temperature in this century with no policy and a 2 to 5 degree increase with aggressive worldwide policy. These predictions are based on the most sophisticated computer models. Scientist have claimed that more than 2-3 degrees increase will set off catastrophic and irreversible changes. See MIT charts at: http://test-globalchange.mit.edu/resources/gamble/no-policy_F.html

See my 2009 Power Point presentation: “Librarians and Environmental Sustainability” at: http://www.aallnet.org/chapter/coall/selden.ppt At risk is our health, national security, water resources, plant and animal extinctions, entire island states….

This presentation presents scientific data and reports relating to projections for our future.

What is the “triple bottom line?”
Classic book on the TBL –  http://tinyurl.com/2c44v45

Tip: save energy, money and reduce your climate impact by using energy efficient lighting.
See page 6 EPA’s Law Office Guide to Energy Efficiency at: http://www.abanet.org/environ/climatechallenge/lawofficeguide.pdf

My Relevant Links From Diigo:

David Selden
National Indian Law Library/NARF
dselden@narf.org

Book Review: Copyright, Contracts, Creators: New Media, New Rules.

Giuseppina D’Agostino.  Edward Elgar, 2010.  ($129, hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-84720-106-5, 352 pages).

In Copyright, Contracts, Creators: New Media, New Rules, author Giuseppina D’Agostino presents an exhaustive and thoroughly researched and documented treatment of copyright protection for independent authors, or freelancers.  She narrowly defines freelancers as those who write for mainstream magazines and newspapers.  This book however, has practical applicability to a very limited U.S. audience.  While there is some analysis of U.S. law, particularly Tasini v. New York Times Co (972 F. Supp 804), the emphasis is on copyright protection in Canada and the U.K.  The author also proposes methods of achieving fair international copyright protection for freelancers.  As such, this niche publication would appeal mostly to U.S. copyright lawyers with an international practice or with a strong interest in copyright legislation, Canadian and U.K. copyright attorneys, and authors or other persons with a personal interest in this aspect of copyright.

As the author explains, the book “evaluates the adequacy of copyright law to address the exploitation of freelance authors’ works in the digital era.”  She posits that as publishers have become global and technologically sophisticated, “they exploit freelancers’ works not only in print form but also digitally, often by making them available through their own web sites or by selling them to third-party databases.”  Freelancers often give no consent nor obtain payment for these additional uses of their work.  They are becoming increasingly more vulnerable as new digital and other currently unknown technologies are developed, providing additional means of dissemination for their work that they could not have anticipated.  Publishers expect to own the copyright in freelancers’ works outright; freelancers want compensation.  The author concludes that copyright law inadequately addresses this problem and she offers solutions to “balance the interests of freelancers, publishers and the user communities.”

Chapter 1 introduces the topic and gives background information.  Chapter 2 discusses the current imbalance of power between freelancers’ and publishers in the digital milieu, with publishers holding the upper hand.  Chapter 3 analyzes the history of copyright, concluding that it emerged to protect publishers, not authors.  Chapter 4 addresses the fight over copyright in U.K. courts, stating that there is only a negligible amount of legal history dealing with contracts between authors and publishers.  Chapters 5 to 8 “examine the legislative and judicial copyright treatment from national regional and international perspectives,” with Chapter 7 containing the Tasini analysis.  Chapter 9 explores ways in which the publisher-freelancer copyright protection inequity could be resolved in U.K. courts.  Chapters 10 discusses the two predominant justifications of copyright law: natural law and economic theory.  In Chapter 11 the author proposes legislative and judicial solutions and explores other methods of enhancing the fairness of copyright law to freelancers.  Chapter 12 summarizes and concludes the book.

The author’s own research “confirms that a sizeable body of (mainly American) literature exists dealing with digital technologies and freelancers’ digital uses.”  Her book fills a gap in discussing Canadian, European, and U.K. law, but U.S. attorneys needing practical guidance on domestic law would better be served by availing themselves of U.S. sources.

D’Agostino is Associate Professor at Osgood Hall Law School, York University, Canada and Founding Director of IP Osgoode, Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Program (www.iposgoode.ca).

Donna M. Fisher is a solo law librarian at Senniger Powers LLP, an intellectual property firm in St. Louis MO.

September 17 is Constitution Day

The day and the week could be an opportunity to highlight constitutional law material.

Quick take – Library Snapshot Day

AALL’s sibling library association, ALA, sponsors an event called ‘day in the life of your library.’ See http://www.lita.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/advocacy/statelocalefforts/snapshotday/index.cfm

It looks like it might be a fun and relatively easy way to promote law libraries to the larger community.

Curse you, West Baron

Well, here I go again, the Charlie Brown of the Law Library world, still trying to kick the football that West so obligingly holds before me….

So I receive a refund check from Thomson Reuters. It describes itself as “Refund- Paid and Cancelled 6064973933″. Being a well-trained little West customer, I sign onto My Account, enter the magic invoice number and, what to my wondering eyes should appear but an actual invoice. For the new Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations. Which I purchased back in  May. Which I can actually see on the shelf from my office. Which, needless to say, I never cancelled.

Now here’s where I made my first mistake. (I mean, aside from becoming a law librarian.) Also printed on the check ( I should have stuck with commercial grunion fishing, like my mother wanted.) is the statement: For questions regarding this payment, please call Thomson Reuters AP Customer Service at 877-835-7103.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a Law Librarian. As long as you never have to deal with vendors. To quote the Bard, “A reshelving cart, a reshelving cart, my kingdom for a reshelving cart.”)

I knew better. I’m smarter than that. (It takes brains to catch the wily grunion.) I’ve been tricked before. And yet, in spite of every instinct, past experience, better judgment, I CALLED THE NUMBER!!!!

We didn’t discuss it, but I’m sure the weather is lovely in India this time of year. At least, I don’t think we discussed it, the gentleman who answered had such a thick accent I’m not entirely sure what all we chatted about. Eventually he was able to communicate to me that he had no information about nor access to information regarding the refund check and that the telephone number on it was a mistake that he had been assured it would be removed from the refund checks. I was able to understand this part of the conversation because it was identical to the one I had the last time I called the Customer Service number printed on a refund check. Six months ago. And on the one before that….and the one before that….and the….

So the polite Indian gentleman gave me the regular West Customer Service number, an unnecessary gesture as it is seared into my cerebral cortex from years of use, a number I wake babbling in the midst of nightmares….I digress…

I call regular old Customer Service. After only a seven minute wait, while music originally composed for use in North Korean POW camp brainwashing experiments played loudly in the background, a nice lady named Linda came on the line.

I explained the situation, that we had received a refund check allegedly for cancelling our subscription to the Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations, which we hadn’t. (I also mentioned the still incorrect help number on the check. And the Korean Torture Music.) She placed me on hold to research the problem. (Cue Korean Torture Music.) She came back on some little time later  and explained to me that the refund was because we had cancelled our subscription to the Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations. I explained again that, no, sorry, didn’t happen, please check again, also check that the Rutter title is still active, and about the hold recording…(Cue Korean Torture Music.)…She returned several choruses later, having discovered that the refund was in fact because we had a credit of approximately $300 for cancelling one subscription to the California Real Estate NewsAlert and one subscription to the California Real Estate Newsletter, and that was why we received a check for $137.19 which said it was because we cancelled the Rutter Group title….

I pointed out a number of issues I had with this explanation  – why hadn’t I received any notice of this credit*, why was it applied to an invoice without my permission, despite the fact that I have repeatedly instructed West not to do that, why did the refund indicate the subscription to Rutter was cancelled and, oh, by the way, we have never, ever subscribed to a publication called the California Real Estate Newletter because NO SUCH TITLE EXISTS….(CKTM)….several concerti later…

[* Side rant: Linda informed me that I could sign onto My Account and set up an E-Alert to notify me when West was holding onto money belonging to me and not telling me they had it, and then fill out and submit paperwork asking them nicely to please return it. Which is fine by me. I enjoy being an unpaid member of the West accounting staff and doing their job for them. Lord knows they need the rest.]

…Linda comes back. Sorry. The California Real Estate Newsletter actually another appellation for the California Real Estate NewsAlert, they just like to give the same publication a number of different pet names to avoid confusion. And the refund was for cancelling two of our three subscriptions. Except, I interjected, we only cancelled one of the three subscriptions…(CKTM)….

Linda tried her best. It took only 43 minutes altogether to get her to agree to void the refund check we received, reinstate our subscription to California Discovery Citations, have a new refund check issued for the correct amount and for the correct cancellation, correct our number of subscriptions to the NewAlert, rotate the tires, check the oil…She actually tried very hard to be helpful and I didn’t yell at her at all. Honest. I made it very clear none of this was her fault, it was just that she was working for minions of Satan determined to destroy the last spark of human feeling in an aging grunion fisherman…

At least now I understand why West’s prices keeping going up so much each year. It’s expensive screwing up a system that thoroughly.

I’m leaving now. The grunion are running. (CKTM)

Bob Ryan is a librarian at Hill, Farrer & Burrill, LLP in Los Angeles.

(Opinions expressed are purely my own and do not reflect the opinions of Mr. Hill, Mr. Farrer or Mr. Burrill, all three of whom are deceased and not expressing much of anything these days, nor of the firm which bears their names.)

Book Review: The Hidden History of Essex Law School

Book Review: The Hidden History of Essex Law School.  Bander, Edward J.   Trafford Publishing, 2010.   Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-4269-3077-5, $19.50.  291 pages.

Edward J. Bander is a legendary law librarian with a long and distinguished career spanning a half-century at elite law schools such as Harvard, Suffolk, and New York University.  He drew extensively from his experiences for his first novel, The Hidden History of Essex Law School. That’s right, I said novel. Reviewing a work of fiction is a rarity here, even an ambitious one like this: at once a historical novel, a lurid tell-all, a travelogue, a mystery, and surely a semi-autobiography as well.  However, as a book by a law librarian ABOUT a law librarian (and a fictitious fourth-tier Boston law school), it merits a review as much as the latest treatise or research guide.

Tom Jones, Bander’s protagonist, is an accomplished law librarian, library director, and faculty member at Essex Law School, sort of an underdog among New England’s law schools that carved out a niche for itself by recruiting working-class students, women, and minorities when the Ivy Leagues remained exclusive institutions with quotas and high tuition rates.  The dean has tasked Tom with researching and writing a history of the school in order to increase its profile and hopefully raise funds, but the deeper Tom digs, he starts to realize that Essex really deserves to have two histories written.  One would be positive, for mass consumption and good public relations, but Essex’s hidden history would have to be a hard-hitting expose that recounts all the conflicts, controversies, and conspiracies behind the school and its founders, faculty members, students, alumni, and benefactors – in other words, the truth.  Though Tom becomes obsessed with his quest to write this latter history, he does not intend to share it with the world.

Tom Jones is an all-too-rare librarian hero who isn’t a socially awkward bookworm, and Bander goes into great detail on how competent and well-respected Tom is by the majority of his peers at Essex Law School and the legal community as a whole.  He at once personifies two other familiar literary archetypes: the truth-seeking investigative reporter and the relentless, unyielding detective, though he is more polite and mild-mannered than either archetype.  While balancing his responsibilities at the law library and putting up with his overly-flirtatious, hard-drinking, estranged wife, Tom uncovers endless indiscretions by various professors and Essex alumni, stands up to an anti-Semitic, bullying associate dean, gets seduced by a prominent alumna while trying to interview her, and survives a noxious interview with the most flatulent old lawyer ever.  Meanwhile, he befriends the elderly former secretary of Essex’s founding dean, a woman with plenty of secrets of her own.

My biggest complaint about this book is that it could have used the close, critical eye of a copy editor.  It suffers from several distracting typographical errors.  Most are punctuation-related (missing or extra periods, quotes that never close, and so forth), but occasionally characters’ names are switched randomly, even within the same paragraph.  It includes an index, uncommon for novels, but practically necessary for keeping the characters straight.  One affectation caught me off guard every time, though: Bander’s continuous spelling of Harvard as “Havad” (surely to capture the regional accent).   The book’s pacing tends to be slow, but it is not a “legal thriller” by any means, nor does it attempt to be.

Unfortunately, despite its commentary on legal education, lawyers, and scholars, The Hidden History of Essex Law School is ultimately a work of fiction, so it would not fit into most law library collections.  Our law school has a very small legal fiction section due to a Law and Literature class we offer, and I can imagine Bander’s book shelved there alongside Grisham and Turow.  However, we all know that our law students put “reading for pleasure” on hold for three years, and while many law professors might appreciate this look behind the occasionally-stained curtains of a law school through the decades, I doubt many of them have much time for novels either.  I do recommend law librarians purchase this book, though: it would be most appropriate as a gift to give yourselves or each other.  There is no doubt that Bander’s labor of love is intended for his fellow law librarians to enjoy, and other audiences discovering it would just be a bonus.

Louis Rosen is a Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor of Law Library at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.