Archive for the 'Book Reviews' Category

Book Review – International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two

International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two, edited by Rose-Ackerman, Susan and Søreide, Tina.  Edward Elgar, 2011. Hardcover, 618 pages, £165. ISBN: 978-1-84980-251-2.

International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two, is a sequel meant to follow co-editor Susan Rose-Ackerman’s first volume from 2006, International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption. Now Rose-Ackerman and new co-editor Tina Søreide have assembled a truly international team of contributing writers for 19 chapters on the economic concept of corruption (defined by Rose-Ackerman and Søreide as “where the private search for economic advantage and personal advancement clashes with laws and norms that condemn such behavior”) and how it relates to politics, finance, industry, and crime.

After the editors’ introduction, the book is divided into six parts: General Overviews (containing the two broadest chapters, “Corruption and sustainable development” and “Curbing corruption with political institutions”), Procurement and Corruption, Privatization and Self-Dealing in Private Firms, Public Utility Regulation, Micro-Analytic Research: Households and Firms, and Policy Initiatives: Critiques and Evaluations. A detailed index at the end of the book provides for quick reference to the plethora of unfamiliar terms, concepts, and names introduced throughout the volume.

As a solution-oriented person, I was drawn the most to the chapters in Part VI: Policy Initiatives: Critiques and Evaluations. Edgardo Buscaglia’s chapter, “On best and not so good practices for addressing high-level corruption worldwide: an empirical assessment,” discussed and measured the effectiveness of the 2003 United Nations (Merida) Convention against Corruption, which contains “legal, judicial, investigative, intelligence, international legal/judicial cooperation, and preventive practices in the fight against public and private sector corruption” and has been ratified by 102 countries so far.  Francesca Recanatini’s chapter, “Anti-corruption authorities: an effective tool to curb corruption?” analyzed a World Bank-sponsored initiative to study the effectiveness of prevention, investigation, prosecution, and coordination functions of international anticorruption authorities (ACAs), comparing them by country and even by continent.

As you can imagine by now, International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two is a highly academic work, best suited for university libraries for graduate-level programs and classes in world economics, international studies, and political science. Academic law libraries at law schools with strong international and comparative law programs or classes on law and economics may consider it, but it is more useful for economics scholars than legal ones. Any law firms that specialize in international trade, finance, and economic development should consider acquiring it, but it would be a valuable reference for charities and other organizations that deal with international aid and development.

Unfortunately, as a result of not being an economics scholar (and not having read the previous edition), I found this book to be dense and difficult, though I fully realize and admit I am not the target audience. It is meticulously researched and written as clearly as possible, just meant for scholars, practitioners, and experts in the field. With pages of complicated economic equations, tables, and graphs, it is obviously not for casual reading. For nonexperts hoping to learn more about the nature of corruption and how it relates to institutions, I would sooner suggest starting by watching the five seasons of HBO’s The Wire, the greatest television show of all time.   

Louis Rosen is a reference librarian and assistant professor of law library at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida.

Book Review – Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance

Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance, J. Harvie Wilkinson III. Oxford University Press, 2012. 176 pages, hardcover, $21.95.

Cosmic Constitutional Theory is the third volume in the Inalienable Rights Series. This particular volume is authored by J. Harvie Wilkinson III. Widely regarded as one of the most respected judges in the country, Wilkinson has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for more than 20 years and has been on the short list for the Supreme Court. Unlike the other authors in this series, Wilkinson does not advocate for any one particular theory of constitutional interpretation, nor does he offer up his own theory. Instead, he argues that the prevailing theories have done more harm than good and that there should be a return to judicial restraint. Because of its focus on the current theories of constitutional interpretation, this book would be a great addition to any academic legal library or any library that focuses on constitutional law and theory.

The bulk of Wilkinson’s book is spent critiquing the four leading constitutional theories of today: Living Constitutionalism, Originalism, Political Process Theory, and Pragmatism. The text of the book consists of a short introduction and five relatively brief chapters followed by extensive endnotes, an acknowledgement, and an index. The first four chapters each cover a different academic theory of constitutional interpretation. For each of the four leading constitutional theories, Wilkinson begins with a description and brief history, touching upon the proponents of the theory and how each theory has been applied from the bench. Once the basics are out of the way, he focuses on each theory’s virtues and then finally its vices. 

The first theory critiqued is Living Constitutionalism, which the author titles “activism unleashed.” Chapter two then tackles the next most prevalent theory, Originalism, which the author describes as “activism masquerading as restraint.” Chapter three discusses the Political Process Theory, which focuses more on the judicial process than on the outcomes. Last, the fourth theory covered, which was not meant to be a theory but more of an alternative system of review, is Pragmatism. When analyzing each theory, Wilkinson doesn’t just describe its negative points; he also makes an attempt to list its positive applications. However, in the fifth and final chapter, despite any virtue a theory may have, Wilkinson argues they all have failed and are a threat to our democracy. 

Throughout the book, Wilkinson argues that while each theory is advanced as an answer to the problems of constitutional interpretation, they are actually threatening the public’s ability to self-govern. According to Wilkinson, issues that used to be decided by the people are increasingly being decided by the courts, with judges no longer practicing judicial restraint but instead promoting competing political theories. The author does not offer a theory of his own, instead arguing that we do not need another theory since all of the theories that have previously been offered have failed. In the place of a theory, Wilkinson calls on judges to exercise judicial restraint.

This book is well written and extremely easy to follow. It could easily serve as a basic introduction to constitutional theory with its thorough description of the pros and cons of each competing theory.

Lisa Watson is government documents librarian at Elon School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Book Review – Joint Tenancies: Landlords and Medical Marijuana Businesses

Joint Tenancies: Landlords and Medical Marijuana Businesses, by Mike Widener. Yeoman Timber, LLC,  2012. E-book (PDF), 95 pages. $9.95.

Here in Oakland, California, the “Princeton of Pot,” Oaksterdam University, a school offering classes for those wishing to become involved in the medical marijuana business, was recently raided by the FBI, once again calling attention to medical marijuana dispensaries and the rigmarole that surrounds state law versus federal law when it comes to the sticky situation of cannabis clubs. Mike Widener, a law practitioner from Arizona and professor at the University of Phoenix, has penned a short and informative treatise in e-book form, titled (pun surely intended), Joint Tenancies. The book explores the subject of commercial landlords and the risks of renting to medical marijuana enterprises, or as Widener abbreviates, MMEs. Widener claims this is the only book of its kind published in the United States, and while there are other works that cover MMEs, it appears that, for now, it is indeed unique and would be of use in a law library.

Widener’s work serves as a useful and thought-provoking text for any landlord considering renting to an MME. He makes it very clear in the preface that he is not offering any legal advice and that as an attorney he cannot represent medical marijuana businesses because the transport and sale of cannabis are federal crimes. Widener notes that at the time of his book’s publication, 16 states have  medical marijuana legislation on the books and 18 more states  have proposed legislation permitting medical cannabis use,  no doubt  with the gleam of shiny new tax revenues glinting in their glazed eyes.

Widener acknowledges that he doesn’t know the nuances of the laws in each state and strongly advises that landlords considering renting to MMEs seek legal counsel in their local communities. In just 10 chapters, Widener covers the pertinent topics landlords should consider and research before entering into a lease agreement with an MME. In addition,  this text could be a resource for those working in the property professions, i.e. real estate agents, real estate lawyers, investors, etc. It would also be of interest to neighboring residents and businesses.

Although Widener acknowledges that his work is not meant to entertain, he can’t resist using a font that is reminiscent of clouds of smoke for the title and pun-laced chapter titles, such as “A Budding Tenant Niche,” the “Straight Dope on Private Land Use Covenants,” and “Bogarting a Landlord’s Joint-Forfeiture Statutes.” The chapter titles are not only descriptive but also appealing to the reader (at least this pun-loving reader).

Widener’s work is thoroughly researched with QR Codes that link to core documents online, easily accessed by a smart phone or tablet with a QR reader app installed. This book would be a welcome addition to any law library as a useful tool for researching what will surely become an increasingly common legal issue as more states attempt to enact medical marijuana legislation. Widener also includes some forms that a landlord might use for this type of transaction, with the caveat that these forms do not guarantee that a landlord will not be subject to the loss of property if forfeited or to personal criminal prosecution. The book is published by Yeoman Timber, LLC and is available for purchase via the internet as a PDF for $9.95 at www.terraincogito.com/buy-joint-tenancies.

Rebekah Henderson is a part-time reference librarian at the Alameda County Law Library in Oakland, California.

Book Review – The Constitution Before the Judgment Seat: The Prehistory and Ratification of the American Constitution, 1787-1791

The Constitution Before the Judgment Seat: The Prehistory and Ratification of the American Constitution, 1787-1791, by Jürgen Heideking. Edited by John P. Kaminski and Richard Leffler. University of Virginia Press, 2012. Hardcover, 552 pages, $45.  

Originally published in 1988 as Die Verfassung vor dem Richterstuhl: Vorgeschichte und Ratifizierung der Amerikanischen Verfassung, 1787-1791.

Constitutional analysis often starts with asking what the founders thought. We are familiar with the Federalist Papers and the letters of well-known figures. Jürgen Heideking drew the title for this volume from such a letter. George Washington wrote to Henry Knox:  “The Constitution is now before the judgment seat.—It has, as was expected, its adversaries, and its supporters, which will preponderate is yet to be decided.” The Constitution Before the Judgment Seat seeks to capture the debate Washington acknowledges as the country moved from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  The outcome:  a meaty account of the ratification process from “political, intellectual, and cultural” perspectives, presenting a dynamic that stretches beyond the familiar source material. 

The University of Wisconsin’s Merrill Johnson had spearheaded the collection of primary documents resulting in Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, a project taken over by the current editors, and Heideking was encouraged to examine these documents. Heideking’s analysis benefits from the breadth and depth of this source material, with citations spanning some 80 pages. He discusses not only a wide range of print media—primarily newspapers and pamphlets—but also private correspondence (like the letter from George Washington) to weave a multilayered synthesis of the competing ideas about government, the ways various circles carried out internal discussions and exerted influence over the debate, and the successes and failures of these ideas and methods in the public square. In exploring these layers, Heideking’s analysis draws together many motifs—the booming newspaper business, differing economic interests of rural and urban populations, and the developing rituals of patriotic celebration. In short, it is a very dense read.

Chapters help to channel the argument by focusing on one aspect of the ratification movement at a time, such as “Public Discourses and Private Correspondence” or “State Ratifying Conventions.” This format allows Heideking to thoroughly examine each distinct layer, but it hinders a full exploration of how these layers might interrelate. At just over 10 pages, the final chapter can but hint at Heideking’s thoughts on the overarching theory at work.

Ultimately, Heideking revels in how, despite the underlying complexities and adversarial environment, this country adopted a new governing document and generated a new political process in a peaceable manner. One of the concluding sentences sums up this view: “Far from being an obstacle to change, contrast, contradiction, and conflict proved a catalyst for intellectual achievement and were indispensable to the success of the movement.”

The astute reader will note a lengthy gap between the German edition and this one—24 years. Reviewers of the German text called for a condensed English version. Heideking himself undertook the translation, which was later refined, but he did so only after making “substantial deletions.” This authorial editing and translation process was cut short by Heideking’s death in a car accident in 2000. As the preface explains, the “manuscript lay dormant for several years,” and the publishing house changed hands, but the work of the editors, the German Historical Institute, and the University of Virginia Press completed what Heideking began. 

What did Heideking remove from the over 1,000-page original edition? The editors report that shortening and simplifying footnotes saved space; for example, more documents have been added to the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, whose abbreviated form dominates the notes. The original also apparently contained a number of images, while the English edition has none. I regret I am not fluent enough in German to offer a more complete account of the differences.

Even so, I can recommend this volume highly, especially for academic law libraries. Professor Christof Mauch, eulogizing his fellow German historian in 2000, called the original work “magisterial.”  The abbreviated English version remains a compelling account of a crucial period in American history, whose products, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, remain subject to the complexities of which Heideking was so admiring.

 Susan Azyndar is a reference librarian at Ohio State University’s Moritz Law Library in Columbus.

Book Review – In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices

In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, edited by Todd C. Peppers and Artemus Ward. University of Virginia Press, 2012. Hardcover, 472 pages. $34.95. ISBN 978-0813932651.

The U.S. Supreme Court is a highly clandestine body, so it is always intriguing to get a peek behind its protective shroud. Todd Peppers and Artemus Ward are veterans of this genre, each having written previous books about the role of law clerks in the operation of the Court. See Todd C. Peppers, Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2006) and Artemus Ward and David L. Weiden, Sorcerers’ Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court (New York: New York University Press, 2006). Joining together, these authors have compiled a group of essays that provide “snapshots” of life as a judicial clerk spanning the history of what they dub the “Clerkship Institution.”  Recommended for academic and court libraries, the collection will be read with interest by court watchers as well as those with a casual interest in the inner workings of the Supreme Court.  

The essays are the work of a distinguished group of scholars and former law clerks. Following an introductory piece on the history of Supreme Court clerkships, the collection is divided into three time periods that highlight the changing role of law clerks as the demands on the Court have increased. The first includes essays on the institution’s “Origins,” beginning with the hiring of the first law clerk by Justice Horace Grey in 1882. Essays on the “Premodern” clerkship include tales of clerking and living with Justice Black and surviving Justice William O. Douglas’ “Boot Camp,” and there are chapters focusing on William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., the first African American Supreme Court clerk, and the first female clerk, Lucile Lomen. Finally, the “Modern” clerkship consists primarily of personal memoirs of clerking at the Court. In total, the essays give detailed accounts of the clerkship experience serving 19 different justices.

As the title suggests, In Chambers is a collection of stories about working as a judicial clerk. Unlike the editors’ earlier books, it is intended less as a scholarly endeavor (though most of the essays are well footnoted with primary source references), but instead an examination of the personal bonds formed between clerks and the justices they serve. And it is indeed the essays that share former clerks’ personal recollections, rather than those written based on diligent research, that are the most enlightening and enjoyable—notably Jesse Choper’s memories of clerking for Chief Justice Warren and Alan Dershowitz’ account of his clerkship for the “restless” Justice Arthur Golberg. Not surprisingly, these revealing discussions are limited to justices who are deceased. Only one essay is about a sitting justice, an essay by Peppers on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg based primarily on his interviews with the justice herself.     

Inevitably, grouping narratives about the clerkship experience leads to some repetition because all clerks, especially in more recent times, have very similar responsibilities. But beyond documenting those commonalities, the stories here provide unique glimpses of justices’ personalities, work styles, and private lives. They also make a valuable contribution to understanding the operation of the Court and the decision-making process of its justices.      

Debbie Shrager is a part-time reference librarian at George Mason University Law Library in Arlington, Virginia. 

Book Review – Special Education Advocacy

Special Education Advocacy, authored and edited by Ruth Colker and Julie K. Waterson. LexisNexis (2011), 746 pages. Softbound, $61.

Special education law is a demanding and growing area of law given the increased diagnoses of disabilities among children, in particular autism. My first introduction to this area of law was in 1997 while attending law school. I secured an internship at a public interest law organization, which led to employment upon graduation. In those early years, my chief legal resources were case files, colleagues, and self-help manuals written for parents of children with disabilities. I often felt like a lost attorney navigating a maze without a map or compass. Special Education Advocacy is an overdue and much needed resource to guide those in that maze.

Special Education Advocacy is a comprehensive resource for individuals representing children with disabilities in special education cases. Although self-described as a textbook, it is more like a combination treatise and practice guide written by several highly respected law school clinicians.

Special education law has a lengthy history consisting of case law and statutory authorities. Special Education Advocacy appropriately begins with a discussion of this history, leading to the present-day principal law governing this area—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 (IDEA). The chapters thereafter are arranged in a fairly chronological case-management order, from identifying the client to closing the case. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 cover the initial stages of a special education case, including the client interview, investigation process, requisite educational and medical documents, and requesting special education assessments and services. Chapter 5 is the heart of this resource, as true for all special education cases—the individualized education program (IEP). The chapter fully analyzes the IEP process, which includes identifying the players, preparing for the IEP meeting, listing the types of services available, and setting forth the necessary components of the IEP document to ensure IDEA compliance. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 cover particular groups of children, such as children under age three who are eligible for Early Intervention Services, students subject to discipline measures, and dependency children in welfare systems, for example. Chapters 9 and 10 cover dispute resolution and remedies available to students, parents, and attorneys. The last chapter provides guidance to those representing students in the delinquency system who require special education services.

The strengths of Special Education Advocacy come from the fact that it is written by practitioners who use their own experiences and real client cases to convey and illustrate the law, both substantive and procedural. Client cases serve as discussion points and demonstrate the various aspects of special education cases. Sample documents are plentiful: client letters, medical and psychology reports, an affidavit, IEP meeting minutes, IEPs, accommodation plans, a complaint, and a school suspension notice, for example. Templates and forms are also provided, including an intake form, retainer, request for services, referral letter, document requests, case chronology spreadsheet, and eligibility determinations. I was pleasantly surprised to find some nonlaw aids as well. For those advocates with little background in child development and assessments of psychology and educational attributes, the resource provides guidelines for normal development, an overview of the categories of disabilities, and a primer on evaluation instruments including an explanation of standard deviations and errors of measurement.

Supplementing the substance, practitioner tips, and samples within Special Education Advocacy are appendices of the text of IDEA, its regulations, and 13 seminal special education law cases. Its finding tools include a detailed table of contents with chapter outlines, a table of cases, a table of statutes, and an index.

Special Education Advocacy is best-suited for law students, clinical faculty, and attorneys interested in or practicing special education law, specifically in the representation of children with disabilities. Given my own experience practicing special education law, I can say with confidence that it is a must-have resource for both new and experienced advocates. Special Education Advocacy provides the map and compass to navigate this area of law competently and, most importantly, to best serve parents and children with disabilities.

Cindy Guyer (cguyer@law.usc.edu) is a research services librarian at the USC Gould School of Law in Los Angeles.

Book Review – Insider Trading (Corporate Law 1)

Insider Trading (Corporate Law 1), edited by Stephen M. Bainbridge. Jonathan R. Macey, series editor. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. Hardback, 740 pages, $365.

At more than 700 pages, Insider Trading can be described as being both dense in size and subject matter. UCLA Professor Stephen M. Bainbridge’s website describes him as being a prolific scholar who has written more than 75 articles with an emphasis on the law and economics of public corporations and who, as editor of Insider Trading, has compiled 15 articles on the subject from law reviews and other related sources. This volume is a part of Edward Elgar’s Corporate Law series, in which each volume features significant scholarly work in the field. Since most of the articles within can be found on typical legal databases (Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, etc.), I recommend this book only for the truly hardcore lover of insider trading or perhaps those looking for articles that have been deemed seminal by an expert in the field. I cannot imagine the book being housed in any library other than academic. 

The book begins with Bainbridge’s introduction, in which he gives a short history of our courts’ views on insider trading and how those views have evolved throughout the years. Bainbridge states insider trading is among the most common violations of federal securities laws and notes it’s the only securities law that receives notice from nonlegal sectors of the public, citing Oliver Stone’s Wall Street as an example of how Hollywood has portrayed the crime. After briefly mentioning key court cases, he notes case law is extremely important in this field due to the lack of a definition of “insider trading” from either federal statutes or regulations. After this short 16-page introduction, the book is divided into six parts, with each part having two to four articles. 

I.   Origins and Development of Insider Trading Law

II.  The Supreme Court’s Decisions in Chiarella Dirks

III. The Misappropriation Theory Emerges

IV. Insider Trading Statutes

V.  Insider Trading Policy: The Manne Debate

VI. Insider Trading Policy: The Post-Manne Debate           

The articles within cover roughly a 40-year time period, and a cursory web search of some of the authors (Arthur Fleischer Jr., Donald C. Langevoort, and Henry G. Mann, among others) indicates they are recognized as serious scholars on the topic. The editor notes the articles within have been reproduced as originally published using facsimile reproduction, including footnotes and pagination to facilitate ease of reference. The book does not have an index or any appendices whatsoever, and after the last article (a photocopy of Bainbridge’s article titled “Insider Trading” from the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, Volume III: The Regulation of Contracts, 2000, complete with page numbering from the original source), it ends abruptly.

As this book is the first in Edward Elgar’s new Corporate Law series, no indication is given as to whether further revisions will happen in the future. I imagine all that could be done, revision wise, to a collection of articles of this sort would be to include new seminal works as they are published. The preface of the book does indicate, however, that the next book in the series will be Mergers and the Market for Corporate Control, which will be edited by Fred S. McChesney.  

Lance Burke is access services librarian at Elon School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Book Review – O’Connor’s California Practice: Civil Pretrial 2011

O’Connor’s California Practice: Civil Pretrial 2011, by Julie M. Capell, David I. Levine, Michol O’Connor, and William R. Slomanson. Jones McClure Publishing, 2011 edition. Paperback, 1,400 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59839-100-8.

I usually avoid reading the advertisements for a book before I write a review. But in this case, I found the claims in the ad to be quite informative. Looking at each claim, here is what I determined.

Claim 1: Precise

The book includes detailed commentaries explaining each phase of pretrial litigation in Plain English. Virtually every sentence is backed by citations to relevant authority. More than 20,000 citations have been checked and rechecked by a small army of legal editors. Perhaps you will allow for some hyperbole with use of the term “army” since I’m not aware of any attacks by participles followed by counterattacks by the gerunds; minor quibbling aside, the ad appears quite accurate. I opened the book to a random page, page 531, Chapter 5, Section I, with the heading “Requests For Continuance Or Stay.” There follows about 12 pages of analysis for continuances and stays. The information is very detailed and written in clear, plain English. It cites plenty of California authority and even includes Practice Tips. After cruising the entire book searching for some aspect to critique, my only critical question is: Why didn’t I have this resource when I started practicing law? It is simply very well done and you can tell that a lot of people put a lot of thought into the content.

Claim 2: Portable

It is a single softbound volume packed with 1,400+ pages formatted with clearly worded tabs, page headings, systematic numbering, and a consistent structure to help the reader find material quickly. Someone spent a lot of time deciding format for the busy practitioner. Book format choices are naturally all compromises, but the net result allows a busy practitioner to find relevant material quickly and easily.

Claim 3: Practical

The book was designed for the busy practicing attorney. By now the claims get a bit redundant, and I would not limit the pitch to busy attorneys. Anyone who practices law needs an easy way to research procedural questions, and this publisher delivers that ability in one convenient source.

Recommendation:

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any law firm that hires new lawyers on a regular basis and every law library open to attorneys and the public. Furthermore, I hope they publish a gift edition, perhaps a nice bound version suitable for giving to a freshly minted California attorney.

Steven R. Feller is law librarian at Alameda County Law Library’s Hayward Branch in Hayward, California.

Book Review – Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films

Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films, by Kelly Lynn Anders. Carolina Academic Press, 2012, 218 pages. Paperback, $28.00. ISBN 978-1594607981.

This book provides resources that lawyers interested in developing professional skills or professors teaching skills and ethics courses could draw on. It appeals to classic film buffs and is particularly appropriate for any law school library that maintains a film collection. It could easily form the basis for a film series organized by a law school or legal education entity. While there are other books that talk about the appearance of legal topics and lawyers in movies, this appears to be a unique addition to the literature.

The introduction focuses on the need for skills training in law school, contextualizing the discussion in the wake of the 2007 Carnegie Report and ongoing discussions in the legal community about the need to produce “practice ready” lawyers. This book provides an easy-to-implement approach to skills training through the use of films. While many professors in the legal academy and elsewhere often use film to illustrate key points of discussion, this book takes the somewhat unusual step of using exclusively older material (pre-1968, when the modern MPAA ratings system was implemented).

As implied by the title, each letter of the alphabet is attached to a skill, and a chapter is devoted to it. Perhaps surprisingly, almost all of the assigned skills fit easily into this alphabetical scheme. As the introduction explains, each skill is an element of professionalism rather than a doctrinal or research-based skill—the sort of “soft skills” that are often overlooked in law school. Each chapter consists of a short essay defining and discussing the skill followed by a brief description of the film and its historical context but with surprisingly little examination of the skill. Chapters also include 10 film discussion questions (some of which are factual while others are interpretive or reflective) and five exercises for improvement.

The book is thoroughly indexed by skill, movie title, actor, character name, and subject matter. Some chapters provide useful cross-references from one skill to another (balance is linked to judgment, which in turn is linked to honesty). Most of the essays themselves are not footnoted; the film descriptions tend to refer to pop culture resources like the Internet Movie Database, Turner Classic Movies, and The New York Times movie reviews for a great deal of the historical referents. Somewhat disappointingly, though the skills identified in each chapter are linked to professionalism, there are no connections made to the ABA’s model rules or code of professional conduct.

The audience for the book is not entirely clear. The book’s introduction discusses the context of law school courses in lawyering practice, but these are not “lesson plans” ready to translate to the classroom. Indeed, one of the five exercises in each chapter is specifically identified for law students, implying that the main audience for the text may be practicing lawyers. The content of the discussion questions and surface description provided in each chapter will require you to view the entire film before discussion. The mere fact that the questions are labeled “for discussion” implies a group setting of some kind. The exercises are not classroom exercises but more ideas for exploration or personal growth. They could certainly be adapted for classroom use; however, it would be more useful for creating lesson plans if specific scenes were identified that exemplify the skill in question. The author’s prior book, The Organized Lawyer, is clearly an aid aimed at lawyers and law students interested in improving their organizational skills on their own, but this seems more difficult to implement by oneself.

While the use of classic films does have advantages over some modern films in terms of content being appropriate for broader audiences, it also means the content is less familiar to younger readers. (This reviewer, who is not as young as she used to be, has only seen four of the 26 movies, though most of the titles were at least familiar.) The author notes that all 26 are available on DVD but only two are available streaming from Netflix. Most are available streaming from Blockbuster On Demand or iTunes, however, so they are widely available.

A quick and enjoyable read, this book is recommended for collections focusing on practical lawyering skills and for professionals interested in approaching skills from a new perspective.

Kate Irwin-Smiler, JD, MLS, is a reference librarian at the Wake Forest University Professional Center Library in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Book Review – The ALA Book of Library Grant Money

The ALA Book of Library Grant Money, 8th ed., edited by Ann Kepler. American Library Association, 2012, 429 pages. Softcover, $175, ALA Members: $157.50. ISBN13: 9780838910580.

Every institution feels the impact of the current economic situation in some manner. There are grants available to help ease the financial burdens facing libraries, though finding an appropriate or plausible grant can be intimidating and overwhelming. The ALA Book of Library Grant Money, 8th ed. is a strong starting point for finding a grant for your library. This directory is a comprehensive guide to grant money available to libraries and schools. Hundreds of profiles are provided for private foundations and corporate foundations that have available grants. Each funding source listed in the directory has either made recent grants to libraries or list libraries as a typical funding recipient.

The user’s guide in the beginning of the book provides a clear view of how to navigate the directory, explaining the layout of the profiles and type of information provided in the profiles. Throughout the profiles, the user can find a variety of helpful information related to the funding source including typical recipients, past recipients, application procedures and deadlines, and grant values.

Following the profiles section, the bulk of the directory, are various indexes that can be used to locate a specific funding source more quickly. These indexes include Grantors by Total Grant Value, Grantors by State, and Professional Library Organization Grants. The variety and scope of grants listed in this directory make it a valuable resource for any library’s collection.

Erin Schlicht is access services librarian at University of Minnesota Law Library in Minneapolis.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.