Archive for September, 2011

September/October Issue of Spectrum Online

The September/October 2011 issue of AALL Spectrum is available online in PDF format. This month’s issue includes:

Also, readers respond to this month’s Member to Member question: Which e-reader do you use and why?

Paper copies mail out to members on September 28, so look for them in your mailboxes soon.

Learn All About Animal Law

Animal law crosses the boundaries of legal topics and jurisdictions. It touches upon subjects such as property, insurance, torts, contract, estate planning, and criminal law at the federal, state, international, and foreign levels. Join experts Julie Davies, Marylin Johnson Raisch, and Vicki Steiner for the AALL webinar, Animal Law Across All Boundaries, October 20, 11 a.m. CDT, as they delineate the legal status of animals as the law has evolved through treaties, legislation, and court decisions. They will also highlight useful strategies in determining the most relevant primary and secondary sources for librarians in firm, public, and academic settings.

Register by October 13.

Book Review: Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, Edited by Francis N. Botchway.

Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, edited by Francis N. Botchway.  Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011 (544 pages); $255 hardcover edition.

Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, edited by Francis N. Botchway, is a collection of new essays covering various topics related to the mining of natural resources in Africa.  Part of Edward Elgar’s New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series, the book covers “a wide spectrum of topics – from governance, through the need to create a workable constitutional and institutional arrangement for environmental protection and resources use, management, conservation, and responsible investment, to dispute resolution” (xi).  According to the publisher’s website, “each comprehensive and concise contribution highlights the importance of transparency and equity in investment and management of natural resources,” making the book, “essential material for scholars and students of development, environmental law, international economic law and dispute resolution.”  As such, it would be a fitting purchase for academic law libraries, especially those currently offering courses in international environmental law.  It would also be an excellent resource for students working on law journal articles.

This book covers a wide spectrum of important issues that are central to the investment in natural resources and, ultimately, the economic development of Africa. For their own protection, “African countries pushed for international efforts to prevent disorderly exploitation and to preserve the natural resources and territorial integrity or unity of the respective territories” (3).  The collected essays “dissect [these] problems in detail and propose solutions” to many of the issues that are being faced by the resource-rich African nations that are currently undergoing vast changes (8).   Many countries are referenced and discussed, including South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

The essays have been divided into three sections.  Part one concentrates on the contribution of governance to the current economic crisis in Africa, including the ongoing ways in which law, transparency, and accountability are being compromised to the detriment of the majority of African nations.  The second section of the book focuses on governmental relations with commercial and corporate investors.  Part three focuses on how the exploitation of African natural resources affects the rest of the world.  Each chapter discusses the current situation and applies applicable local and international laws in order to get to the heart of the issues at hand.  There are numerous case studies and examples from which to glean information regarding the various complicated aspects of mining natural resources, from who should benefit to how African nations can avoid continued exploitation.  An index is included, and the essays offer many sources that can be used for further research.  Overall, this book is an affordable and excellent resource, well worth the investment.

Reviewed by Stacy Fowler, technical services librarian at the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, St. Mary’s University School of Law.

Introduction to Legal Project Management

Project management principles are increasingly applied in the legal profession to improve efficiency in the delivery of legal services. Attend the AALL webinar, Legal Project Management on October 12, at 11 am CDT, to participate in a Q&A session with Jim Hassett, the founder of LegalBiz Dev and author of The Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • warning signs that you need legal project management skills
  • basic elements of project management
  • recommendations for further learning

Register by October 5.

This webinar is sponsored by the AALL/BNA Continuing Education Grant Program.

Book Review: Comparative Constitutional Law

Comparative Constitutional Law, edited by Tom Ginsburg and Rosalind Dixon. Edward Elgar Publishing Company, 2011 (680 pages); $295, hardcover edition.

Comparative Constitutional Law is an excellent collection of “especially commissioned, original contributions by top international scholars” (from the back cover). The editors have collected and organized these contributions in a manner that makes sense and progresses along a well-developed plan helping the reader to more fully comprehend the underlying differences between the constitutional law of several countries.

Many of the authors are law professors in the area of constitutional law. However, to add further insight into the comparative aspect of this topic, there are several authors from countries outside the United States, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Having authors from outside the United States helps to further explore the comparative aspects of constitutional law with a variety of viewpoints.

As stated, the editors have developed a well-organized plan for this book. They start off the book with an exploration of constitutional law design. By understanding the different inputs that go into designing a constitution, the groundwork is laid for understanding the other areas, such as its structure, how it divides power between the government and individuals, and how it is interpreted. Each topic has a minimum of four essays, once again providing different viewpoints, allowing for more in-depth understanding.

At the end of each topic, the reader is presented with references to books and cases in order to allow further reading for those wishing even more in-depth study into the area. Again, both U.S. and foreign cases are cited for potential review by the reader. Finally, an index is provided for quick reference to specific topics within the book.

For anybody interested in this area, Comparative Constitutional Law provides a great background, coming from a wide array of authors. The book provides great in-depth coverage for someone with little to no knowledge of the topic (like myself) and provides the ability for those who wish to delve deeper to do so.

Reviewed by Paul D. Venard, reference librarian at the University of Dayton Zimmerman Law Library.

September 2011

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