Archive for December, 2011

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 : a Commentary

If you don’t keep up closely with law of the sea publications, beware. On Brill’s web site, they are advertising the publication mentioned in the subject line as a 2011 “new title.” It has an all-new ISBN. Our bib. searchers noted that we had a “1985” edition, and this item went all the way through the acquisitions process without checking the shelf. It turns out it’s an exact duplicate of the “1985” set we own–which actually had an open publication date, but was recently completed with the 2011 volume. The new ISBN is for the recently completed set. None of this caught anyone’s attention, and we ordered it using the new ISBN for the completed set, at a price of $2,739.00!!!

Unfortunately, the vendor we ordered through is our shelf-ready preprocessing vendor, so the entire 7-volume [duplicate!] set was received with our stamp, spine labels, tattle tape, etc., and we cannot send it back. Ouch!!!

-from a post on the AALL TS-SIS list by

Loren Stamper
Head of Technical Services
University of San Diego
School of Law/Legal Research Center
San Diego CA


Prepare for the Future with Environmental Scanning

These days change happens so fast and can significantly impact our libraries. How do we plan for the future? An environmental scan can help. It provides a systematic overview of the external factors that are important to your organization and indicates how (or whether) the organization can influence them. This knowledge can assist management in planning your organization’s future course of action.

The January 26 webinar, Environmental Scanning as a Change Management Tool, 11 a.m. CST, will guide you step-by-step through the process of developing environmental scans, providing resources and tips to ensure it’s a painless and efficient process.

Cost: $30 for AALL members; $60 for nonmembers.

Register by January 19.

Book Review – Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions

Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions, by James E. Clapp, Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred R. Shapiro. Yale University Press, 2011, 368 pages. Hardcover, $45, ISBN 9780300172461.

Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions is a lively and entertaining book explaining the origin and usage history of almost 80 commonly used legal expressions – everything from “abuse excuse” to “black letter law” to “Star Chamber” to “the law is an ass.”  It is a fascinating look at how popular culture gives rise to new phrases that creep into the legal lexicon. The expressions are listed alphabetically with each expression receiving a several-pages treatment. This is a gem of a book for anyone interested in law or language and would make an excellent addition to any library collection. 

Lawtalk is well-documented and well-researched. Authors James E. Clapp, Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred R. Shapiro each have experience in lexicography or in writing about legal language and culture. They are eminently qualified. Clapp, Thornburg, and Galanter are law professors. Shapiro, associate librarian and lecturer at Yale Law School, is well-known to law librarians as the editor of The Yale Book of Quotations and the author of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations. He is also a compiler of the forthcoming The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. The four authors clearly relish their discussions of linguistic history, and Lawtalk yields a multitude of interesting and amusing tidbits.

“Paper chase” originated from an eighteenth century game in which one team chased another by following a trail of ripped pieces of paper. The phrase was popularized in legal circles only after the release in 1973 of the film by the same name. “Oyez,” the cry that when repeated announces the commencement of Supreme Court and other court proceedings, comes from a French dialect and literally means “Hear ye.” It is such an expected part of court proceedings that in 1984 a case was appealed (unsuccessfully) partially on the grounds that the words hadn’t been spoken, thus rendering the trial moot. Not all of the chapters explore such inoffensive histories. In pre-Revolutionary Virginia, slaves who didn’t testify to “the whole truth” had “both ears nailed to the pillory, and cut off,” along with receiving other punishments. “Comstockery” is the “prudish, self-righteous censorship based on a desire for sexual purity.” It resulted in campaigns to suppress classic works by George Bernard Shaw and Walt Whitman, as well as the selective banning of medical school anatomy textbooks. 

The sources of the expressions are as varied as the expressions themselves and include Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, the singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, Dr. Seuss, and Thomas Jefferson. A sense of the awesome power of language is present throughout the book; for example, the term “shyster” is now considered so derogatory that writing it to describe a lawyer is libelous per se. Several of the chapters include amusing sidebars reflecting the core concept of the phrase being discussed. Many of these consist of “lawyer” jokes that never get old (see “dying wish,” “Philadelphia lawyer,” “billable hour”). Other chapters are enhanced with historical illustrations or other visuals. The book ends with extensive notes and a helpful index.

Donna M. Fisher is law librarian at Senniger Powers LLP, St. Louis, Missouri.

Book Review – Getting Paid

Getting Paid: An Insider’s Guide to Filing Your Long-Term Disability Claim or Appeal with: The Department of Veterans Affairs, The Social Security Administration, Your Disability Insurer, By Allan Checkoway, RHU. Elder Care Publishing, 2011, 256 pages inclusive of appendices. Hardbound, $29.95.

Allan Checkoway is an employee benefit consultant and principal of the Disability Services Group, a full-service employee benefits advisory firm.  He has 35 years of healthcare insurance experience.  This monograph could be a good addition to any law library that is seeking to begin a collection in the area of insurance law, in particular employee benefits. The book is divided into five separate and distinct parts: Long-Term Disability Claims and Appeals; Social Security Disability Claims and Appeals; Veterans Affairs Disability Claims; Consumers’ Disability Insurance Guide; and Lifestyle Changes for People with Disabilities.

Part 1 is a good introduction to the process of filing long-term disability claims and appeals. Part 2 on social security disability claims, while short, offers many of the same strategies discussed in part 1 and refers the reader to appropriate appendices. Veterans affairs disability claims are discussed in part 3, and the author again offers strategies to navigate the labyrinth of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A recurring theme in the first three sections is to get the application filed properly the first time around to avoid any of the pitfalls mentioned in the book, as well as avoid having to file an appeal. This is good advice and also includes making sure you do all your homework before beginning the process and formulate the proper team. Part 4 serves as a good primer in helping the insured understand and navigate his or her own disability insurance policy. Finally, part 5 concisely sets forth the things people learning to cope with physical disabilities need to live and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.

There are 33 appendices making up 120 pages, almost the same length as the main text. The appendices are a good blend of potentially necessary forms and secondary sources, which complements the text of the book.  One drawback of this book is that each part could be an entire full-length book on its own; by combining all the parts together, a reader may get lost in the density of the material. Perhaps future editions could be a multi-volume set.  However, overall, as a basic introduction to each topic, it is an excellent resource.

Whitney A. Curtis, J.D., M.L.S., is circulation/reference librarian at Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library, Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida.

Book Review – Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide?

Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide?, By Anita L. Allen. Oxford University Press, 2011, 259 pages inclusive of endnotes and index. Hardbound, $35.

Professor Allen, Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, specializes in ethics and philosophy of law. This monograph will be a good addition to any academic law collection that is seeking to enhance its holdings on privacy and the law. She begins by admitting that she does write from a feminist liberal perspective and yet sees the need for coerced or mandated privacies, even for those beneficiaries who may not want them … or perhaps especially for those beneficiaries who don’t want them. Her approach is from an ethical and philosophical standpoint.

Prof. Allen covers many types of privacies that are, or arguably should be, mandated. She begins by setting the groundwork with a review of everyday meanings of privacy. She discusses existing privacy law and whether paternalistic privacy policies are justifiable. She also explores the right to waive privacy protection. She sets out possible justification for mandated privacy and its practical limits.

Prof. Allen has divided this work into sections on physical privacies and information privacies. The physical privacies include notions like seclusion and solitude. Each of these can be either desired or imposed. Think of the desire of the average person to be left alone, to have peace and quiet. Compare that with instances where society imposes seclusion and solitude, such as prison, quarantine, or cultures where women are not allowed out of the home without a chaperone. Also, in the physical privacy portion of the book, Prof. Allen discusses modesty and nudity. There is an in-depth look at Muslims in America and other Western cultures (the wearing of the hijab, niqab, and burqa), modesty rights, and religious freedom. The nudity section reviews legal moralism, the harm principle, conditions of work, and the religious roots of modesty as “an ethical virtue, worthy of legal protection.”

The section on informational privacy also runs a wide range of topics. Prof. Allen begins with the standard and widely accepted practice of confidentiality within professions and in other relationships and occupations. She discusses confidentiality in context, as well as waiver and exceptions. In with the other informational privacies she broaches the subject of racial privacy. There is the expected conversation about profiling but beyond that an interesting look at the balance between gathering information that helps minorities versus the gathering itself that may be harmful. How can society understand to what extent a minority is underserved or discriminated against if the same society is prevented from gathering that very information? On the other hand, do we trust that our government will store and use such information in a safe and productive way and not as a tool of discrimination? The informational privacy section winds up with sections covering electronic data, federal privacy statutes, lifelogs, and the Children’s Internet Privacy Law. All in all, this is a fascinating look at varied aspects of privacy and the law. It is definitely geared for the Western legal academic reader.

There are 48 pages of notes and 11 pages of index for 197 pages of text. The notes are a nice mix of primary and secondary legal authority, electronic, and print resources. The only negative I encountered was what I thought to be a surprising number of typos.

Wanita Scroggs, JD, MLIS, is International Law Librarian at Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library at Stetson University College of Law.

December 2011

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