Dull News

Get to Know
Web Sites
The Figures
Research Tips
Research Stumper
DULL Question of the Week
Library News

D.U.L.L. News is the newsletter of the Duke University Law Library. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Editor: Laura Scott


Welcome, Summer Starters!

The Duke University Law Library ("DULL," get it?) staff is glad you're here. We know the first semester can be challenging, and we are here to help point you in the right direction in your studies. Feel free to ask us any questions you might have. During the summer, you will find us in the library from 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday, except holidays. (As a law student, you also have 24/7 access to the library with your DukeCard.) Also, check out our first year survival guide, which lists books on taking exams and succeeding at law school and tells you how to find study aids and your professors' publications.

With this issue of DULL News, the law library's monthly online newsletter, we welcome you to Duke Law and offer tips for using the library and getting your first year off to a successful start.

Get to Know

Law library basics

The law library is one department of Duke Law School Information Services. To learn more about the functions of all three DLSIS departments--computing services, educational technologies, and the library--be sure to watch the hilarious Mr. DULL video series. Meanwhile, here's a quick geographical beginner's guide to the library:

When you enter the library, you will be on the third floor, where the circulation/reserve and reference desks are located. On this floor you will find reference books, case reporters, state and federal statutes, and leisure reading materials, among other things. Feel free to take a break in the comfy chairs in the leisure reading area.

You will notice that the third floor reading room is a lively place. Students gather in the reading room for collaborative work and socializing. When you need a quiet study area, carrels are available on the first, second, and fourth floors. For group study, you can also reserve a study room by visiting the circulation desk with your DukeCard.

In the reading room, look up, and you will see law journals, shelved alphabetically by title, on the fourth floor. Venture downstairs, and you will find books whose call numbers begin with KF on the second floor. The designation "KF" stands for American law in the Library of Congress classification system. These materials include scholarly books on specific areas of law (called "treatises"), study guides, and state materials. The essential computing services help desk is also located on this floor in room 2068.

Books whose call numbers begin with anything other than KF are located on the first floor. These include foreign and international law materials, legal fiction, government documents, and books in other disciplines such as medicine, economics, and political science. Selected court briefs, superseded works, and materials on microfilm or microfiche are also on this floor.

Some computer-related amenities of the library include wireless Internet access, electrical outlets at all the tables, and networked printers on each floor (here are maps showing their locations). Photocopiers and a machine where you can add funds to your Flex account are located on the second floor. Restrooms are on the second and fourth floors. You're welcome to drink beverages from spill-proof containers--you can even get a DULL-approved mug by taking a library tour--but please enjoy your lunch outside in the beautiful North Carolina sunshine because no food is allowed in the library.

Web Sites and Blogs

Staying current

You will have plenty of reading material this summer, but it can be fun to see how the issues you learn about in class play out in new cases. Here are some easy ways to stay current with the legal world outside our walls.

Law.com includes articles on current legal events from American Lawyer Media publications and the Associated Press, as well as links to affiliated legal blogs.

Jurist provides current legal news and opinion; law-related documents, webcasts, and video clips; and archived news arranged by topic. (The news articles are written and edited by law students.) Jurist's coverage of international legal issues is particularly strong.

Both Law.com and Jurist also provide free daily e-mail alerts and RSS feeds.

Juris Novus
Juris Novus pulls together headlines from multiple law-related blogs. It's a convenient way to keep up with opinion in the legal blogosphere without installing an aggregator.

The Figures

Law school by the numbers

  • 193: ABA-approved law schools (2006)
  • 48,132: first-year students enrolled in J.D. programs in 2005-2006
  • 42,673: J.D.s and LL.B.s awarded in 2005-2006
  • $28,900: average cost of tuition and fees at private law schools (2005)
  • $78,763: average amount borrowed to attend private law schools (2004-2005)

For more statistics on legal education, see the American Bar Association's website: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/statistics/stats.html.

Research Tip

Reading citations

One of the biggest challenges of the first semester of law school is learning to read all over again. Not only do you learn to analyze cases through close reading and briefing, but also you have to figure out what all those strange citations mean.

Here are some examples of citation formats you are likely to see this semester:

  • Cases (decisions issued by courts, also called "opinions") are published in multi-volume sets of books called "reporters."

    A citation to a federal case could look like this:

    A citation to a state case might look like this:

  • Statutes (written laws issued by legislatures) are often published in codes.

    A basic citation to a federal statute looks like this:

  • Citations to state statutes vary in formatting, but might look like this in a state whose statutory compilation is arranged into subject-based volumes:

    A citation in a state whose statutory compilation is arranged numerically could look like this:

  • Citations to law review articles look like this:

To learn more about legal citation formats, look at The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, which is the citation manual used at Duke Law and many other law schools and courts. The tables at the back of the book can be particularly helpful in deciphering citations. The Bluebook is available at the Reserve Desk. (And you will need to buy one for your Legal Analysis, Research & Writing course this fall.)

Contracts & property resources

Your reading in your contracts and property courses this summer will consist mostly of cases. The case method is an effective way to develop legal reasoning skills, but sometimes you may also need background, context, or more information to grasp the concepts taught in your courses. Here are some supplementary resources:

For a basic introduction to contracts and property (and many other topics), try the Nutshell series. Both Contracts in a Nutshell (5th ed. 2000) and Real Property in a Nutshell (5th ed. 2005) are available at the reserve desk. Study aids like the Examples and Explanations series will help you prepare for exams. You can test your understanding of the concepts you're learning by working through the examples, then reading the explanations. Contracts: Examples & Explanations is located at KF 801 .B58 2004, and Property: Examples & Explanations can be found at call number KF 560 .B84 2004.

For a more scholarly take on your subjects, try one of the leading contracts or property treatises. Contracts treatises by Corbin, Farnsworth, and Williston are on reserve. Thompson on Real Property, an important property treatise, can be found at call number KF 570 .T471 1998. (In many areas of the law, important works are commonly referred to by their original authors' names. They will often be cited in your case books.)

You are also likely to see citations to the Restatements of the law of contracts and property in your readings this summer. Restatements are scholarly distillations of major areas of law, prepared by the American Law Institute (a group of scholars, judges, and practitioners). Restatements provide black letter principles of law, followed by comments and illustrations. Appendix volumes compile case citations to the Restatement from different jurisdictions. You can borrow Restatements--you guessed it--at the reserve desk.

Research Stumpers

Legal dictionaries

When you want to know the definitions of a legal term, a legal dictionary is the right tool for the job. The One-L Dictionary is a quick online reference for very basic legal terms. Two more authoritative sources are Black's Law Dictionary, 8th ed. (Ref. KF 156 .B53 2004) and A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2d ed. (Ref. KF 156 .G367 1995). Why would it be helpful to look up your term in both of these print dictionaries, instead of choosing just one of them?

The answer will appear in the next issue.

Answers to last issue's stumper

In the last issue we asked, "When you are researching the application of a regulation to a set of facts, why might you want to go back and look at the proposed and final versions in the Federal Register in addition to finding the current text in the Code of Federal Regulations?

In researching a federal regulation, you should, of course, review its current text in the CFR, in print or online. By also looking at the proposed and final versions of your rule in the FR, you can learn about its regulatory history, which can be helpful in determining its application to your facts.

There are two aspects of this process: First, the FR includes narrative preambles to proposed and final rules. The preambles explain the need for and purposes of the rule and respond to public comments about the proposed rule. The preambles are not reprinted in the CFR, so you will have to find them in the FR. Second, comparing the text of the regulation in the proposed rule with the final rule--looking for changes, additions, deletions--may help you determine whether the regulation was intended to cover your facts. Any questions about researching federal regulations? As always, just ask a librarian!

DULL Question of the Week

Which of the following state courts could issue opinions that are binding on all other courts in their states?

A. Supreme Court

B. Court of Appeals

C. Supreme Judicial Court

D. Court of Criminal Appeals

Answer: Potentially, all of the above. The answer depends on the state. While many states' highest courts are called the "Supreme Court," the highest court in other states is called the "Court of Appeals" (MD, NY) or the "Supreme Judicial Court" (ME, MA). In addition, some states (OK, TX) have separate courts of last resort for civil and criminal cases. The names of intermediate appellate courts and trial courts can further muddy the waters. For example, the trial court in New York is called the Supreme Court.

What's the 1L lesson to be learned here? You can't always tell the effect of a case just by looking at the name of the court that issued it. To determine whether a particular case would be binding or only persuasive authority in a jurisdiction, it is essential to understand the structures of the various court systems.

Luckily, it's easy to find information about state and federal court structures. At the state level, the National Center for State Courts provides charts of each state's court structure. At the federal level, "Understanding the Federal Courts," a publication of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, includes sections on the structure and jurisdiction of the federal courts, their relationship with the other branches of government, and a glossary.

Library News

Welcome, Miguel!

Miguel Bordo joined Educational Technologies as Video Services Specialist last month. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, Miguel has worked as an art director/producer for ad firms and most recently with UNC-TV.

Factiva sources on Lexis

As of May 12, many news sources from Factiva became available to you through LexisNexis. These sources include the Wall Street Journal and Barron's, among others. One search tip: a "combined sources" news search, such as an "all news" or a "current news" search, will not search the newly-added Factiva sources. Instead, you will need to select them from the "individual publications" list of sources on the News & Business tab.

Summer Lexis & Westlaw access

Summer starters, if you need LexisNexis or Westlaw access over the summer, please see a reference librarian for your passwords. Lexis and Westlaw passwords are typically distributed in the Legal Analysis, Research & Writing course in the fall, and you will have formal Lexis and Westlaw training then. If you need us to show you the basics now, though, we are happy to help.

Continuing students, don't forget that your academic Lexis and Westlaw IDs generally cannot be used at your summer jobs. Exceptions are made for certain types of work. Stephanie O'Keefe, our Lexis rep, writes that "[a]ll Academic Lexis IDs will be automatically extended over the summer….These IDs can be used for any non-billable work including any school work, i.e., law review/journal, professor research, internships and externships. The academic Lexis IDs can also be used for pro bono work."

Academic Westlaw passwords were shut off for the summer at the end of May. You can have your Westlaw password extended if you are taking summer law school classes; working for a professor; or doing an unpaid non-profit public interest internship or externship, pro bono work required for graduation, or journal or moot court work. Register for an extension at: http://lawschool.westlaw.com/registration/summerextension.asp.

Remember that Lexis and Westlaw aren't the only legal research resources available to you this summer. Some resources that are free to you include Loislaw, LexisOne, and the GPO Access databases. For more information on these and other free resources and for Duke's username and password for Loislaw, just ask a reference librarian. Your summer employer may also subscribe to additional databases.