Please join us at our newly redesigned blog site!
If you're currently subscribed to our email service, you'll need to resubscribe there.
Thanks for reading!
Now through July 22, the Law Library will be open on Fridays until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Best of luck to all of our recent grads now studying for bar exams!
A record number of law students lined up inside and outside of MyLab for last evening’s semi-annual Grilled Cheese Night. One hundred forty-two students patiently awaited the warm gooey goodness of one of the Law Library’s special recipe treats. Despite long lines, spirits among the waiting students seemed high. One student was heard to say that the event was “perfect for the middle of exams.” Another exclaimed, “This is like a taste of home!”
The event was not without a few stressful moments, however. Librarian-chefs Ben Doherty, Micheal Klepper and Tim Breeden offered both tomato and non-tomato editions of the sandwich. One student requested a gluten-free edition – just two slices of tomato with cheese in between and no bread - which none of the chefs had prepared before. But, being the true service professionals that they are, they were able to fulfill the special order to the customer’s satisfaction. Later, staff began to worry that supplies might not hold out through the 7 p.m. closing. “It looked like we might run out of bread,” said Breeden. “But as luck would have it, the last piece hit the butter just before 7!”
This semester’s GCN featured a new twist – Law Library staff were invited to guess ahead of time the number of sandwiches that would be served. The staff member submitting the closest guess was to be awarded their own grilled cheese sandwich for this morning’s breakfast. The winner was none other than Library Service Dog Extraordinaire, Bubba Jeb. Jeb’s owner, Teresa, was prepared to submit a guess of 121 sandwiches, but she said Jeb nudged her and nodded upward to say, “no it’s 136.” Though Jeb’s diet is strictly gluten-free, he was delighted to receive his prize in the form of some cheese and a few potato chips.
This semester saw the publication of the twelfth edition of Legal Research in a Nutshell, a compact but venerable text on legal research that dates back to 1968. Its original author was the late Morris Cohen, then Law Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, but since the fifth edition in 1992 he has been joined as coauthor by our own Kent Olson. Kent has written about the book’s early days (Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s, 104 Law Libr. J. 53 (2012)), but we sat down to ask him about his own role in the book since then.
AJM: How did you get started as a coauthor of Legal Research in a Nutshell?
Olson: It started when I was a law student, lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. In 1984, I was a second-year student at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley) and working for the Law Library part time. My boss, Bob Berring, had worked at Harvard with Morris Cohen, the author of Legal Research in a Nutshell. Morris put out a call looking for people to revise and update chapters of the Nutshell, and Bob turned two chapters over to me. Morris may have been looking for light edits, but I attacked my chapters with gusto, crossing out huge chunks of obsolete text and inserting several new pages. A lesser man might have been offended or appalled, but Morris liked what he saw and asked me to review the entire manuscript before it went to the publisher. We talked on the phone, but we never met in person until the project was over.
The following year I came to Virginia and became a coauthor with Morris and Bob of their legal research hornbook, How to Find the Law. Morris had no interest in taking on a coauthor on his Nutshell, but in 1991 he found himself a week away from a deadline with no revised manuscript. And I was visiting him in the hospital.
AJM: Morris Cohen was a legend among law librarians. What was it like working with him?
Olson: He was my mentor and nearly thirty years my senior, but he always made me feel like a peer rather than a junior associate. Working with him was one of the great privileges of my life. He knew so much more than I did about legal bibliography (and was probably sorry that I never quite shared his love of rare books), but as legal research turned more and more to online search techniques our roles gradually shifted.
I do remember one disagreement, a friendly one, over how to describe the state of administrative law before the Federal Register and the CFR. Morris wanted to call it a wilderness, and I didn’t understand why until I realized we had very different concepts of “wilderness.” Mine was a pristine roadless area protected by environmental legislation, but he was thinking of a biblical place where people wandered lost and in despair. I think we ended up abandoning the metaphor.
AJM: You’ve now worked on nine editions of the Nutshell. How has the book, and legal research, changed over the years?
Olson: When the fourth edition was published in 1985, we had Westlaw and Lexis but a large focus of research was still print-based – some of it in materials today’s students are fortunate never to have seen, such as digests and Shepard’s Citations. “Case-Finding by Computer” was a two-page section of the chapter on case research. Research isn’t necessarily simpler these days, but there are so many answers that used to take work that we can now Google our way to.
People talk about a “sea change” in legal research from print to online, but to my mind it’s more of an evolution. In the end, it’s still about finding persuasive authority and reasoning by analogy. If we reach the point where cases are decided by the number of “likes” or by some machine-based measure, I’ll need to move on.
The book itself has evolved with the changes in research. Free Internet sites were first mentioned in the 6th edition (1996), and HeinOnline first appeared in the 8th edition (2003). There are now more than three hundred websites discussed. We’ve had a companion website with updated links since 2003, and in 2013 we took the illustrations out and put them online as well. Small black-and-white illustrations were fine back when we were showing sample pages of books, but screenshots of websites work so much better in color and on a larger scale.
AJM: You’ve written other books on legal research, notably the concise hornbook Principles of Legal Research (2d ed. 2015). You also teach Advanced Legal Research. How do teaching and writing about legal research inform each other?
Olson: At the basic level, my students who’ve used draft versions as course texts have saved textbook money and they’ve helped to catch some embarrassing typos before they made it to print. But they also help keep me honest by letting me know what’s superfluous and what’s unclear. If we don’t cover something in class, it might not be important enough to include in the book. And without my students I wouldn’t have known that you need to explain to some digital natives the difference between a table of contents and an index.
AJM: Any regrets about the new edition?
Olson: Of course. There are always regrets. One minor one is that I completely missed that govtrack.us stopped tracking state legislation several months before we went to press. At least I could update that on the Nutshell website. A more significant omission is that I made no mention at all of Practical Law, to which our students have access through Westlaw and which is a really useful and current source of basic legal information in several disciplines. At some point I also should really think about how research by mobile app differs from website-based research.
But this just means I need to start planning for the thirteenth edition. In the past couple of months Lexis Advance added a directory of resources to its main screen and made its Advanced Search much more useful, and Westlaw introduced its “Westlaw Answers” feature when you type a question into the search box. All the references to FDsys in the current edition will be obsolete once GPO completes its transition to govinfo.gov. It won’t be long before January 2016 seems like a very long time ago in legal research.
Law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer. The UVA Mindfulness Center’s introduction to mindfulness enhances your law school learning by giving you tools to focus, retain information, communicate effectively, and handle stress.
Eight, 75-minute weekly sessions of hands-on, expert-guided practice in mindfulness techniques like meditation, mindful eating, mindful listening, and mindful movement, led by the UVA Mindfulness Center.
Tuesdays, 3:45-5pm, February 9 to April 5 (no meeting during Spring Break). There will be a half-day retreat on March 19.
At the Law School.
The workshop is open to all law students, and is free of charge (sponsored by the Law Library). Enrollment is limited. To sign up email Kristin in the Library (firstname.lastname@example.org). In order to get the most out of the workshop, commit to attending all eight sessions and the half-day retreat.
If you’re curious about mindful meditation, drop in anytime at the Wednesday noon 15-minute meditation study breaks, every Wednesday in the Library’s 2nd floor Klaus Collaborative Classroom. Also check out books and audio about mindfulness, available in the Library’s Reserve Room.
- Kristin Glover
With the new year, you may have noticed a new face in the library. Alex Jakubow joins our research and reference team to support empirical legal research. Alex is skilled with data collection, cleaning and analysis. As law increasingly turns towards large datasets and statistical methods, his expertise will be critical to supporting UVA Law scholarship.
A Wisconsin native, Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Richmond in 2008. He then attended graduate school at Rutgers University, where he earned a Ph.D. in political science in 2014.
Alex married his graduate school sweetheart, Devon Golem, in September of 2012. Career decisions have taken the pair across the entirety of the continental United States and back in a relatively short amount of time. In less than four years, Alex and Devon have lived in New Jersey, California, and New Mexico before moving to Virginia in December of 2015. Alex and Devon look forward to staying in place for a while, especially when family is near: Alex’s mother and sister respectively live in Williamsburg and Alexandria.
Devon and Alex live in Charlottesville with their canine companion, Lunch Lady Doris. Doris, a brownish-red Papillion/Dachshund mix, is approximately eight years old. She enjoys having Alex and Devon as tenants in her apartment and sneezes uncontrollably when excited.
Outside of work, Alex enjoys reading, traveling, exercising, and socializing with loved ones. He also looks forward to taking full advantage of the area’s many and varied opportunities for outdoor fun. Guilty pleasures: prolonged consumption of Netflix and, when his family is out of town, video games.
- MoreUs Staff Writers
We are very excited to be debuting the new Klaus Collaborative Classroom in room WB 278 in the library (the room with the big leather chairs). We’ve relocated the magazines and books from that room to our new reading room downstairs and converted WB 278 into an interactive classroom and workspace for students. The comfy chairs are still there, but you will also find new modular furniture and four big displays—all designed for skills-based classes and student collaboration.
We’ll be using the new room for all of our Advanced Legal Research classes. That class is very much a “learn by doing” course where the students are the focus of each class session. The modular furniture will allow us to easily reconfigure the room on the fly for small group work, large group work or full class discussion. All of the displays are set up so that any student can link their laptop to the display in order to easily share their work with the full class, allowing students to drive the class from their own laptops. We will work together on research exercises and easily switch from small group work to full class discussions using the displays, putting the students in charge of their skill development. We’re thrilled to be able to start using the new interactive space with our Fall Advanced Legal Research classes.
The collaborative classroom is open for student use whenever a class is not in session. Feel free to link your laptops to the displays, rearrange the furniture, and relax in the leather chairs as long as no one is teaching in the room at the time. Just let us know at the reference desk if you have any questions about using the room.
- Ben Doherty
This week, West Academic released the second edition of Kent Olson's highly acclaimed Principles of Legal Research. The first edition of Principles earned Olson his second Joseph L. Andrews Bibliographic Award from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), which honors a significant contribution to legal bibliographic literature. Principles is the product of Olson's many years of practicing the art and craft of legal research, and of teaching Advanced Legal Research to many bright and able students at the University of Virginia School of Law. It is the successor to the venerable How to Find the Law, published in nine editions beginning in 1931, the last of which Olson co-authored with Morris Cohen and Robert Berring.
The second edition of Principles of Legal Research remains true to its roots as an indispensable guide to practical legal research. Much of legal research still relies on traditional print-based sources and methods, and for those situations, the book offers refuge for those who may be more comfortable conducting research with a keyboard, mouse, and touch screen than by sifting through hefty tomes of pulp and ink. At the same time, Principles is a trustworthy compass for intelligent navigation of the latest generation of algorithm-based online legal research systems and the vast and growing array of Internet-delivered legal information services.
Skillful legal research requires a foundational knowledge of how law is made and interpreted and a solid understanding of the documentary outputs of those processes, and Principles of Legal Research offers novice readers the knowledge of both. The book has features that also make it a valuable reference work for experienced legal researchers, including copious footnotes, indexing, and a useful appendix of treatises and services arranged by subject. New to this edition, images of key websites are displayed in full color.
A prolific writer, Kent Olson is also the author of Legal Information: How to Find It, How to Use It (1999) and is author or co-author of several iterations of West's Legal Research in a Nutshell, now in its 11th edition. Olson is an expert legal researcher and a dedicated professor of legal research. For nearly three decades he has also been colleague, friend, and mentor to the Law Library staff. We heartily congratulate Kent Olson on his latest literary achievement!
- The Law Library Staff
Systems Librarian Joe Wynne is retiring on July 24th after 37 years of service to The University. Most faculty and staff at the Law School know him, as do many in the library profession. Joe, who joined the Law School in 1978 as a cataloger, survived two library directors, has worked as a reference librarian, budget and technology manager, and has contributed to the successful operation of all library departments. He tackled research problems, balanced budgets, made sure that the staff had the most appropriate technology and that they were trained to use it. He has been the lead contributor in moving the library into the digital age, evaluating and selecting technology and effectively managing it. For nearly four decades Joe has had a voice in every significant decision that has been made within the library and his contributions will be enduring. We were most fortunate in having someone of Joe’s talent, fairness, strength and wit to rely upon for so many years.
It is an understatement to say that Joe will be missed -- not only as a colleague, but a friend. He’s always there to listen, help you solve a problem and make you laugh. Here are a few things we have learned about Joe over the years:
- Joe and his twin brother were both altar boys.
- His two main fixes for computer problems are the on/off switch and a blessing.
- Joe hates copier/printers—all of them.
- Joe is crazy about Pittsburgh teams, The Big Lebowski, and opera, but not musicals.
- Joe’s hand is always out to pick up the tab so that others don’t have to.
- Proud of his Italian/Irish heritage, he has learned to make Italian wedding soup and drink Guinness at the same time.
- Joe is a gardener and shares garlic when harassed.
Joe will spend some of his retirement days on the Jersey Shore with family and some of it fly fishing.
Congratulations, Joe. We wish you all the best in your retirement years. We will miss you but no one has missed the smile on your face for the past few weeks. Thank you for being a wonderful friend and colleague. Happy retirement!
We're migrating some of our library website pages to a new platform today (June 8), so you may see some strange behaviors on our website during the afternoon. Please contact email@example.com if you need information that you can't find on our website today. It should be fully operational again soon!
- Amy Wharton