Checkpoint by RIA Featured Spotlight: State & Local Reporters

This is the third post in a four-part series spotlighting Checkpoint by RIA.

Checkpoint’s state and local reporters is a useful resource that allows you to search for tax documents for the fifty states. It includes statutes, explanations, regulations, cases, forms, and a weekly newsletter.

To access this resource for Texas, click the “Home” tab on the top bar. Under the section “My Quick Links” click the link “State & Local Reporters.” Select “Texas” and click “Next.” This feature allows you to select a state, the type of tax, and the type of document you are looking for. Further, this search tool allows you to narrow the results by keywords.

As an example, say a client asks you a trust question: Who pays the income tax, the income beneficiary or the principle beneficiary?

Begin by selecting “Estate & Gift taxes” under the “Select Tax Types” section and “Statutes” under the “Select Document Type” section. Next, under the “Keywords” search box type “income tax,” and click “Search.”

RIA Checkpoint 7.png

In our results we can see Texas Property Code Annotated Section 116.205 Income Taxes.

RIA Checkpoint 8

Selecting the “Income Tax” link will take you to the text of the Texas Property Code Section 116.205, which will allow you to answer your client’s question.

RIA Checkpoint 9

Access to Checkpoint by RIA database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.


Checkpoint by RIA Featured Spotlight: Form/Line Finder

This is the second post in a four-part series spotlighting Checkpoint by RIA.

Checkpoint’s form/fine finder is a practice aid with line-by-line summaries for individual, corporate, partnership, estate, gift, trust, and exempt organization returns. It is a quick and easy-to-use resource to find information on Internal Revenue Services’ forms and lines.

To access the form/line finder, click the “Home” tab on the top bar. Under the section “My Quick Links” click the link “Form/Line Finder.” This will take you to the Form/Line Finder resource. From here, enter the tax year, the form number, and optionally you may enter a form or schedule line number or schedule.

For example, if we wanted to find Form 8863 from 2015—Education Credits for qualifying education expenses—we simply enter “2015” into the “Tax Year” field, “8863” into the “Form Number” field, and click “go.”RIA Checkpoint 4

From the search results we can see the Education Credits form. Click the result to access the resource.

RIA Checkpoint 5.png

Checkpoint provides information of the education credits including “choosing which credit to take; choosing not to take either credit,” and cross-references to other Checkpoint resources.

RIA Checkpoint 6

Access to Checkpoint by RIA database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.


Texas Statutes by Date

Have you ever needed to see how a statute read on a particular date in time?  You also probably know how difficult it can be to locate this information!  While the Law Library and fee databases have this information sometimes its useful to be able to go to the internet and check a free source, like Texas Statutes by Date.

statutes by date

The Texas Constitution and Statutes site now has a feature, Statutes by Date, that allows users to see how a statute looks on a particular date; anytime from today back through 2004.

To do this go to their webpage, enter the date you’re interested in viewing in the calendar, select the code you need (code, article/chapter, and article/section) and click the “reset” button.

This is a great free resource that can be used by anyone to find those sometimes difficult to locate older statutes!




Federal Register Sources

Federal Register Sources


fedregThe Library of Congress (LC) reports that its Federal Register online collection provides access to 14,586 issues of the Federal Register, covering the years 1936-1993. The LC is not the only site to host free access to the Federal Register. FDSys (or the GPO’s Federal DFigital System) picks up the coverage of the Federal Register starting with 1994 to current. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is another excellent source for current or more recent issues visit their site.


The Law Library has multiple sources and formats for accessing the Federal Register including:

Law Library Holdings of the Federal Register fedreg table



Managing and Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices

These days, it’s not uncommon for one person to use two, three, or even four devices in a day for doing work, accessing the internet, reading, playing games, or whatever else. I am a rather extreme example, but over the course of a typical day, I will generally use my work PC, my Android smartphone, my iPad, and my home PC for any or all of these tasks. If I’m traveling, I may also use my laptop, or occasionally a PC at a hotel business center, a conference center, or some other device that I don’t even own. When writing, I may work on a document at work, then more at home, and then on my iPad while out for dinner. Likewise, I may download an article or case to read on my work PC, then open it on my phone to finish while I’m waiting somewhere else.

While external drives (like flash drives or pocket hard drives) can be used to transfer large files between computers, they do have limitations. They can be easily lost or fail at inopportune times. Moreover, mobile devices rarely allow for easy connection to such devices (most don’t have full-size USB ports, for example). Cloud storage services offer a solution that is generally platform-neutral, and often have basic services available for no cost to you.

Continue reading “Managing and Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices”

ELR Program: You Asked, We Answered

For years, the law library’s Excellence in Legal Research Program has been providing free legal research instructions to any and all interested students to help them prepare for practice.  With 35% of a new attorney’s job being spent on research, the program is more important than ever! Being practice-ready will separate you from other people applying for the jobs you want!

In response to student input, the law library has decided to make a few necessary changes to our award-winning program:

  1. The program is now reduced from 30 credit hours to 20 credit hours, and no class will be longer than 2 hours.  Students who have previously had a hard time fitting in the program should now be able to do so more easily.  Those students already in the program will need to complete 20 credit hours and at least 10 classes to ensure that they are getting the benefit of a broad range of topics.
  2. Students will now only have to take SIX required classes.  Unlike in the past, students will not have a choice of these six classes; they will be required for every student.  This will ensure that every student will have the same strong foundation of knowledge.  Those students already in the program will need to complete six required classes, but will get credit for the old required classes and the new required classes to meet this requirement.  If you have already taken more than six required classes under the old program, the extra required classes will be counted as electives.
  3. A greater variety of dates and times will be offered.  No longer will classes only be offered on Wednesday nights, Friday afternoons, and Saturday mornings.  In our most recent student survey, students said that some semesters they might have conflicts at all those times and be unable to take a single ELR class as a result.  In the fall, the schedule will switch up class times for each course offered, so even if you miss class one week due to an evening class, you will hopefully be able to make it the next week when the class is held on a different night.
  4. We are adding one-hour lunchtime sessions for a few content areas that do not require two hours of instruction.  These classes will be worth 1 credit of ELR and be an easy way to knock out a few credits per semester during the lunch hour.  For these classes, the final assessment will be completed after class, as opposed to during class.
  5. ELR classes will be front-loaded in the first weeks of the semester.  In the past, attendance has gone down in classes offered in the second half of the semester due to students prepping for exams and working on final projects.  As such, the two credit hour classes will be held in the first six weeks of the semester, when students have less deadlines.  The one-credit hour lunchtime sessions will be held in the next three weeks, so all of your ELR classes for the semester will be done before we get to November.
  6. Starting this year, the first year students can get a kick-start on the ELR program by attending all of the fall semester Legal Practice research sessions.  Students who attend every session over the course of the fall semester will get 2 elective credits toward their completion of the ELR program.

To those students already in the program, you should have already received an email on Monday, June 13th from Alyson Drake, Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program, outlining your current progress in the program and what requirements you need to complete the program.  If you did not receive an email, please contact Alyson and she’ll update your on your progress.

To those students not in the program, it’s not too late to start!  Even if you are a rising third year student, there is still to complete the program.  All the mandatory classes will be offered this academic year at least once and each semester we are offering 15 hours of ELR instruction.  Contact Alyson Drake at if you want to sign up for the program.  She will get you registered to the Blackboard site so you are ready to sign up for classes as soon as the registration opens in July.

The fall schedule will be released in an email to students on July 12th at 9:00am, so keep an eye out!  Registration will open on July 13th at 9:00am.  We hope to see more students than ever in ELR classes next year.

Entering 1L Students: The Law Library’s Selective Summer Browsing List

We certainly do not expect you to read all of the books noted below. Some of them probably won’t make much sense until you start classes. However, you can still flip through them this summer to get a feel of what law school is about. All of these books can be found in and borrowed from the law library.

1L of a Ride

1L of a Ride : A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School by Cecil C. Humphreys.
This book provides practical advice on how to succeed in law school both academically and emotionally from perspectives of an experienced law professor and anecdotes from former students. The author claims
“. . . to provide new students with a candid, beginning-to-end roadmap to the first year of law school, along with the navigational and other tools to complete the sojourn scholastically accomplished and emotionally intact.”


Getting to MaybeGetting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul.
Law school test questions are different from most all other examinations. As such, there may be more than one correct answer, hence the title of the book, Getting to Maybe. Mostly it’s the analysis that matters on law school essay examinations. The authors do an excellent job in explaining the importance of legal analysis over the mere “correct answer.” They focus on making sure the reader understands legal analysis when taking law school tests.


Reading Like a LawyerReading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert by Ruth Ann McKinney.
As law students, you will be reading more than ever. Good reading is not innate, but a skill that can be learned. The author’s purpose for the book is
“. . . to teach you . . . how to read law-related material as efficiently, effectively, and powerfully as possible.”



Legal Writing in Plain EnglishLegal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises by Bryan A. Garner.
The author has taught an accelerated course at Texas Tech School of Law during the past few summers. Like taking law school tests, legal writing often requires an altogether different style of writing than you have done in the past. We encourage you to browse the book that way you will know what to expect and can get in the right frame of mind before beginning classes in the fall.



Law School ConfidentialLaw School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: by Students, for Students by Robert H. Miller.
The author presents a guide for law students, and discusses the application process, financing, preparation for classes, curriculum, honor codes, competition, recruiting, and other related topics.