Explore our nation’s beginnings

Indigenous Law Portal

 Released in July of 2014, the portal initially provided access to tribal information of the American Indians.  Since then it has expanded to include information from Canada and Mexico, as well as global information from around the world.

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Each geographical region contains information of various types.  Some of the resources that can be found in the United States section of the portal include various Law Gateways, such as:

Other sources of information include directories, research guides, law societies, and links to various subject specific information sites dealing with things like land law, social services, environmental law, and education, to name a few.

Digitized Historical Constitutions

One of the most valuable sections of the portal is the collection of digitized constitutions.  They provide access to hundreds of constitutions and other legal materials that otherwise might be inaccessible elsewhere, at least without great effort.

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The portal provides a long needed resource that will help preserve a vulnerable portion of our nation’s history.  It is constantly being updated and expanded, so make a point of returning periodically to explore new resources, and learn about this country’s origins.

Stress Busting During Finals

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Finals is a very stressful time during the semester. There is a lot of pressure on students to do well during finals, however, if you stress too much it can be counterproductive. What can a student do to keep on the edge without going over!

The Texas Tech Law School and Law Library are working to provide some relief from stress during finals.

The Texas Tech Law Library will be hosting a Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar on December 2 in the 1st Floor Collaboration area. Students can come and make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from 11a.m. – 1p.m. There will also be some stress busting activities that students can enjoy and take with them!

The Texas Tech Law School is hosting a Finals Coffee Bar, November 30 – December 10. Every day at 3pm students can go to the forum for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy a study break!

Also, don’t forget that the Texas Tech Law Library also has study rooms that can be reserved for group study as well as all kinds of study aids. There was an earlier blog post by Sue Kelleher that explained the different types of study aids and where you can find them!

Good luck to all the students who are studying for finals!

Expand your horizons with educational YouTube channels

Happy Thanksgiving!

For most of my life, educational programming on TV was limited to a few well-tested formats: Documentaries based on a particular format of photos or video with a narrator and talking heads, or children’s programming. Because of the cost of operating a station, educational programming was limited to public broadcasting or the depths of extended cable. Today, once edutainment-driven channels like TLC and the History Channel now feature shows about child beauty pageants, giant families, pawn shops, and fishermen. It’s fortunate, then, that YouTube has risen to more than cover our needs.

Continue reading “Expand your horizons with educational YouTube channels”

May Loislaw Rest in Peace

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Fastcase has acquired Loislaw from Wolters Kluwer (think Aspen Publishers), effective November 30, 2015 when Loislaw permanently shuts down. One of Loislaw’s key features has been access to Wolters Kluwer’s library of some 125 treatises in areas of law such as bankruptcy, business, employment, insurance, intellectual property, real estate and others. It appears that Fastcase subscribers will now gain access to the treatise collection. According to Fastcase, existing Loislaw subscribers will be grand-parented at current or better prices.

Three (Free) Apps for Every Law Student or Practicing Attorney

There are over 2 million apps available for download from the iTunes store and Google Play combined. It is unsurprising that some lawyers are utilizing available legal-specific apps on their mobile devices and tablets, creating portable law libraries. Although the majority of lawyers still have yet to download a legal app, a little less than half have—according to the American Bar Association (ABA) 2015 TechReport. After downloading and experimenting with over a dozen free legal apps, the following three are worth the time-investment.

FastcaseExtensive Legal Research: Fastcase.

Fastcase is the most popular app for legal research, ranking higher than WestlawNext and LexisAdvance, according to the ABA 2015 TechReport. Although it requires a subscription, Fastcase is free to download and use. The app itself is largely intuitive; searches on Fastcase can be performed using citations, phrases, or keywords—including Boolean operators. Users can also browse statute collections by individually pulling up the state and selecting the desired code. Fastcase contains one of the largest selection of free Texas Codes.

The app may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Droid devices.

General Reference: PushLegal’s Statutes and Case Law Library.

Created by a Houston, Texas trial attorney, PushLegal is free to use for anyone signing up with a school-issued email address. The app contains quick access to the Federal Bankruptcy Code, Rules of Civil Evidence, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Criminal Evidence, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Sentencing Guidelines, and several other federal titles. PushLegal also contains Texas, New York, Florida, and California state codes, including the Family, Penal, Probate, Business Organizations, and Property Code.

Searching is user-friendly on PushLegal. A search bar is located at the top of every screen, and various code sections also include a “Legal Cases” tab, listing cases that have recently referenced the particular statute.

However, accessibility is PushLegal’s best feature. Although an internet connection is required to download or “subscribe” to each book, after it is downloaded, the codes can be accessed without an internet connection

The app may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Droid devices.

Legal News: ISCOTUSnow.

Provided by the Oyez Project, this mobile app contains the latest information on cases currently pending and recently decided in the Supreme Court of the United States. Minutes following the release of a SCOTUS opinion, it is reviewable on the app. Oral arguments and transcripts, along with decision summaries, are also accessible. Additional features, like polls, allow users to share their reactions to SCOTUS news.

The app may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Droid devices.

IBM Watson For Legal Research Coming Soon

IBM’s Watson is close to becoming realized in the legal research realm.

According to The Globe and Mail, a class project-turned-startup launched by University of Toronto students that uses IBM’s artificially intelligent Watson computer to do legal research now has backing from Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. Called Ross, the app uses Watson to scour millions of pages of case law and other legal documents in seconds and answer legal questions. Its founders liken it to a smarter version of iPhone’s Siri, but for lawyers, and say it could one day replace some of the grunt research work now done by low-level associates at the world’s top law firms. It is one of several attempts to apply what is called “cognitive computing” to the historically technology-averse legal profession.

And Ross is learning quickly. One of Ross’s developers noted: “It’s early days for sure.” “But what we are seeing is Ross grasping and understanding legal concepts and learning based on the questions and also getting user feedback. … Just like a human, it’s getting its experience in a law firm and being able to learn and get better.”

This will eventually have major ramifications for legal research as we know it. As mentioned in the article, this will likely replace much of the grunt research like finding particular statutes or cases by citation. But Ross is nowhere near being able to creatively use case law to form arguments. And there are many issues to be worked out with Ross storing proprietary information.

While there is no denying that Ross will help augment intelligence, he should be considered more of another tool in a lawyer’s toolbox rather than a replacement. Think of Iron Man’s JARVIS as opposed to The Terminator.

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Study Aids in the Law Library

There are many choices when it comes to picking out the right study aid.  They come in different formats and cover materials in different ways.  If you need a general overview of a topic that explains the law, you might use the Nutshell Series or the Concise Hornbooks.  Other series will provide practice questions, such as the Exam Pro Series or Friedman’s Practice Series.  There are even a couple that provide both an overview and practice questions, like Glannon Guides and Examples and Explanations.

Dr. Jarmon, from the Office of Academic Success, has created a handy guide to the various study Aid series that discusses different types of study aids.  This guide is available in the tutor office, located behind the Research and Information desk in the Law Library.  The different series are also available in various formats.

Check out what the Law Library has available!

Online:

West Academic Study Aid collection (includes study aids from West Academic Publishing, Foundation Press, and Gilberts), there is even the Gilbert’s Law Dictionary to help out with any legal terminology.

  • Acing Series
  • Black Letter Outlines
  • Career Guides
  • Concise Hornbooks
  • Exam Pro
  • Gilbert Law Summaries
  • Law Stories
  • Nutshells
  • Quick Review
  • Short and Happy

West Study Aids

Print (on Reserve):

  • Acing Series
  • Black Letter Outlines
  • Concepts and Insights
  • Crunch Time
  • Emanuel’s Law Outlines
  • Examples and Explanations
  • Gilbert Law Summaries
  • Hornbooks
  • Law Stories
  • Nutshells
  • Understanding Law

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Audio CDs (On Reserve):

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  • Law School Legends
  • Sum and Substance

Flashcards (On Reserve):

  • Law in a Flash
  • Texas Law Cards

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Other Resources:

Don’t forget to take advantage of other resources that are available to you, right here in the Law School.  The Office of Academic Success, run by Dr. Amy Jarmon, has many resources available to assist you.