Category Archives: What Law Librarians Do

Free 5-Part Legal Research Webinar Series for Librarians

Law librarians at the University of South Carolina School of Law have presented a five-part webinar series designed to provide public librarians and academic librarians the knowledge and skills to help their patrons with basic legal research.

screenshot of https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCES4xRifDCfuNX9W6GbV01w

In partnership with the South Carolina Library Association (SCLA), law librarians recorded each webinar. The series is now available for free on SCLA’s YouTube channel.

screenshot of https://guides.law.sc.edu/CircuitRiders/UofSC Law Library’s Circuit Riders: Basic Legal Research Training guide includes additional context for the webinars.

Legal Research Series Part 1:
The Law and Legal Reference Interview
Terrye Conroy
Legal Research Series Part 2:
Secondary Sources & Topical Research Guides
Aaron Glenn
Legal Research Series Part 3:
Local, State, and Federal Codes
Eve Ross
Legal Research Series Part 4:
State and Federal Regulations
Rebekah Maxwell
Legal Research Series Part 5:
State & Federal Cases, Court Rules & Forms
Dan Brackmann

Professor Terrye Conroy pioneered the concept of law librarians training public librarians and academic librarians on legal research in order to compensate for gaps in legal information services to the public. Her work on the Circuit Riders Outreach Program began in 2007 with in-person workshops throughout the state of South Carolina, was sustained through many iterations including these five webinars in 2020, and continues in the Circuit Riders: Basic Legal Research Training guide on the UofSC Law Library website. Much gratitude goes to Professor Conroy, who retired June 30, 2020, for this tremendous legacy of education and service.

Legal Research Webinars for Librarians

The South Carolina Library Association (SCLA) has invited the law librarians of the University of South Carolina Law Library to teach public librarians and academic librarians throughout the state how to do legal research.

The information below is quoted from an email sent to all SCLA members by the SCLA Continuing Education Committee on February 20, 2020.


Legal Research Webinars

Join the University of South Carolina Law Library for a five-part special series on performing legal research. All webinars will be held from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM.

April 9, 2020: The Law & Legal Research

State & federal constitutions; the three branches of state & federal government and the laws they produce; and the reference interview and how to avoid legal advice.

Presenter: Terrye Conroy, Assistant Director of Legal Research Instruction, University of South Carolina Law Library

Register: https://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/6410267

 

April 23, 2020: Secondary Sources & Topical Research Guides

How to use books, articles, and topical guides to research legal issues and find relevant state and federal statutes, regulations and cases.

Presenter: Aaron Glenn, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library

Register: https://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/6410286

 

May 14, 2020: Researching Local, State & Federal Codes

How to research municipal (city & county) ordinances, state statutes (focusing on SC), and federal statutes.

Presenter: Eve Ross, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library

Register: https://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/6410308

 

May 28, 2020: State & Federal Regulations

The relationship between state and federal statutes and administrative agency regulations and how to research state (focusing on SC) and federal regulations.

Presenter: Rebekah Maxwell, Associate Director for Library Operations, University of South Carolina Law Library

Register: https://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/6410346

 

June 11, 2020: Researching State & Federal Cases, Court Rules & Forms

The concept of legal precedent, hierarchy of authority, and how to research state (focusing on SC) and federal cases, court rules and forms.

Presenter: Dan Brackmann, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library

Register: https://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/6410392

 

Please feel free to contact the SCLA Continuing Education Committee with questions.

What Your Law Librarians Are Doing

When your law librarians aren’t in the LRAW classroom, we aren’t idle. Here are just a few of the projects we have been working on.

Honoring Ida Salley Reamer

In 1922, Ida Salley Reamer graduated first in her class at UofSC School of Law.  Around the time of her law school graduation, she was a founding member of a local chapter of the League of Women Voters and the legislative chair of the state League.

Professor Rebekah Maxwell organized a temporary public display in the Coleman Karesh Reading Room on October 17, 2019, unveiling Mrs. Reamer’s law school diploma and her license to practice law . These documents were donated by Mrs. Reamer’s granddaughter, Mrs. Cornelia Edgar, and Professor Maxwell has now secured their permanent place in the library’s Legal History Room.

Preparing for a Catalog Changeover

The law library is already part of a consortium called PASCAL, which allows our law students and law faculty to borrow physical books and digital resources from numerous other college and university libraries in South Carolina. Law library users can already find the titles available through PASCAL in the law library’s online catalog and can select physical books from other libraries to be delivered to them at the law library for free.

Our catalog is scheduled to shift to the Alma platform in June 2020, which will allow us to deepen our collaboration with PASCAL. Our librarians are busily learning as much as possible about the technical capabilities of the new platform in order to create a seamless transition for law library users and continue to make the most of the tremendous resource-sharing power of PASCAL.

Publishing Scholarship

Associate Dean Duncan Alford’s article Central Bank Independence: Recent Innovation in Human History (Lexis login required) is published in the November/December 2019 issue of The Banking Law Journal. Congratulations to Dean Alford on this publication.

Malware, Big Fish, and Law School Gatherings

Q: What do malware, big fish, and law school gatherings have in common?
A: Cybersecurity.
Malware: Wolters Kluwer / CCH Outage
Wolters Kluwer Maintenance - We are currently undergoing unscheduled maintenance. Our technical teams are working as quickly as possible to restore systems. We appreciate your patience during this time.

Error message received from Wolters Kluwer

Customers of Wolters Kluwer (WK) have been notified that malware was discovered on the WK network. The law library subscribes to more than 800 searchable databases through WK, primarily in the area of tax law, and has experienced an outage in this service.

According to an email sent by WK and received by the law library this morning, WK is “in the process of scanning, testing, and restoring each service and application. . . . In short, the service interruptions you have experienced are primarily the result of [WK’s] aggressive, precautionary efforts to ensure the safety of your data. This is why at this time [WK is] confident that [they] see no indication of data loss or other effects, nor any potential risk to [their] customers’ data.”

The cybersecurity blog Krebs on Security has published and updated a post entitled What’s Behind the Wolters Kluwer Tax Outage? The law firm librarian blog Dewey B. Strategic has published several posts on the outage and the process of bringing the service back online, including Wolters Kluwer Responds …  and Wolters Kluwer … Posts Online Guide to Track Restored Features.

Big Fish: Aaron Glenn Publishes Phishing Update for SC Lawyers
BAR BYTES - Phishing Update - "A Whale of a Tale" By Aaron Glenn, JD, MLIS

Aaron Glenn’s anti-phishing article

Reference librarian Aaron Glenn has written a guest “Bar Bytes” column on page 14 in the May 2019 issue of South Carolina Lawyer magazine, entitled Phishing Update – “A Whale of a Tale.” The article’s goal is to enable lawyers and all employees of law offices to spot email messages that are designed to “trick recipients into revealing secrets and clicking on links or attached files that contain malware.”

The article is available free online. Also, the law library has several hard copies of the magazine near the circulation desk and at tables on the 3rd floor.

CYBERSECURITY - tabs Recent Books on Cybersecurity, Academic Journals, Practitioner Newsletters, Government reports, Task Forces and Institutes, How to Get These Books - book covers "The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook" and "Cybersecurity for the Home and Office"

UofSC Law Library’s cybersecurity guide – https://guides.law.sc.edu/cybersecurity

In the article, Professor Glenn encourages readers to explore the information and resources on the UofSC Law Library’s cybersecurity guide. This research guide provides curated links to recent books, articles, and more, to suit the needs of practicing lawyers or of academic legal researchers who recognize the need to learn more about cybersecurity.

Law School Gatherings: UofSCLaw Cybersecurity Institute
bookshelf containing books on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity book display at UofSC Law Library that was timed to coincide with the April 2019 Cybersecurity Institute

Highlights of South Carolina Law’s first Cybersecurity Institute appear in the newsletter Cyberinsecurity News. The first Institute was held April 4, 2019 at the School of Law in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The write-up concludes with an assurance that South Carolina Law has already begun planning for the 2020 Cybersecurity Institute, which will again provide helpful, updated insights from government and private security experts.

What Your Law Librarians Are Doing

When we as your law librarians wrap up our time in the fall Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing (LRAW) classroom, other than our hours helping patrons at the reference desk, our work might not be so visible. But we are definitely still at work.

Here are just a few of the projects we’ve been working on:

Preparing for Westlaw Edge

Law students will experience a new Westlaw interface with additional features starting in January 2019.

Law librarians are working now to adapt our LRAW materials for the new interface and features.

Meanwhile, a quick preview is here:

Training Public and Academic Librarians

Part of the role of the University of South Carolina Law Library is to serve the public.

Four of our law librarians—Terrye Conroy, Dan Brackmann, Aaron Glenn, and Eve Ross—presented 2 hours of content on November 2, 2018, at the South Carolina Library Association conference in Greenville. Our “Shine a Light on Legal Research” presentation was designed to help public and academic librarians help their patrons with legal research.

In partnership with the South Carolina State Library, the same four law librarians are now preparing an all-day workshop in December 2018 for public and academic librarians who want to improve their legal research skills.

As part of this preparation, we’ve been revising and updating our online guide to basic legal research, designed for South Carolina librarians as well as the general public:

Library Tours

Our law library may not be brand new anymore; we’ve been here since May 2017. Nonetheless, many folks are just getting their first opportunity to take a library tour.

Rebekah Maxwell of the law library, and Judge Goolsby, a retired judge from the South Carolina Court of Appeals, gave the students of Judge Lockemy’s class a tour of the library’s South Carolina Legal History Room on November 15, 2018.

This was a special opportunity because the Legal History Room is usually kept locked, and because the collection of judicial figurines in the Legal History Room was donated by Judge Goolsby.

a few of Judge Goolsby’s judicial figurines

Judge Goolsby describing the judicial figurines in his collection

Rebekah Maxwell leading a tour of the Legal History Room

Podcast Guest Star Terrye Conroy

Curtis Rogers of the South Carolina State Library recently interviewed our own Professor Terrye Conroy on the LibraryVoicesSC podcast.

They speak about Professor Conroy’s path to law librarianship, as well as what it’s like to work at USC Law Library specifically.

There’s also some interesting background on our Circuit Riders outreach program that allows our law librarians to train public and academic librarians from throughout the state on how to do legal research to help their library patrons locally.

Worth a listen!

Class of 1968 – 50th Reunion Display

The law library celebrated the Class of 1968 with a 50th reunion display of memorabilia at the Circulation Desk.

Course Notes of the late professor Coleman Karesh, after whom the Coleman Karesh Reading Room was named.

Reverse side of Coleman Karesh’s Course Notes. The marbled edges are a decorative feature.

The law school was located in the Petigru building in 1968.

Law students studying in the former law library, in the Petigru building.

The 1967-1968 law school bulletin, with a photo of Thomas Cooper Library on its cover, on display at the Circulation Desk.

Court Forms on a Poster

Find a Form on the Courts’ Website

partial screenshot of sccourts.org/forms

Is there a form on the South Carolina courts’ website that you can fill out, to take your landlord to court?1

Fairly often at the reference desk,  we get questions like this from our patrons who are members of the general public. As law librarians, we can’t give legal advice. That means we can’t point someone to a form and say “this is the form you need.” Oftentimes, no such form exists! But we can show people the courts’ website, as well as other books and websites, and encourage them to do their own research.

Can you find the form on the courts’ website that a tenant can use to take a landlord to court, if there is such a form? How long does it take to feel confident that you’ve either found the right form, or concluded that there is no such form?1

Building a Digital Index to South Carolina Court Forms

Another thing librarians can do—besides help people navigate websites—is to categorize information.  A core skill of librarianship is creating indexes, research guides, or other finding aids for any kind of information. And for law librarians, that means legal information.

Two law librarians, Eve Ross and Aaron Glenn, categorized the 572 forms currently on the courts’ website, based on topic, to create a digital index to those forms.

Poster Presentation

At the American Association of Law Libraries conference in 2018, Eve Ross presented a research poster to show law librarians in other states what the USC law librarians have done to index the court forms available in South Carolina.

USC Law Library’s Eve Ross next to the poster “Building a Digital Index of South Carolina Court Forms” at AALL 2018

Other poster presenters from law libraries across the country showcased various other types of projects they have done, so that we could all learn from each other.

The poster is currently displayed at the reference desk, for anyone who wants to take a closer look in person.

The poster has returned to USC Law Library, and is now at the reference desk.

1A tremendous amount of background knowledge would be needed to adapt any form on the courts’ website to the needs of a specific tenant. There is nothing on the courts’ website that spells out with clear instructions what a tenant needs to do, step by step, in order to take their landlord to court. For this reason, the short answer to the question is: taking your landlord to court is more complicated than going to one website and filling out one form.

Law Library Tour: Vanderbilt

What do law librarians do when they travel? Seek out the nearest law library for a tour, of course.

When some of the USC law librarians visited Nashville for a conference in April, a tour of Vanderbilt University’s Alyne Queener Massey Law Library was on the agenda. We could hardly believe how similar it is to our own law library, in so many ways, starting from outside the law school, to the law library entrance, and even the details of the study spaces.

The photos below aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Vanderbilt photos were taken shortly before exams, when library usage is mostly in-person, and the USC Law Library photos were taken in the summer, when library usage is mostly online.

exterior signage at the corner of the law school building

directory in the law school entryway

courtyard views just outside the law library

earplugs just inside the law library entrance

reading rooms with lamps and portraits

bookshelves full of case reporters

study rooms

study carrels

There’s more than one way to run a law library, but you’d hardly know that from these photos. It seems that we’re very nearly on the same page. Thank you to our friends at Vanderbilt Law for the tour!

True Crime Podcasts

Now that summer’s here, there’s time to catch up on some true crime podcasts. There are plenty to choose from, and who knows? You might learn something relevant to your Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, or Evidence classes… painlessly.

Undisclosed podcast

Undisclosed may not be first alphabetically, but it’s first on our list because USC School of Law’s own Colin Miller is part of the team. Undisclosed investigates and analyzes the Adnan Syed case as well as other cases in which convictions are troubling due to additional evidence that did not make it to court. As law librarians, we love that the case files are available on the Undisclosed website, so listeners can take a deeper dive into the legal research.

Criminal podcast

Criminal’s appeal is that it looks at different types of crime—not always the grisliest or most shocking—and examines the broader impact of those crimes on society. The creators interview perpetrators, victims, and families. One episode touches on the First Amendment implications of writing a book on how to commit murder for hire. The federal court case it references is Rice v. Paladin Enters., Inc., 128 F.3d 233 (4th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 1515 (1998).

Going beyond

Still need more true crime podcasts? DiscoverPods offers a list of the 20 best true crime podcasts and CrimeReads suggests 12 essential crime podcasts of spring 2018.

If you want more information about something you hear on a true crime podcast, or if you need help doing the research to support a law-related podcast of your own, your law library is here for you.