Legal Research

If you’re a legal practitioner or scholar, you’re almost certainly familiar with The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.  But you may not have heard of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. ALWD, from the Association of Legal Writing Directors, is designed to complement the Bluebook.  Whenever I have a  legal citation question that the Bluebook can’t answer, I turn to ALWD. ALWD recently released a new 7th edition.  The CRIV Blog offers some insights from author Carolyn V. Williams: To maintain conformity, ALWD almost always keeps the same exact citations as the Bluebook (see below for…
From the Wisconsin State Law Library: The Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instructions have recently been updated, with a 2021 release approved by the Wisconsin Judicial Conference’s Criminal Jury Instructions Committee. The fifty-ninth supplement to the Criminal Jury Instructions updates the publication on legislative actions and judicial decisions through August 2021. The update includes revisions of twenty-nine existing jury instructions, as well as five new instructions: 1243 Battery to a Nurse 1784 Inmate Possessing an Article With Intent to Retain 1787 Receiving an Article From an Inmate to Convey Out of Jail or Prison 1808A Bribery of Witness: Transferring Property 1808B
Have you ever been puzzled by the results from a Google search?  Found yourself wondering how Google connected those results to the words you typed, especially if you didn’t get exactly what you were expecting to find?  Fortunately, the newly enhanced About This Result panel offers some contextual insight into your search results. To view the About this Result panel, click on the three dots next to most Google search results as shown below.  This will open a new panel that provides information about the source website, a list of your search terms that appear in the results, and any…
When researching a legal issue, local laws are an often overlooked resource.  Municipal and county governments pass ordinances on a variety of topics, including administrative procedures, standards of conduct, and zoning.  Although many of these laws are available online through local government websites or through services such as eCode or municode, they can be difficult to locate.  Fortunately, the Wisconsin State Law Library has created a comprehensive guide to Wisconsin Ordinances and Codes. Some larger municipalities and counties enable you to delve even deeper into their legislation and legislative history.  Legistar from Granicus is a legislative management software used…
Who knew that you could borrow seeds from the Madison Public Library?  A lot of people, apparently.  So far this year, the Madison Public Library’s Seed Library has given away nearly 2,000 seed packets, including flowers, herbs, and produce seeds. Here’s a sampling of the seeds available at participating Madison libraries (Lakeview Library or Goodman South Madison Library): Bush Green Beans Beets Collards Cucumbers Flowers: Cosmos, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Sunflowers, Zinnias Herbs: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage Kale (lacinato) Lettuce Melon: Cantaloupe, Watermelon Pie Pumpkin Radishes Spinach Squash: Butternut, Zucchini Sugarsnap Peas Peppers: Sweet bell type, Hot…
In response to concerns raised by the Citing Slavery Project, the Bluebook has made a rare between-edition change to rule 10.7.1 on citation to cases.  This change is reflected in the 2021 printing of The Bluebook Twenty-First Edition was first published in 2020. According to the Bluebook’s Noteworthy Changes to the 2021 Printing: Rule 10.7.1(d) now covers slave cases. For cases involving an enslaved person as a party, use the parenthetical “(enslaved party).” For cases involving an enslaved person as the subject of a property or other legal dispute but named as a party to the suit, use…
Reuters reports that Google will soon show its search engine users more information about why it found the results they are shown.  Users will be able to click into details such as how their result matched certain search terms, in order to better decide if the information is relevant. Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. Earlier this year it introduced panels to tell users about the sources of the information they are seeing. It has also started warning users when a topic is rapidly evolving and search results might…
Today’s Inside Track from the Wisconsin State Bar introduces recent law grads to 5 Resources Every New Lawyer Should Know.  The article features resources from the WI State Bar and WI State Law Library and offers tips on finding court rules and procedures, jury instructions, local bar associations, CLE requirements. Written by Barbara Fritschel and Carol Hassler, the article is part of a series of Inside Track articles on legal research written by members of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin.…
One-box searching has come to HeinOnline and it’s a very nice improvement.  Now you can search all Hein content from a single box with drop-down options allowing you to specify your search intent.  Previously, your search was limited to a specific tab (full text, citation, catalog, or case law). According to the HeinOnline blog, this interface update retains all searching functionality. No previous searching capabilities have been removed.  Here are the drop down options: Just search for: Functions the same as the former “Full Text” tab, searching the full text of documents for your keyword(s). Users can also use…
The Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale Law School is hosting a free Virtual Symposium on Citation and the Law on April 22 and 23, 2021.  Registration is now open. The symposium will highlight the scholarship of law librarians and faculty interested in issues ranging from the US News and World Reports rankings for scholarly productivity, to link rot, to empirical research in the use of citations, and more.  Keynote speaker Fred Shapiro will set the stage with his paper “The Most-Cited Legal Scholars Revisited” to be published in the University of Chicago Law Review.  All the papers will be…
Clearbrief is a new brief analysis tool that uses AI to evaluate the strength of the arguments in a brief, identifying how well each sentence is supported by the cited source.  It functions as an add-in to Microsoft Word. From the website: Clearbrief automatically pulls up every factual and legal source you cite to in your draft, side by side with your writing, and points out mistakes in what you said vs. what your source says.  [It] instantly finds and links to the best record documents to support each sentence in the brief, while you write. When you’re done…
Looking for a research or white paper, conference proceeding, pre-print, or report but can’t find a copy in your library’s catalog or popular search engines?  Check out the new Internet Archive Scholar search index from the Internet Archive.  According to the Internet Archive Blogs, Internet Archive Scholar indexes over 25 million research articles and other scholarly documents preserved in the Internet Archive spanning from the eighteenth century to the present.  It includes content from the natural sciences, humanities, biomedicine, art, history, industrial research, government reports, and more. Content in this search index comes in one of three forms: public…
Last week, I posted that the Wisconsin Jury Instructions are now freely available online from the Wisconsin State Law Library.  Since then, I’ve received additional clarification on the availability of the instructions via Fastcase, in print, and superseded and withdrawn instructions: Availability on Fastcase In addition to the State Law Library website, Wisconsin attorneys can also access the Wisconsin Jury Instructions via Fastcase through the State Bar of Wisconsin.  Previously, a separate subscription was required, but going forward, the Jury Instructions will be included in Fastcase as a benefit to all State Bar members. Fastcase is refunding the remaining subscription…
For a while now, HeinOnline has assigned topics to each article in the Law Journal Library database.  This allows researchers to get a general idea of the scope of the article before they dive in any further or to search or browse for additional articles on that topic.  Over 1,500 topics are available and are assigned using a combination of human curation along with natural language processing and machine learning, Hein recently announced that they had broadened this topical taxonomy.  The same topics are available, but they’re now organized into a logical hierarchy that allows users to drill down from…
Today, legal publishers Casemaker and Fastcase announced their merger thereby creating the largest legal research platform by subscriber count – over one million.  According to the press release: The two companies will combine their teams and technologies to innovate research, analytics, and workflow offerings that empower lawyers with powerful digital solutions for their clients. The two companies have taken a similar trajectory in creating an affordable and widely accessible alternative to the global publishers that dominate American law, offering subscriptions to bar associations, who subscribe on behalf of their members. Each company offers its subscribers different products, and this…