WI State Law Library Named in Honor of Justice Prosser

In a ceremony on October 19, the Wisconsin State Law Library was officially named the David T. Prosser, Jr. State Law Library.

From the State Law Library blog:

The event, attended by a number of public officials, marked Prosser’s 40 years of public service on the Supreme Court, Tax Appeals Commission, and Legislature prior to his retirement in July of 2016.  [The] ceremony was also an opportunity to highlight the library’s 180 years of service to the State of Wisconsin.

For more information, see the WI Court System’s press release.

UW Law Library Celebrates 35th Anniversary as US Government Documents Depository

This month, the UW Law Library celebrates its 35th anniversary as a Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Selective Depository.

As a Selective Depository, the Law Library receives certain classes of federal government documents free of cost and makes them available to the university and law school communities and to the general public.  The Law Library also houses some documents for the UW Madison General Library System which serves as a Regional Depository.

Our Documents Assistant, Margaret Booth, has created a lovely display entitled “Documents Through the Decades” showcasing the history of our 35 years in the FDLP and some interesting documents of various media types.  There are even a few floppy disks – remember those?


There are also some giveaways, including brochures, pocket constitutions, bookmarks, notepads, and pencils.


Latest on the Pacer Litigation

There is a good piece on the latest in the Pacer litigation on Quartz.  Several non-profits claim that fees charged by Pacer, an online database of papers filed by litigants in the US federal courts, exceed the cost of providing the records.

While the 10 cents a page that most people are charged to view documents doesn’t sound like much, critics say that the very existence of the paywall has stifled the development of tools to meaningfully search and analyze the data.

“You should be able to say, for example, ‘Give me everything that has the word motion in its description and that talks about copyright,’” says Mike Lissner, executive director of the nonprofit Free Law Project. “That’s not possible.”

Lissner, whose group provides free online access to primary legal materials, says the system’s shortcomings are a direct result of the fees attached to Pacer documents. “If the data were free,” he says, “you’d see an ecosystem cropping up with competitive services improving it.”

The case is currently before the US District Court for the District of Columbia.  Judge Ellen Huvelle is expected to decide in the coming days whether a lawsuit accusing the government of setting Pacer fees at unlawfully high rates can proceed.

Head of Reference position open at the UW Law Library

The UW Law Library invites applications for the position of Head of Reference. The Head of Reference is responsible for overseeing the reference and instructional service programs of the Law Library. The position directly supervises four reference librarians.

A full position description with application instructions is available at http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/Weblisting/External/PVLSummaryApply.aspx?pvl_num=88230

Please contact Bonnie Shucha with any questions about the position.  To ensure consideration, applications must be received by October 23, 2016.  Anticipated start date is January 2017.

– Update 10/11/16:  Although the preferred start date is January 2017, we will consider candidates who may be unable to start until May or June 2017.  Please indicate possible delayed start date in your cover letter.

Florida 1st State to Mandate Technology CLE for Lawyers

The Florida Supreme Court has approved a rule requiring state lawyers to take technology-related CLE courses.

From Ambrogi’s LawSites:

The rule change, ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida on Thursday, added a requirement that Florida lawyers must complete three hours of CLE every three years “in approved technology programs.” The rule raises the state’s minimum credit hours from 30 to 33 to accommodate the tech requirement.

For more information, see the ABA Journal.

Predicting Bar Exam Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance

A team from Texas Tech University School of Law has recently released a very interesting study entitled, Will I Pass the Bar Exam?: Predicting Student Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance.

Here’s the abstract:

Texas Tech University School of Law has undertaken a statistical analysis of its recent alumni, comparing their performance in law school with their success on the Texas bar exam. The authors conclude that LSAT predicts bar exam success while undergraduate GPA does not. The study also replicates findings in previous literature that both 1L and final law school GPA predict bar exam success.

Going beyond existing literature, this study also conducted more specific analysis of how student performance in specific courses can predict success on affiliated subcomponents of the bar exam; the Article identifies which courses have significant impact on bar exam performance and which do not.

Additionally, the Article reports a completely new analysis of whether student participation in curricular student engagement activities (such as journal, clinic, and advocacy competitions) predicts bar exam success.

Read more details at the Law School Academic Support Blog

Which Legal Articles Generate the Most Attention on SSRN?

Professor Mathias Siems of Durham Law School in the UK has recently conducted an interesting analysis of which legal articles generate the most attention on SSRN.  His article is entitled, Legal Research in Search of Attention: A Quantitative Assessment.

From the abstract:
Based on a sample of 1107 papers of SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network, this article finds that a short title, a top-20 university affiliation, US authorship, and writing about topics of corporate law and international law have a positive effect on downloads and/or abstract views.

It doesn’t appear in the abstract of this article, but the author also suggests that pairing an attention getting shorter title with a longer more explanatory abstract may increase readership.

Siems does caution against  using “the findings of this article . .  as telling SSRN users ‘how to increase their SSRN downloads,'” however.  They may be other, unexamined variables at play.

End of Term 2016 U.S. Government Web Archive

A collaborative group of librarians from the Library of Congress, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Internet Archive, and several other archives and universities have teamed up on a project to preserve public United States Government websites at the end of the current presidential administration ending January 20, 2017.

In this collaboration, the partners will structure and execute a comprehensive harvest of the Federal Government .gov domain.  But they need your help.  The project team is calling upon government information specialists, including librarians, political and social science researchers, and academics – to assist in the selection and prioritization of the selected web sites to be included in the collection.

Simply submit urls of your favorite or any interesting, live .gov website other federal government websites, or governmental social media account with the End of Term Nomination Tool.

For more information, see this post from the Library of Congress.

Harvard’s Caselaw Access Project to Digitize and Make Available Millions of Pages of Case Law

If you haven’t yet heard about Harvard’s Caselaw Access Project to digitize millions of pages of case law and make it freely available online, check out this story in Bostonomix.

“We want the law, as expressed in court decisions, to be as widely distributed and as available as possible online to promote access to justice by means of access to legal information,” [Managing Director of Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab Adam] Ziegler said. “But also to spur innovation, to drive new insights from the law that we’ve never been able to do when the law was relegated to paper.” . . .

Harvard has granted Ravel Law an eight-year exclusive contract to use the case law information. The law school has an equity interest in the California-based company, which plans to use the data in new and innovative ways.

Daniel Lewis, CEO of Ravel, says it has applications that can detect trends and patterns in the law, even tracking bias among judges, presenting data in a visual way that discloses relationships never seen before in the law.

Hat tip to UW Law Library Director, Steve Barkan.