All posts by Bonnie Shucha

Celebrating 75 Years of UW Law Library’s “The Freeing of the Slaves” mural

This year marks the 75th anniversary of UW Law School’s iconic mural, The Freeing of the Slaves. The mural, which was completed in July 1942, was created by artist John Steuart Curry, who is considered one of the most important American Regionalist artists of the 20th century.

The Law Library invites you to our Quarles & Brady Reading Room to view the mural this anniversary year.  We’ve created several displays celebrating the mural, including a nearby display case containing rejected designs and early photos of the mural and a website with a bibliography and photographs of the mural through the decades.  UW Law School alumni can look for an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of the mural in an upcoming issue of the Gargoyle.

A few interesting facts about Curry’s The Freeing of the Slaves:

The mural was originally commissioned for the federal Department of Justice building in 1935 but officials rejected it because they feared that “serious difficulties… might arise as a result of the racial implications of the subject matter”

Fortunately, Curry’s design caught the attention of then Law School Dean Lloyd K. Garrison who wanted it for the “new” Law Library reading room dedicated in 1940:

“I felt from the beginning that the mural would be appropriate for the law building… Here is one of the great events in our constitutional history, an event fashioned in the midst of a national crisis by a great lawyer-president.  The mural not only symbolizes that event but proclaims in a noble and patriotic setting the dignity and freedom of all persons, however humble, in a democracy whose ideals of liberty are summed up and protected by the constitution.”

The mural was completed in several phases as described by Curry:

“I made a life sized drawing in my studio… then fastened this drawing in place on the wall in the library reading room…  I traced through [the drawing] with a pencil… and proceeded to paint from a scaffolding directly onto the linen, which now contained the black and white outline of the design. There are really two complete paintings. The first was in tempera. The second, superimposed on the first, was in oil.”

The library circulation desk was originally located directly underneath the mural.  According to then Law Library Director, Maurice Leon:

“a scaffolding was stretched across the north end of the reading room and artist-in-residence, John Steuart Curry, sat or walked on it while painting his giant mural, The Freeing of the Slaves.  Underneath, surrounded and enfolded by painter’s drop cloths, the circulation and reserve desk attendants carried on business as usual.”

For more information about the creation of the mural and how it came to be at the UW Law School, see the wall placard on display in the Quarles & Brady Reading Room.  The original placard manuscript is also available on our website.

Using Infographics in Strategic Planning & Assessment

The University of Wisconsin Law Library engages in regular strategic planning and assessment of our effectiveness in achieving our mission and realizing our goals.  At the beginning of the academic year, we develop a strategic plan consisting of three parts: our mission and vision, our ongoing key priorities, and a selection of strategic initiatives on which we will focus that year.  Then, at the end of the year, we assess of our efforts in achieving our annual goals.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we used infographics throughout both our strategic plan and assessment report to make the information more accessible to key stakeholders.  Inspired by the University of Georgia Law Library, we used Piktochart to create the infographics.

Here’s a snapshot of our 2016-17 strategic plan.  Our 2017-18 plan is available on our website.

UW Law Library Strategic Plan 2016-17

We recently finalized our 2016-17 assessment report based on this strategic plan.  The full report is available on our website, but here are compilations of the infographics that we created to assess our ongoing key priorities and annual strategic initiatives.

 

UW Law Library Strategic Initiatives 2016-17

US Supreme Court to Require Electronic Filing

Beginning in November, the US Supreme Court will require electronic filing of case documents.  According to a SCOTUS press release, counsel will initially submit filings both in print and electronically.  An exception will be made for pro se parties; Court personnel will scan and make their filings available electronically.

Once the system is in place, the new electronic filings will be made freely available from the Court’s website.  The e-filings will not be part of PACER system, reports the National Law Journal.

 

 

New Tool Compares County Criminal Justice Statistics for Wisconsin and Other States

Earlier this week, the nonprofit Measures for Justice launched an amazing new data portal “to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.”

According to The Marshall Project:

The project, which has as its motto “you can’t change what you can’t see,” centers on 32 “core measures”: yardsticks to determine how well local criminal justice systems are working. How often do people plead guilty without a lawyer? How often do prosecutors dismiss charges? How long do people have to wait for a court hearing? Users can also slice the answers to these questions in different ways, using “companion measures” such as race and political affiliation.

Just six states are included so far, but fortunately for us, Wisconsin is one of them.  The others are Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The site is really incredible.  It allows you to zero in and compare data for measures including bail payments, diversion, dismissals, case resolution, type and length of sentence, and more.  Data is then presented by county with the option to further limit and compare by race/ethnicity, sex, age, offense severity, and offense type.

For example, here’s a screen shot from the tool comparing non violent felonies sentenced to prison by Wisconsin county further filtered by race/ethnicity.  Note that you can select specific counties to more deeply explore and compare data as shown below.

Kudos to Measures for Justice for creating this remarkable and easy-to-use tool.

New ABA Guidance on Protecting Client Confidentiality in E-communications

Yesterday, the American Bar Association issued new guidance on  protecting client confidentiality in electronic communications (Formal Opinion 477, Securing Communication of Protected Client Information).  This guidance updates a 1999 ABA opinion.

According to the new opinion,

A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access.

However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.

Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites has an excellent run-down of the opinion and its importance to legal professionals.

Guide to Grant & Publishing Resources

Have you ever thought of applying for a grant to support your research or a special project but weren’t sure how to get started?  How about publishing an article in a professional or scholarly journal?

The American Association of Law Librarians Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section Committee on Research & Scholarship has created a very useful guide to grant and publishing resources.  It’s specifically targeted toward law librarians, but the sources that it recommends are useful much more broadly.

The grants section contains sources with tips on how to apply for grants and sources of grant funding.  The publishing sections, covering both law reviews and library journals, offers lists of potential journals in which to  seek publication and tips on getting your writing accepted for publication.

One type of publication that’s not listed in the guide but should be is state bar publications.  In Wisconsin, both the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack are excellent venues for publication for legal professionals – including law librarians.  See the submission information and writing guidelines for the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack for more information.  Full disclosure: I’m on the State Bar of Wisconsin Communications Committee which serves as the editorial board for the Wisconsin Lawyer and have authored a number of articles for that publication myself.

WI DOJ Launches Attorney General Opinion Archive

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has recently launched an archive of formal Attorney General opinions.  The opinions, in PDF, are available from the first bound volume of opinions in 1912 to the present.

Note that the bound opinion volumes were published between 1912 and 1994.  From 1900-1912, opinions were printed in the Biennial report of the Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin.  Since 1994, individual opinions have been made available on the DOJ website.

Kudos to Amy Thornton, senior librarian, DOJ Division of Legal Services for making this collection available.

UW Law Library Celebrates a Decade of Faculty & Staff READ Posters

For the last fifteen years, the University of Wisconsin Law Library has encouraged research and learning through our National Library Week celebration.  Over the years, we’ve organized numerous events, including trivia and research contests, displays, book giveaways, and reading recommendations.  But the most popular and long lived of all our National Library Week events has been our “celebrity” READ posters featuring UW Law School faculty and staff.

Since we unveiled our first READ poster in 2006, over twenty Law School faculty and staff have been featured, each holding a book that has sparked their interest or that has had an influence in their lives.  Book subjects have varied broadly, ranging from contract law to Muslim jurisprudence, from science fiction to shoes, and from mathematical proofs to metaphysical motorcycle journeys.

In commemoration of our ten years of UW Law School faculty and staff READ posters, we’ve put together a photo book featuring all seventeen posters.  See Deputy Director, Bonnie Shucha if you’d like to view or order a copy.

All of our “celebrity” posters are permanently on display throughout the UW Law Library.  You can also see them in our Pinterest READ Posters collection.

National Library Week Events at the UW Law Library

It’s National Library Week!  Check out this year’s celebrations at the University of Wisconsin Law Library.

Monday – Law Student Book Giveaway
Watch out – free books for law students!  They go pretty quickly but there may be a few good ones left.

Tuesday – Law Library Open House for Faculty and Staff
Yesterday, we welcomed about seventy Law School faculty and staff to our first NLW Open House.  This amazing cake from Lane’s Bakery really set the theme.  How many of these classic books have you read?

NLW cake

Wednesday – Trivia Contest for Law Students
Tonight Head of Reference and Trivia Master, Kris Turner will put our law students to the test.  We’ll see how they fare against our Law Library team.

Thursday – READ Posters
Tomorrow is a great day for a Make-Your-Own READ poster at the Law Library.  Grab your favorite book and say cheese!  Stop by the Circulation Desk anytime this week to have your photo taken.
While you’re here, check out our latest faculty READ poster.  This year’s “celebrity” is Professor Larry Church – five time winner of the UW Law School Teacher of the Year Award.  For our previous posters, see our Pinterest READ Posters collection.

Larry Church

Friday – Bluebooking Tips for the Write-on and Beyond
We’ll round out the week with our ever popular Bluebooking workshop for law students preparing to write-on to one of the UW Law School’s three journals – the Wisconsin Law Review, the Wisconsin International Law Journal, and the  Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society.

But Wait, There’s More! – What Are Our Faculty & Staff Reading?
Looking for some great book recommendations?  See our LibGuide of titles recommended by UW Law School faculty and staff.

Dept of Ed Rescinding Some Public Service Loan Forgiveness Certifications

Are you one of the 550,000+ people who have registered for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?  This is the federal program that forgives the remaining balance on qualifying student loans after 10 years of payments while working full-time for a qualifying public service employer.

If so, you’ll likely want to read the article in yesterday’s New York Times which reports that “thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time,” per the Department of Education.

From the article:

Four borrowers and the American Bar Association have filed a suit in United States District Court in Washington against the department.

The plaintiffs held jobs that they initially were told qualified them for debt forgiveness, only to later have that decision reversed — with no evident way to appeal, they say. The suit seeks to have their eligibility for the forgiveness program restored….

The idea that approvals can be reversed at any time, with no explanation, is chilling for borrowers. Mr. Rudert [an attorney at a non profit legal aid group and one of the plaintiffs], who graduated from law school owing nearly $135,000 on student loans, said he would have picked a different employer if he had known that his work… would not qualify.

Although no explanation was given for the denial, it appears that the questions generally center around whether certain nonprofit organizations qualify as public service employers.

Hat tip to my colleague, Kris Turner, for alerting me to this story.