Prof. Barkan is retiring from the UW Law School after 23 years of service. Before joining the UW Law Faculty, Prof. Barkan worked at Marquette Law School, making him the only person who has been a tenured faculty member at both UW and Marquette Law. For more about Steve’s incredible career, check out his profile from the Wisconsin Law Journal’s award issue.
It goes without saying that the UW Law Library, UW Law School and the legal community in general will miss Prof. Barkan. Thank you for all your dedicated years of teaching, supervising, overseeing, collaborating and mentoring!
Sometimes we get to post really great news. In that vein, it is with great pleasure that I announce that Bonnie Shucha, the creator of WisBlawg, has been appointed the Law School’s Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Director of the Law Library. Her appointment, which followed a national search, took effect February 6.
Bonnie joined the Law Library staff in 1999. She has served as our Reference and Electronic Services Librarian, Head of Reference, Assistant and then Associate Director for Public Services, and most recently Deputy Director. Her professional accomplishments are extensive, and she has been an active participant in local and national library activities and associations.
Bonnie is taking over for Steve Barkan, who will be retiring this spring. Steve, the UW Law School’s Voss–Bascom Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library, joined our Law School faculty in 1995. He has also held library positions at Marquette Law School, the University of TX at Austin School of Law, the US Supreme Court, and the University of Southern California Law School.
Among many other activities, Steve taught Torts I and Torts II for many years. He is chair of the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners, and he has served on numerous ABA site visits. He is a co-author/editor ofFundamentals of Legal Researchand founding editor ofPerspectives. He will be receiving a Wisconsin Law Journal Leaders in Law Lifetime Achievement Award later this month.
Congratulations to Bonnie on her new position and to Steve on his upcoming retirement.
The Law School recently marked a reunion worthy of the school’s history and its graduates. Pete Christianson, J.D. 1977, is a big Badger booster and avid collector of UW Homecoming commemorative buttons, and other memorabilia. Mr. Christianson has a long family history as one of five generations of Badger lawyers. His interest in UW Law’s history would connect him with the Old West and Henry Frawley, another UW Law School alum from 1876, when Frawley’s diploma was put up for auction this past July. It was in the summer of 1877 Henry Frawley moved to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, and went on to become a noted rancher and frontier attorney. After the passing of the younger Henry “Hank” Frawley last year, his father’s 1876 law degree from the UW went up for bid. Bidding started at $300 and Mr. Christianson got it for $500.
The plan then was to give the diploma as a gift to the Law School ahead of its 150th anniversary this year. Mr. Christianson spoke and presented the Frawley law degree to the Law School at their Feb. 2nd Faculty Meeting. Speaking with local columnist Doug Moe later, Mr. Christianson said of the time spent on the project, “It was a tremendous amount of fun, and I was just so happy after I bought it to find out they actually wanted it.”
The story gets more interesting. As chance would have it, there is another diploma from 1876 hanging in the halls of the Law Library. Clarion Augustine Youmans graduated in the same class as Henry Frawley. Clarion Augustine Youmans made his fortune in Wisconsin and was a prominent resident of Clark County. He wore many hats with great success during his lifetime as a farmer, lawyer, county judge, district attorney, and state senator.
The UW Law Library is pleased to announce our newest law librarian: Emma Babler. Emma will be our new Reference and Technology Librarian, where she will be tasked with assisting students, staff, and anyone who asks a question! Emma comes to us from the UNLV Law Library but received both her MLS and JD from the University of Wisconsin.
Welcome, Emma! We’re excited to be working with you!
Congress.Gov announced yesterday that with their new version of searching, users will now get slightly different results. The reason? The default operator is now AND and not OR. So, as Congress.Gov’s post points out, a search for National Park will yield results that include National AND Park instead of National OR Park. A nice improvement, if I do say so myself!
Salman Khan, who founded the Khan Academy in 2006, says the partnership is meant to level the playing field to law school access for those who cannot afford the hundreds and even thousands of dollars it costs for professional test prep.
The planned test prep will work in graduated stages: testing basic knowledge to gauge a person’s strengths and weaknesses, suggesting practice options with quizzes, and full-blown practice exams. Students will receive feedback at every stage along the way. Solutions and videos will be offered to help explain items and concepts a student is having problems with.
The graphic below is from the Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice page. It is illustrative of what the LSAT test prep landing page might look like:
The Khan Academy partnered with the College Board to become the official preparation for SAT in 2015. The goal is the same. Access to free SAT test prep levels the playing field to college access for those who cannot afford expensive professional test prep. More than 3 million students have used the SAT program so far.
The idea of providing opportunity to everyone by putting testing materials online is at the core of the Khan Academy’s mission. What’s the next frontier? Bar exam prep? Salman Khan said, in a recent interview with the online ABA Journal, “We would absolutely be open to conversations with people who administer those exams.”
Link Rot is a pervasive problem in the legal community – so much so that Supreme Court opinions are sometimes riddled with cites to websites that no longer exist, which undermines the entire concept of a citation.
Many in the legal academic world are aware of Perma.CC, which is a long-term solution to link rot. Perma.CC allows authors and judges and anyone to preserve the websites they are citing by archiving the page, therefore preserving it as they were citing it.
However, Perma.CC is still in the process of being adopted, and some cites may fall through the cracks. So in the meantime, the University of California Berkeley Law School Library has created a citation program that catches the websites that are cited in Supreme Court opinions and archives them as soon as possible. With this program serving as a stop-gap and the growing adoption of Perma.CC and other web archiving programs, link rot will become extinct, or at least endangered!
Kudos to the UC Berkeley School of Law Library for a great tool. Be sure to check out their site and review the data from cases and citations!
The following blog post was written by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian at the University of Wisconsin Law School Library
CourtListener is a powerful new free legal research website sponsored by the non-profit Free Law Project. The Court Listener platform is composed of four searchable databases containing judicial opinions, an audio collection of oral arguments, judge profiles, and documents from the Federal PACER system. The repository’s numbers are impressive and growing daily.
Almost 4 million legal opinions from federal and state courts.
Real-time coverage of oral arguments from SCOTUS and 11 of the 13 Federal Judicial Circuits.
A database of over 8500 judge profiles.
2.4 million plus PACER documents.
The search engine is easy to use and offers an “Advanced Search” option to refine searches in a number of ways including citation, judge, and docket number. Case law searches are powered by their CiteGeist Relevancy Engine to provide the most relevant and important cases at the top of the results. CourtListener downloads opinions from many jurisdictions on an ongoing basis thereby allowing users to set up alerts using customized search and citation feeds. RSS feeds may also be set up by jurisdiction.
The oral arguments database is also continually updated, making it the biggest such collection on the Internet. At present, CourtListener provides oral arguments to over 1500 cases originating from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. A count of available oral arguments from SCOTUS and 11 of the 13 Federal Judicial Circuits totals over 19,000. The judge profile search now also links up to the oral arguments database meaning when you look up the profile page for a judge, you may see a list of oral argument recordings for cases that judge has heard.
What really makes CourtListener special is the free access to PACER documents it provides through the RECAP Archive. Users of the PACER system can contribute to the building of the archive by downloading the RECAP Extensions for Firefox and Chrome. As you browse PACER, the RECAP extension automatically uploads docket files and PACER-downloaded PDFs to the Internet Archive for others to download later. The net effect is kind of like paying it forward, allowing the documents (and legal benefits) to flow to everyone. This newfound access to PACER documents is truly groundbreaking.
This post was authored by Jenny Zook, Reference and Instructional Services Librarian at the UW Law School Library.
SEC has adopted a final rule requiring public companies to include hyperlinks in their exhibit index, making it easier for investors to locate previously filed exhibits. According to the SEC, there was overwhelming support for this final rule. Previous to the new rule, to locate a filing, investors had to find the exhibit index to a registrants SEC filings, which, more often than not, was incorporated by reference. Embedding a link directly to the filing is a common sense amendment to the disclosure rules that will speed up the process for investors.
There have been some very exciting advances in the fight to make court documents more freely accessible to everyone. As many legal researchers and law librarians are aware, many legal materials can be relatively rare or sheltered behind a paywall. Movements are afoot to change this, at least in part, and there has been progress over the past several months.
Harvard’s Case Law Access Project, which involves scanning scanning in Harvard’s entire collection of case law books, recently scanned it’s last volume. That may sound blase, but that means that nearly 44,000 volumes with roughly 40 million pages of case law have been digitized. This case law will be made freely available to anyone who needs to review it.
In addition to finishing their scanning, Harvard also recommended providing bulk digital data of future case law to make it easier to add to the currently scanned collection. The director of Cornell’s LII and a Professor of Law from Indiana University also testified on behalf of the continued digitally accessible case law.
Lastly, and potentially most exciting, was the announcement by the Internet Archive of their desire to store PACER records from Federal Courts and make them freely available. While it remains to be seen if this proposal will come to fruition, it is another indication of legal material becoming more easily available to anybody. For now, many PACER documents can be found via RECAP, a free website that is co-run by the Internet Archive and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.
As you search for case law and other legal materials, imagine how that process may become easier as it all migrates to the open web!