The Virtual Law Library: Still Here to Help

The law library space may be closed due to COVID-19, but our online services, digital resources, and remote reference desk are very much open for business. UVA law librarians want you to know that we’re still here to help!

Our COVID-19 Guide to Library Services explains how to access library resources—from online study aids to streaming films. For research assistance, contact our reference librarians at refdesk@law.virginia.edu. If you need more in-depth assistance (for example, if you want to talk through your research plan for a seminar paper) schedule a research consultation, and we’ll set up a meeting over the phone or via Zoom. And if you just want to relax, try an entertainment resource like Kanopy or an ebook.

Students: we miss you, and we’re sorry that you can’t come see us in person. We know that digital resources can’t replace the library’s physical space, where you come to collaborate, interact with librarians, or simply study beside a friend. But we hope that our “virtual library” will provide the next best thing, by making you feel welcome, providing access to materials you need, and making it easy for you to get research assistance from law librarians.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Your End-of-Semester Survival Guide

If you’re studying for exams or finishing up a seminar paper, the Law Library staff is rooting for you! Here are some resources to help you get through the end-of-semester crunch.

Study Guides

The Law Library has a room full of books to help you review for finals. Browse them online and in person in the Reserve Room next to the Circulation Desk to find Examples & Explanations with short hypos and answers, Nutshells with straightforward narrative overviews, more detailed Hornbooks, and Sum and Substance audio CDs. Check them out from the Circulation Desk before you leave with them (three-hour checkout period). Access detailed BARBRI class outlines from the comfort of your couch or other favorite study spot through Lexis Advance.

Study Breaks

Even though the Library will be open longer starting December 2 (6am-2am weekdays, 8am-2am weekends), we encourage you to take regular study breaks and get a good night’s sleep. To help you take some deep breaths and manage exam stress, check out the audio guided meditations in the Reserve Room’s low shelves and the meditation mats and cushions in the second floor Collaborative Classroom. The UVA Mindfulness Center’s website has free study-break length guided meditations – try the 5-minute mindful breathing one between class outlines, the 10-minute kindness one when the “how could I have missed that practice exam answer!” thoughts come, and the 16-minute body scan if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night. For more peace and quiet, CALI earplugs are available at the Circulation Desk. Head to MyLab for coloring books and puzzles and keep an eye out for surprise toys throughout the Library.     

Grilled Cheese Night

If comfort food is more your style than meditation, stop into the Law Library on Wednesday evening, December 11, for grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by librarians Ben Doherty, Micheal Klepper, Rebecca Hawes Owen, and Tim Breeden. Grilled Cheese Night is guaranteed to take your mind off of exams for at least a few minutes!

Written by

Kristin Glover

Kristin Glover is a Research Librarian at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library.

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Don’t be afraid to ask your question!

“I was scared to ask questions. I didn’t want to bother anyone. I also didn’t want them to think I was stupid.”

In a study of library usage, that’s how one student described their feelings about research.[1] Do you sometimes feel the same way? If so, I have a message for you: Don’t be afraid to ask your question! Here at the reference desk, it’s our job to answer research questions. We enjoy it, we’re happy to help you, and we’ve heard just about everything. We will not think you’re stupid.

In case you aren’t convinced, let me assure you that your classmates experience many of the same challenges you do. For example:

  • You’re not the only one who finds the Bluebook confusing. Heck, I sometimes find the Bluebook confusing, and I’ve been using it for 15 years. It’s full of detailed rules, and those rules don’t always apply cleanly to real-world documents. The reference desk gets tons of questions about citation format, and we’re always happy to help.
  • There are plenty of sources that your classmates don’t know how to find. Legal scholarship and practice employ sources that you probably didn’t use as an undergrad, including some that don’t come up in 1L research orientation. Having a hard time finding a Congressional document, regulatory materials, or something else? Ask us. I promise you won’t be the first.
  • If a source is difficult for you to use, it’s probably challenging for your classmates, too. Many legal sources are unintuitive. Some of them are poorly written or aimed at researchers with specific expertise. As a legal professional, you’re capable of evaluating the quality and usefulness of sources. If a resource doesn’t meet your needs, try something else. If you’re having trouble navigating a source, you guessed it—ask us for help!

Remember, everyone encounters challenges during research projects. The next time you’re having trouble, we hope you’ll feel comfortable asking a reference librarian for help!

[1] Constance A. Mellon, Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development, 47 C. & Res. Libr. 160, 163 (1986).

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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What’s New This Fall

Welcome back, returning students! While you were away, the Law Library added some new resources that we thought you’d like to know about.

Washington Post Access

Law students can now sign up for free online access to the Washington Post. To request an account, navigate to the Student Services tab on LawWeb and select “Washington Post Academic Access” (or use this shortcut). This will bring up a form for you to fill out. After submitting the form, you will receive an email with further instructions for creating your online account.

As in past years, the Law Library also provides online access to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Bluebook. If you signed up for these resources last fall, note that two of them require annual renewal. You’ll need to reactivate your NYTimes.com account and get a fresh registration key for the Bluebook Online. (To renew your NYTimes.com account, you must be on-grounds or using a VPN.) First-time registrants can sign up for these resources by logging into LawWeb and following the links provided on the “Student Services” tab.

ProQuest Regulatory Insight

The Law Library has acquired a powerful new resource for researching federal regulations. ProQuest’s Regulatory Insight compiles regulatory histories for federal statutes and executive orders by assembling pertinent Federal Register notices, rules, and proposed rules. It also provides links to related pages in Supreme Court Insight and Legislative Insight (a legislative history resource). Use Regulatory Insight to help make your regulatory research more efficient and complete.

A New Digital Resource for Legal History Research

Law Special Collections has launched a new website for its Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Project. The Project is an initiative to explore everyday life in early America and the British Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through Session Papers, which were submitted to Scotland’s supreme civil court as part of the litigation process. Explore the archive to find material for your next legal history paper!

UVA Law at 200 Exhibition

In honor of the University’s Bicentennial, the UVA Law at 200 exhibition by Law Special Collections highlights a rotating selection of Law School alumni/ae who broke local and national barriers, mastered the campaign trail, issued judgments from the bench, and transformed the legal landscape. The exhibition includes photographs, old yearbooks, historical documents, campaign buttons, and more. Exhibit cases are located on the first and second floors of the library.

Updates to Study Spaces

The tables in Caplin Reading Room now have power outlets! With this addition, most seating in the Law Library provides a place to charge your phone or laptop. Additionally, new skylight windows have been installed over the study space in the Reference area.

As you embark on a new academic year, remember that the library is here to help you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at refdesk@law.virginia.edu or to stop by and ask us a question.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Welcome, New Students!

To new students arriving for orientation: Welcome! The Law Library staff looks forward to working with you throughout your law school career. From personalized research consultations to exam-time grilled cheese breaks, the library offers services to make your time at UVA more enriching, efficient, and enjoyable. Here are some key resources that will help you hit the ground running this academic year.

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law Passwords

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law are three core legal research databases, so be sure to sign up for access! On August 21 from 9 am to noon, activation codes will be available in the lounge area of Withers-Brown Hall. The lounge is to the right as you exit the Law Library.

NYT, WSJ, WaPo, CALI, and More!

As a UVA law student, you’ll receive free access to resources like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and CALI (which provides interactive legal tutorials). You can sign up for these and other law-school-only resources via LawWeb. From the LawWeb homepage, just click on the “Student Services” tab (shown below), and then select the resource you’d like to access.

LR&W Help

Not sure how to tackle your Legal Research & Writing assignment? The Law Library is here to help! Each section of LR&W has a dedicated librarian—or “Library Liaison”—to help students get comfortable with legal research methods. Once classes start, your LR&W instructor will provide more information about meeting with a Library Liaison. For additional research tips, check out this guide to legal research for law students.

Bluebook Online

Well-formed citations are an important part of legal writing. To help you nail every detail, the Law Library offers online access to the Bluebook uniform system of citation. Law students and faculty can request an access code.

Guide to Student Services

As your studies progress, we hope that you’ll find the Law Library to be a valuable partner in your academic efforts. You can learn more about the library’s offerings in our guide for students. And remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a staff member!

Once again, a warm welcome to all incoming students!

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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A Law Library Tradition: The “JAG Cake” Through the Years

For decades, the University of Virginia School of Law has had a special relationship with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (or “JAG School”), its neighbor on North Grounds. This relationship extends to the schools’ law libraries. The two libraries share materials, assist each other’s students, and observe a fun (and delicious) tradition: for more than 25 years, JAG School Library Director Dan Lavering has presented UVA’s staff with a year-end thank-you cake. We refer to this gift as the “JAG cake.” Without fail, the JAG Cake is generously sized and beautifully decorated.

A cake decorated with an American flag; beside it, a woman holding a bread knife stands arm-in-arm with a man leaning on an umbrella.
Former Law Library Director Taylor Fitchett (left) and JAG School Library Director Dan Lavering (right) prepare to cut the 2008 JAG Cake.

Our earliest record of the JAG Cake is a thank-you note sent in 1993 from UVA Law Librarian Larry Wenger to Lavering. “The cake was a wonderful end-of-the-year celebration for us,” Wenger wrote. He thanked the JAG School Law Library for being “exceptionally good about helping out and with sharing duplicate materials from your library with us.”

The current Law Library staff adds its thanks—both for the JAG Cake and for the JAG School’s cooperation throughout the year. Below are some images of the JAG Cake over time.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Legal Research in a Nutshell: Lucky Thirteenth Edition

This semester saw the publication of the thirteenth edition of Legal Research in a Nutshell, by our own Kent Olson. (Despite the ominous edition number, Kent assures me that he didn’t experience any bad luck while preparing the text). The Nutshell, which dates back to Morris Cohen’s 1968 original edition, provides a comprehensive but concise guide to legal research. I sat down with Kent to learn more about the new edition and his experience working on this important text.

-Kate Boudouris

Kate: What’s new in the thirteenth edition of the Nutshell?

Kent: There are always small changes, like FDsys (which replaced GPO Access) being replaced by Govinfo, but the biggest change may be the inclusion of Practical Law, the Westlaw feature with checklists and practice notes in more than a dozen major practice areas. I believe it was around when I finished the 12th edition, but I completely missed its significance. It’s not that useful for academic research, but it can be an enormously valuable tool for new lawyers needing a refresher or step-by-step guidance.

A man holds a book and smiles at students.
Kent Olson teaches a legal research class.

In this edition I was also able to include our own library’s UN Human Rights Treaties: Travaux Préparatoires, a searchable collection of documents that Ben Doherty, Loren Moulds, and others worked on for more than two years.

What hasn’t changed is my opinion that strong Boolean search skills continue to give researchers an edge over database algorithms. Anyone can find a few relevant documents using an algorithm, but crafting intelligent searches and figuring out where to go from there is the art of legal research.

Did you consider skipping straight from the twelfth edition of the Nutshell to the fourteenth edition, in the way that elevators sometimes omit the thirteenth floor of a building?

No way. I’d always wondered what happened on that mysterious thirteenth floor that the elevator skipped. And it wouldn’t be fair to other Nutshells to skip a number. Legal Research has been in more editions than any other Nutshell, but it’s not that far ahead of two others in their eleventh editions, International Taxation and Securities Regulation.

Speaking of the fourteenth edition, what developments in legal research might inform the next revision of the Nutshell?

Even a Boolean-based dinosaur can see that artificial intelligence is improving, particularly in resources such as CARA, Casetext’s tool that analyzes a brief or memorandum and identifies relevant cases that it doesn’t cite. I doubt it will take precedence over Boolean search by the fourteenth edition, but we’ll see!

The Nutshell was originally written by Morris Cohen, and the two of you co-authored the text for many years. Are there ways in which Cohen continues to influence your work?

Morris was the librarian at Yale Law School for many years (and before that at Harvard and Penn). He was a very sweet man, but also one of the most inquisitive people I’ve ever known. I like to think that I carry on his interest in new resources and how they fit together to help us make sure we have the best possible information. He also read what we had written very closely, word for word, and I got from him the view that every sentence matters.

A man sits at an early computer. A woman smiles beside a statue.
Top: Joe Wynne ca. 1980, not long after joining the law library. Bottom: Taylor Fitchett upon her retirement in 2018.

This edition is dedicated to two of your colleagues, Taylor Fitchett and Joe Wynne. Can you tell us a little about them?

Taylor and Joe have both gone happily into retirement. As library director for almost twenty years, Taylor kept the place humming and allowed the rest of us to focus on things like teaching and reference services (and Nutshell revision). Joe wore a bunch of hats over thirty-seven years, ending up as our guru of budgets and other systems. They’re great librarians, and friends, who are missed by everyone in the library.

So what’s next?

I’d like to put my feet up, but I have a bigger book, Principles of Legal Research, that hasn’t been revised since 2015 and is sitting on my desk staring at me. So I’ll have another chance to ponder how the world of legal research is constantly changing.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

Kent Olson

Head of Research Services, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Registration Opens for the Second Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit

Registration is now open for the second annual Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit, which will take place at George Mason University on November 30, 2018. We’re excited to be co-sponsoring this event along with our colleagues at George Mason University Libraries, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

The Summit is an interdisciplinary conference focused on the creation, management, and use of digital archives. We welcome individuals from various fields to attend and join the conversation—archivists, scholars, librarians, museum specialists, and technologists are all encouraged to participate. Building on the success of the inaugural Summit in 2017, this year’s conference seeks to facilitate information-sharing and reflection on the practical and theoretical considerations that shape digital archives.

Panels this year include:

  • Institutional Opportunities and Challenges in Building or Re-Imaging Digital Archives
  • Finding the Hidden in Plain Sight: The Enslaved Children of George Mason and Mason’s Legacies Projects
  • A lunch workshop on The Library of Virginia Transcription Initiative
  • Revealing Hidden Histories and Rebuilding Lost Spaces with Digital Technology
  • A lightning round with the opportunity for audience members to present

You can register and read more about the Summit here—and if you’re unable to attend in person, follow along on Twitter using #DASummit2018.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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What’s New This Fall

Welcome back, returning students! While you were away, the Law Library added some new resources that we thought you’d like to know about. Here’s the rundown:

Art of Law Exhibition

We’ve installed a new exhibition showcasing printed decorations and illustrations from the pages of UVA’s original collection of law books, as it was cataloged in 1828. The new exhibition illuminates bookwork and printing practices of the early modern era, while also offering an important window into legal education in the early United States.

ProQuest Supreme Court Insight

The Law Library has acquired a great new resource for researching Supreme Court case history. ProQuest’s Supreme Court Insight, 1975-2016, provides curated case pages, along with links to PDFs of briefs, oral arguments, opinions, and hard-to-find docket sheets and joint appendices. It also includes advanced tools to assist with searching. If your research involves a SCOTUS case argued between 1975 and 2016, be sure to check out Supreme Court Insight!

Power Outlets and New Tables in the Reference Area

There’s a special energy in the Law Library this fall, and it’s not just the excitement that comes with a new school year. By popular demand, power outlets are now available at the study desks on the second floor. We’ve also spruced up the reference area with new tables and lamps. We hope these improvements will make your long hours in the library a little bit brighter.

New Faces in the Library

Two librarians stand in front of a card catalog.
Sarah New and Kate Boudouris.

Two new librarians will be available to assist you in the library this year. Kate Boudouris joins us as a Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian. You’re likely to spot her at the reference desk, where she’ll be happy to help with all your thorniest legal research problems. Kate attended Yale Law School and previously practiced law in Washington, D.C., and at the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. Sarah New is our new Web Services Librarian and all-around digital resources guru. A UVA alum, she joins us from the University of Maryland Baltimore County Library.

Renew Your Subscriptions!

This is a friendly reminder to renew your online subscriptions. Once each year, you will need to reactivate your NYTimes.com account and get a fresh registration key for the Bluebook Online. (In order to renew your NYTimes.com account, you must be on-grounds or using a VPN.) If you’re having trouble accessing WSJ.com, please visit the registration page (also while on-grounds) and click “Register or Renew.” First-time registrants can sign up for NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, the Bluebook Online, and more by logging into LawWeb and following the links provided on the “Student Services” tab.

As you embark on a new academic year, remember that the library is here to help you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at refdesk@law.virginia.edu or to stop by and ask us a question.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Birlymen, the Scottish Court of Session, and Your Next Paper

boundary stone
“A Boundary Stone,” Donald Bain

This is a PSA for students interested in private ordering[1] and “how neighbors settle disputes.”[2] If extralegal systems such as cattle-trespass norms,[3] industry-based arbitration services,[4] and organized crime[5] are up your alley, then the case of Aitken, and Others v. Wilson and Bannatyne—from the Law Library’s collection of Scottish Court of Session Records—might provide some grist for your next paper. You can review the case documents here.

Aitken was about whether a voluntary association known as a “birly court” could enforce its own decisions.  What, you may ask, is a birly court? A lawyer for birly court members in Elsrickle, Scotland, described the organization as follows:[6]

“In most of the parishes and country villages in Scotland, particularly in the village of Elsrighill, and others in its neighbourhood, there hath been, for time immemorial, what is called the Birly court. All the small proprietors, portioners, and tenants, are members of this court, and they, every two years, or oftener, elect three of their own number, who are stiled Birlymen, and one called the birly officer.

The business of the Birly court has always been to redd the marches,[7] place and rectify pit stones,[8] regulate the mosses and common pasturages, and, in short, to determine every necessary article respecting the inferior police and for the preservation of good neighborhood. The birlymens office is to take care that the orders and regulations of the court be obeyed, and to estimate any damages which may arise from trespasses.”

The case documents provide fascinating insight into the practices of at least four

Pursuer's Proof
Pursuer’s Proof

different birly courts. They also offer a rich account of the events behind the case, which began in May 1777 as a boundary dispute between one John Wilson and his neighbor. During the ensuing birly court adjudication, Wilson was fined for using “abusive language,”[9] but he refused to pay. As a means of enforcing the fine, the birlymen went to Wilson’s house and confiscated two pewter plates. Wilson complained to the sheriff; the birlymen were detained; and they sued Wilson and the sheriff for wrongful imprisonment. In the birlymen’s telling, they had merely been acting according to “the immemorial practice of the place, and of the whole country.”[10] The sheriff, on the other hand, “could not regard what they termed a lawful poinding [i.e., “a seizure of property in lieu of money owed”[11]] in any other point of view, than as a lawless riot.”[12]

Aiken is a fun read and provides interesting material for scholarly analysis. The documents in our collection even include handwritten notes describing the court’s unreported decision. (According to those notes, Wilson and the sheriff won because, as one judge put it, “Birly courts [are] known in this country but [are] only arbitrators.”) If you think Aitken might fit with your research interests, be sure to check out this case.

 

 

[1] See, e.g., Barak D. Richman, Norms and Law: Putting the Horse Before the Cart, 62 Duke L.J. 739 (2012).

[2] Robert C. Ellickson, Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes (1991).

[3] Id.

[4] See, e.g., Lisa Bernstein, Private Commercial Law in the Cotton Industry: Creating Cooperation Through Rules, Norms, and Institutions, 99 Mich. L. Rev. 1724 (2001).

[5] See, e.g., Curtis J. Milhaupt and Mark D. West, The Dark Side of Private Ordering: An Institutional and Empirical Analysis of Organized Crime, 67 U. Chi. L. Rev. 41 (2000).

[6] Andrew Crosbie, Information for Andrew Aitken Portioner of Elsrighill, David Brown and James Richardson, Tenants there, present Birlymen for the Town of Elsrighill, and William Elder, Wright there, Birly Officer, John Cuthbertson, Portioner there, John Lawson, Farmer there, and John White of Howburn, Pursuers; against John Wilson, Portioner of Elsrighill, and John Bannatyne, Sheriff-Substitute of Lanark, Defenders (Jan. 18, 1780) (Box 4, Scottish Court of Session Records, University of Virginia Law School Library).

[7] “Redd the marches” refers to fixing boundaries. See Redd, v.2, Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/160193  (last visited Feb. 8, 2018) (“To delineate or fix exactly (a border or boundary); to mark or set the borders of (a place). Chiefly in to redd the marches. . . .”); March, n.3, Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/113952 (last visited Feb. 8, 2018) (“The boundary of an estate; a boundary dividing one property from another; a tract of land between two properties.”).

[8] The phrase “pit stones” refers to boundary-stones. Pit, Dictionary of the Scots Language, http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/pit_n_v2 (last visited Feb. 8, 2018).

[9] Crosbie, supra note 6.

[10] Id.

[11] Poind, Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/146603 (last visited Feb. 8, 2018).

[12] William Craig, Information for John Bannatyne, sheriff-substitute of Lanark, defender, against Andrew Aitken, portioner of Elsrighill, and others, pursuers (Nov. 15, 1779) (Box 4, Scottish Court of Session Records, University of Virginia Law School Library).

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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