Mindfulness for Law School

Maybe you’ve taken yoga classes or seen mindfulness on the cover of Time magazine—but what does mindfulness have to do with law school? Learn how mindfulness tools like meditation, mindful eating and movement, and mindful communication can help you handle stress, improve focus, retain information, and enjoy the present moment. The Law Library has collaborated with the UVA Mindfulness Center’s Susanna Williams to offer introductions to mindfulness designed for law students since 2013. This Fall we are hosting drop-in sessions where Susanna will teach you how to integrate mindfulness tools into your everyday law school life. You do not need any prior experience with mindfulness, and you are welcome to drop in on one, a few, or all of the sessions. Stop in the Library’s 2nd floor Collaborative Classroom, 3:45-4:45, for snacks and to learn about:

  • Stress Less, Learn More (Tues., Sept. 18)
  • Mindfulness in Everyday Life (Tues., Sept. 25)
  • Mindful Communication (Tues., Dec. 4)

For a preview, check out the UVA Mindfulness Center’s free guided meditations online, and the Law Library’s collection of mindfulness books, CDs, and magazines in the low shelves in the first floor Reserve Room. For information about other mindfulness activities at UVA, like yoga and speakers, visit the UVA Contemplative Sciences Center’s site.

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Kristin Glover

Kristin Glover is a Research Librarian at the 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.

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Kate Boudouris

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

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Brett Kavanaugh Project Website Launched

Hearings on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court began yesterday, and interest in the nominee’s judicial record is high. To assist researchers, we’re proud to announce the launch of the Brett Kavanaugh Project, a website that assembles all of Kavanaugh’s written opinions, as well as concurrences and dissents he either wrote or joined as a judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The site includes both full-text search and delimited search capabilities. For example, researchers can find the number of dissents Kavanaugh authored in “Freedom of Speech” cases and get easy access to those opinions. More about the project can be found on the website.

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Jon Ashley

Jon Ashley has been the Business Research Librarian at the University of Virginia Law Library since 2008. Prior to coming to UVA he was a general reference librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received his M.L.S..

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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 core legal research databases, so be sure to sign up for access! On August 22, activation codes will be distributed in the lounge area of Withers-Brown Hall, which is to the right as you exit the Law Library. After August 22, the codes will be available at the Reference Desk on the second floor of the library.

NYT, WSJ, CALI, and More!

As a UVA law student, you’ll receive free access to resources like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CALI (a provider of 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, LR&W students will receive more details about meeting with a Library Liaison.) For liaison contact info and 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 A to Z 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!

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Kate Boudouris

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

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A Weekend of Reflection

On the anniversary of last year’s neo-Nazi and white supremacist marches, we’re thinking about the ways in which the law school community has acted to promote justice in the past, the ways in which we can do more to promote justice in the present, and the library’s special role in preserving evidence of today’s struggles for future generations. We’ve selected several photographs from our archives that show some of the ways our students have engaged over the years with issues of justice, equity, and ethics. We hope that this weekend will provide an opportunity to reflect on the past year and recommit ourselves to working for a more just society.

1969

Representatives of the Law School’s Legal Assistance Society meet with government officials to oppose legislation giving governors a veto over legal services programs. (L-R): Office of Economic Opportunity Director Donald Rumsfeld, President’s Special Assistant on Urban Affairs Daniel P. Moynihan, Dean Paul E. Miller of Howard University Law School, Legal Assistance Society Projects Director Daniel D. Sullivan, and unidentified persons. See VLW December 11, 1969.

1970

Student protest
Students participate in a demonstration against the American invasion of Cambodia and the tragic slaying of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in 1970. During the protests, some law students wore armbands identifying themselves as “legal marshals” available to inform other students of their rights.

1985

Student speaks with migrant worker
First-year law student Karl Racine talks to migrant worker Sene Lanoix as part of the Legal Assistance Society Migrant Farm Workers Project, 1985. See VLW, November 1, 1985.
Student protest
Students protest the South African policy of apartheid, 1985.

2017

Candlelight vigil
Community members gather in response to neo-Nazi and white supremacist marches, 2017.

 

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Arthur J. Morris Law Library

The Arthur J. Morris Law Library is the home of research for students and faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law.

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A New Guide for Legal Historians

Shortly before his death in 2010, Morris Cohen told me about a book he was writing with his Yale colleague John Nann on research in American legal history. I wondered at the time if this was mostly a means of keeping Morris engaged in work and might not amount to much. But lo and behold, eight years later The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History (Yale University Press, 2018) has landed on my desk. And it’s full of great insights for the legal historian.

Instead of divisions by material type or genre, most of the book’s chapters focus on distinct time periods in American history and highlight research approaches and resources most pertinent to each period. After the chronological chapters, the book closes with several more general chapters. Particularly useful here are the discussion in Chapter Eight on doing archival research and the treatment in Chapter Ten of historical legal dictionaries.

A very useful bibliography of additional readings accompanies each chapter, and the book has a thorough and precise index. The authors provide helpful tips throughout on finding material in online catalogs, a nice touch as new catalog interfaces make subject searching less accessible and intuitive.

Chapter 2, English Foundations of American Law, 1500s-1776, does a great job of setting us in the world of an early modern English lawyer, finding case law with abridgments rather than Lexis or Westlaw. Lord Coke’s list of the fifteen sources of the law, printed at pages 50-51, is a wonderful time capsule – I didn’t know that “the Law and priviledge of the Stanneries” was a distinct source of law, let along what a stannary was. And it is interesting to learn that the abridgements of the 17th century (Sheppard, Hughes, and Rolle) were “considered to be of mediocre to poor quality” especially compared to Brooke’s Graunde Abridgement of the late 16th century. Nann and Cohen’s Guide has great explanations of the role of the Privy Council in governing the colonies and of the Calendar of State Papers. The authors point out the dangers of hastily OCR’d digital resources — unless scanned material is proofread carefully, it’s simply not discoverable through keyword searches.

Chapter 5, The Early Republic, 1790s-1870s, warns that researchers “must be careful to understand what the judiciary looked like in the state and time being researched. They must also understand the appellate process of the time.” And the authors provide good insight as to why historians can often be frustrated finding information in court reports: “Historians will find that it was not uncommon for a historically significant lower court case to go unreported. Once judges gained control of reporting, they chose cases that would become the building blocks of the law and ignored cases that merely repeated well-settled law. Historians will often want to read a case to get insight into the people involved, whereas lawyers care only about the law involved.”

Throughout the book I learned of valuable resources in legal history. These include Neil H. Cogan, The Complete Reconstruction Amendments, a forthcoming six-volume set from Oxford University Press not even on the publisher’s website yet, but also resources I never knew about or had long forgotten. I’d better take another look at American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature, which “has been described as ‘magisterial’ and is an extremely important resource that should be among the first stops in a research project touching on this topic.” And I never knew about Clarence S. Bingham’s History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820, “a critically important introduction to early American newspapers.”

At page 149, I read about two microfilm resources that were unknown to me until I had to hunt them both down in recent months:  Dockets of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1790-1950, and Appellate Case Files from the Supreme Court of the United States, 1792-1831. It’s true that finding these and borrowing the microfilm (sadly, we have neither in our library) gave me a sense of accomplishment, but how much easier life would have been if I had Nann & Cohen to help me. (It seems odd in 2018 to be relying on microfilm, particularly for information about Supreme Court cases, and LLMC is currently considering digitization of both of these sets.)

One of the valuable things about the work is that it expresses strong and clear opinions. In the very first chapter, it says that William H. Manz’s Gibson’s New York Legal Research Guide is perhaps the best of the many state legal research guides now published, with its in-depth treatment and coverage of current and historical sources. (Who can argue, when guides for nine states in Carolina Academic Press’s Legal Research Series all begin with the exact same sentence, “The fundamentals of legal research are the same in every American jurisdiction, though the details vary,” and nine more offer paraphrased versions of the same idea? How refreshing to open Hollee Schwartz Temple’s West Virginia Legal Research (2013) in the same series and read its first line, “If you want to stand out in a challenging legal marketplace, develop superior research skills.” Here’s to authors with journalism backgrounds!)

Of course, I don’t agree with all of the authors’ opinions. I don’t know why researchers trying to decipher citations are told that Prince’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations “is the first place they should turn to” and then only to check the online Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations if a citation isn’t in Prince’s. Cardiff’s coverage of American sources is broad and thorough, it includes useful information like the period of coverage and preceding and subsequent titles in a series, and its web version is so convenient. Why not reverse the order of checking these two?

As explained in the guide’s Introduction, the chronological chapters “describe the research tools available to an attorney of the past as well as the tools that a researcher of today will use to find the law of the past.” Thus, Chapter Six, Research Gets Organized, 1880s-1930s, explains the laborious procedure required to use Shepard’s Citations in print, something I thought I might never to have to read about again. I had hoped for less focus on obsolete research approaches and more discussion of modern legal history resources. There is only passing reference to one chapter of the three-volume Cambridge History of Law in America, and Lawrence Friedman’s History of American Law is only cited in one chapter’s bibliography. These books are not just “Further Reading” but great places for legal history students to begin their research and place their ideas in historical context.

The chronological structure of the guide begins to falter in Chapter Five, The Early Republic, 1790s-1870s, when the authors devote nearly a page to explaining PACER, the federal courts’ online docket system. Why in this chapter is there a discussion of a resource that begins its coverage in the late 20th century? Similarly, the chapter on the 1880s-1930s includes coverage of modern tools such as the Current Law Index (1980-date), and Chapter Seven, The Administrative State, 1930s-2010s, discusses several valuable 18th- and 19th-century resources such as Public Documents of the First Fourteen Congresses, 1789-1817 and Documentary History of the Constitution of the United States, 1786-1870. The “Administrative State” chapter focuses on administrative law and government documents, but the dates in its title are misleading.

The authors acknowledge that “research guides, including this one, represent a snapshot in time,” but in this instance the snapshot isn’t always that close to the publication date. Parts of the book show the inherent dangers of working on a project for several years. The bibliographies, while valuable, miss several recent publications, including a 2016 edition of Morris Cohen’s own Legal Research in a Nutshell. The print Foreign Law Guide hasn’t been updated since 2007, and the online Guide to Reference closed down in March 2016. In discussing the Congressional Record, the book asserts that “No easy translation tables exist to take researchers from the ‘daily’ page numbers to the ‘final’ page numbers or vice versa” – yet both HeinOnline and ProQuest Congressional offer daily edition to bound edition cross-reference tools. An unrelated quibble (in which I have a vested interest) is that referring to Specialized Legal Research as “by Penny A. Hazelton” and Guide to Reference Books as “by Robert Balay” does a disservice to the numerous contributors to these edited works.

In sum, The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History is a welcome addition to the literature of legal research and a valuable trove of insights and tips. It goes a long way to bridging the divide between historians and legal scholars.

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Kent Olson

Head of Research Services, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Launch of Alabama Claims Transcription Project

The UVA Law Library and the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History are pleased to announce the C.S.S. Alabama Claims Cases Transcription Project. The over 100 documents in this collection center on the life and death of the British-built commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama and her sister ships, the C.S.S. Florida and the C.S.S. Shenandoah. Constructed in Liverpool, England in 1862, the Alabama disrupted Union commerce and supply lines in both Atlantic and Pacific waters during the Civil War. Between 1862 and 1864, Captain Raphael Semmes and the Alabama’s crew conducted seven major raids in waters ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to the Java Sea. They attacked or destroyed nearly seventy Union merchant ships, capturing or burning millions of dollars’ worth of cargo before the U.S.S. Kearsarge sank the Alabama on June 19, 1864 off the coast of France.

The Alabama’s success as a commerce raider made for a point of contention between the United States and Great Britain. After the war the American government held its British counterpart liable for damages. American citizens sought compensation for property lost to these British-built Confederate vessels. In 1871, the two nations signed the Treaty of Washington, which established an international arbitration process for resolving these disputes. The treaty marked a significant development in modern international law. In the end, the British government paid the United States $15.5 million in damages.

William Wallace Crapo
William Crapo, printed in Phineas Camp Headley, Public Men of To-day, 1882.

The C.S.S. Alabama Claims Cases Transcription Project features 108 documents from the law practice of Boston attorney and future U.S. Congressman William W. Crapo. Between 1870 and 1876, Crapo (pronounced “Cray-poe”) corresponded with numerous individuals such as attorneys Henry A. Barling and A. H. Davis as he worked to secure restitution from the British government on behalf of his clients. He also worked with bankers, insurance officials, and individual claimants. The letters and telegrams record how lawyers lobbied Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration as they pursued claims against the British government. They offer a unique perspective on the Civi War’s legal and diplomatic legacy.

UVA Law librarians completed an initial transcription of the Crapo material in the early 1990s. We now seek eagle-eyed members of the community to help refine that earlier work using Fromthepage.com, a crowdsourcing transcription platform to help enable their discovery and use by researchers. As far as we are aware, historians have never cited this collection in any scholarly research.

Here is but one example:

Henry A. Barling [New York] to William W. Crapo [New Bedford, Massachusetts]
13 December 1870

Confidential

New York Decemr. 13 1870
Dear Sir,

I infer from the tenor of yours of yesterday that the “Sufferers” may fly the track on the proposition of Johnson & Higgins, for two reason’s, the first on account of
the compensation & next because of a hesitancy most people have of giving Powers of Atty. even to their intimates. Johnson & Higgins I know to be honorable people & ones that would not abuse a trust — still, you could get a power where they could not because every claimant in N.B. has confidence in you.

Now what I want to get at is, if we fail with J & H in getting what we aimed at the other day, I think I can suggest to you a plain (sic) that all the parties at interest will jump at, & in which your interests as well as our own can be as well cared for as by the arrangement now pending, but I will not suggest it now as it might be taken as a symptom of bad faith toward J. & H. — by whom I intend to stick until I see they cannot succeed & then if you will join B. & D we can, with proper energy, & I assume we both have enough of it, make a very handsome business of it.

What I have written you will of course consider as strictly
confidential.

I remain
Dr. Sir

Yours truly
Henry A. Barling

W. W. Crapo Esqr
New Bedford

 

The above letter hints at discussions with clients concerning New York Insurance firm Johnson & Higgins. Barling’s plea for secrecy suggests a strategy in flux as the lawyers navigated complex legal and political shoals. The remaining papers in the collection describe in detail how lawyers and their clients negotiated deals and lobbied powerful individuals in defense of their legal interests.

Correcting the transcriptions will provide new insight into the Civil War era and the legal world it created. To start transcribing, visit the project’s webpage and signup for a free account on FromThePage. Participants in this project will find a complete set of instructions on the project website. Once finished, the UVA Law Library will make the completed transcriptions available on its website.

Questions? Please contact archives@law.virginia.edu

Further Reading:

Charles C. Beaman, Jr. The National and Private “Alabama Claims” and Their “Final and Amicable Settlement” (Washington, D.C., 1871).

Charles S.C. Bowen. The “Alabama” Claims and Arbitration Considered from a Legal Point of View (London, 1868).

Adrian Cook. The Alabama Claims: American Politics and Anglo-American Relations, 1865-1872 (Ithaca, NY, 1975).

James McPherson. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865. (Chapel Hill, 2012).

Frank J. Merli. Great Britain and the Confederate Navy, 1861-1865.
(Bloomington, 1970).

Featured image: Édouard Manet, The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama, 1864 (John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Public Domain)

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Jim Ambuske

Jim Ambuske is the Horatio and Florence Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities. He received his Ph.D. from UVA in 2016 and is a historian of the American Revolution and early Republic. At the UVA Law Library, Jim works in Special Collections to develop interpretive content for the library's major initiatives, curricula for future courses in the digital humanities, and research projects rooted in the library's archives and manuscript holdings. His primary responsibilities at the Law Library include oversight of the Scottish Court of Session Papers project and promoting scholarly access to the library's significant holdings in early American, Virginian, and transatlantic legal history.

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Remembering Gordon Hylton

I didn’t know Gordon Hylton long, but I worked with him enough to know that, as a scholar, he lived in avid pursuit of the facts. Ask him a question about Robert F. Kennedy’s law school days, and he would write you a detailed memo. Ask him when UVA Law awarded its first L.L.B. degree, and he would head straight to the archives. And then write you a detailed memo.   

With Gordon’s passing last week, I am grateful to have known him as a scholar, even for the short time that I did. Earlier this year, Gordon and I both found ourselves researching the topic of UVA’s desegregation. I had written up some research and, thinking that Gordon might have insights from his own work, I sent it to him for comment. He was gracious in telling me that I had discovered information that was new to him. Then came the memo of his interpretive differences. Facepalm.

Over the next months, in a series of spirited conversations, we debated, we listened, and we defended our points of view. It drove me crazy. But, this was the stuff of being a historian, so I loved it. Gordon and I maintained our interpretive differences, undeterred, but with a deeper understanding of the era and of the people whose lives composed this history. At the end of the day, we shared with each other that our conversations had helped us more than anything else to clarify our thinking on this particular topic. Working with Gordon cemented for me that there are no throwaway sentences when you are writing history. Every piece of information or interpretation you present is a claim about someone’s life, a real person’s life, and there is responsibility there to get it right. 

This week I read with interest about Gordon’s life, and I wondered what else I could learn about him with a new dive into the archives, both here at UVA Law and at Oberlin College, his undergraduate alma mater. Here are some highlights:

-Gordon played for the baseball team as an undergraduate at Oberlin in 1973.  One description in the school newspaper called him the “undeniable Virginian” and noted his “cool ease”:

“Baseball team crushes Kenyon, splits Heidelberg doubleheader,” The Oberlin Review, 8 May 1973, Courtesy of the Oberlin College Archives.

 -Gordon was, in particular scenarios, a man of few words. In 1972 at Oberlin he ran for Student Senate. While other candidates published 500-word campaign pitches, Gordon was succinct: “I think that the student senate do as little as is necessary.”[1]

Gordon Hylton, Oberlin College 1972 Yearbook Photo, Courtesy of the Oberlin College Archives.

-Many know that Gordon co-founded the North Grounds Softball League when he attended UVA Law as a student in the late 1970s. Did you also know that his nicknames at the time included giant of jockdom, Intramural Czar, and “Give-em-hell” Hylton?[2]

-Law Special Collections recently discovered a series of photographs in our archive that show just how at home Gordon seemed to have felt on the softball field (pictured here at a 1978 NGSL game presided over by then-MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn). Gordon’s the one with the beard:[3]

I will take what I have learned about Gordon this week and smile. I will also value the time that I had with him as a scholar. I am sure he will be present somehow when I footnote that next chapter, even when he is not there with a detailed response memo. I will continue to think deeply about the lives that make up history and find insight in debate.

-Randi Flaherty

• Thanks to the Oberlin College Archives for permission to use the yearbook image and newspaper article above.

•Special recognition goes to Law Special Collections staff member Ryan Donaldson, who poured through 18,000 unidentified photographs and discovered new images of Professor Hylton.

 

Banner image: Virginia Law Weekly staff, 1977, Barrister, UVA Law Special Collections.

[1]Special Senate Election Section,” The Oberlin Review, March 21, 1972. 

[2] Virginia Law Weekly, 9 December 1975 and 1 October 1976.

[3] Records of Virginia Law Weekly, UVA Law Special Collections, CCBY Image courtesy of Virginia Law Weekly and the University of Virginia Law Library.

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Randi Flaherty

Randi Flaherty is the Special Collections Librarian at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library. She is also an early American historian with a focus on foreign maritime commerce in the early American republic.

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Advancing Legal Research at UVA Law

This week concludes another semester of Advanced Legal Research at UVA Law.  A new crop of students stands ready to tackle the legal puzzles of case law, business, and legislation that they will face as practicing attorneys.  Teaching legal research methods has been one of the law library’s long-standing contributions to the law school curriculum.  Here we look back at the teaching of legal research at UVA Law over the past 100 years.

In the 1910s, first year law students took Legal Bibliography and Brief Making as a required course in their first term for “an intimate acquaintance with law books and skill in their use.” (UVA Law Catalogue, 1915-1916).  Here is the class’s exam from March 1919.  How would you fare?

1919 Examination in Legal Bibliography and Brief Making, Sutton Collection, Law Special Collections

 

Books were everything in Legal Bibliography and Brief Making in the 1920s, as the class notes of Phillip Burks (Law class of 1928) reveal.  Excerpt: “To meet the needs of lawyers, ‘selected cases’ of the various states have been published- they are known as American Decisions, 100 vols. to 1865- they contain valuable annotations.”

Notes for Legal Bibliography and Brief Making, Phillip Burks (Class of 1928), Law Special Collections

 

In 1944, Law Librarian Frances Farmer, the first woman to gain faculty status at UVA Law, taught Legal Bibliography as a required first year course. Farmer lectured on the methods and materials of legal research.  For their final assignment, students prepared briefs which they then tried in the law school’s moot court.

Law Librarian Frances Farmer, circa 1942-1944, Law Special Collections
Legal Bibliography, UVA Law Catalogue, 1943-1944

 

In the 1960s, the law school created a Legal Methods class, in addition to Farmer’s Legal Bibliography seminars. Like its predecessors, Legal Methods was a required first year course, and it introduced students to the problems of “legal analysis, research and writing, drafting and pleading, modern litigation and appellate practice” in a small group setting. Over time, Legal Methods evolved into the law school’s current Legal Writing & Research (LWR) course, which now has its own set of dedicated faculty.

Legal Method, UVA Law Catalogue, 1960-1961

 

In 1993, with computerized research on the rise in legal research, librarian Kent Olson introduced a new course at the law school, Advanced Legal Research (ALR). Building off the foundation of research skills that law students gained in their first year LWR seminars, ALR offered students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of research techniques and research tools.

Advanced Legal Research, UVA Law Catalogue, 1993-1994

 

Library faculty, led by Professor Olson, continue to teach ALR at UVA Law and offer the course in both the fall and spring semesters.  Much has changed in legal research alongside the shift from print to digital.  Still, even since the early days of Legal Bibliography, an emphasis on hands-on, practical learning has remained in these courses as the tried and true means to prepare students for the legal questions of the working world.

Kristin Glover teaching ALR at UVA Law
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Randi Flaherty

Randi Flaherty is the Special Collections Librarian at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library. She is also an early American historian with a focus on foreign maritime commerce in the early American republic.

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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).

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Kate Boudouris

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

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