The law library sadly bids adieu to Bryan Kasik today as he heads over to Alderman Library on Main Grounds to begin work as a Reference Librarian. Bryan has spent the past nine years with us as a our Faculty Services Coordinator. For all of the law faculty and students who have appreciated how quickly we have been able to pick up and deliver books and other items from any of the other libraries at UVa–Bryan has been the backbone to that service. Every day for the past nine years, he has happily stalked the Grounds at UVa for us with his book bag, flying up and down the stairs, in and out of the stacks, retrieving books and microfilm and journals, and then delivering them all promptly to you. Bryan made his library runs in the heat of summer, in the snow, in the rain, all with unflagging energy and enthusiasm.
The law library prides itself on its service to faculty, staff and students and Bryan has made us look good every day. He has also been one of our friendly faces at our circulation and reference desks, getting to know many of the students who have passed through law school along with all of the faculty. We will miss him. We’ll miss his energy, his creativity, his enthusiasm, and his ability to somehow walk down stairs while reading a book. Fortunately for the University community–he is not going far. Look him up in the Alderman Library Reference Department: he will be happy to help you find what you need.
This semester saw the publication of the twelfth edition of Legal Research in a Nutshell, a compact but venerable text on legal research that dates back to 1968. Its original author was the late Morris Cohen, then Law Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, but since the fifth edition in 1992 he has been joined as coauthor by our own Kent Olson. Kent has written about the book’s early days (Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s,104 Law Libr. J. 53 (2012)), but we sat down to ask him about his own role in the book since then.
AJM: How did you get started as a coauthor of Legal Research in a Nutshell?
Olson: It started when I was a law student, lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. In 1984, I was a second-year student at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley) and working for the Law Library part time. My boss, Bob Berring, had worked at Harvard with Morris Cohen, the author of Legal Research in a Nutshell. Morris put out a call looking for people to revise and update chapters of the Nutshell, and Bob turned two chapters over to me. Morris may have been looking for light edits, but I attacked my chapters with gusto, crossing out huge chunks of obsolete text and inserting several new pages. A lesser man might have been offended or appalled, but Morris liked what he saw and asked me to review the entire manuscript before it went to the publisher. We talked on the phone, but we never met in person until the project was over.
The following year I came to Virginia and became a coauthor with Morris and Bob of their legal research hornbook, How to Find the Law. Morris had no interest in taking on a coauthor on his Nutshell, but in 1991 he found himself a week away from a deadline with no revised manuscript. And I was visiting him in the hospital.
AJM:Morris Cohen was a legend among law librarians. What was it like working with him?
Olson: He was my mentor and nearly thirty years my senior, but he always made me feel like a peer rather than a junior associate. Working with him was one of the great privileges of my life. He knew so much more than I did about legal bibliography (and was probably sorry that I never quite shared his love of rare books), but as legal research turned more and more to online search techniques our roles gradually shifted.
I do remember one disagreement, a friendly one, over how to describe the state of administrative law before the Federal Register and the CFR. Morris wanted to call it a wilderness, and I didn’t understand why until I realized we had very different concepts of “wilderness.” Mine was a pristine roadless area protected by environmental legislation, but he was thinking of a biblical place where people wandered lost and in despair. I think we ended up abandoning the metaphor.
AJM: You’ve now worked on nine editions of the Nutshell. How has the book, and legal research, changed over the years?
Olson: When the fourth edition was published in 1985, we had Westlaw and Lexis but a large focus of research was still print-based – some of it in materials today’s students are fortunate never to have seen, such as digests and Shepard’s Citations. “Case-Finding by Computer” was a two-page section of the chapter on case research. Research isn’t necessarily simpler these days, but there are so many answers that used to take work that we can now Google our way to.
People talk about a “sea change” in legal research from print to online, but to my mind it’s more of an evolution. In the end, it’s still about finding persuasive authority and reasoning by analogy. If we reach the point where cases are decided by the number of “likes” or by some machine-based measure, I’ll need to move on.
The book itself has evolved with the changes in research. Free Internet sites were first mentioned in the 6th edition (1996), and HeinOnline first appeared in the 8th edition (2003). There are now more than three hundred websites discussed. We’ve had a companion website with updated links since 2003, and in 2013 we took the illustrations out and put them online as well. Small black-and-white illustrations were fine back when we were showing sample pages of books, but screenshots of websites work so much better in color and on a larger scale.
AJM: You’ve written other books on legal research, notably the concise hornbook Principles of Legal Research (2d ed. 2015). You also teach Advanced Legal Research. How do teaching and writing about legal research inform each other?
Olson: At the basic level, my students who’ve used draft versions as course texts have saved textbook money and they’ve helped to catch some embarrassing typos before they made it to print. But they also help keep me honest by letting me know what’s superfluous and what’s unclear. If we don’t cover something in class, it might not be important enough to include in the book. And without my students I wouldn’t have known that you need to explain to some digital natives the difference between a table of contents and an index.
AJM: Any regrets about the new edition?
Olson: Of course. There are always regrets. One minor one is that I completely missed that govtrack.us stopped tracking state legislation several months before we went to press. At least I could update that on the Nutshell website. A more significant omission is that I made no mention at all of Practical Law, to which our students have access through Westlaw and which is a really useful and current source of basic legal information in several disciplines. At some point I also should really think about how research by mobile app differs from website-based research.
But this just means I need to start planning for the thirteenth edition. In the past couple of months Lexis Advance added a directory of resources to its main screen and made its Advanced Search much more useful, and Westlaw introduced its “Westlaw Answers” feature when you type a question into the search box. All the references to FDsys in the current edition will be obsolete once GPO completes its transition to govinfo.gov. It won’t be long before January 2016 seems like a very long time ago in legal research.
With the new year, you may have noticed a new face in the library. Alex Jakubow joins our research and reference team to support empirical legal research. Alex is skilled with data collection, cleaning and analysis. As law increasingly turns towards large datasets and statistical methods, his expertise will be critical to supporting UVA Law scholarship.
A Wisconsin native, Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Richmond in 2008. He then attended graduate school at Rutgers University, where he earned a Ph.D. in political science in 2014.
Alex married his graduate school sweetheart, Devon Golem, in September of 2012. Career decisions have taken the pair across the entirety of the continental United States and back in a relatively short amount of time. In less than four years, Alex and Devon have lived in New Jersey, California, and New Mexico before moving to Virginia in December of 2015. Alex and Devon look forward to staying in place for a while, especially when family is near: Alex’s mother and sister respectively live in Williamsburg and Alexandria.
Devon and Alex live in Charlottesville with their canine companion, Lunch Lady Doris. Doris, a brownish-red Papillion/Dachshund mix, is approximately eight years old. She enjoys having Alex and Devon as tenants in her apartment and sneezes uncontrollably when excited.
Outside of work, Alex enjoys reading, traveling, exercising, and socializing with loved ones. He also looks forward to taking full advantage of the area’s many and varied opportunities for outdoor fun. Guilty pleasures: prolonged consumption of Netflix and, when his family is out of town, video games.
In July the Law Library Staff welcomed a new member to its team, Bubba Jeb, a Hearing Service Dog. He accompanies his deaf human, Teresa, to work each day. Bubba Jeb sat down with MoreUs for an interview and a few treats. Yesterday we ran Part 1 of that interview. Following is Part 2.
A Day in the Life of a Service Dog
MoreUs: As a Hearing Dog, what is a typical day for you? How do you help your human?
Jeb: I am her only hearing. She is fully deafened. I walk with her outside and alert her to any sounds, such as cars approaching from behind us, or people walking behind us, that sort of stuff. In this way, I keep her safe from being hit by a car or stepping into traffic. I nudge her when we’re in the car if I hear a siren. This alerts her to look for an emergency vehicle.
At home I let her know if someone is knocking on the door, if I hear thunder, or some other sound in the house. If something falls and makes a noise, for example, I run and get her and take her to the thing that made the noise.
I also go to the grocery store, shopping (I LOVE to go shopping), post office, and even to human doctors’ offices.
And, now I come to work each day at the Law Library, only I don’t think it’s work.
MoreUs: You don’t think it’s work? Why?
Jeb: Well, this is the most welcoming environment I’ve ever been in. The humans here are so nice and open hearted. It’s really like being around a bunch of Labs. I love coming to work each day. So many of the Law Library staff members make time for me and make sure that I have a treat or two so that I can keep my strength up to work. I love meeting the students. U.Va. law students are the best. I know that they are smart because so many of them like me. The students who work at the reference desk are fantastic. They are some of my new BFFs.
MoreUs: Do you have any favorites on the staff?
Jeb: Well, as a Lab mix it’s in my genes to love everyone, but I can sniff out a dog person. So, if you see me hanging around an office you know that I’ve found a kindred spirit. Each person here makes me the happiest dog on the planet.
MoreUs: Since you’re a Service Dog, are there some things that humans should or should not do when they see you?
Jeb: It’s okay to pet me and talk to me, but I still have to keep my ears open for my human. When I’m wearing my Hearing Dog vest I know that I am on duty. Fortunately for me, there aren’t any cars in the Law Library so I can take time for making friends. And, being a dog, all the extra attention doesn’t go to my head. It goes to my tail which I just wag more.
MoreUs: Do you get any time off from being on duty?
Jeb: I’m on duty 24/7 just like my human is deaf 24/7, but she allows for a lot of time for me to simply be a dog. She takes me on an off leash trail run each morning on our way to work and we end each night with a long run. I get a walk and play time break at work each day. During the summer I swim in ponds and lakes. When I went to the beach I couldn’t get enough of swimming in the ocean. So we mix play in with our work. She’s very dog like that way. I’ve trained her well.
MoreUs: What have you found most interesting about the Law School?
Jeb: I am fascinated to learn that U.Va. Law has an Animal Law Program! I’d love to learn more about it. All animals need and deserve the support and protection that humans can provide for us. I hope that they study the ADA Service Animal requirements. That’s a very interesting area of animal law. It’s one that needs the input of intelligent attorneys so that both the needs of a service animal and a disabled person are met. It addresses humans and animals equally.
MoreUs: Since you are a Service Dog you probably are the right one to answer the age old question, “Dogs or cats: which are better?”
Jeb: Well, I think the best way to answer that question is with another one: Have you ever seen a Service Cat?
In July the Law Library Staff welcomed a new member to its team, Bubba Jeb, a Hearing Service Dog. He accompanies his deaf human, Teresa, to work each day. Bubba Jeb sat down with MoreUs for an interview and a few treats. Here is the first half of that interview.
Part 1: The Journey from Shelter Dog to Service Dog
MoreUs: How did you choose the profession of Service Dog?
Jeb: Well, I didn’t choose being a Service Dog as much as I was chosen to be one by the deaf woman who adopted me in July 2011. I had been in the Rockbridge SPCA in Lexington, Virginia for six months. No one wanted to adopt me, but then Teresa saw me on the shelter’s website and came to meet me. She took me out for a walk on a leash. (Well, it was more of a tug. I was really into pulling on the leash then.) She came back two days later to adopt me. She named me Bubba JEB, with JEB standing for Just Everyone’s Bubba because I’m so friendly. I truly love everyone I see and meet.
MoreUs: Did you know at the time that you were going to be a Service Dog?
Jeb: No, I had no idea what was in store for me. I just stuck my nose out the window and enjoyed the ride to Charlottesville.
MoreUs: Tell me about your academic credentials.
Jeb: Teresa and I started basic obedience classes together four days after I was adopted. I had never been trained to do anything so this was a new adventure in life for me. So along with a new name, I had to go to school and learn lots of stuff: how to walk on a leash, how to sit, stay, come, and do many other things. School wasn’t difficult—I was given a treat each time I did something correctly. Being a Lab mix, I am very food motivated so I was the fastest learner in the class.
MoreUs:What else did you have to learn?
Jeb: Well, I had never been exposed to stairs so I had to learn how to walk up and down steps. That’s not natural to dogs.
MoreUs: What was your favorite part of the class?
Jeb: That’s hard to say. I loved the treats. Getting to eat a lot of treats was great, but I also loved meeting the other dogs and humans. Since Teresa is deaf, the teacher had an extra person on hand to write everything down for her so that she could follow along in class. The assistant loved me and kept saying that I was a great dog and very smart. What wasn’t there for me to love about school? Treats and praise—that’s heaven for a Lab.
MoreUs: Do you have to take continuing education classes?
Jeb: Yes. I work on my basic training each day and Teresa is applying for a grant to receive additional training for me so that I can learn to alert her to the telephone when it rings. She has a phone that provides captions for her to read, but she misses phone calls because she can’t hear the phone ring. So, I need to learn to alert her when I hear that obnoxious sound.
To be continued in “Interview with a Service Dog, Part 2: A Day in the Life”
This week, West Academic released the second edition of Kent Olson’s highly acclaimed Principles of Legal Research. The first edition of Principles earned Olson his second Joseph L. Andrews Bibliographic Award from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), which honors a significant contribution to legal bibliographic literature. Principles is the product of Olson’s many years of practicing the art and craft of legal research, and of teaching Advanced Legal Research to many bright and able students at the University of Virginia School of Law. It is the successor to the venerable How to Find the Law, published in nine editions beginning in 1931, the last of which Olson co-authored with Morris Cohen and Robert Berring.
The second edition of Principles of Legal Research remains true to its roots as an indispensable guide to practical legal research. Much of legal research still relies on traditional print-based sources and methods, and for those situations, the book offers refuge for those who may be more comfortable conducting research with a keyboard, mouse, and touch screen than by sifting through hefty tomes of pulp and ink. At the same time, Principles is a trustworthy compass for intelligent navigation of the latest generation of algorithm-based online legal research systems and the vast and growing array of Internet-delivered legal information services.
Skillful legal research requires a foundational knowledge of how law is made and interpreted and a solid understanding of the documentary outputs of those processes, and Principles of Legal Research offers novice readers the knowledge of both. The book has features that also make it a valuable reference work for experienced legal researchers, including copious footnotes, indexing, and a useful appendix of treatises and services arranged by subject. New to this edition, images of key websites are displayed in full color.
A prolific writer, Kent Olson is also the author of Legal Information: How to Find It, How to Use It (1999) and is author or co-author of several iterations of West’s Legal Research in a Nutshell, now in its 11th edition. Olson is an expert legal researcher and a dedicated professor of legal research. For nearly three decades he has also been colleague, friend, and mentor to the Law Library staff. We heartily congratulate Kent Olson on his latest literary achievement!
Systems Librarian Joe Wynne is retiring on July 24th after 37 years of service to The University. Most faculty and staff at the Law School know him, as do many in the library profession. Joe, who joined the Law School in 1978 as a cataloger, survived two library directors, has worked as a reference librarian, budget and technology manager, and has contributed to the successful operation of all library departments. He tackled research problems, balanced budgets, made sure that the staff had the most appropriate technology and that they were trained to use it. He has been the lead contributor in moving the library into the digital age, evaluating and selecting technology and effectively managing it. For nearly four decades Joe has had a voice in every significant decision that has been made within the library and his contributions will be enduring. We were most fortunate in having someone of Joe’s talent, fairness, strength and wit to rely upon for so many years.
It is an understatement to say that Joe will be missed — not only as a colleague, but a friend. He’s always there to listen, help you solve a problem and make you laugh. Here are a few things we have learned about Joe over the years:
– Joe and his twin brother were both altar boys.
– His two main fixes for computer problems are the on/off switch and a blessing.
– Joe hates copier/printers—all of them.
– Joe is crazy about Pittsburgh teams, The Big Lebowski, and opera, but not musicals.
– Joe’s hand is always out to pick up the tab so that others don’t have to.
– Proud of his Italian/Irish heritage, he has learned to make Italian wedding soup and drink Guinness at the same time.
– Joe is a gardener and shares garlic when harassed.
Joe will spend some of his retirement days on the Jersey Shore with family and some of it fly fishing.
Congratulations, Joe. We wish you all the best in your retirement years. We will miss you but no one has missed the smile on your face for the past few weeks. Thank you for being a wonderful friend and colleague. Happy retirement!
The June 2015 issue of the Virginia Lawyer features an article by U.Va. law librarian Kristin Glover, “Mindfulness in Law Schools and Legal Practice.” The article discusses the emergence of mindfulness programs at U.Va. and other law schools. Glover spearheads the Law Library’s mindfulness program, which offers mindfulness workshops for law students, a collection of mindfulness-related books and materials, and an ongoing series of twice weekly meditation sessions.
This year, instead of conducting its usual biennial user survey, the library decided to run a series of smaller “quick polls” between spring break and the end of classes. Each week the SBA Events E-Mail contained a link to an online survey consisting of 2 to 4 questions. Participating students were invited to enter a drawing for a free library t-shirt.
Quick Poll #1. The Law Library’s first Quick Poll asked students how likely they were to use one of the standing desks recently purchased by the library. Almost 35% of the responders said they were "Likely" or "Very Likely" to use the standing desks and 46% were "Unlikely" or "Very Unlikely."
Quick Poll #2. The second Quick Poll asked students to rate several service categories using a 5-point scale (1. "Very Unsatisfied," 2. "Unsatisfied," 3. "Neutral," 4. "Satisfied," 5. "Very Satisfied"). The majority of students were "Very Satisfied" (53%) or "Satisfied" (40%) with the Library overall and no one rated the Library lower than "Neutral" (6%).
Results of Quick Poll #2
Quick Poll #3 asked students about their use of the library’s Research Consultation Service. More than 95% of the responders had never used this service to schedule consultations with research librarians. Half of the students said they weren’t aware of the service.
Quick Poll #4 asked students if they had ever had a summer position that required a significant amount of legal research.
An open-ended follow up question asked students in retrospect what areas of research would have better prepared them for the job. Many students said more familiarity with free or low-cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw or more cost efficient search techniques in general would have been helpful.
Law librarian Jon Ashley has for the second time filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Justice. The FOIA filing seeks the release of 30 prosecution agreements between the Justice Department and various organizations. With Professor Brandon Garrett, Ashley has developed the Federal Organizational Prosecution Agreements database, a repository of prosecution agreements that is freely available to researchers. Ashley's lawsuit last year prompted Justice Department officials to release a single prosecution agreement after a FOIA request for it had been denied. Today's New York Timesfeatures an article about the work of UVA Law School's First Amendment clinic students in pursuing the litigation. [Reposted with corrections. – Ed.]