BALSA and Legal Aid

UVA Law’s Black American Law Students Association (BALSA, now BLSA) formed in October 1971. Alongside the organization’s main goals of increasing student and faculty diversity, BALSA’s founding members forged their community of action through legal aid. During the 1971-1972 academic year, BALSA members took on pro bono work to provide legal counsel to underserved communities, particularly through collaborations with local legal aid groups like the CharlottesvilleAlbemarle Legal Aid Society (now the Legal Aid Justice Center, founded in 1967 by a group of Charlottesville attorneys and UVA Law students) and the Law School’s Legal Assistance Society. 

This Black History Month marks the one-year anniversary of 50 Years of BLSA, a collaborative project between Law Special Collections and the Black Law Students Association to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the organization. Read more about the project here. One year after the project, we continue to learn about BLSA through archival research and oral history interviews with alumni/ae. Shortly after the project’s debut, then-BLSA President Allison Burns ’22 heard from Bobby Vassar ’72 about the importance of legal aid work to BALSA’s founding members.

COMMUNITY SERVICE THROUGH THE LEGAL ASSISTANCE SOCIETY

Bobby Vassar ’72, James Ghee ’72, and Gwendolyn Jones Jackson ’72 were among the founding BALSA members who participated in the Law School’s Legal Assistance Society, particularly the Society’s Welfare Rights Project. The Project partnered with the Virginia Welfare Rights Organization to assist Virginia residents who requested welfare assistance, were denied, and then exercised their right to a fair hearing to reverse their verdict. Law students conducted legal investigations and advocated for their welfare candidates before a panel of local welfare officials and a hearing officer appointed by the Virginia State Board of Welfare. Project members represented Virginia residents from Albemarle, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fauquier, and Greene counties, as well as residents from the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg. Bobby Vassar recalled that these welfare hearings were the first of their kind in at least one of the counties they represented.

“There were very few Blacks on the [welfare] rolls in these counties because Black women with children were expected to be maids and cooks in White homes or to do other menial labor jobs, so only a few of the most disabled women with children were considered worthy of receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, now TANF). In several instances, all or some of the local Social Services Board members attended the hearings. Things got testy in some the hearings with one Board Chairman telling Jim Ghee “I think you done said about enough there, boy”, which prompted the State hearing officer to warn him he would clear the room if there were any further such outbursts. We were able to win benefits for almost all of the families we represented as a result of favorable hearing decisions, and that encouraged other eligible Black families to apply and receive benefits. 

Bobby Vassar ’72, personal correspondence with Allison Burns ’22, 11 February 2021. 

Ghee served as the project’s director from 1971-1972, even traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada in February 1971 to assist the National Welfare Rights Organization in reversing Nevada’s cut-off of a portion of the state’s welfare payments. 

Newspaper article with headline "Ghee Joins Effort Appealing Nevada Welfare Cutoffs"
“Ghee Joins Effort Appealing Nevada Welfare Cutoffs,” Virginia Law Weekly, 19 February 1971. Click the image to read the full article on HeinOnline (Netbadge login required).

“We knew there were risks and we were willing to take them.”

Outside the Legal Assistance Society, Vassar recalled working with then-ACLU attorney John C. Lowe ’67 and fellow BALSA members James Winstead ’72, S. DeLacy Stith ’72, and William “Joe” Bass ’72 to research juror discrimination in Central Virginia. Dean Monrad Paulsen provided the law students with a letter to show local clerks of court explaining that they were part of a UVA Law-sanctioned research project. The letter allowed them access to jury rolls in six surrounding counties. 

“We would use the letters to gain access to the jury rolls to write down the names and then go meet with a pre-arranged group of local Black residents to go over the names to identify whether any of them were Black. The clerk in one county (Nottoway) became suspicious of our group of 4 Blacks and one White after seeing us writing down the names of jurors and actually called the Dean, but was not satisfied with the Dean’s explanation, so closed the office, kicked us out and called the sheriff, town police and state police. We were at the pre-arranged home going over the names we were able to write down so they were not able to find us at first, but once we got back on the highway headed home, one of the officers spotted us, called the others, stopped us and surrounded us with 3 cars of officers who got out with hands on guns to ask us what we were doing. They made us get out of the car and not accepting our “research” story, they took the White student aside and quizzed him on what he was doing with these “colored boys” and how he was making himself look bad and could get in big trouble doing such things. He held to our story and they finally let us go with a warning to us not to return. It was plenty scary, but we knew there were risks and were willing to take them.” 

Bobby Vassar ’72, personal correspondence with Allison Burns ’22, 11 February 2021. 

Vassar recalls that as a result of their research, Lowe was able to file a settlement with the six counties involved to desegregate their jury rolls. 

Vassar’s recollections and this history now appear on the Service page of our online exhibit. We encourage you to explore 50 Years of BLSA to learn more about Black history at UVA Law.

Featured image: Members of the Black American Law Students Association, Barrister 1972. Front Row: Gloria Bouldin ’73, Jean Roane ’72; Second Row: Raymond Jackson ’73, Gwendolyn Jones ’72, Arthur McFarland ’73, John Scott ’73; Third Row: Charles Walker ’73, Adolphus Williams ’72, William “Joe” Bass ’72; Fourth Row: Bobby Vassar ’72, James Winstead ’72, Jack Gravely ’72, Charles Chambliss ’73.

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Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

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Part II: The Making of “Bobbleheads by The Green Bag”

On December 6, 2021, UVA Law Special Collections debuted Bobbleheads by The Green Bag. The display, located in the Arthur J. Morris Law Library’s entryway, is a semi-permanent addition to our ongoing exhibitions. The exhibit is curated by Meggan Cashwell and Addie Patrick. 

The blog that follows is the second of a two-part series. If you are curious about the history of The Green Bag and the whimsical nature of acquiring their Supreme Court bobbleheads, we encourage you to check out our initial post here. What follows is a synopsis of our delightful conversation with Green Bag editor-in-chief and bobblehead creator Ross Davies.


My curatorial process with Addie always begins the same way: with copious notetaking and countless brainstorming sessions. Often the topic and timing of the exhibit is obvious, like our tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg upon the Justice’s passing in 2020. At other times, we try to create a concept that is both unique and historical, such as the department’s forthcoming exhibition on UVA Law student doodles (credit Special Collections head Randi Flaherty). The details matter most when curating an exhibit. Every object is carefully selected to represent the narrative and every word of exhibit text is pored over many times. On installation day, we scooch placards a little to the left and right and inch materials this way and that until everything is perfect. Our love of detail piqued our interest in The Green Bag’s Supreme Court Justice bobbleheads, each one decorated with intricate features—some obvious to the onlooker, others more subtle and nuanced. It is Ross Davies’ deep appreciation for detail along with American legal culture that inspired him to create The Green Bag’s Supreme Court bobbleheads as the journal’s editor-in-chief 

Color photograph of two women placing bobblehead figurines in exhibit cases"
Meggan Cashwell (right) and Addie Patrick (left) install Bobbleheads by The Green Bag in the UVA Law Library entryway.

Addie and I first became acquainted with the bobbleheads when we were curating Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Law Library. Kent Olson, who recently retired as Head of Research Services, kept the library’s collection on his desk. We inquired if we could borrow Justice Ginsburg’s bobblehead for the exhibit and feature it with related paraphernalia. After Kent transferred the bobbleheads to Special Collections upon his retirement this past summer, we approached the department heads and library director about putting the figurines on display.  

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg bobblehead, 2012.

As we began researching, we quickly realized the bobbleheads are not your average ceramic statues. Since The Green Bag released its first bobblehead in 2003, they have become immensely popular in the legal community. The Law Library’s bobbleheads are not the only ones you will come across at the Law School. They adorn the desks of various faculty members as well. It did not take long for Addie and me to feel the enthusiasm around the bobbleheads. We squealed with excitement in the stacks of the library one afternoon when we flipped through the pages of a few past Green Bag issues and came across two bobblehead certificates.  

Our quest for bobblehead knowledge led us back to Kent who referred us to Law professor Thomas Nachbar. He kindly chatted with us regarding his role as a contributing editor (see part I), but he deferred to Ross Davies for all things bobblehead related. Tom introduced us to Ross via email and, a few days before winter break, we sat down with him over Zoom.  

Our desire to bring some reprieve to exam-weary students via the bobbleheads is exactly what Ross intended when he came up with the idea nearly twenty years ago: “It is a part of being human to have a sense of humor, to smile, to have a little bit of fun.” At a time when bobbleheads were all the rage in sports, Ross decided The Green Bag should create a bobblehead in the likeness of then Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The bobblehead’s features would nod (pun intended) to some of the Chief Justice’s most noteworthy opinions. 

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist bobblehead, 2003.

First, Ross had to determine who would make a bobblehead that would find its way to the Chief Justice himself. After purchasing multiple bobbleheads and exploring their different qualities, Ross determined that Alexander Global Promotions (AGP) was the obvious choice. According to their site, AGP is the number one bobblehead producer in the world. Ross soon found himself on the phone with Malcolm Alexander, founder of the company, who shared his enthusiasm for the concept. A collaboration blossomed that remains at the center of Green Bag bobblehead production today.

Much like our curatorial methods, Ross has his own involved and detailed process for creating the next bobblehead. Once he and other Green Bag editors select a Justice, Ross begins reading that Justice’s opinions. The facts of the cases, the analogies Justices make in their opinions, and the interesting words they use become the basis for bobblehead annotations. Ross then writes page after page of specs and sends them off to AGP. From there, Ross and AGP go back and forth on drafts until the bobblehead is just right. Ross wanted Justice John Paul Stevens to stand on a Sony Betamax as a reference to Sony v. Universal (1984). Malcolm Alexander suggested that Ross purchase that particular model and send it to AGP so that they could design the base of the bobblehead as an exact replica. Ross explained that the Sony Betamax he purchased sat on a table as a visual reference for AGP employees during production.

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of John Paul Stevens
Justice John Paul Stevens bobblehead, 2004.

The bobbleheads are hand painted, allowing AGP to provide the level of specificity the Green Bag desires for each figurine. The forthcoming Justice Sonia Sotomayor bobblehead is standing on a plate (a reference to her opinion in a patent case), with a slice of pie and a loaf of bread at her feet (references to her use of analogies involving pies, loaves, and slices). AGP made each item look as close to the actual baked good as possible. “Do you know how hard it is to paint a piece of ceramic to look like a piece of apple pie?Ross exclaimed. “We challenge their art; we challenge their ability to make cool things. Justice Sotomayor is wearing a baseball mitt (a reference to a baseball analogy in yet another opinion), and not just any mitt. It is modeled from the mitt of Jorge Posada, catcher for the New York Yankees. Justice Sotomayor is a longtime Yankees fan and sits in the Judge’s Chambers section at Yankee Stadium.

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of Sonia Sotomayor
Forthcoming Justice Sonia Sotomayor bobblehead. Image courtesy Ross Davies, 2022.

As for choosing the next Justice to feature, it is largely “arbitrary and capricious” in true Green Bag fashion. Unsurprisingly, Ross says he receives many suggestions. The Green Bag does have one “rule” for the present Court: A Justice has to serve for a minimum of ten years before getting a bobblehead. Ross admits that there is a sense of finality to summing up a current Justice’s career. In response, The Green Bag has started making “pocket part” bobbleheads—mini versions of the originals that feature later opinions. The journal has already produced two pocket versions for Justice William H. Rehnquist.  

The Green Bag’s decision to make non-Justice bobbleheads in recent years has allowed them to include other lawyers who have made a profound impact on the profession. When we asked Ross why he selected young Thurgood Marshall, Belva Ann Lockwood, and William T. Coleman, he simply responded, “They are lawyers whose contributions merit memorialization in a bobblehead.” Ross’ love of American legal history, which he teaches at George Mason University among other subjects, is evident in every bobblehead he crafts. 

At the end of the day, Ross says The Green Bag is simply trying to be nice: “We’re not in this to score points.” The ultimate purpose of the bobbleheads, besides giving a Justice a good-natured laugh, is to spread knowledge about the Supreme Court: “We have a chance to contribute a tiny bit to people understanding the depth and character and trajectory of the Supreme Court. Our challenge is to create and properly orient what we do so it fits the flow of history.” 

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Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

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Part I: The Making of “Bobbleheads by The Green Bag”

On December 6, 2021, UVA Law Special Collections debuted Bobbleheads by The Green Bag. The display, located in the Arthur J. Morris Law Library’s entryway, is a semi-permanent addition to our ongoing exhibitions. The exhibit is curated by Meggan Cashwell and Addie Patrick.

The blog that follows is the first of a two-part series. The post below provides a history of the law journal The Green Bag and its bobblehead collectibles as well as a behind-the-scenes look at our curatorial process. The second post will feature an interview with Green Bag editor-in-chief and bobblehead creator Ross Davies.


Patrons and passersby who come to the Law Library will notice some familiar faces as they enter through the main doors. At the end of the reader rails, which narrate the Law School’s two-hundred-year history, are two display cases now filled with the nodding figurines of Supreme Court Justices and other notable U.S. lawyers. These whimsical bobbleheads are produced by The Green Bag, a quarterly law journal first published from 1889-1914 and revived in 1997.

Color photograph of bobblehead figurines
The Law Library’s collection of Green Bag bobbleheads.

The Green Bag was likely named after the green bag that many nineteenth-century legal professionals used to carry their papers. The idea for the journal came from Charles C. Soule, an entrepreneurial bookseller from Boston who had been publishing an entertaining advertising brochure, Legal Bibliography,since October 1881. The first Green Bag issues, which Soule began publishing in 1889, included legal cases in verse, portraits of members of the bench and bar, sketches of American law schools, and articles on legal history.1 The Green Bag journal was reestablished in 1997 by Ross Davies, David Gossett, and Montgomery Kosma, three former classmates at the University of Chicago Law School. This “second edition” publishes similar articles designed to inform and amuse legal professionals.2 UVA Law professor Thomas Nachbar, who attended Chicago Law with the three founders, serves as a contributing editor. Nachbar designed the original website for The Green Bag. He and his colleagues admired the publication because they longed for a law journal that would invite discussion and inquiry but not demand the formality of rigorous Bluebook citations.

“We need a forum in which legal thinkers can reveal their thoughts without spending six months to encase them in the cloying paraphernalia prescribed by the prevailing mores of contemporary scholarship. We need a periodical to which the inquiring reader can turn for amusement, enlightenment, and even instruction without having to take the weekend off. The exchange of ideas should be a treat, not a chore; and it is in that spirit that the Green Bag 2d is conceived.”   

David P. Currie, Green Bag3

 In 2003, The Green Bag began producing bobblehead dolls and other collectibles, which add to the journal’s whimsy. The idea came from Davies (more on that in our forthcoming post) who released the first bobblehead, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in 2003. Standing atop a map of Carbon County, Wyoming, and holding volume 529 of the U.S. Reports, the Rehnquist bobblehead launched The Green Bag’s production of legal collectibles which portray  “Justices as judges, respectfully yet entertainingly.” Davies designs these “ceramic portraits,” as he calls them, and encourages collectors to guess the meanings behind each figurine’s accessories.4 Following a bobblehead’s release, The Green Bag publishes an annotation page which provides citations for the bobblehead. 

Color photograph of bobblehead figurine of Justice William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist bobblehead, 2003.

Green Bag Supreme Court bobbleheads, of which there are 28 so far, span the history of the Court, from the very first Justices to those currently serving. Each Justice has a unique set of features (annotations) that represent some of their most notable opinions, which occasionally incorporate some personal aspects as well. Sandra Day O’Connor’s bobblehead is wearing shoes that replicate the ones she wore when she was sworn in as the first female Justice on September 25, 1981. Sitting beside her bobblehead is a bobbling cow, signifying her childhood spent on the Lazy B Ranch in Arizona, an experience Justice O’Connor considers instrumental to her career. In recent years, The Green Bag has started making non-Justice bobbleheads including Belva Ann Lockwood, young Thurgood Marshall, and William T. Coleman Jr. The bobbleheads are handmade by Alexander Global Promotions.  

Color photograph of bobblehead figurine of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor bobblehead, 2004.

The Green Bag produces about a thousand of each bobblehead and distributes them in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. Some subscribers find bobblehead certificates printed within the pages of their Green Bag issue. The certificates must then be delivered in-person to the offices of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Washington, DC, the official “bobbleheadquarters,” according to The Green Bag’s website. On occasion, The Green Bag prints certificates on the backs of trading cards called “Supreme Court Sluggers,” many of which feature paintings by John Sargent III and Alec Spangler. Like the bobbleheads and the more recent snow globes, The Green Bag gives these cards away “arbitrarily and capriciously.” Surprise certificates also show up in items auctioned for charity and in other unexpected places.5 Lucky Law School librarian Kate Boudouris received the Justice Byron R. White bobblehead when she attended a presentation by Davies at the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference.  

The Law Library’s collection of bobbleheads, which is extensive but incomplete, adorned the desk of Kent Olson, former Head of Research Services. Olson had been collecting the bobbleheads on the library’s behalf since 2003. He tendered his certificates with Nachbar who, at one time, helped distribute the bobbleheads as a contributing editor. Once distribution transferred to O’Melveny and Myers in DC, Olson sent a friend to pick up the bobbleheads on the library’s behalf. Olson turned the bobbleheads over to Law Special Collections when he retired in the summer of 2021. The bobbleheads are a unique addition to the library’s archives, which primarily consist of print materials.  

Color photograph of woman cleaning bobblehead with paintbrush
Meggan Cashwell, library postdoc, cleans each bobblehead in preparation for their debut.

The exhibit traces the history of The Green Bag as a publication and explores the process of acquiring the bobbleheads. The display is organized chronologically, with past and present Justices grouped separately. We intentionally timed the display to provide a bit of fun to students and faculty during exams. For the initial two weeks, we invited patrons to take our own version of The Green Bag’s “Lunchtime Law Quiz.” Those who answered three out of five questions correctly were rewarded with UVA Law prizes 

Color photograph of two women photographing bobbleheads
Jane McBrian (left), digitization specialist, and Addie Patrick (right), library coordinator, photograph the bobbleheads for eventual inclusion on the Law Special Collections website.

Our display is, in part, inspired by the University of Minnesota’s online exhibit, “Equal Caricature Under Law,” curated by Barbara Berdahl, Pat Graybil, and Ryan Greenwood. Yale University, the official repository of The Green Bag bobbleheads, also had a display, “Wobbling Justice.” The Law Library intends to add to the exhibit if we are among the lucky subscribers to receive certificates for future bobbleheads.

 

Content for this exhibit and two-part blog series is indebted to conversations with Kent Olson, Thomas Nachbar, Ryan Greenwood, and Ross Davies.

Notes

  1. Ross E. Davies, “Legal-Bibliographical Roots: Fragments of a Green Bag Origin Story” The Green Bag 24, no. 3 (Spring 2021): 253-72.
  2. For more on the Green Bag bobbleheads, see Jessica Gresko, “Bobbleheads Honor Supreme Court Justices,” The Advocate, 1 January 2014, https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_07350219-8da0-5bde-91f1-af8e84b79fae.html; “Bobbleheads Honor Supreme Court,” Politico, 31 December 2013https://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/supreme-court-justice-bobbleheads-101621; Christopher Capozziello, “Relax, Legal Scholars: Bobbleheads are Safe at Yale,” New York Times17 March 2010.
  3. David P. Currie, “Green Bags,” The Green Bag 1, no. 1 (Fall 1997): 1-2.
  4. Ross E. Davies, “Ceramic Spirits of the Law” The Green Bag 24, no. 4 (Summer 2021): 357-70. 
  5. The Green Bag’s website outlines the process of how to acquire a bobblehead.

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Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

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Meggan Cashwell

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The Library’s Entryway Exhibit: Revisited

The Special Collections team is excited to announce the completed renovation of the Law Library’s Entryway Exhibit, which originally premiered in March 2014. The initial iteration as well as the current exhibit were designed by Gropen.

Since the exhibit’s opening, Special Collections has expanded its rare materials, research goals, and understanding of the Law School’s complex history, particularly as it relates to issues of slavery, discrimination, and diversity. The result is a new timeline (or “reader rail”), additional hanging images mounted on the wall, and a redesigned introduction panel which matches the University’s updated brand.

Color photograph of introductory panel to the entryway exhibit

The exhibit is divided between the themes “The Landscape” and “The Law,” inviting patrons to consider significant moments in the Law School’s past within the framework of its physical spaces. Classes were originally taught in the law professor’s residence on the Lawn. The school then moved several times before relocating to North Grounds in 1974. In addition, the exhibit covers Virginia Law’s evolving curriculum and major shifts in student life and culture.

Related Special Collections projects informed the bulk of the exhibit’s revisions, including ongoing research into how professors taught the laws of slavery during the antebellum period, explorations into the historical landscape of North Grounds, and the Law School curricular history book project headed by Postdoctoral Fellow Meggan Cashwell.

While the entryway guides the Law School’s students, faculty, and staff into the library and its resources, we encourage patrons to pause and explore the updated exhibit, and with it, UVA Law’s 200-year history.

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Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

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Updates and Reminders for All Students

The Law Library staff is excited to welcome all UVA law students to Grounds this fall. Whether you’re new in town or returning from summer break, we look forward to getting to know you better and helping you take advantage of everything the library has to offer. To get you started, here are a few updates and reminders about our services.

Hours

The Law Library is now open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day of the week.

Research Assistance

If you need help finding a source or planning a research project, our reference librarians will be happy to assist you. One of us will be at the second-floor Reference Desk from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. You can also get in touch with us via email at RefDesk@law.virginia.edu or use our website to schedule a Zoom consultation.

Getting Materials from Other UVA Libraries

The University has developed a system that allows you to request books from other UVA libraries using the Virgo catalog (https://search.lib.virginia.edu/). To request a book, find it in the Virgo catalog, click on the “Request Item” button, and choose “Law” as your Preferred Pickup Location. (If you’re unable to pick up the book in person, a form is available for making alternate arrangements.) Note that you’ll need to be logged in to Virgo to make a request.

Requesting Scans

Last year’s scanning service was so popular that we’ve decided to keep it! If you would like us scan an article or book chapter for you, please request the scan through Virgo. On the Virgo record for the item you need, click on the “Request a Scan” button and fill out the form that appears.

Online Study Aids

We offer various study aids and other resources to help you learn. For example, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, known as CALI, offers a collection of interactive legal tutorials. You can register for CALI using the activation code on LawWeb. And you can sign up for free online Bluebook access using this form.

Renew Your Subscriptions!

Finally, a friendly reminder for returning students 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, WashingtonPost.com, and more by logging into LawWeb and following the links on the “Other 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

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The Law Library Welcomes New Students

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

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law Passwords

The Law Library provides subscriptions to Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law, three major legal research databases. You’ll find sign-up instructions and registration codes on LawWeb (linked under “Other Student Services” >> “Library”). If you have questions or don’t find an assigned code listed there, please contact us at refdesk@law.virginia.edu

Newspaper Subscriptions

As a UVA law student, you’ll receive free subscriptions to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Sign up on LawWeb under “Other Student Services” >> “News Access.”

Reserve Materials

Some materials in our collection have been placed “on reserve,” which means that they can be checked out for three hours at a time. Study guides, some textbooks, and popular legal treatises are likely to be held on reserve so that more students have an opportunity to use them. (We only place course materials on reserve if your professor specifically asks us to do so.) You can find these materials in the Klaus Reading Room near the first-floor circulation desk.

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.

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 this guide to student services. And remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at refdesk@law.virginia.edu!

Once again, a warm welcome to all incoming students!

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Kate Boudouris

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Library Services to Get You Through Exams

The Law Library’s student services are designed to support academic study and self-care. Here are some services that we hope will make your life a little easier during this fall’s end-of-semester crunch.

Longer Hours

The Law Library has extended its hours through the end of the semester. We’re now open from 8am to 8:45pm Monday through Friday. Please remember to wear your mask at all times while in the library, including during evening hours. If you forget your mask, please stop by the circulation desk for assistance.

Study Aids

Did you know that the Law Library provides free access to study aids? With a Lexis+ (formerly Lexis Advance) password, you can view BARBRI course outlines using the links in our database directory. Print study aids, including the popular Examples and Explanations series, are available in the reserve room, and we’re happy to scan excerpts for students who are learning remotely this semester. To request a scan, use the “Request a Scan” button in the Virgo catalog.

Courtesy Services

The Law Library offers many courtesy services, including some that you might not expect. At the circulation desk, you can:

  • Check out a power cord, a flash drive, headphones, or a book stand
  • Borrow an umbrella or a bike pump
  • Use our sewing kit and lint brush
  • Get a free envelope
  • Access our basket of emergency menstrual products
  • …and more!

And don’t forget—whether you’re taking classes on grounds or remotely, we’re here to assist you with more traditional library tasks like accessing books. Email us at Refdesk@law.virginia.edu for research assistance and Circ@law.virginia.edu for general library questions.

Outdoor Games

The Law Library’s Klaus Collection (in the reserve room) contains materials to help you recharge from your studies—including board games, DVDs, mindfulness resources, and non-law books. Starting this week, we’ll also be offering a selection of outdoor games, which we hope will provide opportunities for fresh air, sunlight, and socially distanced time with your friends. Stop by to check out Cornhole, Kubb, Ladder Toss, Giant Jenga, or another game from our collection. (Be sure to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart while you play!)

Newspapers

To keep up with current events, take advantage of your free subscription to the online editions of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. 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, and then select the resource you’d like to access. (To sign up for your NYTimes.com and WSJ.com accounts, you must be on grounds or using a VPN.)

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Kate Boudouris

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Library Acquires Jefferson Letter on Law School’s Founding

Just months before he died, Thomas Jefferson completed one of his last tasks in the project to establish the University of Virginia: the selection of the University’s first law professor. In an April 1826 letter recently acquired by the UVA Law Library, Jefferson wrote to members of the University’s Board of Visitors that John Tayloe Lomax had accepted the professorship of law and would commence law classes in July 1826.

Early this summer, the Law Library was alerted to the letter’s upcoming auction at Sotheby’s. Prior to its sale at Sotheby’s, the letter had once been part of the James S. Copley Library, a large private collection of American manuscripts, books, pamphlets, broadsides, and maps. As a circular letter to the Board of Visitors, Jefferson wrote, signed, and sent copies to every member of the Board. The New York Public Library holds James Madison’s copy in its collections; the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVA holds the copy sent to Joseph Carrington Cabell. Based on markings on the UVA Law Library’s newly acquired letter, we believe that this is the copy sent to James Breckenridge.

The Law School Opens

Jefferson’s letter is an important institutional record in its own right, but its significance becomes more apparent in the context of other sources from the same time period. Based on further research, we know that the letter marked the end of a prolonged search for the University’s first law professor, during which Jefferson and Madison had scrutinized the credentials, elocution, and politics of numerous candidates. Their stringent criteria—must be a devoted patriot, a native Virginian, a legal philosopher more than a “common-place” lawyer, and an effective public speaker—coupled with the difficulty of convincing established jurists to move to central Virginia, resulted in the law chair remaining unfilled when University classes began in 1825.[1] Finally, in this April 1826 circular letter to members of the Board of Visitors, Jefferson announced Lomax’s hiring and the much-anticipated opening of the new Law School.

As with other aspects of UVA’s founding, the University’s historical relationship with slavery underlies the newly acquired letter and gives perspective to our understanding of the document. The opening of the Law School depended on the labor of enslaved people. Lomax’s own undergraduate education had been funded by his uncle, John Tayloe III, one of the largest slaveholders in Virginia at the time. Twenty-six male students, most from slaveholding families, formed Lomax’s first law class. Law lectures were held in Pavilion III, which had been built in large measure by enslaved laborers.[2] As the letter joins other primary sources in UVA archives, it offers the opportunity, in line with ongoing initiatives at the University of Virginia, to investigate and tell a full story of the University’s founding, particularly the founding’s deep connections to slavery.

Thomas Jefferson's architectural plans for Pavilion III
Thomas Jefferson’s elevation and floor plan for Pavilion III, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Teaching the Law

After assuming his professorship, Lomax implemented the law school’s early curriculum, which comprised two year-long sessions: legal procedures in the first, for those entering practice after one year’s preparation, and principles of law in the second. Eschewing Jefferson’s preference for Sir Edward Coke, Lomax taught Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries to first years for its “general map of the law,” followed by additional assigned texts. In the classroom, he “rigidly and critically” examined the students upon their readings “every other day.”[3]

During annual examinations, students submitted written answers to a committee of University faculty for review. Below are actual Law School questions from 1829.

  Public Examination, School of Law, 1829[4]

1.  What are the ages at which male and females are competent to different legal purposes? Viz.

Males. To take oath of allegiance? When at years of discretion to marry? To choose a guardian? To make a testament of personal estate (by the common law? By Act of Assembly)? To be an executor? To aliene land?

Females. To be betrothed? To be entitled to dower? When at years of discretion to consent or disagree to marriage? To bequeath personal estate? To choose a guardian? To be an executrix? To dispose of herself and land?

2. What four requisites are necessary to make a tenancy by curtesy?

3.  Of what two sorts is the remedy for false imprisonment? What are the four means which may be employed (at common law) for removing the injury? And which of them is now the most usual and effectual means in all manner of illegal confinement? What is the remedy by way of satisfaction of the injury?

The Jefferson letter will now be part of the Law Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Interested researchers should contact archives@law.virginia.edu.

 

[1] For examples of Jefferson’s and Madison’s correspondence regarding the law professorship search, see Jefferson to Breckenridge (“the appointment should not be given to a mere common-place lawyer”), 22 December 1824; Madison to Jefferson, 31 December 1824, 1 February 1825, and 4 August 1825. See also James Ambuske and Randall Flaherty, “Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson,” in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University, eds. John A. Ragosta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019).

[2] For a biography of Lomax and the financial support he received from his uncle to attend St. John’s College in Annapolis, see E. Lee Shepard, “John Tayloe Lomax,” in Legal Education in Virginia 1779-1979: A Biographical Approach, ed. W. Hamilton Bryson (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1982), 359; For John Tayloe III as one of the largest Virginia slaveholders in this time, see Richard S. Dunn, “Winney Grimshaw, a Virginia Slave, and Her Family,” in Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 3 (2011): 495; For a list of the first law students, see A catalogue of the officers and students of the University of Virginia Second session, commencing February 1st, 1826 (Charlottesville: Chronicle Steam Book Printing House, 1880); For the role of enslaved laborers in the construction of the UVA lawn buildings, the African American community at the University, and the University’s connection to slavery more generally, see The President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, Report to President Teresa A. Sullivan, 2018.

[3] See Lomax’s 1829 outline of the Law School curriculum in “University Intelligence,” The Virginia Literary Museum and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts & Sciences &c., August 5, 1829.

[4]University Intelligence: Public Examination,” in The Virginia Literary Museum and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts & Sciences &c., September 9, 1829.

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Randi Flaherty

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Life at the Time: Photo Collection of the University and Charlottesville in the 1970s

In May 2018, UVA Law Special Collections purchased a small collection of photographs of UVA in the 1970s, including one contact sheet of Libel Show images, from an eBay vendor. When the collection arrived, we discovered that the seller had included three additional boxes of UVA-related negatives and photographs. Special Collections Assistant Sara Garcia-Pretelt has completed an initial inventory of this collection, and she describes here some of her most interesting discoveries.

The UVA Law Library’s newly acquired UVA/Charlottesville Photograph and Negatives Collection is comprised of images of the University of Virginia and the greater Charlottesville area during the late 1960s through the early 1970s. Among the photographs, contact sheets, and negatives found in this collection are scenes of student life, iconic Charlottesville landmarks, and important historic events.

The Law Libel Show: April 18, 1975

A long-standing UVA Law School tradition, the annual Libel show displays law students’ creativity and humor through skits and musical numbers. These photos were taken on April 18, 1975 for the production titled “A Sale of Two Cities or Salooney Tunes.” The law school student newspaper reported that the show “delighted crowds and embarrassed a few professors” (Virginia Law Weekly, 1975). Pictured below on the left is a student performing as “Charlie Blackbread” and pictured on the right is an unidentified law student actor.

Student Protests: May 5, 1970

The following photos were taken by various photographers during the May 1970 UVA student protests following the Kent State shootings and President Nixon’s announcement that US troops would be sent into Cambodia. A number of UVA Law students served as student marshals during these multi-day protests. Photographer Rip Payne captured scenes of the Virginia State Police preparing to address the student protests. Pictured are officers gathered outside of the Downtowner Motor Inn (later the Cavalier Inn) at Emmet and Ivy Roads and two officers with a police dog. On May 8, 1970, during a “honk for peace” student rally outside the Rotunda, the Virginia State Police enforced the 1968 Virginia riot act, charged the demonstration, and arrested 68 people. In his photograph titled “Lawn Arrest,” photographer Jim Carpenter documented police officers arresting a student on UVA grounds. Photographer John M. Atkins, Jr. captured in his photograph titled “Marshal,” a law student attempting to negotiate with a police officer about the arrest of another law student at the door of the Mayflower van, which the Virginia State Police used to transport arrestees to the Charlottesville police station. The band tied around the student’s arm signals his role as a legal marshal to keep the peace during the student protests.

UVA Grounds and Student Life ca. 1970

Also in this collection are images of iconic UVA landmarks such as the Corner and the Lawn in the 1970s. Pictured below is University Avenue just outside of Mincer’s Pipe Shop (now known as Mincer’s) where students and professors cross over onto Grounds. Today, the Corner’s crosswalks are infamous for the students that cross with no regard for oncoming cars as they rush to classes and meetings. Nearly 50 years later, these images still capture what it is like to live and study at UVA.

The Sports Scene

As the ‘Hoos advance to the Final Four for the first time since 1984, students today are hoping for redemption for Tony Bennett’s principled and impressive team. Of relevance in this photograph collection are images of UVA men’s basketball games in the Spring of 1975, such as this photograph featuring star players Mark Iavaroni and Wally Walker playing in U-Hall.

Graduation

While most of this collection showcases student daily life, it also documents more significant moments like graduation. A symbolic UVA tradition, graduation on the Lawn is the culmination of students’ hard work over the last four years. Pictured below are families gathering on the Lawn by Old Cabell Hall to support their graduating students, while the Rotunda looms in the distance.

Unlike most of our digital collections, these images are presented under the fair use doctrine or with permission from the copyright holder, not under a Creative Commons license. Researchers can review the full collection of photographs and negatives at Law Special Collections on the third floor of the UVA Law Library.

Email: archives@law.virginia

Phone: 434-924-3023

Web: http://archives.law.virginia.edu/

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Sara Garcia-Pretelt

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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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