‘Finals glaze’ overcomes law students late in semester

Editor’s Note: This blog was written in early November, so the “glaze” in question has long since set in. The first finals of the fall semester are a week away.

The weather has turned colder and my books seem to be getting heavier every day, which can only mean one thing: We are nearing what I like to call “the one-month point.” Law school is always busy. Class preparation, attending class and outlining are enough to fill your daily schedule. However, everything changes here at Green Hall about a month before finals.

Everybody seems to get the “finals-glaze” look in their eyes. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a student who has been outlining since day one, started outlining over fall break or haven’t started at all. Whether you are a 1L, 2L, or 3L — highly involved with extra-curricular responsibilities or not — everyone gets the “glaze.”

We have not quite arrived at this magical point, so everyone is still looking pretty calm. I have a Constitutional Law paper due right before we hit the one-month point, so that is currently occupying most of my time. We have been assigned a case critique over any one of the cases we have studies thus far in class. I have chosen to analyze U.S. v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938).

I had better return to my studies. Until next time…

Chelsea Barnett, 2L and Student Ambassador

CALI offers feedback before finals

Finals are coming up and, as a student, you are in need of a service that can help you review some of the concepts that you have discussed in class and read about in textbooks. But you would also like to be quizzed to see if you are getting these concepts. Is there anything out there that can help?

Of course there is! And its names is CALI!

CALI (short for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) was started back in 1982 as a colaboration between the University of Minnesota’s and Harvard’s law schools. After going through many different incarnations, including floppy disks, CDs and DVDs, CALI finally settled on a Web-based operation located at www.cali.org.

Just as the name implies, CALI is a computer-based learning system for legal materials. Think of it as a computerized tutor. Although CALI provides quite a few different services, the big one is its lessons. These lessons are broken down into topics, author and casebook. Also, if you use CALI on a regular basis, there is an area for new and updated lessons.

So how do these lessons work? Well, first you choose a topic. Let’s say, contracts. When you get into CALI, you will notice that there isn’t really a lesson plan simply on contracts. Rather, it is further broken down into sub-issues, such as offer, acceptance, consideration and remedies. You will also notice that you have run into two types of lessons. One is a simple podcast in which a law professor gives you advice. The other lesson consists of a lesson and a quiz. An explanation of the legal concept is given, followed by a quiz. If you get the answer right, you get a big, green check. You also get the opportunity to explain why you got the answer you got and compare it with the “model answer.” Now keep in mind that these “model answers” are based upon what the author believes the answer should be. If you get the answer wrong, CALI will explain it to you.

Interested in checking out CALI? Well, send me an e-mail and I will forward to you the access code! Provided you are a student or faculty member here at KU Law, of course.

Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Biolaw symposium ponders future of IP law

Students and friends of the law school had an opportunity to listen to one of the great scholars on intellectual property law on Nov. 6, 2009. Roger Milgrim, author of the treatises “Milgrim on Licensing” and “Milgrim on Trade Secrets,” addressed a group of about 80 people about the rates at which technology and law are currently growing and the increasing gap between these two fields. Milgrim was the keynote speaker at Biolaw 3.0: Law at the Frontiers of Biology.

Milgrim pointed out that one of the biggest challenges to overcome in the field of biotechnology and intellectual property law is taking a complex subject matter and being able to explain it in words that a judge and jury can understand. The words we choose to use could make the difference between winning and losing a case.

Another interesting part of Milgrim’s speech focused on the development of “hybrid” intellectual property statutes. Historically, patents, trademarks and copyrights have been governed by federal statutes, while trade secrets have been governed by state law. Since technology is growing at such a rapid pace, the current laws cannot properly govern intellectual property rights. Milgrim raised the question of whether a “hybrid” form of intellectual property laws would offer improved protection until the moral and social issues currently plaguing intellectual property laws could be fairly legislated.

Spending an hour listening to Milgrim speak about the current state of intellectual property laws was a welcome addition to my intellectual property law class. I had the opportunity to take concepts that I learned in class and see how they are applied in a day-to-day legal setting. Opportunities such as the biolaw symposium are frequently available at the KU School of Law and are a great supplement to an already outstanding legal education.

Courtney Johnston
2L and Student Ambassador

Get on (a) board!

Help others and yourself by volunteering. Not to minimize the many altruistic benefits of volunteering, but this activity may also benefit your legal career. Not only is it a great way to network, but you may also be able to hone your legal skills.

There are so many wonderful organizations for which you may volunteer. Your legal skills and abilities can be utilized by both nonprofits that provide legal services and non-legally oriented organizations, particularly if you become a board member.

Nonprofit organizations usually have an executive director who handles the daily operation. The board of directors is the governing body of the organization and works with the executive director to ensure the goals and mission of the organization are met. Nearly every board has an attorney (or wants one) as a member. Besides your interest in the organization’s mission, your analytical, logical and communicating skills are highly welcomed and desired. Additionally, most employers welcome and encourage volunteerism and may even assist you in your endeavors.

If you are interested in becoming a board member, look to those organizations for which you already volunteer. Contact the executive director and discuss your desire to get more involved, possibly by joining the board. If you are not currently volunteering, please do so first to ensure the group’s goals reflect your own.

Before joining a board, you need to do your homework. One great place to start is with NonProfitConnect. NonProfitConnect is a Kansas City organization which assists nonprofit agencies and those interested in working with/for the nonprofit sector. If you are interested in becoming a board member, I recommend you attend the training seminar, Boards of Tomorrow (full disclosure: I used to be a member of NCP and attended the training seminar when I became a board member of a nonprofit). There are similar organizations throughout the nation, so take advantage of the resources available to you.

By joining a board, you get to become part of something better than yourself; you’re making your name (and your employer’s name) known with people outside your normal sphere of contact, and you may utilize your legal skills at the same time. A win-win situation for everyone involved!

Karen Hester, Director of Career Services

KU’s Summer Start Program helps students set their law school pace

I began my legal education as part of KU Law’s Summer Start Program in 2007. Essentially, it’s a way for a small group of first-year law students to ease into the study of law by taking a handful of five-week courses for credit that they would otherwise take during the fall semester. Admittedly, I was hesitant to start in the summer. Doing so meant studying in the library while my friends were out on the golf course. But the benefits of a slow-paced introduction to law school made sense to me after being out of school and working for two years.

At the time, I thought those benefits were limited to the first-year experience. By the time the fall semester began, I had developed a proficiency in reading and interpreting case law, I had become comfortably acquainted with seemingly foreign legal vocabulary terms, and I had taken and survived the dreaded law school final exams. But beyond the academic advantages, I was able to quickly find a circle of new friends from all over the country. I started the fall semester confident in my ability to take accurate notes and organize information in an effective way.

But now that I’m a 3L, I realize that the benefits of the summer program continue even today. Some students who started with me took advantage of the Accelerated Program and have already graduated. Others are in their final weeks at KU Law and are set to graduate this December. But while I had the option to graduate early with my friends, I chose instead to finish in three full years, take a relaxed course load and develop flexibility in my schedule that allows for other opportunities. This semester I’m in class three days a week and I spend the rest of my time as an editor for the Kansas Law Review, serving on various campus committees and working part-time. I also have time to travel to KU football games and fulfill my goal of attending a game at every Big 12 school.

All in all, it’s a great way to spend my last year in law school.

Chris Kaufman, 3L and Student Ambassador

Jureeka! I’ve got it!

I have recently discovered a product that I think is pretty slick. It is called Jureeka!

Jureeka! is a Firefox extension that hyperlinks legal citations in Web pages.

Jureeka! turns legal citations in web pages into hyperlinks that point to online legal source material. Its handy toolbar also allows you to search for source material by legal citation and to find HTML versions of PDF pages. Jureeka! is great for quickly locating statutes, case law, regulations, federal court rules, international law sources and more. It weaves together a host of law sources into a giant mesh.

Not every citation is included, but they are constantly adding more.

Here are some of the forms they support:

347 U.S. 483
28 U.S.C. 1350
630 F.2d 876
10 C.F.R. 71
Pub. L. 104-132
70 F.R. 29528
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11
Fed. R. Crim. P. 6
Fed. R. Evid. 401
Fed. R. App. P. xxx
734 A.2d 712
999 P.2d 1
95 P.3d 190
756 N.E.2d 866
694 N.W.2d 788
523 S.E.2d 239
208 S.W.3d 1
735 So.2d 161
352 NLRB 146
10 I&N; Dec. 1230
U.S. Patent No. 6750380
Minn. Stat. § 626.556

Now go download it, come back and look at these links!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Download

Support

Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian

Even flute performance majors can go to law school

The first skill I learned in my undergraduate degree in flute performance that I applied after graduation was counting without getting off track. I used to have to count up to 80 or 90 really slowly, over and over, without getting distracted. I took a summer job working at a cookie shop and found myself using this specialized skill when I was measuring cup after cup of flour for batches that would make 40 dozen cookies.

I have yet to apply any musical skills so specifically to law school, but what I take from that experience is that regardless of what students studied in undergrad, they already have a lot of skills that will help in law school. KU Law has a commitment to diversity, and that extends to diversity of experience. All kinds of unconventional majors are embraced here.

There is no way to practice being a law student except being one, so not majoring in political science does not put a student at a disadvantage. Challenging classes are an important experience regardless of the subject matter. They force students to develop skills to deal with challenges, which is useful when confronted with a new way of thinking as a 1L.

Academic success and involvement in student life build useful skills too. Those things cause students to develop time management and self-motivation skills that will make the transition to life as a law student smoother. Additionally, law affects so many parts of life, society and culture that an unconventional background will definitely give a student a unique perspective on certain areas of law.

Alyssa Boone, 1L and Student Ambassador from Wichita, KS

The relays are coming! The relays are coming!

Blue Book Relays
Friday, October 30, 2009
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Green Hall

Each fall, first-year law students participate in the Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays. The competition, sponsored by a Lawrence law firm, tests legal research skills learned in the Lawyering program. Working in teams, students locate references in the library and write the citation in correct Bluebook format. The point system rewards speed, accuracy and citation skills. There is a cash prize for the winning team, but the big reward is the fun that comes from putting competition in perspective.

A brief history of the Bluebook Relays

In 1990, 1L Steve Passer jump-started the Passer Bluebook Relays, which would become one of the school’s most memorable traditions. Steve personally provided the prize money until graduating, when the dean took over as financial sponsor for the event. In the mid 1990s, the junior attorneys at Barber Emerson decided to provide prize money in honor of well-liked founding attorney, Richard A. Barber. Barber Emerson remains the event’s sponsor today, and attorneys from the firm sit as judges for the event each year.

Rules of the Bluebook Relays

  1. NO cell phones
  2. NO running
  3. Do not remove books from their locations on the shelf
  4. Only bring a pad of paper and a pen with you
  5. The Blue Book “expert” must stay outside of the library

The teams will consist of 10 members total, 9 runners and 1 Blue Book “expert.” Each team has 45 minutes to complete the relay. A whistle will be blown to denote start and stop times. Each team receives 9 questions covering 9 citation examples learned in the Lawyering course. Each question is worth 10 points and deductions are made for minor or major citing errors. There will be proctors monitoring runners throughout the library.

For more information, contact Jeff Montgomery, Serials Department Manager and Bluebook Relays coordinator.

Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian

Student Ambassadors separate facts from myths

Prospective law students had an opportunity to find out what life in law school is really like by questioning Student Ambassadors and Admissions Director Jacqlene Nance during a Q&A; on Oct. 6. The informal setting (and free pizza) made the session very inviting to students wanting to ask questions such as:

  • Is the first year as hard as everyone says it is? (Not if you manage your time);
  • What do students wear to class? (For the most part it’s casual, but it’s also not uncommon to see people in suits); and
  • What made you choose KU Law? (Location, price, clinical opportunities and friendly competition were just some of the responses.

The night was a great success, with prospective students asking questions for about an hour. If you were unable or attend or simply want to ask more questions, please contact any of the Student Ambassadors or the Office of Admissions. You can find us at www.law.ku.edu/prospective. We hope to see you at our Fall Open House on Oct. 23! Register here.

Courtney Johnston, 2L and Student Ambassador

The great headnote/key number confusion

Several times this semester I have run into some people who are a bit confused about Westlaw’s headnote and key number system — and quite understandably! For something that is used so much, it seems that little attention is given to explaining exactly what is going on. Well, I would like to cure that right here, right now!

First, let’s look at a headnote taken from the case Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

>[4] Constitutional Law k. 3278(1)

The doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education, since separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. U.S.C.A. Const. Amend. 14.

What we are looking at are actually two completely different things: the key number and the headnote. As I’m sure you already know, West’s key number system was developed and is used to label different legal topics, making it easier to search case law. It uses a broad topic name (there are more than 450!) followed by a narrower number. It looks something like, “Constitutional Law k. 32878(1)” where “k” represents a tiny picture of a key.

Well to make things a bit more complicated, we also have headnotes. Headnotes are quotes taken from the case pertaining to an area of law and placed at the beginning in order of appearance. So the part of the case addressing “constitutional law, equal protection in general” would be one headnote, and “constitution or law of state contravening constitution of United States” would be a difference headnote. There is no uniform system of numbering with headnotes, so “constitutional law, equal protection in general” in one case may be headnote 4, while it’s headnote 2 in another case. It really just depends where it falls within the case.

Now that West has the key numbers and headnotes all lined up for each case, searching out your area of law becomes easier. West prints off all of the topics and key numbers in a series of books called The Digest. The legal topics are in alpha-numeric order, and each jurisdiction has its own. Kansas has the Kansas Digest, and Missouri has the Missouri Digest. There are also regional digests that include cases from states within a set region. Under each topic and key number, you will find the headnotes from the cases. So if you are looking for other cases that touch on “constitutional law, equal protection in general,” you would look up “constitutional law k. 32878(1).”

You can do all of this online if you desire. However, if you are looking online, “constitutional law” will be turned into a number, which just happens to be “92”.

So where does “92” come from? Well, if you were to list all of the legal topics in alphabetical order and then assign it a number, “constitutional law” would be “92.” Of course, I find it easier to grab any Digest volume and look at the front. The topics and their numbers are listed, starting with “1 abandoned and lost property” going through “414 zoning and planning.” So “constitutional law k. 32878(1)” is the same as “92k.32878(1).” Or it usually is. But that’s another story.

>Here is what the same headnote will look like online:

>[4] KeyCite Citing References for this Headnote 92 Constitutional Law
   92XXVI Equal Protection
       92XXVI(B) Particular Classes
           92XXVI(B)8 Race, National Origin, or Ethnicity
               92k3275 Education
                 92k3278 Public Elementary and Secondary Education
                   92k3278(1) k. In General.
                     (Formerly 92k220(2.1), 92k220(2), 92k220) The doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education, since separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. U.S.C.A.Const. Amend. 14.

All of the extra information is showing you the Digest outline so that you get a feel for where you are. So “92k3278(1)” is constitutional law> equal protection> particular classes> race, national origin, or ethnicity> education> public elementary and secondary education> in general.

The key number system is proprietary. You will only find it in West products and on Westlaw. LexisNexis, though, has developed its own version, which works much the same. Unfortunately, there is no book version of Lexis’ headnote system.

I hope this makes sense. As always, let me know if you need help!

Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian