Law librarians share words of wisdom with graduating class

I have worked here at the University of Kansas Wheat Law Library for just over three years. Technically, I, too, am a 3L. The first class I taught was the 2007 summer starters, but really that was a bit of a dry run. My true connection was with the fall starters, what was to be the Class of 2010. You are my first class of students who I actually get to witness walking across that stage. I have come to know so many of you as not only a librarian and teacher but also a mentor. I will miss each and every one of you.

I asked the librarians if they have anything to say to the graduates of 2010, be it words of wisdom or quotes they have found meaningful. Here is what they sent me:

  • “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver
  • Clean out your carrels, return your library books, CELEBRATE, then right back to the library to study for the bar. Good luck, and we’ll miss you! Seriously!
  • My only advice is don’t forget to thank your friends and family for their support these past three years!
  • “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
    – Dr. Seuss
  • “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
  • “I sincerely hope that all of the new grads will take some time to relish their accomplishments, to celebrate their graduation from law school. Getting into and getting through law school was not an easy task, so I hope they will all take a moment to reflect, relax and release!”

I do hope that you will remember that we at the Wheat Law Library are here for you whenever you need us. Keep us in your phone and call whenever you get stumped with a research problem or when you need a book. Or if you just need to talk to someone who has been through what you are going through.

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Thanks to Chris Steadham, Su Johnson, Tammy Steinle McLain and Joyce McCray Pearson for their contributions.

Meeting Justice O’Connor leaves law student feeling inspired

I have a confession to make: I never watch the news. I was shocked in my 1L orientation to realize how much some of my fellow students knew about politics and the government. For example, when my 1L class was shown a picture of the Supreme Court justices, it seemed like everyone except me rattled off all of their names together. At that point, I could only name two people who had ever served on the Supreme Court. knew that John Marshall had because he was my middle school’s namesake (go JMMS!), and I knew that Sandra Day O’Connor had because all of the strong, dominant women in my family admire her as an agent of change.

Meeting Justice O’Connor was the most inspiring and least expected way to end my 1L year. (That’s me on the far right in the photo.) While anticipating her visit, I imagined lofty inspirational lectures and the imparting of that special wisdom that only celebri-sages have to offer. Instead, I met a practical, bright and bitingly funny woman. At her fireside chat at the Dole Institute, she described her start in the legal profession, which was modest at best. Upon graduation, Justice O’Connor found no one willing to hire a woman lawyer. So after a difficult job search, she worked for the San Mateo County Attorney’s office for free at an extra desk in the secretary’s office. Her story was funny and personal, but it carried a cogent message for law students in today’s economy. “Sometimes,” she said, “you’ll have to be a little creative.”

Her responses at a law student question-and-answer session were straightforward, honest and sometimes painfully blunt. When a student asked about her opinion regarding controversial legislation affecting Native Americans, instead of giving her opinion, she responded, “Have you written your congressman? No? Well, write him.”

Two take-home points from her lecture focused on how to approach a career. She was determined to communicate that “happiness is work worth doing.” While enjoying one’s work seems like an obvious life lesson, it impressed me that this was what she wanted to highlight as what she had learned from her career. Following a question regarding which decisions she regrets from her time on the Court, O’Connor explained that one key to her success was never thinking about that. O’Connor explained that she puts all of her energy into the front end of her work by solving problems the best she can the first time, and saves no energy for looking back on how she might have changed her decision.

Comparing my work (this week: finals prep) to hers (this week: continuing to be of monumental importance to the history and the future of the United States) by most logic makes my life pretty pale. However, the combination of Justice O’Connor’s stories of her modest start and her message that full investment in one’s work leads to great success, personally and otherwise, has me inspired. The work ahead feels less like a hurdle and more like “work worth doing.”

Alyssa Boone, 1L and Student Ambassador

New HeinOnline resource opens door to world’s constitutions and more

HeinOnline now has available World Constitutions Illustrated: Contemporary & Historical Documents & Resources.

World Constitutions Illustrated is now available as an a la carte library which introduces a brand new legal research platform that brings together constitutional documents, books, articles, bibliographic referenes and Web sites all in one database.

Although it is still in its infancy, it does contain the current constitution for every country (193 countries) as well as substantial constitutional hierarchies for the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Colombia.

Included for every country:

  • The current constitution in its original language and in English.
  • Links to commentaries and other relevant sources such as the World Fact Book, Annual Human Rights Reports from the Secretary of State and country studies.
  • Direct links to specific chapters within the 800 classic constitutional books that discuss the country.
  • A bibliography of other select constitutional books about the constitutional development or the history of the government.
  • Links to online sources such as the Portal of the World and the official government Web site for the country.

Also included is a connection to hundreds of historical documents, providing you with a historical view of the constitution.

That’s not all!

This collection features, for the first time in an online digital format, the complete set of the British & Foreign State Papers, one of the greatest collections of legal and political documents ever published. The collection also includes more than 800 classic constitutional books from some of the greatest legal minds in history, including Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Max Farrand, Henry Hallam, Karl Marx, Thomas Paine, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and many more!

So check it out! I think you will like it!

W. Blake Wilson, Instuctional & Research Services Librarian

Kudos! Students secure summer employment in tough market

Back in the Stone Age, when the Office of Career Services produced a monthly newsletter in paper form (the horror!), we ran a “Career Services Kudos” section in the March and April editions to applaud job-hunting successes.

We spend so much time preaching about how to conduct a job search that it seemed only fair to tip our collective Career Services caps to students who had navigated the process with grace and aplomb. The positivity of the Kudos section jived well with rising temperatures, blooming flowers and the hope instilled by the return of baseball season (unless you’re a Royals fan).

We continued the practice last year in the final five Friday e-mails of the semester.

Lest you think that the sluggish economy has resulted in no jobs for any law students anywhere, Career Services Kudos makes its triumphant return today in the form of an oh-so-cutting-edge blog posting!

It’s no secret that the economy has made securing a summer position more difficult. But many students have hung in there and obtained jobs that will allow them over the next few months to develop valuable, marketable skills.

The following list highlights just a small number of the students that we’ve observed pursuing summer work with great attitudes. It’s easy to get discouraged in this economy, but these students, and many others, are proof that hard work (combined with thick skin and a healthy sense of humor) does, indeed, pay off.

We’re extremely proud of their efforts!

We’ll add to this list with some new names as our 1L and 2L summer surveys continue to roll in.

Law Firms

  • David Ballew, McAnany VanCleave & Phillips, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Mike Kopit, Fisher Patterson Sayler & Smith, Topeka
  • Lee Legleiter, Arthur-Green, Manhattan
  • Ganesh Nair, Stinson Morrison Hecker, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Melissa Plunkett, Shook Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Erik Rome, Martin Pringle, Wichita
  • Erin Slinker-Tomasic, Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Amanda Sisney, Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, Mo.

Government

  • Susan Alig, Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, Olathe
  • Lydia Buster, Wichita State University Office of the General Counsel, Wichita
  • Adam Dees, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Topeka
  • Sean Foley, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Jessica Lewicki, Department of Homeland Security, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Mallory Loudenback, Franklin County Attorney’s Office, Ottawa
  • Maury Noonan, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Daniel Press, Judge Steve Leben, Kansas Court of Appeals, Topeka
  • Adil Saleem, Judge Ken Tapscott, Dallas County Court at Law No. 4, Dallas
  • Hannah Sandal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Tom Treinen, Colorado District Court, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Ashley Wiechman, Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, Wichita

Public Interest Organizations

  • Kelly Cochran, Kansas Legal Services, Lawrence/Topeka
  • Gentry Jackson, State Board of Indigent Defense Services, Junction City
  • Jatin Patel, San Diego Public Defender’s Office, San Diego
  • Jon Ruhlen, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Baylee Suskin, Colorado Legal Services, Denver

Businesses

  • Allison Dodd, Sprint International Legal Department, Overland Park
  • Sam Mika, Qwest, Denver

Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career services

National Library Workers Day

Today, thousands of communities will celebrate National Library Workers Day (NLWD), a time when library staff, patrons, administrators and Friends groups will recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers. You are invited to name a “Star” library employee for the NLWD Web site at ala-apa.org, where everyone can see what makes this person an exceptional library employee. Anyone working in or for a library can be nominated, and self-nominations are welcome.

The day’s theme — “Libraries Work Because We Do!” — focuses on how library services depend on the important work done by every library employee. Library employees help Americans deal with tough economic times. Patrons are visiting libraries in record numbers, seeking guidance from library employees in using computers and the Internet, accessing financial literacy resources and searching for jobs.

Ways you can celebrate:

Can you think of any other ways to celebrate? If so, let me know!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Sports and entertainment law symposium to feature Kansas Speedway president

The KU Sports & Entertainment Law Society will be putting on a symposium this Friday for the second year in a row.

The symposium, titled “Live a Life That Matters,” is in honor of the late Bob Frederick. “Dr. Bob” died June 12, 2009, after sustaining injuries in a bicycle accident. He took great pride in doing things the right way, and he positively affected many lives. Dr. Bob was was the athletics director at KU from 1987 to 2001 and taught courses in sports management, sports law and facilities in the health, sport and exercise sciences department from 2001 until his death.

The event will feature many top-quality speakers discussing current ethical and legal issues in sports, entertainment and media law. Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway and former associate athletics director under Frederick, will be the keynote speaker.

The event is Friday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held in Hadl Auditorium in the Wagnon-Student Athlete Center on campus. It is free to the general public, and $25 for attorneys seeking CLE credit (registration begins at 9 a.m. the morning of the event).

National Library Week at the Wheat Law Library

National Library Week is observed this year from April 11 through April 17 with the theme “Communities thrive @ your library.” The first sponsored National Library Week was in 1958, and the American Library Association (ALA) has continued this yearly celebration in April ever since. It’s a great time to recognize the contributions our libraries have made to our communities. And, of course, the Wheat Law Library will be celebrating in style!

  • Thursday, April 8, 12:30-1:30 pm
    Ninth Annual Paul E. Wilson Friends of the Wheat Law Library Lecture & Luncheon
    This year’s keynote speaker is none other than Green Hall’s Rick Levy. His lecture is titled “Libraries and the Future of Campaign Finance Regulation,” and he will discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions, particularly Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission (overruling Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce), which held that limitations on corporate spending in political campaigns violate the First Amendment. Although it’s a little late to sign up, you can find more information online. And who knows? Maybe we can squeeze you in?
  • Monday, April 12, 10:10 am
    We will be serving Cake in the Commons (first floor). I’m not sure if it will be a library-themed cake, but really, does it matter? It’s cake!
  • Tuesday, April 13
    National Library Workers Day
    This is pretty much the day when the librarians get pampered. So hug your favorite librarian! Odds are we’ll squirm a little.
  • Wednesday, April 14, 8 am-noon
    26th Annual Hazel A. Anderson Memorial Book Sale (first-floor commons)
    This is a wonderful opportunity for you to beef up your book collection while giving to the Wheat Law Library. We invite students to work the book sale and ask any faculty members to bring by books that might be cluttering up your office!
  • Thursday, April 15, 12:30 pm (Room 104)
    I will be giving a lecture on “Smart Phones and Legal Research.” It’s a brown bag, so you’ll have to bring your own food.
  • Friday, April 16
    Library Fines Amnesty Day
    I probably don’t need to go into details on this!

We hope to see you at our events! And Happy National Library Week!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

The business of law: Knowing the basics can advance your career

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an eye-opening article about law firms’ responses to recessionary pressures.

Over the 18 months, corporate leaders reeling from bleak economic times instructed their legal departments and other divisions to reduce expenditures. Armed with this directive, in-house lawyers called upon outside counsel to pass on fewer costs and to provide more affordable legal services.

Law firms listened to their corporate clients and took measures to ensure that increased efficiency did not jeopardize their budgetary goals. Associate attorneys took a hit, as many firms laid off associates and reduced pay and bonuses.

In this cost-cutting climate, it’s more important than ever for law students to understand how the business of law operates and how to successfully navigate that first foray into the professional world.

Recently I’ve read several chapters in “From Finals to the Firm: The Top 10 Things New Associates Need to Know.” This 73-page booklet contains more than its share of good advice for law student contemplating law firm careers.

In light of the new realities described in the Times article, it’s wise to understand guiding principles of law firm economics. As stated in “From Finals”:

“[Y]ou must always do your best work, but it has to be within the resources the client can afford or is willing to spend. In other words, you have to do your best work in the amount of hours, given your billable rate, that the client can afford or that the client is willing to pay.

As a summer law clerk or new associate, you are likely to receive assignments without the benefit of extensive background information on the case. You may be asked, for example, to draft a memo explaining the legal obligations of a corporate client with respect to a new administrative regulation.

Before you launch into the project, you must understand a number of things, and primary among them in this economic climate should be—as labeled by the “From Finals” authors—Key Cost Constraints.

In a nutshell this means, “What are the client’s expectations regarding the scope and cost of this assignment?” A supervising attorney will know how to answer this question, and it’s the responsibility of a law clerk or new associate to ask.

Asking that question demonstrates business savvy. Asking that question shows that you’re thinking like someone who has legitimate aspirations of being an owner of the business, an equity partner. And asking that question goes a long way to ensuring that the firm’s client will be satisfied, the bill will be paid, your “client” (the assigning partner) will be impressed, and you will continue to receive good work.”

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services

Green building among topics of Real Estate Law Club panel today

The Real Estate Law Club will be electing new officers soon. These elected officers will lead us through next year’s events and planning.

We are also having a real estate panel today (Thursday, April 1). Todd LaSala from Stinson Morrison Hecker has volunteered to invite a few of his colleagues down to Green Hall to speak about all aspects of the real estate practice area, especially green building. We hope everyone will stop by and show Todd just how much we appreciate his time. The panel runs from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in 107 Green Hall. Food and beverages will be provided.

Andrea Gava, Real Estate Law Club president

Legal research? There’s an app for that

Picture these scenerios:

Oh man! What was that case again? I know it was in Virginia and it had something to do with comic books and obscenity law. Grrrr…

You know what would rock? If I could make this commute billable.

OK … last-minute check before I tell oposing counsel what they can do with their offer…

Well there’s an app for that, and it’s called Fastcase. Currently only available on the iPhone, Fastcase is completely free to download and use, and it contains the largest legal database available on the iPhone.

Fastcase has proven to be very intuitive, containing such features as:

  • A library of American cases and statutes, including Kansas and Missouri
  • Boolean, natural language, and citation searching
  • Browse or search statutes
  • Customizable search results that you can sort five different ways:
    1. Relevance
    2. Decision date
    3. Short name
    4. Cited generally
    5. Cited within
  • Search results automatically display number of citing cases as either “cited generally” or “cited within”
  • Jump right to most relevant paragraph of any case or statute
  • Integrated research history
  • Save favorite documents for use later

Fastcase for iPhone is connected to the Fastcase Web-based platform, which is a legal research tool used as an alternative to the larger legal research providers and is available for free for members of certain bar associations, including Missouri. This means that the statutes and the caselaw are kept up to date.

So if you have an iPhone, download Fastcase and try it out for a spin. It is completely free!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian