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Law Library News for February 26, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Lost & Found

If you have lost anything (books, coats, etc.) in Condon Hall this Quarter, please check the Lost & Found at the Circulation Desk soon. Our box is very full and we will take everything that is not claimed by March 1st over to the HUB (Husky Union Building � located in the center of campus).

Extended Library Hours

by Mary Ann Hyatt

For the upcoming exam period, we will stay open later so students can study for exams in the Law Library until 11pm on Friday March 9th and Saturday March 10th. In addition, during Interim the Library will be staying open until 6pm to improve access for working students in particular. This Interim we'll be open 8-6 Tuesday March 20th through Friday March 23rd. Regular academic hours resume Monday March 26th. Good luck during exams, and please let us know if we can improve your access to the Library in other ways.

Germain's & International Legal Research

by Paul Holcomb

In the Reference Office is a looseleaf set called Germain�s Transnational Law Research: A Guide for Attorneys (K85.G47 1991). No, it is not a book to keep on your bedside table to cure your insomnia problem but it is a volume to consult when a particular type of legal problem occurs. For instance, your client visits Europe and while in Switzerland gets married in a fever. The parties come to Seattle to live and before long find out that it wasn�t the love bug that had infected them, but rather a case of the old 24-hour flu variety. One of the parties returned to Switzerland and the one remaining in Seattle is consulting you to ask for a remedy for this sickly situation.

Family law and Switzerland? Don�t remember covering this hypothetical in law school. Perhaps on a day that I missed classes the professor covered it. Where do I start looking for something like this? Oh yes, and in English would be nice.

Now comes Germain�s Transnational Law Research to the rescue. The volume was started about 10 years ago by Claire Germain, Law Librarian and Professor of Law at Cornell University. She claims the work is for the �nonspecialist� who is looking for the law of a country in Europe written in English. Germain states she has two goals:

  1. �To help researchers understand the parameters of transnational legal research problems and
  2. To show how and where to find the needed information.�

The first quarter of the book deals with researching issues and research sources. The middle of book is arranged by subject matter and the last part of the book deals with 17 European nations and how to find current information in English. The author has arranged a standard outline for each country to assist the �nonspecialist� researcher.

In our hypothetical, the subject probably is �family law.� This topic is in the subject matter portion of the book and Switzerland is one of the countries indexed. A look at these two areas in Germain's might be helpful. But how about procedure problems such as service of process abroad and all that good stuff? Remember, some countries have penal sanctions when service of process is not accomplished in the manner prescribed and Switzerland seems to ring a bell! Bring on the Germain's. Sure enough, something can be found on this matter as well. Remember, the first part of Germain's deals with researching issues and service of process is mentioned in a section that deals with �procedural and practical issues.�

Let�s back up a step. A point to keep in mind is that Germain's is a source that tells where information can be found and in English. Once you know where a specific foreign law can be found the next step is to find a library that has the source. Germain's is good because the reference staff at Gallagher have annotated the volume. If Germain's mentions a source, then someone has checked the collection to see if it is here and if so, written the call number in the volume. If there is no call number then Gallagher probably doesn�t have the source. But, just in case, it wouldn�t hurt to try checking the catalog for sources that don�t have call numbers written next to them.

One thing I try and remember when searching for a �thing� like the laws of a foreign nation, the �thing� isn�t always collected in a neat book by the name of the subject and country. For example, suppose you want some information on the commercial laws of Switzerland. Searching in Gallagher�s online catalog, MARIAN, using different search terms comes up with a few items. One of the better sources, Commercial Laws of the World (K1004.15 1976 at Reference Stacks), containing recent corporate laws of Switzerland, may or may not be found, depending on the skill of the researcher. Germain�s, on the other hand, will list Commercial Laws of the World as a source when appropriate to finding the source of foreign law in English. Germain's is therefore a great place to start. Other resources are also available, but since this article is on Germain's, those other sources can wait for another time.

Having a client asking for assistance in matters that involve foreign law is much more commonplace today. A few years ago such questions probably were confined to large metropolitan practices, and probably more in the coastal cities of the United States. Today, an attorney in any setting is exposed to the chance of being asked to assist in foreign law questions.

The author informed me the next supplement to her book will come out in the spring of 2001. In the mean time, she refers readers to "Foreign and International Law Sources on the Internet: An Annotated Guide" found at the Cornell Law Library Website,