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Law Library News for May 14, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Summer Access to Westlaw & LexisNexis

by Nancy McMurrer

Just a quick reminder! If you are

  1. on a law journal board
  2. on a moot court board
  3. enrolled in a summer law school class, or
  4. working as a research assistant for a law professor

you may sign up on the web for full access to LEXIS-NEXIS during the summer months. Go to and look for the SUMMER ACCESS link in bright yellow letters.

UW law students will have full access to Westlaw this summer without having to register for it. But remember, Westlaw can only be used for academic purposes, NOT at your summer job!

Book of the Week: A History of American Law

by Mary Whisner

A History of American Law, 2d ed., by Lawrence M. Friedman (Simon and Schuster, 1985). KF352.F7 1985 at Classified Stacks

Prof. Friedman offers us a social history of American law, covering developments from colonial days to the twentieth century, in all areas from criminal law to torts. Part I deals with the colonial period in seventy-some pages. Part II takes us from the Revolution to 1850, giving us chapters on the frontier; law and the economy; wives, papers, and slaves; property; commerce and trade; crime and punishment; and the bar. Part III covers the second half of the nineteenth century, including administrative law, torts, corporations, and the legal profession. The twentieth century is dealt with in a brief epilogue. (You will live the history of early twenty-first century law.)

This book is worth reading straight through (if you have a taste for long books of history). Or you can dabble � browsing, say, the chapters on the legal profession or torts and skipping the rest. Or you can use the index to look up particular issues. If you want to read more about American legal history, check out the bibliographical essay and extensive bibliography at the end.

Also recommended: Crime and Punishment in American History, by Lawrence M. Friedman (BasicBooks, 1993). KF9223.F75 1993 at Classified Stacks

USCCAN & Summer Jobs

by Paul Holcomb

If memory serves me right, one of the better things about law school was summer. For those of us who had performed our military service, (read, we were slow in completing the draft deferment forms), full benefits under the G.I. Bill of Rights could be obtained for summer by taking a few hours of credit. This was better financially than working in a law firm.

For those law students who were swifter on completing the proper draft deferment forms, summer school was less of an option than working in a law firm which would gain them experience and money. Also, they were banking on a high draft number or a peace agreement in Vietnam by graduation.

Also, if memory serves me correctly, those working as summer associates would frequently return to the law library on campus to work on that bane of all summer associates projects: federal legislative research. Times change but for some reason the federal legislative research project is still the bane of summer associates. That does not have to be the case!

Federal legislative research can be accomplished in different ways. The method of research is determined by different factors. For instance, �ASAP� could be the most important factor in play. The following information concerns obtaining legislative history material rapidly, with jumping off points for additional information. It is not exhaustive by any means.

Let�s say you have obtained the summer job of your dreams at the Seattle law firm of Whisner, McMurrer, and Hemmens. Sometime within the first week an administrative assistant gives you an assignment. You know the assignment came from Whisner because the memo is covered with cartoon characters. Everybody in the firm knows Whisner is a wannabe cartoonist.

The assignment concerns finding a quick and ready-made legislative history of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1976. Further, Whisner has scheduled a 4:30 meeting with you to go over your memo in which it is expected that you will discuss what you have found. It is now 9:30 A.M. Goodbye breakfast.

One of the important facts you retained from BLS in your first year of law school was when in need of assistance on a research project, ask a librarian. The Firm�s librarian is in residence at her desk hidden behind a stack of law reviews. A sign on the desk contains the motto: �Librarians Are Here To Serve You.� You hope the motto didn�t come from the Internal Revenue Service Manual. Just as the motto said, you find the librarian knowledgeable and helpful. The librarian scans the assignment and directs you to the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, or USCCAN.

This publication, you quickly discover, gives a quick overview of enacted federal legislation. The series began in 1942 and became USCCAN in the early 1950�s. Important documents related to each piece of enacted legislation are often reproduced and others are cited. For the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1976, you search in the volumes dated 1976. In the table of contents you see a listing for the act and go to that page. There you find a notation that the legislative history of the act starts on page 4947. The history continues to page 5097. 150 pages of legislative history!

Beginning on page 4947 in Volume 4 of the 1976 USCCAN, you find important information on the Act including the House Report and House Conference Report. Citations are given to the Senate Report and Congressional Record. Dates of consideration and passage of the Act are included. This is the type of information you need for your meeting later in the day with the partner. If additional information is required, you have jumping off points to begin the research.

USCCAN has many other pieces of information including Presidential documents, proclamations, and selected treaties. The monthly paperbound supplements at the end of the set also have amendments to court rules.

This exercise teaches you two things. One, consult the law librarian and two, USCCAN can take some of the pain out of the bane of summer associates� lives. USCCAN can be found in the Reference Stacks in Gallagher Law Library (KF48) and on Westlaw.