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Law Library News for May 7, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Legal Research Refresher

Are you prepared to undertake all of the research assignments that you will be given during your summer job? Or, are you a little concerned that your research skills will not be up to the challenge?

Law librarians to the rescue! We will be offering a two-hour legal research refresher program on Friday, May 18th, from 1:30-3:20, in room 135. We will review some of the basics from BLS and introduce you to short-cuts and specialized tools to help you with your research tasks this summer.

All students are welcome; no need to register. And, we'll be serving snacks!

We will also be offering a full legal research program ("Bridge the Legal Research Gap") on June 27th in conjunction with the librarians at Seattle University Law School. Last year's event attracted more than 100 students from law schools all over the country. Watch for more information at the Gallagher Law Library website.

National Reporter Blue Books & Parallel Citations

by Patricia Wiesner, Reference Intern

There is a tool in the reference section of law libraries that sees very little use when there is reliable, inexpensive (i.e., free to law students) computer-assisted legal research service that is easily available to library users. That tool is the National Reporter Blue Book series of parallel citation tables [not related to the dreaded Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation].

Law students are encouraged to make liberal use of the Westlaw and LEXIS services. However, many of you are planning to work as summer interns at law firms, in court systems, or for non-profit organizations. It�s possible that some of your employers will have no access to Westlaw or LEXIS, and others may not be connected to the Internet at all. Or if your employer does have Westlaw or LEXIS available, the summer intern is the last person that may get access to these services. So, what do you do when your employer tells you to go to a library to get a case of which only the Washington Reports citation is available, and you discover when you arrive at the library that it only has the Pacific Reporter? That�s when you use the National Reporter Blue Books.

The first of this series of blue volumes was published by West Publishing Company in 1928 and has bound permanent supplements that are added approximately every ten years. The series is supplemented annually with a cumulative paperbound volume and more recent updates can be found in tables printed in front of the regional reporter advance sheets. Inside each volume are rows and rows of case citations�no case names�just the volume, court designation and first page of each case are listed. Once you have found the citation that you need, the parallel citation is given in the second column. In the Gallagher Law Library, the National Reporter Blue Books are in the Reference Stacks (KF152.N38). The paperbound cumulative supplement is current through volume 137 of the Washington Reports 2d, and volume 95 of the Washington Appellate Reports.

Gallagher has another similar set of volumes. They are the Washington Blue & White Book series of parallel citations, also published by West. These volumes only contain cites of the Washington Reports and the Washington Appellate Reports and the cross-referenced citations to the Pacific Reporter. The blue pages repeat the citations that are given in the National Reporter Blue Books and the white pages have the same set of citations, reversed. The Washington Blue & White Book is found in the Washington Alcove (KFW47.4 .W3).

Stop by and take a look at these research tools. You can never tell when you might find them useful.

Book of the Week: The Gregg Reference Manual

by Mary Whisner

The Gregg Reference Manual, 8th ed., by William A. Sabin (McGraw-Hill, 1996). PE1479.B87 S23 1996 at Reserve

Sometimes writers need some guidance about English usage. Should I put punctuation marks inside or outside the quotation marks? Should I hyphenate �up to date�? What is a split infinitive and what should I do about it? What's the difference between �lay� and �lie�? All of these questions are addressed in a clear manner in The Gregg Reference Manual. I find it helpful that the book has many access points: a list of topics in the inside cover, a table of contents (coordinated with the back cover and colored tabs in the margins), and a detailed index. This is the usage guide I keep by my desk.

For more usage and style guides, see Reference Sources on General and Legal Writing in the Gallagher Law Library.

The Berring Beat: Tips & Tricks from an Expert

The Berring Beat is a free online newsletter written by Bob Berring, Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library at the University of California - Berkeley, found on the "lawschool.westlaw" website, This resource is full of legal research tips from an expert. Professor Berring highlights selected print and online publications - pointing out how and why you might find particular resources helpful in law school and in your work as an attorney. He also gives practical advice about how to survive specific facets of law school such as inevitable exams. For example, he points out that if you "understand the superstructure of the course you might find a map to the exam" and that if you "cannot get a handle on a course, try looking at the Nutshell for that course...[i]t should be on Reserve at your law library." And lo and behold you will find many such volumes of the Nutshells series (published by West Group) on Reserve at Gallagher Law Library. To locate some of these items in MARIAN, the online catalog, type "nutshell" and the subject matter (e.g. "constitutional law") in the Keyword search box.

But it is not all serious business. Professor Berring runs trivia contests, giving away such gems as an autographed copy of Sheldon Siegel's law firm thriller Special Circumstances (Bantam Doubleday Dell 2000). He provides comments on popular culture (e.g., Bob's predictions for events of the year 2000: "In the end we will just fall asleep and find out that Rupert Murdoch's New Corp has merged with the White House and that Martin Sheen will be running the country. Luckily, Homer Simpson will be Vice President, so the administration will not be long for this world.").

New issues of The Berring Beat are released monthly during the school year. Previous issues are archived at the website, so if you are interested in reviewing some old tips, advice, or humorous commentary, just click on the "Old Columns" link in the upper right-hand corner of the website and read on!

So who is Bob Berring and why should you care what he says anyway?

He is a well-respected professor, library director and author of several books (e.g., Finding the Law, 11th ed., by Robert C. Berring & Elizabeth A. Edinger (West Group 1999) (KF240.B45 1999 at Reserve)) and articles on legal research. For a brief period of time in the early 1980's he was the Director of our very own Gallagher Law Library. During his tenure here, he began the tradition of a Law Library Newsletter, published weekly (now included in the Condon Crier), for the purpose of keeping the law school community informed of developments in the Library. He has also worked in the law libraries at the University of Illinois, Harvard, and the University of Texas. He is currently Professor of Law and the Director of the Law Library at the University of California - Berkeley.

By the way, if you just can't get enough of Bob Berring, check out his popular videotape series, Legal Research for the 21st Century (KF240.B374 2000 at Reserve). It is an entertaining refresher on legal research strategies before those summer clerkships begin. The series covers topics you addressed in BLS (case finding, statutes and administrative materials) as well as unique topics such as Internet legal research and online citators.