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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

May 22, 2006.
Kristy Moon, editor.

Summer Access to LexisNexis & Westlaw

See last week’s Law Library News.

Study & Exam Period

The spring quarter final exams have already begun! The compressed 8-week courses began their exams on May 18. The regular courses will begin their exams on June 3.

Additional Hours

During the study and exam period, law students can continue to come into the library beginning at 7:30 a.m. (M-F) using their keycards. On Friday and Saturday immediately preceding the regular exam period (June 2-3), additional hours of keycard access will be offered to law students from 6:00-9:00 p.m.


Some carrels on L1 have been reserved for law students taking the exams on the compressed schedule. All carrels on L1 will be reserved for law students during the regular study and exam period, June 3-9.

Past Exams

Remember that the Library makes available past exams on its website. (organized by the professor’s name and course title). They are restricted to UW users, so you’ll need to log in with your UW NetID. You might also try testing your substantive knowledge with interactive lessons from CALI. Contact the Reference Office or Computing Services for the CALI authorization code.

Book Locators

Have you noticed the new book locator maps that are posted throughout the Library?

They are found on the building columns facing south, and they indicate where you are as well as the Library of Congress call numbers for the books on that floor.

Next time you’re wandering the stacks with a call number in your hand, look for these handy book locator maps.

Building a Personal Legal "Know-How" File

--Tom Kimbrough, Law Library Intern

As a new attorney begins his or her law career, an excellent habit to develop is to take a few minutes at the end of a project to consider the essential "take-aways" from that project that will be useful in future projects. Then, after thoroughly deleting all confidential information, one should consider whether it is worthwhile to keep the memo, brief, or contract with the "meat" of the legal research and analysis for future reference.

During my years of practicing law, I was often amazed at how seemingly obscure issues would arise again in different contexts. On more than one occasion, I struggled in agony to recall critical details of work that I had done months or years ago in order to avoid having to "reinvent the wheel" in a current project. I guarantee that a few minutes invested immediately after a project is completed in saving information in one’s "know-how" file will save hours down the road.

I have found that a personal "know-how" files are more valuable in many instances than a group "know-how" file for the following practical reasons:

  1. if you have personally worked on a document, you’ll know intuitively whether it is relevant or not to your current problem and so the document will not become merely more "information overload" that wastes your time
  2. people change jobs frequently. For obvious reasons, employers tend to frown upon soon-to-depart employees who start downloading massive amounts of stuff (e.g., the group file) from the employer’s computers or databases, and
  3. you will be able to find relevant information far more quickly if you yourself have created the system in which it is filed.

However, before adding anything to your personal "know-how" file, you must be sure to comply with all relevant confidentiality and other requirements imposed by the state bar, your employment contract, and your employer’s policies.

Book of the Week: Lowering the Bar

--Mary Whisner

Marc Galanter, Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture (K184.G35 2005 at Classified Stacks)

Have you heard the one about the lawyer and the sharks? Or the one about 6,000 lawyers on the bottom of the sea? Of course you have – and many more.

We’ve all heard lawyer jokes – and passed some of them along, too – but no one has researched them and thought about them as thoroughly and deeply as Marc Galanter has. A leading law and society scholar and a professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin, he reports the fruits of his years of joke study in Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture.

Galanter analyzes the jokes by theme, traces their historical roots, and places them in the context of American society and legal culture. Some turn out to be adapted (or "switched") from other contexts – a joke told in the 1920s about business partners becomes a lawyer joke in the 1960s, for instance. Some lawyer jokes originated as mother-in-law jokes or jokes about ethnic groups.

Some of Galanter’s categories of lawyer jokes are on the themes of Discourse (e.g., lawyers use jargon and lie), Economic Predators (e.g., lawyers are greedy and pad their bills), Allies of the Devil, Conflict (lawyers foment strife), and Enemies of Justice. These are what he terms "The Enduring Core" – jokes and themes that have been around for a long time (he traces a few to the Renaissance and many to the early nineteenth century). (p. 18)

Themes that have appeared more recently are Betrayers of Trust, Moral Deficiency, Objects of Scorn, and Death Wish. (pp. 18-19) Why did these jokes become popular in the 1980s? How do they relate to the growth of the legal profession and concerns about a "litigation explosion"? Could their popularity be tied to the fact that it’s unacceptable in many social contexts to tell jokes about other groups, such as racial minorities?

This book is very interesting for its commentary and analysis. Plus you also get to read hundreds of jokes and see dozens of cartoons!